Last summer Riverfeet Press released the Awake in the World anthology, which included an essay I wrote called “A Path to the Wild.” I hoped to sell 50 copies via Fact & Fiction, and I promised a hard sell to make that happen. I didn’t follow through at all on the hard promotion . . . but the book did sell far more than 50 copies, and actually made #5 on the store’s bestseller list for the entire year. I’m thrilled that it did so well. I credit its success to crafty store placement as well as its cool cover/excellent design. It sold very well during the holiday season. If I recall it was the biggest seller in the month of December. If not, it was definitely in the top two or three. I was watching it out of curiosity, but now I don’t remember for sure.
The thing is, social media had essentially nothing to do with it. Beyond the half-dozen or so friends I have who bought it online — people I am friends with on Twitter and Instagram, or who read this blog, all of whom I am eternally thankful to for supporting my work — essentially none of my social media contacts made any difference. The one local “event” we did behind the book drew not a single familiar face, and though we sold thirteen books at that event they were all to strangers. Basically, what I’m saying is that if I had to measure its success on whether or not people I actually know, whether via social media or personally, bought it, I would have to say it was a total flop.
That may sound like sour grapes, but it isn’t. It’s just curious to me is all. It also helps me decide how I’ll go about promoting the next book which will be coming out this summer, if everything goes even remotely close to as planned. This will be a release exclusively featuring my own work; an actual book, if a short one. I can’t wait to get it out there, and I have many ideas for getting out in person to promote it. I don’t think I’ll abandon social media, much as I would like to, but I don’t think I’m cut out to be the kind of person who maximizes its potential. I’d rather be out and about than spending more time on the friggin’ computer.
I don’t think I’ll do a solo event at all in Missoula, heh. I don’t think I could face a room full of empty chairs at my own event in my hometown.
For those curious, here is the full list of books that were bestsellers. There were other books we sold large quantities of, but those were tied to special events through the schools or conferences or things like that, so they weren’t counted. I think Lee Child’s book, The Midnight Line, which we sponsored the event for, was the biggest seller, but we didn’t even see those numbers as they were run through the campus location. It was also a slow year for big books; for example the new James Lee Burke book that has been out all of two weeks has already destroyed the sales of anything that came out last year. Regardless, I’m happy to be part of something that made the list for 2017.
- Bold Women in Montana History — Beth Judy (nonfiction, young adult)
- Ballet at the Moose Lodge — Caroline Patterson (short stories, adult fiction)
- The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse — Mac Barnett/Jon Klassen (children’s picture book)
- You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me — Sherman Alexie (memoir)
- Awake in the World — Various, edited by Daniel J. Rice (anthology)
- Indian Creek Chronicles — Pete Fromm (memoir/nonfiction)
- Bad Summon — Philip Shaefer (poetry)
- A Fly Rod of Your Own — John Gierach (essays/nonfiction)
- Reservations — Gwen Florio (mystery)
- Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls — (nonfiction, young adult)