The first Harry Potter book was released in July 1997 it sold 4.2 million books in the UK. Book seven sold 4.5 million and Book two, three, four, five, and six sold between 3 and 4 million. Worldwide it has sold 450 million. I would love to have the same number of book sales as JK Rowlings but Harry Potter was a phenomenon and phenomenons don’t happen very often.
Despite all these sales, what do you think happened when 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s/Philosopher’s Stone' was released? Nothing. The second book – the Chamber of Secrets – did better and reached number one for a month and then the third book was released to media acclaim. Once 'Prisoner of Azkaban' was out, it went to number one while the first two books held the other two places in the top three.
It’s quite a success story but when the book arrived at Bloomsbury in 1994, JK Rowlings was paid two thousand five hundred pounds and the initial print run was only five hundred. To become a successful author takes time (it wasn’t until 1999 that it really took off), patience and perseverance. If you define success as being the next JK Rowlings, you’ll be disappointed.
Hugh Howey is an independent author who has sold more than 1,000,000 books but I imagine you have never heard of him. He captained yachts for a number of years, met a girl, decided to move to dry land and began to write. Over ten years, nothing much happened then he wrote a novella called Wool which became a hit and the demand from readers was for more, so he wrote more. Once again it took time.
I have been doing this for seven months, so I have a while before I become the next JK Rowlings or Hugh Howey!