There is one question above all others that I am sure all writers dread. Certainly the indie writers. Although, I can understand that the more traditional, and shall we say more mainstream (by which I mean bestselling) writers, this question is equally dreaded, albeit for slightly different reasons.
Oh, you’re a writer. That’s cool. So, How many books have you sold?
Whoa!!!! Hold it right there!
It is a horrible question right? Even to read and consider in a hypothetical sense reduces one to a pile of nervous jelly. Rightly so too, for this is one of the toughest questions you will ever be faced with, for one simple reason. There is no answer you can give which will be acceptable.
People who understand the business would know not to ask the question in the first place, and anybody who did would simply be digging with the hope that they could then brag about their own sales. Your answer would then either deflate their ego, when you announce more than they had been so happy about, or make you feel bad when you hear their astronomical figure.
people who don’t understand the business will always be disappointed with anything less than best seller style figures. To them, a book is only a success when you get rich, they do not think about the accomplishment in itself, or the hard work you put into it, the pride at seeing but one copy sold, or one review received. No answer you could give them would be enough, but the number they want to hear would have to mean that you had successfully retired from your everyday job and entered the world of an upper level author, whose fame would undoubtedly speak for itself, thus rendering the question un-asked in the first place.
When people ask me this question, as they invariably do, I give a generic answer, unless it is from someone – and I have a few people in this category – who actually cares about you and the answer you are going to give.