Andrea Waltz - February 9, 2021 - 5 min. read
My Book Is Not Selling! What’s the Problem?
A lot of book marketing these days looks like this: A massive launch with marketing and promotion, tons of exposure, a sharp sales spike, and then the book’s sales slowly retreat back to the earth.
Why? Because people want the big hit and then hope that will be enough for the book to take off and fly on its own without any more effort. However, the “launch and leave” approach is a mistake. The better option is a successful launch followed by a long-term, steady growth pattern upward.
That requires a level of promotional persistence many people don’t have the stomach for. The final ingredient in our book, “Million Dollar Book Formula” is: persistence.
It is an overlooked key to success in every area of life including writing and publishing.
Okay, but what if you you’ve been persistent, and still nothing is working?
Your book is just not selling.
Agreed, it is a problem. The question is, what kind of problem is it? Based on the ingredients in Million Dollar Book Formula, here are seven questions you should consider if your book sales have stalled or maybe even never got off the ground.
Question #1 – Do you have a “problem” problem?
Meaning, does your book really solve a problem? If it does, great. Note: this is a question specifically for non-fiction books. Check out the next question for fiction books.
Question #2 – Do you have a “prospect” problem?
Meaning, even if your book solves a problem, is it a problem people know they have? Is it one they are actively searching for a solution to? If not, you might be in trouble.
For fiction, we see this in not having a well-defined genre. If people who love romance, think your book is sci-fi or horror, they will assume it’s not for them. It’s got to be obvious to the book buyer who your book is designed for. This question goes along hand in hand with Question #4.
Question #3 – Do you have a “product” problem?
In other words, is the content of your book reasonably well-written and compelling enough that the people who read it tell others about it, and review it, providing you the word-of-mouth necessary to drive sales? (Or worse, are you getting poor reviews about the content?) This is a tough question because you must be open to tough, honest feedback. But, if you’re satisfied that your content is good, then move to the next question.
Question #4 – Do you have a “packaging” problem?
Is the title attention getting? Does the subtitle make it clear what the book is about and why someone should read it? Is the cover professional and eye-catching? Does the cover rival those on the best-seller list in your category? Or does it look like you made it yourself? Does it communicate the book’s theme and genre or does it have a confusing, random image that doesn’t match the book content?
In our experience, packaging is the biggest issue for most self-published authors. This is a mistake we’ve made more than once ourselves that we detail (painfully) in our book. If you believe in your work and you suspect you’ve got this problem, take care of it as soon as you can because it will not get easier 12 months from now. If you don’t see that you have this problem, then consider the next question.
Question #5 – Next, do you have a “pricing” problem?
Is the price too high? Too low? Believe it or not, sometimes a book can be priced too low causing people to think it does not have the solution they are looking for. On the other hand, if the book subject matter isn’t interesting or exciting to a big enough audience, even free is too expensive!
Question #6 – And what about the “placement” of your book?
Just because you’ve placed your book on Amazon, that doesn’t mean your customers are searching there for it. Maybe driving people to your website will work better?
Question #7 – And finally, do you have a “promotion” problem?
Are you simply waiting for people to stumble across your book, or are you proactively marketing to drive traffic to it? Are you blogging? Running ads? Going on podcasts? Posting intriguing content on social media? Sending copies to people that could read your book and influence their audience by sharing?
The list of promotional strategies is literally a mile long. If you are not doing at least 1 thing a day for your book, don’t be surprised when sales reflect that.
The more honest and open-minded you are in answering these questions, the better. After you’ve reflected on all seven questions did you find an area that needs attention? If so, that’s good. Take the time you need and go to work on making improvements—and in some cases, major changes.
Perhaps you feel that you and your book are doing everything you can. If so, that brings us back to where we started this post, the ingredient of, persistence.
There are a few factors that will influence the success of your book more than your willingness to “stick with it” long enough to find your audience and for your audience to find your book.
Everyone sees the success of bestselling books and thinks the author wrote it and became an overnight success. An overnight success is so rare it’s almost impossible to point any of them out. Once an author is established, yes—their books get released and sell millions of copies. But their first book? That is rare. And even if you personally never heard of someone, doesn’t mean they haven’t spent 10 years building an email list of people who love them.
We can assure you it took hard work, late nights filled with self-doubt and plenty of rejection. There was sacrifice and risk and criticism.
When the going gets tough, remind yourself why you wrote your book in the first place.
What was your purpose? What was your primary reason for writing it?
To make money? Then stay at it until you make money.
To help people solve a problem? Then find ways to sell the book so it has the chance to do exactly that.
Did you write it to change the world? The world doesn’t get changed by people who quit.
No one is going to fight for your book like you will!
No one will care more about your book than you!
Plan on having to fight to get your book seen, purchased, and read.