I realized today it’s been more than a week since I posted an entry and even longer than that when I wrote once since my good friend Eddie submitted the last article. I would have guessed it had been about 4 days. Things are just coming at me fast and I figure I’d let you know about it more as an exercise to allow me to take a breath and see what’s going on and process it than me thinking you actually care about my schedule.
A little more than a year ago, I was kind of burnt out. I’d been promoting my first book for a year at that point and was pushing my co-author to finish the edits on his section of my second book. I made the decision in early June to take a step back from this blog and the whole “porn addiction author/educator” thing for the first time. I was just getting off probation and while I wasn’t going to quit doing this, I knew I needed a break.
I lined up about 8 guest bloggers, wrote three or four of my own, scheduled everything and walked away until early September, after I returned from a month-long trip with my daughter across the country. I think a year ago today as I write this we were pulling into San Francisco. That trip was much needed for my mind and soul as the legal ordeal finally ended after five-and-a-half years. I would have hated to have planned that trip for this year. Who knows what would have even been open?
My book did a little bit better than I expected early on and really would have had some staying power, I believe, if not for the pandemic. It is still selling better than my most recent book and is now in over 500 libraries…if you can find an open one to borrow it from. I’m guessing I would have sold several hundred more copies if not for the pandemic. Here’s some proof:
Hopefully you can see that graph. It’s the story of the paperback version of the book. I know a lot of authors won’t share this info, but I think it’s because they don’t sell many books. I’m in a genre where I’m not going to be ranked #5, #50, #500, or #5,000 on the Amazon Best seller list. I understand that, so I don’t mind sharing.
This tells the story of 4 timeframes. The first run to the beginning of February. This is the initial sales period of around 10 weeks where things can go up and down very quickly with the sale of one book because there are so few of that single title sold. It’s hard to really get an idea how your book is doing during this time.
The next period runs February through early April. This is the period of time when libraries start to buy books. While many libraries buy them through special companies, a lot will simply purchase them on Amazon and it’s why you see the line graph so high during this time.
The next period we call “the pandemic.” This is when COVID-19 hit and people stopped thinking about anything except toilet paper and dying. I went from selling 10-20 copies per day to literally selling 0 of the paperback. A few Kindles were still sold, but nobody was buying the book anymore.
The current period we’re in has been happening since June and I guess we’d call it recovery or “the new normal.” I sell a few paperbacks every week although people still prefer the Kindle. The last couple weeks have improved a bit and I’m hoping that continues. Between paperback and Kindle, I sell probably one book a day right now, sometimes two. It’s still a steep drop, but libraries haven’t reopened and the book is now more than six months old. Still, I know we’ve done over 1,000 copies sold and that is more than double my first book and my latest book, while my favorite in many ways, just isn’t gathering traction yet.
Anyway, during the entire timeline you see above, I pulled back on the site again. I needed to devote the time to marketing the second book (and writing the third). I was also doing more interviews than before. Podcasts got even more popular during the pandemic as people either started them or listened to more when they were stuck at home.
Things really went crazy for me when it was announced that I will be giving a TED Talk in December and when I asked for help a couple weeks back on a poll about porn addiction to help me narrow the focus of the presentation. I was expecting between 50 and 100 people filling it out. As of right now, it sits at 815 responses and I haven’t mentioned it to anyone in over a week.
Since the TED Talk announcement and especially since the survey was shared by so many people on social media, I’ve been inundated on all sides by people wanting to have me to talk about some kind of collaboration with them, wanting advice on how to get their own TED Talk, wanting advice and knowledge about pornography addiction or requesting I be on their podcast.
The podcast thing got out of control before I recognized it. I would guess I average 1-2 per week in most times. Even when I’m telling the same story over and over, it serves as an important reminder of why I do what I do when people hear my answers for the first time. It’s like therapy and some ways and has helped my recovery.
In the beginning, I had to solicit hosts to appear on their podcasts. I stopped doing that about six months ago when I started getting more and more invitations. I was recording the same amount, but wasn’t asking them to appear. Happy anybody wanted to hear me, I said yes 99% of the time, only avoiding shows where I had a suspicion porn addiction would be mocked.
In early July, when the new book came out and the TED Talk was announced, more requests came in than usual. I still said yes. Then, more. Then, more. And some of these requests were really fascinating. I’ve appeared on a few panel discussion shows, including one called Face to Face that has almost no talk of porn addiction I posted today. A few of the shows have been talking about other things than porn, which is really interesting. If you check out my Appearances page you’ll see the last five or six that have published are not the run-of-the-mill appearances. I know most people who frequent this site don’t listen to my podcasts, but these are very unique compared to what I usually do. It’s a nice switch, and I’m learning how to participate in different kinds of discussions (I’ll never drop my habit of saying “you know” all the time) but it still takes time out of my week. Instead of 2-3 hours per week, it’s now more like 10 hours, because some people like to do 90 minutes, or we get to the end of the hour and they ask if we can record a two-parter, so we just keep going.
I’m not complaining about this as I find it interesting, but the time I’m not only spending with this additional podcast load and other additional asks of my time is coming at a price, and this website is part of it.
I’ve made the decision that I’m going to start developing a bit of a criteria for agreeing to do shows. I’ll do things that sound interesting regardless of number of listeners, but if it’s just the same interview I’ve given 100 times, I’m going to limit it to once a week, unless the show has a very big listenership. Too many people have told me, “You need to stop doing 10 podcasts with 500 listeners and do 1 with 5,000 listeners.” In the past, getting the big one was tough. Now, they’re asking me to appear. I need to recalibrate and wrap my arms around the idea it doesn’t make me a snob and I’m not dropping the ball if I don’t go on a show that only gets 40 listeners. I need to use my time the best way possible and that changes over time.
I have an amazing coach that I have begun meeting with for my TED Talk. Theoretically, if 50,000 people eventually watch the video that will go online, isn’t the time I spend with him preparing worth 100 podcasts with 500 listeners each? I think so, and those are the kinds of things I need to think about.
I’m also trying to think about what may make me a few more dollars. My royalty check in December for my second book is going to be decent. But I’ve been working on that book since mid-2018 and won’t get paid until almost 2021, and it’s not like five-figures decent money. It’s like very low four-figures. It will probably take care of Christmas for my family, that’s it.
I’ve decided to focus on building a few things out in September that will help me make more money. I’m currently working with someone on a very basic online course that will serve as more of a pilot project to see if something more comprehensive should be developed. I’m also going to revisit the coaching side of things. I’ve worked with people continually, but have done no advertising and marketing and that website is in great need of updating. These two things should allow more money to flow in. It’s taken me a long time to truly be comfortable with the need to make money off of my work, but after all, it is work and I’m coming around to the fact you can do something altruistically and make money. I had to fake the altruism part in my pre-recovery life and recalibrating takes a while.
It would not make sense for me to completely unplug like I did last year for a few months. Too much is going on and I don’t want to miss an opportunity. Whatever “the next level” is, I feel like I’m standing just outside the door. Walking away now would be foolish.
Anyway, if you made it this far, you’re likely wanting this to end. I just needed to put this on paper, or a computer screen, as I mentioned early on. I like having this space to always return to and get my guts out. I feel like people here “get me” more than most places, so thank you for always being there.