I don’t like discussing how many books I’ve sold. It’s boastful. I’m English. As a people, we don’t boast. But in the quieter moments of my day (usually around royalty statement time) I will tot up how many books I’ve sold. Not to boast (see the English thing), it’s quite a few nowadays. Not as many as I would like, but a lot better than I ever imagined. However, I find it hard picturing my readers. Say a thousand people buy a book of mine. By publishing standards, that’s not a lot, but you wouldn’t want to wait in line behind them for the toilet. So when it comes to things like this, you need a bit of perspective.
Ten years ago or so when my first book came out, I came up with a way of quantifying the number of people who bought my book. I chose NFL stadiums. The average NFL stadium runs what—80-100,000 seats? I liked to picture all my readers entering the stadium with a copy of my book under their arm. Yes, ambitious, but it gives some nice context. Unfortunately, sales for my first book wouldn’t have filled one section. Kinda sad, but I had a true sense of the physical size of my readership.
Can I be frank for a second? I can. Thanks. HOLY SHIT!!! That’s a bugger load of people. And even more frightening, that’s a bugger load of people I don’t know. There was a point when I knew every one of my readers. Not now. That’s an awesome feeling, but it also puts me in a cold sweat.
Excuse me, I have to leave the room for a second…
…Okay, I’m back. What was I talking about? Yes, readers.
I guess I’m a little freaked out because this has gotten bigger than I ever imagined and by the same token, this is serious business now. Writing is no longer a trivial pursuit. People expect a good book and I have to do my best to make that happen. It’s a little disconcerting to wrap my head around that.
Okay, time for a little more perspective; I’m nowhere near bestselling standards. Stephen King, Dean Koontz and John Grisham have each sold hundreds of millions of copies. That’s whole nations of people possessing their books. Now, that’s impressive.
But for me, I am, hand on heart, blown away by how many people have bought my books over the years. I’m grateful to every single one of you—and I promise to do my best to entertain you with each book and story to come. And for those who haven’t bought a book, try one. There’s a seat waiting for you in a stadium in my mind. 😀