The Book Gazette is pleased to host a guest post today by Joan Ellis, author of “I Am Ella. Buy Me”, a chicklit novel with a good dose of humor and some romance.
Joan Ellis writes about sales and numbers in her interesting guest post below.
Why writing books should never be a numbers game.
‘How are sales going?’
If I had a pound for every time someone had asked me that since launching my book, I wouldn’t need to write for a living.
Sadly, a simple, ‘Fine, thanks,’ doesn’t cut it with the Book Police.
‘Ha!’ they cry, happy to burst your bubble. ‘But has anyone you don’t actually know bought a copy?’
Clearly, they’ve never met my family. The closest my Grandad ever got to a book was a bookie. No use gambling on his offspring to spike the sales figures.
Friends have been very supportive insisting they purchase a copy to swell the coffers. However, the aim is to keep your mates not lose them under the weight of yet another 70,000 word tome. If they’ve been kind enough to do their bit and buy a book, be grateful and leave them be.
The truth is you don’t actually know for sure who has downloaded your book (although I can say, hand on heart, it’s not my family), but before you can respond, the Sales Police deliver another blow, well below the belt.
‘So, how many copies have you actually sold?’
At this point, try not to flinch and say nothing, unless your global sales are on a par with E.L. James, in which case, open the gold-inlaid-spreadsheet and knock yourself out.
If your figures are less robust, I suggest you prefix your response with a vague: ‘Oh, it’s not about the money. I write because [insert smart retort here – ideally, one that will leave your interrogator baffled, yet impressed].
If you’re anything like me – I pray for your sake, you’re not – and can never think of anything clever to say in the moment, I find hinting at something grim does the trick. For example, a dysfunctional childhood is guaranteed to have them glazing over faster than a Krispy Kreme donut.
Failing that, wax lyrical about the joys of writing. After all, someone that’s all about the sales is never going to understand the pleasure derived from sitting at a laptop for hours on end, making up stuff and tapping out the obligatory 1,000 words per day.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying never look at your bottom line. Obviously, it’s essential and few things are more gratifying to a writer than knowing the work is being read and what’s not to like about a sales graph that resembles an artist’s impression of the Andes?
No, the trouble starts when others goad you into taking a sneaky peek before you’re good and ready. We need to build up to these things. A premature glimpse of your profits is never going to be pretty, far better to wait until the figures are in better shape.
More importantly, if we spend too much time looking down at the bottom line, we’ll miss the stars on our way to the top.
About The Book
Author: Joan Ellis
Genre: Humor / Chick lit / Romance
I AM ELLA. BUY ME
‘I am a ginger tom. I am a boy racer. I am a housewife. I am a pain in the arse.’
Ella David is Bridget Jones meets Peggy from Mad Men.
Working in Soho’s mad, bad Adland in the sexist 80s, Ella is a rare beast – a woman in a man’s world, dodging her sleazy boss, Peter.
Based on Joan’s experiences in Soho’s mad, bad Adland, this fast-paced, funny tale is set against a backdrop of Thatcher’s Britain when money trumps morals
and lust is a must. Thankfully, Ella knows love is more powerful but can two unlikely friendships help her go from a girl in the firing line to a woman calling the shots?
Award-winning advertising copywriter, comedy writer, performer, lecturer – Joan Ellis has been them all. With a full-time job in a top London advertising agency and a new baby, she did what any right-minded woman would’ve done and set up a comedy club. She even appeared on the same bill as Jo Brand. Once.
A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield.
As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his talents on a wider stage.
Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth’s
great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free!
She was a lecturer in PR and Advertising at Bournemouth University.
She penned a regular column about her daughter for parenting glossy, Junior. Sophie is now eighteen and refuses to read a word her mother writes.
Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to her beloved Isle of Wight where she writes and eats cream teas with her long-suffering husband, daughter and cat.
She recently launched her books at The Ventnor Fringe and the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.