The Power of Not Enough

This post by Nick Stephenson originally appeared on his site on 3/22/14.

I listened to an interesting podcast yesterday over at, featuring indie heavyweight Russell Blake. If you’ve got a spare 55 minutes, go have a listen – or check out the key points in the accompanying commentary – you’ll be glad you did. The podcast got me thinking:

How do we know when we have succeeded at something? How do we set realistic goals? More specifically, when it comes to selling books, how much is enough?

Russell cites James Lee Burke as a perfect example of getting exactly what you want out of this business. Burke writes in his own unique style, he doesn’t pander, and he has a solid, long-term sales record that most of us would give our right arms for. But, in Russell’s words, he’ll never sell like Dan Brown or James Patterson. But that’s okay. That’s not the point of what he’s trying to accomplish.

So what does this mean for the average indie author? In my experience, “enough” is almost impossible to quantify without some very clear (and achievable) goals. I remember, just starting out, when I’d be overjoyed to see 50 book sales a month. Then 100. More recently, 1,000, or even more on a Bookbub month. And, every month, I think to myself “this could be better.”

But how much better? Will I be satisfied with 2,000 sales a month? 5,000? 10,000? I realised I didn’t know where the line was. Although I’ve been lucky enough to see my work being read in all over the world (mostly in the US – thanks, guys!) I came into this game not expecting much – and, as a result, had no “end game” in mind.


Click here to read the full post on Nick Stephenson’s site.