Time and time again I meet Indie and Small Press authors who think their publishers, printing service or their distributors are trying to screw them.
Why? Because a lot of people (family, friends, strangers on the Internet) will tell you they’ve purchased your books. So like most authors you immediately rush to your sales numbers to take a look and for some odd reason – that sale isn’t showing up. Hmm. You trust the people who tell you they bought your book, but not the publisher, printer, or distributor. So it’s only natural to think the latter are doing something underhanded.
In reality, most of the time it’s the people telling you they bought the book who are blowing sunshine up your ass.
Pardon my candor – but it’s the truth. Even family will lie and tell you they’ve purchased copies of your book when they haven’t. I know, right now you’re saying, “Steph! You’re wrong! My family and friends would NEVER lie to me like that. NEVER!”
Well, don’t be so sure about that. I never thought my friends and family would either. What most readers and book buyers don’t know is small publishers and indie-authors oftentimes have REAL TIME access to sales numbers. So they don’t see the harm in lying. After all, they think you won’t notice one sale among the hundreds of sales you must be getting. They don’t realize it’s not like that.
Oh yeah – that’s right readers. If you tell us you bought a copy of our latest tome through our publisher, or amazon, or through the printing service – we’re going to know if you’re lying or not. 😉
Here’s the thing – over the years I’ve done experiments. When someone says they bought a book through XX sales channel I know exactly when those numbers come in. Being the obsessive author and publisher I am, I check my sales numbers daily on the Indie stuff because it tells me which marketing campaigns are working and what isn’t, etc… If someone tells me they bought a copy of X title through Amazon, it will show up on my sales record within 1 hour. Sales that didn’t show up in 1 hour, I asked the person to give me an order number so I can check out my distributor or printing service. For fiction my publisher gives me weekly reports (at my request). I do the same thing -ask for order numbers.
It’s at this point the fumbling usually starts. If someone can’t or doesn’t produce an order number – they didn’t buy your book. Accept it, don’t hold it against them, and move on. Not everyone likes to read or likes to read what you write. Nope – not even friends and family. In 99% of the cases where no sales showed up I found the person who said they bought the book were lying to me.
There was only 1 instance with my indie stuff where I actually found my printing service at fault and it was a site glitch that was rectified and our sales for fifteen days magically appeared in one day. That was with Lulu (and part of the reason DB Publishing no longer keeps all its eggs in one basket).
So before you jump to the conclusion that your printing service or publisher or anyone else is lying to you about sales numbers, make sure you have an order number and better yet receipts in hand.
Otherwise you can darn well bet there are some readers out there blowing sunshine up your ass.