Every so often, author friends and I have this discussion which generally follows the same path.
"I really love this book."
"It's a great book. One of your best. Look at the 5 star reviews from all these happy readers."
"Yeah but Auntie Nora's shopping list - the one with cream for her piles - sold more copies than this book did."
"Gettaway. Why didn't it sell?"
"Fuck knows. XXXX did and that's a pile of pants."
"HUGE pants. Great-aunt Betty sized pants."
"There's no justice in the world."
It's not fair. The book you put your heart and soul into sells three copies and sinks into oblivion. XXXX which was clearly written on the back of a cigarette packet sells hundreds of thousands of copies, if not millions, and is crap, really crap.
Lisa Worrall and I had this discussion a couple of weeks ago and she blogged about it. We've both had books, Hairy Harry's Car Seat for me last year and Un-Expected for Lisa that have sold very well - and yet others have sold less than Auntie Nora's shopping list. Why these and not the others?
There's no rhyme of reason why X sells and Y doesn't. They can be about the same topic and yet one catches the readers' imagination and one doesn't. You may get five star reviews from reviews sites but will they translate into sales? Let's face it, readers make their own minds up about what they want to read, and word-of-mouth is a powerful tool. Aha! But what about marketing? Clever marketing does make a difference but word-of-mouth is greatest marketing tool there is - look at the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon.
What about our genre. Let's be honest. The MM Romance genre is very small tadpole in the big pond of romance. Except that no one knows how big it is because there is no industry record. We could be 5% of the romance market, we could be 55%. Who knows? But it's hard when you see tweets from authors celebrating 6000 downloads a month, and knowing that even with your one bestseller, you could only reach half that figure - for one month - maybe. Will MM romance ever reach mainstream sales levels? I see MM books reaching scary high in the Kindle charts. I look forward to the day we hit the top 100 on a regular basis. I want to be one of those writers.
I have four years' experience as an author. I follow the pattern; regular releases and I see sales building up from sales of my back catalogue. I call myself a jobbing writer. I work hard, I write a lot, release a lot and I hope that each new book will be 'the' one. I have hope and I love my job.
So if you're discouraged. If today is not your day, now's the time to pull up your big girl/boy panties, mainline the coffee and start writing. Because your next book could be it.