Monday, September 19, 2011

The What If Game

Do you ever do the what-if thing? I’m currently working on a book that may have a target audience of 130,000. Just imagine if all of them purchased the book. Even at $1 per book, that would be a lot of money. Considering the nature of the book, $1 is actually on the low side. And if I sold that many copies, I’d have publishers and agents beating at my door trying to sign me. I know it isn’t realistic, but what-if.

But what would be more realistic? I happen to know that the 130,000 number may be over inflated because it is the number of times a particular piece of software has been downloaded, not the number of people using the software. Let’s suppose that the average user has download the software five times. If so, the number of users is 26,000. That’s not quite as impressive, but I wouldn’t mind selling that many copies. If the price is set right, I could make a nice sum from that. What-if?

We know that not all of the users will buy the book. What if 5,000 bought it? Depending on how the book is priced, I could still make enough money from that to make it worth my effort. What-if?

But what if it is a complete flop? What if I put hundreds of hours into this book and no one wants it? What-if?

That’s the problem with writing books. It is always a risk, but we’re dreamers. Sometimes, I think it is helpful to imagine what if I could sell 130,000 and make $15 each. That would make a nice retirement fund. It’s that kind of thinking that will convince you that the effort you’re putting into it will pay off in the end. It sure beats thinking that you’re spending hundreds of hours writing something for four or five people who will complain about what you did.

But you also have to be realistic. If the book is needed, you’ll have no trouble selling it to a few hundred people, but you still may not sell it to several thousand. You’ve got to keep your costs under control. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. It’s not such a bad thing to write an excellent book that is read by a few hundred people. When you think about it, most churches are smaller than that. We would happily put that much effort into preparing something for church, so even if our book is only read by a few hundred people, it isn’t a bad thing.