Know Jack #342 It’s the Law
“The acceleration of an object depends upon two variables – the net force acting on the object and the mass of the object.”
Math and physics aren’t my thing. I did well in both while in college, but…
So, I’m not going to try and explain Newton, at least not in a proper context, because I’m here to talk about writing and selling books. I’m pretty sure that Sir Isaac didn’t have authors in mind when the apple dropped on his head loosing a flood of insight into the way the universe works.
Be that as it may, Newton has important truth to share with writers about accelerating their work—at least as far as sales are concerned. I’m going to take his two variables mentioned here in reverse order, because writers hardly ever do things the way everybody else does.
The acceleration of your book to the coveted bestseller list is determined by the mass of your book. That is, the quality of your writing. Aunt Phoebe may buy your book because you’re her favorite nephew, but no one else is going to. The average self-published book sells about 50-60 copies—mostly to friends and family. The quality of the writing, or the lack thereof, is generally the reason why.
I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade, but it was your high school English teacher’s job to encourage you to write. Just saying… Of course, that doesn’t mean they were lying to you. If you’ve read the blog and have come to Know Jack, then you know I believe writing is a gift people are born with. You also know that’s not good enough and going it alone is a bad idea. If your target is 50-60 book sales, you don’t need much more acceleration, you’re on target.
The mass of your book, to get anywhere, needs a net force to act upon it. The force, as all Star Wars fans know, is out there, moving in and around everything. It just needs to be focused to move your book. To bring the net force into motion, you must get its attention. Remember, there is no try.
The net force, as you might have surmised is made up of readers. The more attention you focus—the more readers’ eyes you draw—the greater the potential for action! Not everyone who sees your book will buy it or read it, but a small percentage will. It’s a crapshoot at best. One thing is certain, however, if they don’t know your book exists, they are not going to read it.
The net force must act upon the mass for acceleration to occur. When I was young, most of my cars had a standard transmission. That worked out well because I can’t count the number of times that I had to push-start them. In doing so I learned the more people you have pushing, the easier it was to get the car started. (I did have one that I only parked on a hill.)
Readers are the propellant that will launch your book. Reviewers will keep it flying. There is no such thing in writing as perpetual motion, constant force is necessary. Finding your ‘tribe” or your “people” is all the rage. Don’t be surprised when you find yourself gravitating to those friends who not only read your books but introduce you as their friend—the author.
Newton's words used here aren’t just a good idea, it’s the law.