A Singular Day

Starshine launched just over a week ago. Over the course of that first week, sales were somewhat better than I expected as a new and, let’s face it, unknown author who had just given her book away for free to everyone who did know of her. Sales varied from as many as 10 copies to as few as zero in a day. It popped up on the Amazon “Sci-Fi—Space Exploration” Bestseller list periodically, only to fall off again when sales lulled. Still, by the end of the first week I had sold 68 copies across all formats and platforms. “Not bad at all,” I said to myself.

Then yesterday happened.

I woke up Thursday morning to discover (via the Afterword mobile app—perfect for the truly obsessive among us) that I had sold 20 copies on Amazon overnight. I was elated of course, though I had no idea the reason for the dramatic uptick.

By the time I got downstairs and my computer booted up, that number was 26. By noon it was 74, and Starshine was #7 on that Sci-Fi—Space Exploration Bestseller list and #19 on the far more crowded Sci-Fi—Space Opera list. Even more astoundingly, it had broken into the Amazon Hot New Releases in Science Fiction at #35. Of course, mere presence on these lists increases sales as a book becomes far more visible to browsing shoppers, so sales were now feeding on themselves.

I have been utterly unable to discover the reason for the initial surge overnight which made everything that followed possible. Minor marketing efforts had been ongoing for most of the week on Twitter and Facebook, and these had generated a small number of shares to larger audiences…perhaps one found its way in front of the right group. I honestly do not know.

Hugh Howey recently shared an excellent post titled “Luck and Lottery,” which is both a rallying cry for self-publishing and a cautionary tale for authors. He makes the point that hard work, perseverance and talent are all necessary elements to succeed as an author, but they are not sufficient to do so. To quote, “You have to write because you love it. You can’t expect to make a living at this. Luck is involved. Most won’t make it.”

Lucius Seneca (aptly enough) is credited with saying, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” One day does not a career make, and I’m not earning a living at it just yet. But I believe I received a mega-dose of that “luck” ingredient yesterday. Maybe even enough for a significant number of people to find the book, take a chance on it and—if it’s as good as I truly believe it is—review it, share it and tell others about it.

By the time I went to bed last night, Starshine was #4 on the Bestsellers List in Sci-Fi—Space Exploration, #12 in Sci-Fi—Space Opera, #72 in all Science Fiction(!), and #19 in Hot New Releases in Science Fiction. Yesterday was an incredible day watching these events unfold before me on my computer screen. It was remarkable. Singular. And even if tomorrow the trend fades and never comes again...I will remember yesterday for a very long time.