67. Measuring Your Book’s Success

Writing a book is a significant investment.

It’s up to you to invest your time, your energy, and your knowledge so of course you want some kind of return on that investment.

So it’s also up to you to decide what matters to you and what makes your book successful.

In this episode, you’ll discover 7 ways to measure your book’s success.

Take them with a grain of salt and focus on the ones that align with your goals—stop wasting time worrying about the rest.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis.


Mentioned in This Episode

Jump-Start: A free guide to help you jump-start your nonfiction book.

Episode Transcript

Hey there and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach, Candice L Davis.

I hope your week and your writing are going well.

Earlier this week, I was wrapping up a session with a coaching client, when she stopped me and said, “Just one more question. How do I measure the success of my book?”

Now she’s a numbers person, much more so than I am, so I was surprised by that question, but that led me to the topic for this episode.

Let’s dive into Seven Ways to Measure Your Book’s Success.

To be clear, only you can determine what success looks like for you.

So let me be honest with you.

For me, the first and most important measure of success for your book is having a finished product you can be proud of.

Writing a great book is a huge investment of your time, energy, and knowledge.

At the end of that process, if you can look at your book and be proud of what you created, that’s absolutely a measure of success.

It’s a personal success, for sure, but it also positions you to market and promote your book with confidence.

That doesn’t mean you’ve written a perfect book. That doesn’t exist.

But when you know you’ve created something of value, when you’ve written a book that keeps its promise to the reader, when you know you’ve poured all you have into your book to make it the best it can be right now, you’re much more likely to want to tell the world about it.

So let’s get into some other measures of success for your book.

If you’re seeking prestige and an even higher level of credibility with your book, you might consider submitting your book to contests.

Awards from organizations you care about or organizations your audience will respect can confirm that you’ve created something of value—and you’re given a certain amount of bragging rights, of course.

But they can also give you a new marketing angle and introduce your book to a whole new audience. So the right awards can make a difference for your book.

A third measure of your book’s success can be bestseller status.

I hesitate to even include this on my list though. So many authors overestimate the importance of bestseller status. 

It can be a big deal. But in most cases, authors are hyping up their bestseller status in a tiny little niche subcategory on Amazon. 

There’s nothing wrong with that in and of itself.

But the fact is it’s often just an indicator that the book had very little competition on that day in that subcategory.

If you want to use bestseller status as a measurement of success, just get clear about what it really means to you.

Is it about rallying a couple dozen people to buy your book on one day?

Or is it about creating and investing in a strategy that allows you to sell hundreds or thousands of books in a short period of time? 

The authors sitting on the Amazon Top 100 bestseller list or on the New York Times bestseller list have a strategy behind that success. You may not be able to compete with that, but you don’t have to in order to have success with your book.

I have clients who have sold tens of thousands of copies of their books over the course of a few years and never made one of those top bestseller lists.

So keep bestseller status in perspective when you’re using it as a standard for your book’s success. 

Another way to measure your book’s success is by the opportunities it creates.

One of my clients, who’s a dynamic speaker, was doing all of  her talk events for free until she wrote and published her book.

Her audience includes a lot of non-profits and they weren’t paying her to speak at their events.

After she published her book (and frankly, marketed it very well) she not only started charging to speak, but organizations were reaching out to her instead of her chasing them.

That’s just one example of how your book can create new opportunities for you—it could also  lead to appearances on podcasts, TV, and radio, speaking on bigger stages, collaborations with other thought leaders you admire, and more.

Depending on what your goals are, that can be a real measure of success.

I often tell my coaching clients your book’s success isn’t all about book sales, but book sales can still be a “clear-cut” way to assess how your book is doing.

I’ll be real with you. While you technically can self-publish your book on any budget, to do it well and produce a professional product costs money.

Unless writing books is a hobby for you, costs like editing and design should be an investment.

And you want a return on your investment.

Earning back the money you invested and breaking even on your book is a very concrete measure of success. And then, everything else you make off your book is profit.

If your book is an authority piece that highlights you as the expert, then you might measure how many new clients and customers you get because of your book.

That can sometimes be more difficult to measure, if you see a significant rise in the sales of your other products and services after your book starts selling.

If one of your strategies is to give your book away as a lead magnet for your business, then you might measure the response rate. 

What percentage of people who saw the offer signed up to get a free copy of your book? What percentage converted to sales? 

The free book giveaway is not for everyone, by the way. 

The point is that only you can decide whether or not your book is a success. 

I stand behind my belief that writing a book you’re proud to have your name on, a book that provides value and fulfills its promise—whether that’s entertainment, education, inspiration, enlightenment, or something completely different—is the first measure of success.

But beyond that, only you can decide what constitutes a win for your book.

You may not care at all about awards and accolades. 

You might not have any desire to speak from a stage.

Set the goals that matter to you. And then go all in to achieve them.

That’s all for this episode my friends.

For more writing tips and inspiration, follow me on IG @candiceldavis. 

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach, Candice L Davis. And I’ll see you next time.

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