Have you ever asked; why isn’t my book selling better? My author friends and I discuss this question often. We’ve concluded there is no easy answer. We have figured out a few ways to recognize problem areas. Keep in mind, if your book isn’t selling well, don’t blame your readers. Millions of books are purchased every day so the market doesn’t lie. So let’s look at some issues that might cause your book to struggle selling:
1. What is my book’s demographic? You could write a best-seller, but, if the subject-matter appeals to a narrow group, your sales will suffer. Did you know agents and publishers use ‘market size’ as a primary sort to select which book projects they undertake? They just can’t afford to take on a book with limited promise. A book must have the potential of selling at least 10,000 – 20,000 copies quickly.
Underestimating your market tends to happen to the first-time and self-published authors. They are inexperienced and tend to overrate their potential. They are blinded by their excitement and passion for the subject or message. This prevents them from an unbiased or open point of view.
Rule to follow is to check the sales history for other books that have a similar subject matter or view point. Check bestseller lists, talk to local bookstore managers, or even track Amazon’s rankings of similar books. Audiences are usually smaller than one might think.
2. Why isn’t the market responding to my high-profile subject matter?
What if your audience for your book is huge, yet your book isn’t selling? You might to see if the genre market is saturated. Consider the economy. Is your title catching attention or is it boring? What about release timing, is it a seasonal subject matter? Is the price a deterrent? Check things like page count for the genre, inadequate marketing, and even the lack of word-of-mouth tools, etc.
If your book isn’t selling you have to face possible reasons with an open and be willing to make changes. Sometimes you need to be willing to invest more time and money into your marketing efforts. You might consider dropping the price . . . some profit is better than no profit. Also consider re-releasing the book under a new title or at a different time of year.
The bottom line – the market doesn’t lie. If your book isn’t selling you need to figure out why. Talk with successful authors, agents, publicists, and even book managers, and learn what they are doing ‘right’ and compare it to your process. Again, be open-minded and don’t be defensive, you want to learn from them, not defend what is not working. Most important, you need to be willing to make the necessary adjustments to turn those sales around.
3. Why doesn’t the market like my book?
Park your ego and consider the problem might be the manuscript itself. You have to face this might be a possibility. You need to step back and take a hard look at your book. Ask several people to read the book and give you a review. If they don’t like something about the book, ask what the issues are. Don’t keep telling yourself it’s not the book – it’s the market – because you just might be wrong.
Today’s reader has a limited amount of time and money. The blurb must convince readers that your book will provide them with certain paybacks, such as motivation, enjoyment, knowledge, or suspense that will take them away. If your book doesn’t offer tangible benefits, then your readers won’t buy it.
What will give your book a great chance for success?
a. Writer’s groups ~ There are many plusses and some minuses to writer’s groups. But as a new/fresh writer, they can be a gold mine. Never assume you know everything about writing and that your book is good. Find several readers in your genre and ask them for a no-holding-back, honest feedback/review. If you know of a published author that is willing to read your book – this could be a great learning experience. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. The suggested revisions and extra work could make all the difference between failure and success.
b. Is a professional editor for you? Whether you’re a self-published author or send your books to a traditional house, you could choose to work with a professional editor – especially if you’re a beginner. Yes, this will cost you money but it could very well be the best money you ever spent. People will not take the time to read ill-written books. If they read poorly written excerpt or blurb they won’t buy it. Even worse, the word-of-mouth advertisement could kill your career before it ever gets started. Editing is one part of ‘writing’ process that you have complete control of. Don’t settle for a mediocre or even bad book.
Bottom line - take full responsibility for the sales of your book. Make sure you’ve done all you can to produce a professional, exciting, and marketable story. Keep an open mind, learn from your mistakes, and make sure your next book is better than your last. Watch the market – it doesn’t lie. Write a great book, for a large audience, and success will be the reward.