Don’t forget to add a little luck into the mixture

Every indie author writes about this at some point: “What’s the magic combination of writing and marketing that will finally bring my sales up? We all do this — we struggle with how best to embrace Twitter, Facebook, forums, blog posts, giveaways, back scratches, and dog washes with the hopes of hitting that “sweet spot” where our sales will sky rocket and we’ll be able to quit our day jobs and do nothing but sit back and be fed bon bons as we dictate our next book to our personal girl/boy friday.

I was having a conversation with my editor, Lynn O’Dell, yesterday about this very topic. We both very much agree that there is one other element that must forget to add into the mixture — luck. Let’s face it, we’ve all seen someone’s take off, get famous, and become rich and we wonder how it happened. It works that way in Hollywood all the time. Some beautiful person gets famous as an actor and they rise to the top with next to no talent (Ashton Kutcher comes to mind.) In his case, he was a model who was sought for her appearance — the rest is history.

The same holds true for authors. I’ve heard it from other authors so many times: “How did she get so big, have you read her books?” Well, that kind of statement is generally spoken with the venom of jealousy, but in some cases it’s true. I purchase a book by an author because it’s getting enormous sales and PR and when I read it, I think “I don’t get it.”

Not every book that reaches the top 10 or 100 gets there on artistic merit alone. Some of those books reach that point with a certain curiosity behind it. What do I mean? Let me explain it with a little analogy.

Someone, at the top of a mountain, creates a tiny snowball and rolls it down. As that snowball rolls down, other flakes of snow jump on simply because it seems all the other snowflakes are doing the same thing. Some snowflakes get word of mouth that it’s the coolest thing since ice cream so they jump on. Yet other snowflakes just want to see if it really is as fun as all the other snowflakes say.

It’s the same thing with book sales. All it takes is one person, at the right time and the right place, saying a book is the best thing he or she has read and BLAMO! Sales all of a sudden take off without the author knowing why. They just do. How? Luck.

That is not to say it doesn’t take talent. It does. But even still, a brilliant writer can write the perfect book and that book could sit on the digital or brick and mortar shelves going nowhere. But with a bit of luck, that brilliant book could rise to heights no one thought possible.

What I am ultimately trying to say is that we bang our heads against our keyboards, frustrated as we hang out and 1,2,3,4 sales per day wondering why? Well, with enough patience, and perseverance, luck will strike and those numbers will rise exponentially. Give it time, keep working, keep WRITING, and (every once in a while) keep your fingers crossed.