Why Aren't I Selling Any Books?

You’ve dreamed of becoming an author. You have spent countless hours in front of the computer doing research, fine-tuning your plot and putting your characters through lots of drama. You now have a beginning, middle and end and can’t wait to share your mansucript with the world. The next step you probably took was querying agents and publishers with your manuscript.

 

Agents/Publishers:

Most literary agents aren’t accepting manuscripts from middle-of-the-road authors. What is a MOTR author? A MOTR author is an author whose novel has the potential of selling some thousand, but not perceived as good enough to sell a climactic one-hundred-thousand copies to millions of copies.

Be careful when querying agents. Some do not accept unsolicited manuscripts. Some only accept unsolicited manuscripts for certain genres. Many will turn you manuscript down after reading less than the first page. How do I know this? I have spoken to and have had lunch with some of the largest agents in the literary industry.

Reasons for agents to turn down your work are many: poor writing, errors found on the first page, genre, an unheard of author who doesn’t yet have a platform, etc. You have sent in your mss and have waited six weeks or longer only to receive a generic ‘No Thanks’ response.

The same happens with publishing houses with one exception. Many of the well-known publishing houses won’t respond to your ‘unsolicited’ manuscript. If you're looking to publish traditionally, don't give up. Attend conferences that the agent you're seeking to represent you will attend. Gain their attention. Do all you must to receive persmission to send a 'solicited' manuscript. I'll provide more tips on agents at a later time.

So what next?

You have made the decision to self-publish. Amazon is the bestseller of books today because they have more than 2 million authors for readers to choose from. This along with readers being able to access Amazon world-wide, AND the addition of readers being able to also purchase clothes, household supplies, shoes, etc has made Amazon a convenient way to shop without walking out the door. However, as an author, if you rely on Amazon solely to sell your books you are not reaching your maximum potential.

But let’s not get into that at the moment. Let’s focus on the main question. You have self-published so why aren’t you selling any books? Below are the top ten reasons. Use this list to improve your marketing and book selling strategies.

  1. NO ONE KNOWS YOUR BOOK EXISTS. Keywords are not enough when competing against others in your genre. If your keyword is Romance, the titles with the most downloads at that hour will appear. Unfortunately, most of the titles you’ll see are free giveaways for the day. Beneath these will be ‘Sponsored’ or ‘Advertised’ titles. Where’s your title you may ask? It depends on your novel’s download number and click rates. If you haven’t had much of either your title may be listed on the furthest page under the romance genre. No one looks at the last pages. Many look only at the first page. Readers want a guarantee. This means that many readers purchase what they see to be selling.

  2. NO ONE KNOWS THE TITLE OF YOUR BOOK. You have written what you believe to be a bestselling romance novel, except no one knows that the title of this book is Susan’s Perfect Holiday. There are millions of readers all over the world. How do you get them to realize that Susan’s Perfect Holiday is on the market and ready to sell? Marketing is key. Promotions are a must.

  3. YOU HAVE STRAYED AWAY FROM COMMERCIAL GENRES AND CREATED YOUR OWN. Readers KNOW what they like to read. Why step away from form and try a novel that is written in a genre the reader has never heard of? Alien-Comedy? Most readers will pass up the alien-comedy for a genre they are more familiar with.

  4. YOUR BOOK DOESN’T FALL UNDER THE TOP FIVE BESTSELLING GENRES. What are the five top-selling genres? 1. Romance/Erotica sold more than 1.4 billion in the trackable titles in its genre last year. 2. Crime/Mystery sold more than $728 million. 3. Religious/Inspiration sold $720 million. 4. Sci-Fi/Fantasy sold $590 million. 5. Horror sold close to $80 million. What genre does your novel fall under? This is a very important question even for well-known authors with a large platform.

  5. YOU ARE RELYING SOLELY ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Social media has taken the world by storm. Unfortunately, many people on social media are not looking to buy things. If your selling blurb isn’t appealing enough, many won’t even click the link you’ve provided. But don’t be discouraged. Using social media is a great tool to get your title known.

  6. YOUR OPENING PAGE LACKS TENSION. Someone has found your novel and is taking advantage of Amazon’s Look Inside. If you knew how many people did look inside your book versus books sold, you would be stunned. If they’re looking, why not buy? Genre FORMULA is very important. Readers can sense when someone has strayed away from the formula by reading a single page. Tension is very important. Lack of tension on the first page will not only aide you in losing a sell, it is also the number one reason why literary agents turn down manuscripts.

  7. NO ONE KNOWS WHO YOU ARE. As an indie author you must get out of the house and attend events. You must handout your business cards and interact with readers. Meeting someone publicly has a better advantage than meeting readers online. People become fascinated when they realize they are in the presence of a published author. I’ve had readers look me up on Amazon and the internet while standing in front of me. As soon as they see that I am a published author, their entire attitudes change. With the right conversation and presenting yourself in an appropriate way can earn you a sell on the spot.

  8. LACK OF MARKETING SKILLS. The big five publishing houses have plenty of funds set aside to market new and sometimes old releases. Most indie authors don’t have such funds. If there’s a will there’s a way. How do you reach the masses to let them know that you’re an author and have books on the market? What do the big five use? 1. Magazines 2. Radio 3. Newspapers/media. If you look at these options as daunting they become daunting. Remember this. You can do anything if you put your mind to it.

  9. LACK OF AMBITION/FEAR. Many authors asked themselves this question. Will the readers like my book? Fear enables us. Try your best to get past it. Push yourself if you have to. If you have a well-written novel, believe that readers will love your work.

  10. NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF BOOK FESTIVALS/FAIRS, CONFERENCES, ETC. What better way of getting your name out there, letting people know the title of your novel and selling your books all at the same time?

 

Good luck, and until next time, keep writing!

Te dua!

*This page has not been edited. Please overlook any typing errors or word omissions.

What You Should Know About Self-Publishing

If writing is your hobby, right on! You have joined a league of others who use creative writing for pleasure, expressions of emotions and sharing expressions of fear and pain. I’m willing to bet when you share your writing with others you receive positive feedback. I encourage you not to only continue writing, but share what you’ve written. I say this because reading is also done because it’s pleasurable and it helps to express emotions, fear, pain and laughter.

 

If you’re thinking of turning your writing into a business it means you’ve made the conscious decision to reach as many readers as you can with your artistic creativity. Many find this path daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. The reason most people fear becoming a published author is because they fear failure or someone criticizing their efforts. Just remember that you’re not going to please everyone. The key is finding the right target for your genre.  

Below I have created a list of things that I believe may maximize your potential, but I don’t promise or guarantee any results. What I’ve listed are my experiences, as well my point of views.

  1. Do not set your goals too high in the beginning. For example, if you don’t sell thousands of copies of your novel on its release date, this is okay. The average Indie author makes $450 annually from Amazon book sales. Others list Indie success as selling 2 books per day.

  2. Be creative with marketing. Most Indies use the same approach for promoting their work. Try and think outside the box so that your promotion stands out from others.

  3. Be prepared to work hard to market your novels.

  4. You MUST have a website.  You can even create one free on sites like Wix.com. Wix offers preformatted websites that you can add or take away from and when you’re done your site can actually look like you’ve paid someone a couple of grand to build it. I pay for the site I use. I love it, because it’s easy to maintain. I can arrange it just how I want it. Most of all, I love my site’s simplicity. Grand isn’t necessary. If you don’t believe me, check out some well-known author sites. I’ve seen a couple that were very simplistic.

  5. You MUST have business cards. If you want to be noticed, you have to do something to get someone’s attention. Vistaprint (http://www.vistaprint.com/category/business-cards.aspx.) and other online markets are available and inexpensive. Why are business cards important? So I’m standing at the check-out at Chipotle and happen to look over my shoulder. Six police officers are standing beside me, ready to pay for their meals. I write crime fiction. I simply reached inside my purse, pulled out a business card and told these gentlemen, “I need to interview you for a new novel I’m writing.”  I have a policeman, a sheriff and two ex-detectives who answer any questions I have. It’s not easy getting a cop to do this. Trust me. I’m sure these fellas checked me out first and having a professional business card helped.

  6. You MUST join social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ (just to name the most common ones). The first time someone told me this, I rolled my eyes clear to the back of my head. Who has time for social media when you have books to write? You might not sell a lot of books on these sites, but know that they are important. Social media is topping the charts as the reason people buy cell phones, iPads, tablets, etc. Building a platform takes time. Some authors say they don’t sell books via social media. It depends on your genre and how many people you’re reaching with your tweets and posts. The idea of even having a Pinterest account wasn’t appealing for me, because of my time constraints. But I forced myself. I had the account for perhaps a year before I actually did something with it. So one day I jumped on it and ended up pinning hundreds of pins. Well, some of the pins were of Albania and how beautiful it is. Low. And. Behold. I got more repins on these from a handful of Albanians who are on Pinterest. They saw these pins and was perhaps wondering why a Black woman was pinning about Albania! And there, they see it. My book is pinned and my MC has the Albanian flag tattooed on his chest. I got a sale. Who would have thunk it? The person liked the book so much, she bought ALL my books, contacted me on Twitter AND went on my website to purchase an autographed copy so she could send to a relative in ALBANIA. You gotta love when things like this happen.

  7. Don’t forsake Twitter. This one is a little more personal than the others, as you have perhaps noticed I didn’t include ‘must.’ There’s a madness to Twitter that actually works. I will share that madness at a later time. But for now, just know retweeting is a big issue.

  8. You need more than one book to reach the masses. Regardless if your one book is well-written and is perhaps the next bestseller, think of it this way. If one was okay, McDonalds would have only one type of burger, Taco Bell would offer only one type of taco, Pizza Hut would offer cheese on pizza dough. Because of the variety these places offer, a family of four can go to one of these places, order different things, and leave satisfied. One of your readers doesn’t like your heroine? It’s okay. I have a sexy hunk in another novel that will knock her socks off.

  9. You MUST have your work edited. Guys, I have no problems with beta readers, but let me share with you how many times I’ve read novels published after beta readers have approved them. Far too many and some of the errors I found actually made my already large eyes bug out even more. Nope, nope, nope. Get an editor. Two of my full-length novels have gone through editing THREE times. Sometimes it’s not your editor’s fault when errors are still found. Sometimes those errors are caused by you fixing an area they brought to your attention only for you to create another error in the process. It takes time, but it’s necessary. If you don’t believe me, jump on Amazon and pull up ten Indie author novel reviews and I promise you that at least nine or all of them will have poor editing listed in the review.

  10. Waiting for readers to discover you isn’t going to happen. You must have a marketing strategy. Some may work. Some may not, but let me throw this at you. My biggest sale days are usually Friday – Monday, with the exception of Saturday. People are not home on Saturday when the weather is nice, which means they’re not online to purchase your novel. I did a promotion on Black Friday and lost my ass! Why? Everyone was out shopping. I will never do that again. I did a promotion for Valentines and used my novel that had the most red in its cover. The novel jumped all over Amazon’s bestseller’s list in three countries from that promotion. I have more promotion tips that I will offer later.

  11. You WILL receive a one star review on Amazon. Don’t take it personal. “Gone Girl” has more than two thousand one star reviews. That didn’t stop it from being made into a movie. Listen to what the reader is saying and if it doesn’t apply, don’t take it personal. Someone gave me one star for The Blood Feud. His words were something like, ‘reads like a 25 cent cheap porn comic.’ Low. And. Behold. A reader who obviously thought that 25 cent cheap porn comics were interesting bought my book then sent me an email and said he bought it because of the review. Yes, he enjoyed it. I wrote him back and said, ‘If you liked that one, try Plain Dealing.’ He sent a tweet showing that he purchased that book as well.

  12. Sometimes people have no plans of buying your book, but you can talk them into it. Engage with readers. Converse. I jump all over the Goodreads postings, offering my opinion on the books I’ve read. Never say, ‘Buy my book.’ Just talk. Let them know you’re an author. Blend in. Let them see how creative you are in your speaking. Be professional. Never slam others. You can actually pitch your book without people realizing it. The trick is not to make it obvious. The intention is to pique their interest so that they ask about your work. Will you get a sale every time? No, but it happens a few times and I got great feedback from the readers.

  13. Don’t focus on authors to buy your books. If your FB and Twitter accounts have only authors as followers, you are preaching to the choir. They want you to buy THEIR book and not the other way around. It takes time to build a following of readers. Encourage fans to join you on FB, Twitter and other sites. Word of mouth is the best publicity.

  14. If your book isn’t visible, no one knows to buy it. Add your books to as many online eBook sites as possible. When you’re having a promotion, ask the site to list you on their first page. Sometimes there’s a small fee involved. Sometimes not. Ask the site to share with you how much traffic they receive. If it’s a good number, pay the fee and pray for the best. This has worked well for me.

  15. Attend book festivals and book signings, but don’t attend either until you are well prepared. I can go on and on about how to prepare, but James Moushon has already posted some great advice on this subject. And trust me. James knows what he’s talking about. http://bit.ly/1BNLyyV

  16. If you decide to do a free giveaway know in advance how to maximize it for the best results. Doing free giveaways and promotions are great tools to use if you want more readers to discover you. I recommend that you hold off doing a free give away or low price promotion until you have as many books available as you possibly can. I ran my first promotion after I had three books published. The promotion was for three days. I sold more than one thousand books on the last day of that promotion alone. I wouldn’t have reached this number if I only had one novel. I also recommend that you spend (approximately $100.00) on online promotional services who list your books on multiple websites. This means on the days of your promotion, the cover of your book is listed on the front page of online eBook sites. They are clearly visible. No searching the catalog is involved. A great cover and catchy title will most definitely get you more clicks.

  17. Your cover is just as important as your novel’s content. You can purchase book cover designs for as little as $5 on Fiverrr. I used Fiverrr for my eBook cover for Dali’s Fantasy. It’s a flash fiction piece that I sell for $.99, so I didn’t want to spend a great deal of money on the cover. A good cover will cost you anywhere from $50.00 - $500. Lately, I have been using The Cover Collection company for my covers. I LOVE Debbi!  You do not have to use who I use, but if you are interested TCC, their website is http://www.thecovercollection.com/. Be sure to read my next helpful tip.

  18. Test the waters before you try it. Before contracting with someone to edit your book or design your cover, ask them for samples. With all of my editors, I send them as many pages as they allow. They return them with their changes. Usually you can sense how well an editor is this way, and you’ll be surprised how much editing your work needs before it can be published. Not with Hannah, but with other book designers, I also had them send me a sample of how they saw my cover. Don’t settle. This is your work – your baby. If you’re not satisfied, express the changes you want made and I’m sure your designer will do all they can to assist you.

  19. Choose your editor wisely. I completed the second installment of my series and my editor was already busy working on a different novel of mine. To kill two birds with one stone, I shopped online for a second editor. I sent out my sample and LOVED the work that was returned to me, so I thought, ‘go for it!’ Low. And. Behold. Three weeks was the deadline. Every time I jumped on Facebook, there was my secondary editor posting thousands of posts. I couldn’t believe the amount of time she was spending online when she had a deadline to meet in three weeks. Still, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. Two weeks in, I emailed her and discovered she hadn’t even STARTED editing. I cancelled the contract and contacted my primary editor and explained my situation. I had already paid for promotions and had a release date, and my primary editor worked his magic and edited two of my novels back to back, allowing me to meet my deadline. Once again, Fivrrr offers editing services for as little as $5.00 per 5000 words. And even again I say be careful.

  20. If you’re thinking of using a vanity press to publish your work, please, for all that’s Holy, check them out. A vanity press, vanity publisher or subsidy publisher is a term to describe a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published. It’s what Indie authors are all about, right? I know authors who see their books selling and have yet to receive a single royalty check. All of them had signed contracts with the same vanity press. Do your research. When I’m researching a company online, I key in their name and add ‘bad reviews’ at the end. This has saved me from making what could have been some bad decisions.

 

I hope this helps!

 

Te dua!

Shelley