One of the most frequent questions I receive is from newly self published authors asking why their book isn’t selling. While there are a thousand reasons why a book doesn’t sell, there is one fact that many newly self published authors often fail to realise. The book market and the ebook market in particular is well and truly over-populated. Try to get your head around these numbers.
300,000 books were published in the U.S. 2003.
411,422 books were published in the U.S. in 2007.
1,052,803 books were published in the U.S. 2009.
Approximately 3,000,000 books were published in the U.S. in 2011.
And . . . drum roll, please . . . Bowker estimates that they will issue 15,000,000 ISBN numbers in 2012. (Or so Seth Godin said in an online interview.) Source
With these statistics it’s easy to see where one new book sits. Lost in a huge crowd.
The fact of the matter is that it is getting harder and harder to sell books and 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?
Firstly, write a damn good book. This may sound simplistic, but have you had independent feedback about the quality of your book? Just because your mother likes it, this 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 other people will love it enough to buy it.
Does your title attract attention? This is the most important few words of your book, and yet I see so many poorly titled books. Give your title a lot of thought.
Does your cover attract attention? Especially when viewed as a thumbnail image. This is important as this is usually the first image of your book that a potential reader sees, so you really want them to click on it. Look at you book cover as a thumbnail size image. Is it attention grabbing or a fuzzy little box?
Does anyone know your name? I’m a firm believer in promoting your name as an author rather than promoting the title of your book or books. Getting known is vital, so use social media to build your name recognition. Yes, it’s slow going and hard work. But nothing is going to come easy in a crowd of fifteen million new books.
Use social media intelligently. 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 and use separate accounts for your friends and relations chatting. You want to sell books not inform people about cup cakes. Build quality Twitter and Facebook Page followings as an author and concentrate on improving your reputation.
Be patient and don’t give up after 3 months. It takes a long time to build your profile and to write enough books to be noticed. If you are expecting instant success through self publishing, I would really suggest trying something else. It’s just not going to happen.
Set realistic goals. In your first year with one or two titles, don’t expect to sell many more than one or perhaps two hundred copies. The average royalties earned by self published authors is less than $500 per year, so don’t even think about getting rich quick.
Market your book. Don’t 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 to you, your books and your blog and or website. Don’t just repeatedly post your Kindle page. It drives people away from you, not towards you.
Don’t pay for what you can do yourself. There are many ways to waste a lot of money when it comes to publishing and marketing books and ebooks. Yes, you will have to invest as in any business, but be very wary of sharks! Avoid vanity publishers in particular. They really offer nothing for an awful lot of money.
Write better, and better. With each book you write, you improve. So if you truly want to be a writer who will be noticed, keep writing, improving and learning.
But don’t give up on your dream!