Milestone

A long-anticipated milestone arrived this past month. It’s sort of an anti-milestone, but in my view, it is significant: the month of November 2021 was the first month I have not sold a book in 14 years.

I hasten to assure you this is not a complaint. If anything, I am humbled and totally gob-smacked that people have continued to buy a book first published in 2008 containing essays that were, even then, ancient history. Even the most recent of the Postcards books is currently ten years old. That’s a long time to be consistently selling.

Gone are the days when I sold thousands of books a year. That did happen for a while, but then the numbers trailed off, to the hundreds, the tens—and for a painfully protracted period—single digits. I have been waiting for the day when sales stopped because A) I’ve known it was coming for a long time now, and B) it’s kind of a pain.

For every purchase, I am obligated to record the sale, the price and the daily exchange rate so the US Government will know how much I made in UK sales, and the UK Government will know how much I made in US sales. And then, at the end of the year, I have to declare it and it’s a bit embarrassing to have to put: Other Income: Royalties: $9.26.

It’s hardly worth the trouble* (though not worth the trouble I would get into if I didn’t declare it) and a nagging reminder that my days as a viable, professional author are behind me. But, again, that is not a complaint. When I started out on this adventure, I set myself some goals, respectable numbers representing books sold and royalties received that, if I attained them, would signify my success, as I defined it. I am happy to say I hit those number some time ago.

There were some very good years.
And some not so good ones.

The numbers were admittedly and purposefully modest when compared to JK Rowling or Lee Child, but I have never courted fame. Being famous is hard work, and if you have learned anything from my ramblings in this blog it should be that I am bone-lazy.

And so, if this trend continues—I have no idea what might happen in December, but I have always assumed that when the sales dropped to zero, they would stay there—I can retire with satisfaction, and stop having to record pennies earned every month.

Strangely, or fortuitously, this happened at the same time I published my first book in eight years. I have often spoke about my current writing project, so I won’t mention it again now, except to remind you—and myself—that I have always maintained my goal was to publish the series, not sell any books. And it looks as if I am on track. The only sales were in October and they were my own, which is as it should be.

I am now at work on the second book in the series. The issues with Book I: The Magic Cloak had put me off starting it when I should have, but when I finally plucked up the courage, it seems my fears were unfounded. I am writing more—and more consistently—now than at any other time I can remember, and am, once again, finding the joy in the process, and that is what it is all about.

* I know I could, if I cared that much about non-sales, remove all my books from publication, but I wouldn’t want to deny someone the opportunity to read 20-year-old essays if they really, really wanted to.