You Sold HOW Many Books?


St. Louis trip Saturday Writers 016

You know all those Facebook and Twitter posts that show me at one bookstore or another with my books spread out in a lovely fan shape and a possum grin stretching my face?  Well, I AM having a good time.  I DO love to meet new people and, of course, I ADORE talking about myself and my books.  But here’s the truth, and I’m sharing this because I believe that all this fairy dust I sprinkle over my life in order to show myself in the best possible light for all this social media, well, it’s another fancy-spancy word for lying.

St. Louis trip Saturday Writers 005

This past weekend, I drove from Fayetteville, Arkansas to St. Louis, Missouri.  My good friend and talented writer, Ruth Weeks, came along with me.  The main event of the weekend was my speaking engagement at Saturday Writers in St. Peters.  Ruth and I were also scheduled to sign books at All on the Same Page bookstore on Friday afternoon and, on Saturday, directly after my presentation, at The Book House in St. Louis.

St. Louis trip Saturday Writers 008

Now.  You should know that I am nervous about driving in city traffic.  Particularly in big city traffic when I don’t know the area.  However, I have a GPS, and on this trip, I had Ruth, the red-haired witchy woman, riding shotgun.  So, while I fretted a bit, we zipped across traffic, and on and off exit ramps and side-streets, and down alleys with no major problems.  Yes, I made a wrong turn or two or three.  Didn’t matter.  We just went around the block, or to the next on-ramp and gave it another try.  These little side-trips were accompanied by Ruth’s roaring laughter and my serious cussing.

My point is, we got where we were going and I feel pretty darn good about myself for making it happen.   Thank you Jesus, and to the bitch in the GPS I offer sincere apologies for making you go nuts and blat ‘ Reee cal cu lating’ four dozen times when I got tangled in that detour.  All six times.

But, I cover only

Here’s what I want to share with you.  Ruth and I had an absolutely glorious time on this trip.  Saturday Writers is one of the most talented group of writers it has been my pleasure to meet.  The members are kind and funny and smart, oh my Lord, so smart. The auditorium where I spoke is gorgeous.  I would drive twice as far to speak there every weekend if they’d let me.  Dennis and Robyn Tidwell, owners of All on the Same Page bookstore in Creve Coeur were gracious and I enjoyed visiting with them both.  Michelle Barron and her daughter Kim at The Book House were awesome.  Ruth and I talked about everything under the sun from philosophy to politics to religion to book plotting.  The entire weekend was a delight.


I sold a total of five books.

Here’s why I’m sharing this little tidbit of information, the number of books I sold at all three events, with you.  Because as authors, as shameless promoters of our own books because no one else is going to market our beautiful babies, we are told to “frame posts on all social media sights in a positive light.”  Well, I get that.  I do

But, here’s the rub.  It sets us up.  I click on Facebook and see my brother and sister authors at one book signing or another, or speaking from a podium or laughing at one event or another and, I think, wow, what the heck am I doing wrong?  My last book signing I not only didn’t sell one single book but someone stole all my bookmarks and a dog peed on my book bag.

So, I’m going to tell you the truth.

If you love writing and you get off on speaking, and meeting new people and hearing their stories is a joy for you, then write and publish and enjoy the heck out of your life. For me, the experience IS the joy.  The adventure is in the journey, not the destination.  But if you think writing six hours a day and promoting and speaking and traveling and racking your brain for new, different, intriguing ways to make readers look at your book–if you think all of that is going sell boxes and boxes of your novel and make you money?  Well, I hear Walmart is looking for greeters.


About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
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20 Responses to You Sold HOW Many Books?

  1. Thanks for following me. How did you get started in writing? How did you find
    an honest publisher? Donna

    Sent from my iPhone

    • I’ve been writing every day for over eight years, but I’ve been writing since I was old enough to grasp one of those fat pencils in Mrs. Hansen’s second grade class. It’s what keeps me relatively sane. As for finding a good and honest publisher, it can be a challenge. Ask authors, in private if they’re happy with their publisher. No small press does promotion, it’s just not in the budget, so you’re going to do it yourself even, I hear, if you land a NY contract.

  2. Pam, you always tell the deepest truths! I know many writers will heave a sigh of relief reading this. You are NOT failures, you are planting seeds that grow slowly but if you’re still around at harvest time, you will be rewarded. Meanwhile, the journey IS the thing, as you say.
    P.S. ALWAYS get contact info for the folks who attend your signings! Cultivate this list. Reward it with tasty tidbits — giving something, not asking for it. IMHO

  3. Susan says:

    Many truths packaged in a hilarious fashion. Thanks

  4. Julee J. Adams says:

    In my previous life, I ran a chain bookstore. Granted, it was twenty some odd years ago and so many things have changed in the biz, but I remember the frustration from the other end of things. All the promotion and only selling a few books made me want to apologize to my authors. One author sold an article about her experience to Writer’s Digest magazine that made me cringe. So, yes, it is a step in the process. It’s a chance to cultivate contacts (“Hey, wasn’t that the author at the thing?”) and get away from your computer desk. But, you’re right, the important thing is to keep writing and building a body of work. Thanks for bringing up some great memories!

  5. Bud Hanks says:

    That’s geezers at Walmart

  6. Jan Morrill says:

    Pamela, Pamela, Pamela. Thank goodness for the Truth Goddess. The hilarious Truth Goddess. I must share this truth with others. 🙂

  7. Don’t compare your day-to-day life with somebody else’s highlight reel, right? One of the dangers of social media. Thank you for your honesty!

  8. truthsbyruth says:

    Amen, Sister Pam, Amen!
    And Pam sold more books than me! Deep in my soul, however, I know the day will come for both of us when Hollywood knocks on our door and our books top the best seller list. Maybe in another life time. But the day will come. Until then, we trudge on. GPS stuck on the window, me laughing and you cussing. It don’t get much better than that!

  9. When I picked up NY Times Bestselling author, Patrick Rothfuss, for the OWFI conference, he was heading to a book signing on Thursday evening. He explained that if only 50 people or so showed up, he’d be able to make the OWFI festivities. If over 100 showed up, he’d be there until midnight. To which I replied, in my ever-so-professional AND presidential voice, “Oh, shut up. The last book signing I had, 3 people showed up and they were all my cousins.” He laughed. Thought I was being funny. It was the truth and the cousins were there for the free food. Did they buy a book? One did. Then, she promptly shared it with everyone she worked with. I told her the point was to make them BUY the book. I don’t care if they read the damn thing!

    Thanks for your honesty.

  10. Love this, Pam. Thank you for revealing the cold, hard facts. I know I feel a lot better for having read this!

  11. Linda Joyce says:


    I’ve been involved in exactly 3 book signings. The first one, I only sold 1 book; the second one, I sold about 5. I guess the third time is a charm, (the kind you buy at TG&Y remember them?) I sold 14. The first signing took place in a huge auditorium with 300 other authors. Of course the line was actually a circle with a circle for Sylvia Day. 🙂

    As a reader, this is my perspective: I may only come out once to see an author at a book signing, however, I’m the one who’s bought all of their books before the current one their hawking, AND, I’ll be the one buying everything else they write after that. I so hope other readers are like me.

    Thanks for sharing.


    Linda Joyce

  12. Lisa Medley says:

    Great post! I think the ‘civilians’ thing that publishing a book is like winning the lottery! I’m about to be published with a major publisher…Know how much I’ll make per book? Sixty cents. Yep, I only need to sell 100,000 copies EVERY YEAR before I can quit my day job. Geez. Keep up the good fight!

  13. frog5 says:

    Jeez, you really brought me down, Pam. I had envisioned you arriving at the bookstore in a stretch limousine to wild applause and a rush by fans to breach the police barrier and kiss the hem of your garment. Following which you would refresh yourself at the champaign waterfall preparatory to signing the books being offloaded from an eighteen wheeler. And I of course wished to emulate you. Pooh!

  14. Jack LaBloom says:

    That’s what is so great about your posts, Pam. You tell us the truth facts of life when others try to make us feel we are the only ones struggling to make it as a writer. My only experience to date has been my short stories, but as I prepare to launch my first full length novel I am under no illusions it will sell quickly or easily. I must admit I wrote for years to keep my brain working, but after joining the workshop I began to think that one day I might truly become an author. That day has come and whether I sell one book or 10,000 books, I reap the benefits of knowing I have done something over 80% of the American people wish they could do, write a novel. Most wish they could do it thinking they will make a lot of money. I do it because I’d rather continue to chase my dreams, even if I fail, than one day have to look back and regret I gave up too soon, or worse never even tried to reach my goals. Before I wrote fiction, I did several oil paintings, who knows, one day one of them might be the topic of conversation among my great-great-great grandchildren. Chasing dreams is a lot fun no matter what the outcome. It sure the heck beats the alternative.

    Pam, for a writer with your talent, it is just a matter of time. For someone Iike me, itt may take a lifetime, but so far the journey is delightful.

  15. Sorry I missed your talk to Saturday Writers. I heard you were great! And thanks for being so honest–and funny–about your book signings. My stomach churns at the thought of doing them, unless I’m doing them with friends.
    “Someone Stole my Bookmarks and a Dog Peed on my Bookbag” would be a great title for a humorous article on book signings.

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