So much of social networking is presenting the best possible version of yourself online that it often means means no one’s just being candid about their struggles and the realities of selling online. I recently realized over on my other blog that my candid posts about what I was personally struggling with and the mistakes I’ve made were some of my most popular and the ones readers told me were the most helpful. And then it occurred to me that I almost never do that over here and that it might be really valuable to anyone else who isn’t perfect (so… everyone). When we’re all only presenting the best possible version of themselves, it can seem like you’re the only one having trouble while everyone else is sailing along perfectly and that just doesn’t reflect reality. So, to that end, I’m going to just be completely truthful here and let the warts show.
As has been discussed, Sell Their Stuff is a re-imagining of my 2007 book, The Trading Assistant’s Assistant. I had to rewrite the book three full times because of changes eBay made to the program before it finally became the future proof version of the text available today. Needless to say, this took a lot of time. Time that took away from other earning opportunities (I’ve listed so little on eBay in the last two years, it’s downright embarrassing) and time with family. But I made the judgement call that the extra time spent was worth it because of the future earning potential of the book. Like any business owner, I evaluated the potential profits and decided the work was worth it.
I didn’t form this opinion on nothing. Even though it was out of date and never released in ebook, The Trading Assistant’s Assistant has been selling steadily all this time. I was operating on the assumption that the new edition of the book would, at least, match those numbers, though I was obviously hoping for it to do much better. Sales for The Seller Ledger and Beyond Amazon, eBay and Etsy are also steady so all signs pointed to the fact that Sell Their Stuff would sell pretty well even if I did nothing.
But I didn’t do nothing. I put as many things as I could in motion in advance, sending out more review copies than I did for the TAA, advertising well in advance of release, taking pre-orders, blogging the book here and more. I also invested more out of pocket than I would normally have done to make this book the best it could be because I was hopeful I would recoup it once the book was for sale. I’m not new at this, I’ve got a proven track record of moving books. I had this… or so I thought.
Sell Their Stuff came out on November 1st and I’ve gotten a lot of praise from readers who love it and that’s always the best thing for an author and it’s nice to know the book itself isn’t the problem. But its sales numbers are disappointing, to say the least. I’m, frankly, frustrated and disappointed. It’s not only that it hasn’t made as much profit as I would have liked. It hasn’t even made back what I spent to launch it yet and that’s not even taking into account the years of work those three rewrites took and the income I missed out on while I was focusing on this book. While a it has a long future ahead of it and plenty of time to eventually make back what it cost me (in terms of time and money both), the longer it takes for me to get back into black on this project, the more I feel like I goofed big time.
But there’s no use in getting upset over failure. You have to learn from it. So I’ve been taking a long hard look at what I did wrong to see what, if any, I can fix for the next time.
So this post doesn’t get ludicrously long, I’m going to split this up into a series of smaller posts. But the first thing I’ve been wondering is if the mere fact that eBay cancelled the Trading Assistant program itself hurt the book. While all the working TA’s I know have said they aren’t effected by the chance, did it have an effect on the number of people searching for info on the program? Or does it just mean the keywords have changed and The Trading Assistant’s Assistant‘s sales would have been dropping off now anyway?
I don’t know the answer to that question. What do you think?