A year in the life of a book: a summary

My first book was published almost a year ago – While no one can predict book sales, that hasn’t stopped people, especially writers, from trying.

Below you’ll find a year’s worth of amazon.com sales data for The art of project management (provided by rankforest.com) with notes on my activities (This starts 4 weeks after the book was in stores because I didn’t know about rankforest until then). There are problems with amazon rankings, but they’re an easy indicator to track.

Here is the promotion rundown from 5/1/2005 to today:

Who knows if these efforts help – plenty of books do well without things like this, and many with big promotion budgets do poorly. It’s complex and a topic for another post.

However it happened, the book has been a big success. Thanks to all of you for visiting, reading, buying and spreading the word about the book. Every sale motivates me to work that much harder and write that much more.

The pairing of writing books and being for hire as a trainer/consultant feeds off each other: people who like the book often hire me and people who hire me often buy the book. So for any would-be writers out there, this is a great approach for a first book.

I’m doing well and have signed to write a second book for O’Reilly – I’m on track to put another dent in that shelf.

For fun, comparative data is listed for Malcom Gladwell’s book “Blink”. Not sure what happened to him on 10/16, but it looks like he survived his largest rank-drop: from the teens down to 57.


10 Responses to “A year in the life of a book: a summary”

  1. Timothy

    Thanks, Scott. This post was a great boost for me, since my first book launches in 3 weeks. Thank you for sharing your insights (especially the lessons learned from the book tour). Your book is well done, and you’ve well earned your success.

  2. Konrad West

    I’m wondering how a novelist can capitalize on the consultant thing to boost awareness/sales? ;)

  3. Timothy

    Konrad – I had to wrestle with that myself Business events, like novels, are all a variation on story-telling. I chose to do my story-telling through business fables. An acquaintance of mine in the blogosphere, Mark True (alittlebitofmark.blogspot.com) focuses on organizational identity and branding to tell stories. If you already know how to tell a good story, there are a lot of applications for consulting in almost every field. The trick is telling your own story to articulate the value proposition to your potential clients.

  4. Julien Couvreur

    The graph you posted are amazon “sales rankings”. It seems that raw volume would be a better metric, as it wouldn’t mix information from sales from all the other books sold on amazon (which you have no control over).

  5. Scott (admin)

    Fiction is a whole ‘nother ballgame. The competition for authors is more intense and the market is harder, not to mention how much more challenging it is to find a publisher.

  6. Scott (admin)

    Julien: Unfortunately I don’t have daily sales numbers for my book. Few authors do. As I mentioned, there are problems with amazon rankings, but it does give a ballpark metric for what’s going on.

  7. Scott (admin)

    Timothy: there are quite a few business books that use fictional narratives. Who stole my cheese is perhaps the most well known, but there are many others.

    Personally I find these things rarely work well – for whatever reason the people who choose to do it rarely have the fictional chops to write well, and since they’re trying to make deliberate non-fiction points, the writing is often very heavy handed, cheezy or just plain obvious.

    I do agree on the philosophy though – that being able to tell a good story is verstile skill. It’s just that the fiction as non-fiction thing, in the examples I’ve seen, rarely results in good stories.

  8. John Furrier

    Congrats on the book! I’ve had a great response from your podcasts. I’m very proud to have been part of your success with the podcast promotion that we did last June. The book is a must read for project managers.

    Lets circle back for another podcast soon.




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