Monday, December 10, 2012

A Lesson On The Dreaded November Sales Slump

For those of you with published books, myself included, November was a total disappointment in sales. Now, I've read a few blogs by more enlightened people than myself, and this is the way it goes. People are gearing up for the holidays and the extra money they use to buy books, they're now using for themselves.

We can't fault them for that. I do the same thing.

Come December 26, all will be right in our little worlds again, because of all the gift cards and shiny new e-readers given as gifts. Yay for us.

However, in studying my stats for November, I also remember that Hurricane Sandy hit during the first week in November. In 1991 Hurricane Bob hit Rhode Island and I was homeless for 6 weeks. My beloved beach house where I lived was wrecked beyond comprehension. Rocks filled the driveway, the yard, my 200 gallon propane tank that I used for heating and cooking floated in the estuary behind the house, the National Guard wouldn't let us come down the road to survey the damage, Coastal Resources wanted to condemn the house although it was still standing.

My world was thrown for a giant loop, trying to work, figure out which friend I could bum a couch off to sleep on or a shower, what to do with my dog. I slept in my car for week on the public beach. It was a nightmare to be sure. No, I didn't lose my stuff, I had days to move my things to higher ground, but I did lose my home.

That hurricane was a lesson I've never forgotten. It doesn't matter what you have, the stuff you accumulate through the years. What matters is that you survive the bad things that happen. That you, and your children and your pets are okay. Towels, kitchen gadgets, furniture can be replaced. Human lives cannot.

After surviving a disaster like Hurricane Bob, I know how those people who lived through Hurricane Sandy feel. Shock and awe comes to mind, then the mind-numbing emotional crippling -- What are we going to do now?

So, as we all commiserate our falling sales, can we just remember there are people who have lost so much more than that. Our lives will be on the upswing in just a few more weeks. For those people who have lived through Hurricane Sandy, they will be recovering for months or years to come.

Let's keep November in perspective.


R. Mac Wheeler said...

I live in Florida and have been less impacted by hurricanes than you have.

A belated, heart goes out to you on your losses in '91.


You're right. Live is short. Ya need to focus on what's important.

luv ya,

Stina Lindenblatt said...

It is so easy to lose perspective. Rejections don't bother me so much. My oldest child was born three months premature (he turns 13 on Wednesday). Rejections aren't a big deal. Watching your new born cling to life is a big deal. It all in your perspective of things.

The November slump explains why everyone is putting their ebooks on sale.

Anne Gallagher said...

Mac -- Thanks, man. The mind may not forget, but the heart does eventually heal.

Stina -- Yes, when your child is sick, it puts everything else into perspective. Monster was sick for a long time too.

And yes, with the new KDP Select bank coming in at a cool million, people are going nuts with free and sales. Those of us who have played that game already don't have much hope of surviving the gut of free that will be coming.

Just keep swimming I suppose.

Jennifer Shirk said...

It's so true. I was just talking about this with a friend. It's so easy to forget. especially since I'm now situated since Hurricane Sandy, I can't assume others are too.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

This is a terrific post to put things into proper perspective.

"I cried because I had no shoes, and then I met a man who had no feet." Not sure who the originator is of that quote, but my mother used to say it.

Laurel Garver said...

Perspective is everything. After going through a major house fire with my parents (I only lost some boxes I was storing in their attic), you realize how much is "just stuff". Real life is not belongings but character.

Sales will always ebb and flow month to month--self-pubbing is a long-tail business, kind of like investing for retirement. You can't base your overall "success" on a few weeks of data.

Michael Offutt, Speculative Fiction Author said...

My heart goes out to the Hurricane Sandy victims. Shiny gift cards sound like a great way to make it through the holidays!

Donna Hosie said...

Good advice. I've already starting thinking out my January promo schedule for those with lovely new ereaders!

Johanna Garth said...

I hadn't given it much thought...just assumed people were busy, books aren't a priority, but reading this made me feel soooo much better! :)

Anne Gallagher said...

Jennifer -- I'm really glad you're okay. Everytime I see the pictures on the news I just want to cry.

Susan -- I love that quote and think about it quite a bit.

Laurel -- No, sales are only a small part of life in general, but when they're all you have (in terms of ego) some days it hurts.

Michael -- Waiting on a few cards myself.

Donna -- Yeah, now is the time to prepare. January will be here before you know it.

Johanna -- I mean it's not set in stone, it's just my opinion and a humble theory.

Something to think about.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Wise words for me to remember should I have a novel out there in a year or two. Thanks for sharing your experience and remember, your December sales will probably skyrocket. Happy Holidays, Anne.

Donna Hole said...

Oh my, I can't imagine being in a hurricane let alone surviving. I am always amazed at your positive attitude Anne.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I know my rankings dropped in November, so that very well may be true. Not worried though.
And I've been through hurricanes. Really hard to think about buying stuff when you don't have power, either.

Roland D. Yeomans said...

Chaos theory teaches that underneath the most erratic madness there is an order if you only look deeply enough.

In New Orleans after Katrina, I sat on the curb of the noisy Convention Center and held a sobbing mother who was holding her tiny baby who had just taken his last breath.

There were no words to be said. Any words would have sounded as bitter as vinegar and as hollow as my heart felt. I did not know the mother but I knew her pain. Sooner or later, we all know that pain.

"I know I will see him again" she wailed, "I know it! But, oh, how will I go on til I do. How?"


Each of us must answer that question for ourselves. I did it in my urban fantasy, FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE. But I left it to my readers to decide who was right: my undead priest or my agnostic hero, who once believed but whose grief no longer allowed him to.

My sales have slumped during November and December. I have only sold 3 copies of THREE SPIRIT KNIGHT and one of them was returned! Ouch.

I grieve at your loss of '91. I lost everything when my home burned and then again with Katrina and Rita.

Thanks for bringing me the "Why's" of the November and December slump.

As long as we have our health and inner peace, then we are truly blessed this Christmas season, Roland

Anne Gallagher said...

Yvonne -- Thanks. Skyrocketing would be swell, but I won't count me chickens yet.

Donna -- Introspection is sometimes my best friend. And believe me my attitude wasn't so sunny right after the hurricane.

Alex -- Yeah, Luckily I still had a job after the 91 storm, but I was mostly concerned with finding a place to live.

Roland -- I cannot imagine the grief and heartache that you have lived through somany times. Your spirit is indomitable.

Sarah Ahiers said...

the slump is weird to me, because i actually buy MORE books this time of year, because i'm buying gifts for people.

DL Hammons said...

From a consumers perspective, I know that my wife won't let me buy anything in November because it will ultimately end up on a Xmas list...even the little things. It bothers me, but I succumb. Grrrr. :)

Susan Fields said...

Wow, what a scary time that must have been. You're right, it does put things in perspective.

Carol Kilgore said...

I've been trying to get over here since Monday. I'm glad I finally made it. This is a wonderful post. We get so immersed in our own petty issues that we often forget about those who have lost everything in one disaster or another. Thank you for the gentle reminder.

Talli Roland said...

What a great reminder, Anne.

I was prepared for the slump this year, as I remember what happened last year!