I compare Facebook authors and Twitter authors a lot. Facebook author groups seem more professional, always trying to do what they need to sell books, be it writing to market, covering their books to market (vs. putting whatever they want on the cover because they like it) using TikTok even if maybe that’s not what they would most like to be doing at the moment. While Twitter feels like it’s just this hodgepodge of writers shoving books onto Amazon hoping to find readers for their 6-genre mashup that’s either a 20k novella or so long no reader in their right mind would tackle it. I know it’s not fair, and not an accurate description of either platform, but there is one thing both platforms have in common: authors share their sales dashboards.
There are a lot of reasons why an author would screenshot their sales dashboard. They want to inspire others either by showing people that there is money to be made selling books, or showing people that they too, aren’t selling anything and to never give up.
On Facebook, I’ve seen the sales stats of 7 figure authors, 6 figure authors, authors who have made 5 figures off their debut book. I’ve seen lifetime stats, monthly stats, even weekly stats from authors launching books and detailing their launch plans. I’ve also seen authors who don’t make money, are thrilled with a 3 figure month, even a 2 figure month since we all have to start somewhere.
On Twitter, most of the sales dashboards I’ve seen are empty of sales and page reads, authors looking for solidarity in their lack of royalties–which they find because, as I’ve said, the vibe doesn’t necessarily scream professionalism and you can’t run a successful business doing whatever you want. Then there are the authors who don’t show their sales dashboards but complain of lack of sales, and that’s just as bad, maybe even worse, because complaining won’t find you readers, unless you want a pity-buy, and who wants to sell a book because someone feels sorry for you?
So, is showing off your dashboard classy or trashy?
I don’t share numbers on Twitter very often. I don’t think my sales or lack thereof is anyone’s business. I’ve blogged about my slow start in this business, and I feel the difference between tweeting your empty KU page reads graph and blogging is that while I share my numbers, I also try to figure out where I went wrong and what I can do to fix it. In a tweet, there isn’t much room for that, and no one particularly wants to discuss what they’re doing wrong (ie, genre-hopping, poor covers, no defined also-boughts on Amazon because all the readers you do find are your friends from Twitter). In a Facebook group, at least there’s room for discussion. Maybe a revamp of a cover, or a blurb rewrite. Maybe a price adjustment. Maybe the answer is simply just writing more because you started a series and you’re not that deep into it yet.
I think posting your dashboard can be a learning experience if you’re willing to look at your royalties or lack thereof in a critical manner and learn from the advice you’re probably going to get posting something like that to begin with. If you’re posting just to whine, I don’t see how that can benefit anyone, and if you want commiseration, try to find it in a more private way.
What I have found, and what authors are still struggling with, is that readers aren’t where authors hang out (which makes marketing on writer Twitter pretty much useless) but every once in a while a reader may stumble upon one of your Twitter grumps and could actually be offended at the type of content you’re putting out there. An author shouldn’t bring author business into a reader space. It’s not a reader’s responsibility to lift you up if you’re not having a good sales month, and information like that can harm your author reputation and your brand.
Romance readers don’t read this blog and I stopped posting a link to my books years ago. I post the blog links on Twitter and people find my posts using search engines when they are looking for information about independent publishing. I’m not worried about a reader finding this and being offended. I started a different website that I won’t blog on, that will just be a home for my romance books and newsletter signups and nothing more. It’s difficult to keep your writing community and reader space separate, and you may not think they’re separate at all if only your writing friends buy your books.
So, the next time you post your empty KDP dashboard, think about what you want to get out of it. Are you looking for support? Maybe find it in a more private way. Are you looking for an actionable plan? You’re not going to find that on Twitter with its 240 character limit. Do you want to show your followers that you’re having a bad month? #Indieapril over on Twitter seemed to be particularly harsh for many authors, though I’m not sure why you would put so much stock into one month when your aim should be selling books all year round. Do you want to lift people up, give them an idea of what you did to achieve the numbers that you did? If I had a great launch, I would definitely blog about it here and tell you all exactly what I did to help you find that kind of success.
As always, though, whether or not you approve of people sharing their numbers, it almost always never matters because chances are almost 100% they aren’t writing the books you are and vice versa. I could follow the advice of the top selling billionaire romance author in the business, but that doesn’t mean my type of billionaire romance will sell like hers. The covers won’t be the same, the writing style will be different, her backlist will definitely always be bigger than mine because she’s had years of a head start. So while I appreciate the authors who share their numbers and what they did, those numbers really boil down to just a few things:
- consistency in product quality (craft) and release dates
- quality covers and blurbs
- writing in one genre to create a foundation of readers
- building a newsletter
- mastering an ads platform be it Amazon, Facebook or Bookbub
And through the years of reading posts like that on Facebook, the authors who “make it” year one are always outliers. The authors who post big numbers have been at it for a while, and that is what I hope to achieve with my new billionaire direction. I do plan to be at this for years, and while I’m releasing my first book on June 1st, I know it won’t do anything–it’s a mere brick in the foundation I hope to build. I’ll have to work at it for a while, but maybe this time next year, I’ll have a sales dashboard worth showing off, and then I can tell you all about how I did it, if I’m tacky enough to show you.