This is a question I hear and get a lot: Why isn’t my book selling? In this post, we’ll dive into a simple checklist to help you look at why your book isn’t selling and how you can get those sales moving.
Maybe you’ve been there.
You put in the hard work and wrote a book. You carefully picked a cover and wrote a blurb and did all the things to push your baby book into the world.
And… crickets. Or, at least, not the sales you hoped for.
Let’s look at some very simple reasons your book might not be selling by way of a checklist. Ready?
LISTEN TO EPISODE 194 – WHY ISN’T MY BOOK SELLING?
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WHY ISN’T MY BOOK SELLING?
This is a common question for authors to task, but a hard one to answer for your own book. We’re too close to it. Too passionate.
I see people asking in Facebook groups all the time, and often the advice is mixed. One person says one thing and another person says the opposite. That can be super frustrating and leave authors feeling hopeless.
The problem with asking in big groups (even though that can have great value!) is that you don’t know who is answering your questions.
Does that person actually know the genre?
Do they make any money selling their own books?
What’s their experience level with writing and marketing?
I’m all for asking for help, especially with things like blurbs and covers. (We’ve got a Create If Critiques group just for that if you want to join!) But wouldn’t it be nice to have a checklist to use for yourself??
WHY ISN’T MY BOOK SELLING – THE CHECKLIST
While I know many authors hate this, we HAVE to start with the visual image that represents your book. It MATTERS. It’s either the gateway or the barrier to people reading the words inside. Your book might be holding back sales if it’s:
- Not professional – It HAS to hold up to the standards of other books selling well.
- Not genre appropriate – It NEEDS to immediately represent the genre clearly to readers.
- Not on trend – This one isn’t a MUST because trends change, but it’s good to align somewhat with current trends. Or… at least not look like what was popular in your genre in 2003. 😉
Other posts with helpful cover tips:
Why is it that we have such a hard time writing blurbs when we can write a WHOLE BOOK? It happens. To have an effective blurb, it can’t be:
- Confusing – When you try to give too many specifics, too many proper names, or make every concept clear in the blurb, it can hinder clarity.
- Boring – This is an issue when you try to cram the whole plot into the blurb or don’t get to the conflict.
- Not genre specific – Each genre has nuances with their blurbs. First person? Third Person? Dual POV? Read a lot of the bestselling blurbs in your genre so you can be clear.
My blurb book recommendations (affiliate links!):
3. The Writing
Some people think this doesn’t matter, but I argue it does. Word of mouth spreads for good books. And people DO use the look inside feature. I’ve bought books because of it and NOT bought books because of it. I asked in a few reader groups and got an overwhelming response that people DO use this feature. Plus, as people read good writing, they tell others. You might lose out on sales if your book isn’t:
- Well-edited – If your book is plagued with typos, it’s an automatic turn-off for many readers.
- Well-written – Good writing is subjective. That said, our work needs to be and read professionally.
- Fitting genre expectations – Know your genre. Know what your readers want, then overdeliver in the best, most creative way you can.
More helpful links:
Writing to Market vs Writing to Trend
4. The Marketing
Books won’t sell without eyeballs. Organic reach will only take you so far. I only know a few authors who actually sell a lot of books without using paid promotions. I consider them unicorns.
The issue with a unicorn is once that no-marketing approach stops working for them, they might not know what to do. Don’t try to be a unicorn. Be a clydesdale, a nice working horse.
There are really only two categories here:
- Free promotions – This includes things like newsletter swaps and posting on social media, or content marketing via your blog.
- Paid promotions – These are things like Amazon, Facebook, Bookbub ads or email promotions through paid newsletters.
But this goes back up to the top– if your book doesn’t have the genre-specific things, it’s not going to sell. Don’t set your money on fire by paying for ads when your book doesn’t have the other things all lined up!
More posts to help with the marketing side of things:
- A Simple Book Launch Formula
- How to Get Other People to Share Your Books
- How to Use Paid Promotions
- Successful Self-Publishing on Amazon
THE TRUTH: SOME BOOKS AND GENRES ARE JUST REALLY HARD TO SELL
I think most successful authors these days have written at LEAST one book that just doesn’t sell. No matter how many covers they try or how much they market. Some books and genres do not sell well. The end.
I don’t want to be defeatist here. But you might need to take a step back and realize that you’re writing in a genre that’s either flooded with traditional books and really hard for indie authors, or you’ve written a book that’s a passion project for you but no one cares. Maybe it’s a mix of genres. Maybe the storyline isn’t exciting.
THIS HAPPENS TO AUTHORS ALL THE TIME.
Don’t give up. Write another book. Don’t waste your marketing dollars on a book that doesn’t sell.
Leave it up for sale, and maybe over time your superfans will love it because they love you. maybe it will become a cult classic. Or maybe it will continue to sell just a handful of copies.
BE WILLING TO LISTEN AND BE HONEST ABOUT WHY YOUR BOOK ISN’T SELLING
Sometimes authors ask for help and then get totally defensive about their books. I get it. We love our books. It’s hard to ask for help and it’s hard to receive it.
But if you want to sell more books, you have to be willing to listen. You also have to know whom to listen to.