I wrote a book, so why isn’t it selling?
You wrote a book, and it took a long time. For those authors new to self-publishing, the next step can be daunting – trying to attract readers willing to pay good money to buy and read your book.
But first, they have to be able to find your book. One of the most frequent questions I’m asked by newly self-published authors is, “why isn’t my book selling?”
While there are a thousand reasons why a book doesn’t sell well, there is one fact that many newly self-published authors often fail to realize. The book market and the ebook market, in particular, are now well and truly over-supplied.
The following statistics tell a story
Accurate publishing statistics are difficult to find. But here are a few rough estimates.
300,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2003.
411,422 books were published in the U.S. in 2007.
1,052,803 books were published in the U.S. in 2009.
Approximately 3,000,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2011.
Just under 3,500,000 ISBNs were issued in 2018.
Since then, well, why bother to continue counting?
With these ever-increasing numbers of published books, it’s easy to see where one new book sits.
Lost in a huge crowd.
Selling books is not easy
The fact of the matter is that it is getting harder and harder to sell books, even for traditional publishers.
For a writer new to self-publishing, there is going to be a lot of hard work ahead; just to get noticed.
So what can you do to get some attention?
First, write a very good book
This may sound simplistic, but have you had independent feedback about the quality and appeal of your book?
Just because your mother likes the book you wrote doesn’t count for anything in attracting attention or climbing bestseller lists.
Yes, we all love our own books. But you really need to know if someone else, other than your mother, will love your book enough to buy it.
Find beta readers, give away free ebook copies to readers on social media, and get totally independent feedback before you publish.
Getting independent feedback and positive and negative opinions are the only way to know if you have written a great book.
Does your title create interest?
These are the most important few words you will write in your book. Give your title a lot of thought.
Research your book title before you make the final decision because your future book sales will depend heavily on the interest generated by your title.
Your book title is going to be the first thing that will hook a reader’s attention, so take your time.
Does your cover attract attention?
How does your book cover look when viewed as a very small thumbnail image?
Cover designs that work well in thumbnail view are very important.
This is almost always the first image of your book cover that a potential reader sees, and you want them to click on it.
Does your cover look amateurish, okay, or award-winning?
Look at your book cover as a thumbnail-size image. Is it attention-grabbing or a fuzzy little box?
Ask other people for their thoughts and value their opinions. Compare your cover with top sellers in your genre.
If you’re not happy with your cover, a small investment in a professionally designed book cover is certainly very good value for money.
Have you listed your book correctly?
When you self-publish your book, you need to provide two search categories (genres) and seven search keyword phrases.
These are by far the most important decisions you need to make when you publish.
Most book sales on Amazon are made by customers searching for a new book.
You need to get your book competitively listed in the right places for readers to find your book.
You need to research the best two categories and seven keywords.
The good news is that you can change them if you published in a hurry and didn’t give these enough thought.
Of all the ways to promote authors and books, listing them in the best place is far more effective than any other form of book promotion.
Does anyone know your name?
I’m a firm believer in promoting your name as an author rather than promoting the title of your short story or book.
Getting known is vital, so use social media or your email list to build your name recognition.
Yes, it’s slow going and hard work, but nothing is going to come easy in a crowd of millions of new books.
Don’t fill your social media streams with posts about the kids, the dog, or details about your headache or hangover.
Build a professional image of yourself by using personal accounts for chatting with your friends and family.
You want to sell books, not inform people about cupcakes.
Build quality Twitter and Facebook Page followings on separate author accounts.
Then concentrate on improving your reputation as a writer and try to become an authority in your genre or subjects and themes you write about.
Be patient, and don’t give up after three months
It takes a long time to build your author’s reputation and to write enough books to be noticed.
If you are expecting instant success through self-publishing, I would suggest trying something else. It’s just not going to happen.
There are almost no overnight success stories anymore, so be prepared to be in publishing for the long haul.
Set realistic goals
In your first year, with one or two titles published, don’t expect to sell many more than one or perhaps two hundred copies of your book.
The average royalties earned by self-published authors is less than $500 per year, so don’t even think about getting rich quickly.
Consider your price point
If you think you can publish a book of your favorite family recipes and price it at $30.00, you are in for a very big disappointment.
I doubt you will sell a single copy.
Why would anyone pay that amount for 50 recipes when they can get millions of recipes for free on the Internet?
If your romance ebook is priced at $9.99 when the bestselling titles are $2.99 or less, you have no hope of competing.
You have to offer your book at a realistic price and offer real value to your potential readers.
Don’t think that by publishing a book, you are guaranteed sales. You need a great product at a competitive price. That’s business 101.
Market your book. Don’t try to sell it
Let’s face it; you don’t like getting ‘Check out my book‘ or ‘Buy my book‘ messages, so why would anyone else react differently to you?
Guide your followers towards you, your books, and your blog and or website. There are lots of ways you can promote your book.
Don’t simply repeatedly post your Kindle sales page or a link to your book on Barnes & Noble.
This will only serve to drive potential book buyers away from you, not toward you.
Work at creating interest in your books, and you and sales and book reviews will follow.
Don’t pay for what you can do yourself
There are many ways to waste a lot of money when it comes to self-publishing and marketing books and ebooks.
Yes, you will have to invest as in any business, but be very wary. Avoid vanity publishers, in particular.
They offer nothing for an awful lot of money.
However, you will need to invest a little money in quality book covers, perhaps a professional proofreader or an editor if your budget allows.
But you can find many free ways to promote your books.
Write better and better
With each book you write, you will improve.
If you truly want to be an author who will be noticed, keep writing, improving, and learning.
Most importantly, don’t ever give up on your dream.
Related reading: Personal Branding For Authors Is The Best Promotion Tool You Have