My Books Aren’t Selling! – 10 Actions You Can Take
Note: This article originally appeared on JustPublishing, February 10, 2015. Used by permission.
With so many books now published on Amazon in particular, the competition to attract book buyers is fierce. While there are countless sources of advice and marketing tricks on how to sell e-books and books, the most important factors of all are to have a good product and to attract positive attention to your books.
If you have published more than a couple of titles, perhaps it has been some time since you analyzed what you are really doing to attract attention. As with all things Internet, change is the only constant, so while certain approaches may have been successful a year or so back, it is not necessarily true that they are working now. If your book sales have slowed down, maybe it’s time to take stock and look for action you can take to improve your chances.
Sure, writing better and publishing more often will help, but what can you do to help your existing titles maintain long tail income?
One of the easiest actions to take to help book sales is to change the genre and category. Having a book lost in the forest of genres such as Romance or Science Fiction it is competing against hundreds of thousands of other titles. A good tip is to make your own specific category and reduce the competition. Here’s how it’s done.
You might be wondering how to get into these categories if you can’t select them from the KDP dashboard. It’s pretty simple. First, you must select Non-Classifiable as one of your categories, and then you must email KDP through the dashboard with the full path of the category you wish to appear in (e.g. Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > Series).
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If you have a title or two that failed to gain any traction whatsoever after more than six months, unpublish them, as they can only have a negative effect on your other titles. If you don’t want to waste all the time you spent on writing them, see if you can discover why they didn’t work and then you can always do a complete rewrite and publish them again later under a new title and cover.
If you have self-published a book, or even a few, and sales have not come your way, it’s time to take some positive action. Get them off the market asap, then beg if you have to, but get a few people to read your book and then tell you the absolute truth about it. Take their criticisms on the chin no matter how tough it is, then get an editor and start work on improving your book and making it saleable.
This must be the biggest single factor that kills book sales. Book buyers hate crappy covers. If you have a cover, get a cover professional designer immediately. For between $50 – $200 you can get a professionally designed book cover for e-book and paperback. No matter how good your book is, a lousy cover will kill sales stone dead.
How long is it since you changed the design of your blog? A year or more? Blog design is changing rapidly, so a new theme and layout can help in making your blog more attractive to visitors. Keep it clean, lean and easy on the eye and avoid sidebars full of unnecessary clutter. If you only have a static website, it really is time to change over to a blog. Websites do not attract repeat visitors, because as nothing changes, there is no reason for visitors to return.
The easiest way to increase visitor traffic to a blog is by leveraging Twitter. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter has evolved into an electronic billboard. It’s not about communicating or socializing – it’s about getting your message out, and often. A single Tweet has an active life of around one minute, so Tweet often! If you have a follower count on Twitter of less than 10,000, it’s time for you to do some hard work. Actively follow people every day, and use services such as to unfollow inactive accounts and those who do not follow back. Create lists of influential Twitter accounts and follow their followers. One important point to note however, is that Twitter is not a great platform to sell books. Pumping out links just does not work. Twitter is a great traffic generator though, so forget selling books on Twitter, and concentrate on using it to attract people to you, your blog and its content.
There are costs involved in maintaining a blog, particularly if it is a self-hosted WordPress site, so why not cover these costs with advertising revenue? If you generate enough traffic, you may even find that carrying a modest amount of advertising on your blog generates a sizeable side income. Ok, if your book sales are slow, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Blogging is writing too, so don’t be shy in accepting writing income in another form.
Nothing brings traffic faster than fresh and informative content. As an advertisement for your writing skills, regular blogging is by far the best way to show off your skills. Take some time away from your current manuscript and write new content for your blog at least twice a week. And then of course, blast it out on Twitter.
While Twitter and Facebook are the platforms for self-published authors, there are other sites that can deliver a lot of attention and traffic. From my experience, Stumbleupon is one of the most underrated, and for years now I have got a lot of steady monthly traffic from it. Others to consider are Reddit, Pinterest, Scoopit and of course, Linkedin. However, and probably surprisingly, the most important social media network is Google+. Every time you post on Google+, it is indexed by Google Search, and with your profile image! But here’s the big tip. When you post on Google+, make sure you create a headline. To do this, put a star at the beginning and end of your headline, then add your text. Example: *This Is My Headline*. Now it will appear in bold, and be indexed by Google in a flash.
There are probably a million or more e-books listed on Kindle that have been abandoned by self-publishers who simply gave up because they didn’t get rich in a month. With just a little bit if work, jumping above these is easy. Finding a way to climb higher though will take work, patience, experimentation and perhaps even a bit of luck. But isn’t it true that the harder you work, the luckier you get?
And yes, I know I missed the apostrophe in aren’t in my search string, but it still worked.
Just Publishing is maintained by a grumpy, old English teacher, author and habitual blogger, who has a long held interest in self-publishing, as a means of freedom of expression rather than as an avenue to instant riches and fame.