Want to read reviews, or check on a book’s popularity? Go to amazon and rummage around. I do that daily, especially after I publish a book. When I check in amazon shows me what’s happening in the US and Canada. That’s a large market of about 350,000,000. Write a book about Scotland and sell it in North America sounds like a good business model, a consequence of my situation. Scotland’s population is closer to 5,300,000; yet, what happens there is equally important to me. I have to sneak over to amazon.co.uk to check. A sale there, and especially a good review there, comes from a larger percentage of the population and therefore carries a lot more emotional weight. Scots may not know the power they possess.
I live in Washington State, a state that has about the same population as Scotland, has portions that have very similar weather, and is arguably a similar size. Walking across Washington would be a lot tougher though. The middle is defined by mountain wilderness, then a mix of desert wilderness and farm lands. Seven million people is a lot of people. If one percent of them bought one of my books, I’d be able to pay a large chunk of my mortgage. I look forward to that happening.
While I celebrate every sale, a sale to Aberdeen, WA raises my spirits a bit while a sale to Aberdeen, UK raises my spirits a lot. And then I drop into the author’s mode of wondering what they’ll think and whether they’ll post a review. Sales can satisfy the mortgage. Reviews can satisfy the soul.
Less than 1% of the readers are reviewers. I understand that. I rarely review books unless I can compliment the author or give other readers advice on some fresh perspective. One suggestion I expect someone to post about my first book, Just Keep Pedaling, is to read the emails first or last, but not necessarily entwined with the text. The book is laid out that way, but now that I am a seasoned author (harumph, harumph) I know I’d do things different. Maybe I’ll redo it if I make a kindle version.
Books can become dialogs; especially, in the age of amazon (which includes a rarely used discussion section) and social media (where the 57 character title of Walking Thinking Drinking Across Scotland by Tom Trimbath plus a tinyurl leaves few characters for a twitter commentary – how about a hashtag #WTDScotland?). I prefer dialog to lecture. A Yank walking across Scotland without referring to guidebooks sees the modern Scotland, but I must have made some local want to make me see exquisite history that was only a block off my route, or seen by looking left instead of right. I’ve already heard from a previously unconnected branch of the family that saw my pictures and introduced themselves. I wonder if I could’ve stayed with Trimbaths along the entire trip. I wonder how silly I would feel if I retraced the route with a guide. (Hmm, research for a second book that would also be a book tour? Anyone interested?)
Authors look forward to having so many readers that they can’t get to know them all. Even with amazon’s sales tracking, I can only guess at where a reader lives. Within the States, that is a fraction of a state. Within the UK, it looks like I hear that there was a sale within the UK, nothing finer than that. Today’s technology has produced many avenues for those connections. I look forward to having so many reviewers than I can’t get to know them all, but here at the start it is easiest to make your voice heard. And if speaking in public or typing to the world feels a bit too exposed then you’re welcome to send me an email or give me a call. (I recommend the email. The mortgage company has done some weird phone tricks so I am less likely to pick it a call – until I pay off the mortgage of course.)
So, Aberdeen, UK, I look forward to hearing from you. Aberdeen, WA, I look forward to hearing from you too, but at least for this book, the Scots have the power.