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5 Steps To Take If Your Book Isn't Selling

For an Indie author, one of the biggest challenges is getting your book to sell. Without a publisher to back you with a marketing and publishing team this can easily become the most difficult part of your writing career. With thousands of ebooks and even more hardcover and paperback editions being published every day, it's easy for your novel to get lost in the commotion. It's even more probable that unless you've got marketing experience, feelings of frustration, confusion and feeling like you're getting nowhere can abound. That's okay! Normal, even.

What can help is taking a step back and getting educated. Admittedly, marketing isn't something that comes naturally. It's something you will have to learn about, try out, and continue to try until you find the combination that works for you. While there's no perfect "one size fits all" when it comes to book marketing, there are some basic tips that can help you see a boost in your book sales.

But first, let's discuss what the GOAL of your book marketing actually is.

Is it to sell books? Yes.

Is it to accurately and authentically represent YOU as an author? Yes!

Guess which comes first?

If you said book sales, you're mistaken. Unless you fancy sounding like a used car salesman, the goal of marketing isn't to force-feed your audience sales page links or to constantly share your book and it's associated content. The true goal is to network and build genuine connections with your audience that leads to a purchase based on trust.

The true goal of book marketing is to network and build genuine connections with your audience that leads to a purchase based on trust.

What does that even mean?

It means you can take the pressure off of yourself! It means you have wiggle room for trial and error. It means you're free to be yourself and can try different strategies till you find the right fit- despite what everyone else might be doing or recommending.

The important thing to keep in mind is that if you're having fun with your marketing and being true to yourself, that will shine through. When you feel confident, your marketing reflects that and that confidence is what will attract the right audience to you- people who share your energy, feelings, and perspectives. People who WANT to read what you wrote and are WILLING to shell out their hard-earned money for it.

The second part of the equation is that you need to learn where to steer your marketing ship to. Casting a wide net doesn't equate to book sales. You must find your target reader and understand what it is they are searching for. Once you do, you can tailor your marketing accordingly, essentially striving to reach these specific perfect-for-you readers.


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But that magic doesn't happen overnight, and there is a little bit of a science to it.

If you've been trying to sell your book and aren't seeing the results you're looking for, start with these 5 steps.

1. Update Your Author Newsletter

Your author newsletter is your greatest means of communicating with your ideal reader. It's your lifeline for sharing book updates, news, upcoming promotions, and personal anecdotes with your loyalist readers. These are the people who will actively support your author career- by buying your books, speaking about them to others, promoting them online, and volunteering for ARC teams and beta reads. If you can hook readers with your newsletter and gain a sizeable number of subscribers, the higher likelihood you'll have successful sales for your new releases.

2. Switch Your Book Categories

Generally speaking Amazon and most other publishers allow you to select two categories where your book will be listed. One reason you might not be seeing sales is that the book categories chosen on your designated publishing platform may be too broad. If they are, it means your book has most likely been buried in the slush pile of incoming books being published in the same category. Here, you must increase your chances of standing out and being recommended by narrowing down your choices until you find the appropriate niche category. For example, if you're publishing a historical romance novel set in the 1920s, you don't want to list it in the "romance" category or even the "historical romance" category. These are too generalized and contain too big of a pool of candidates. Your likelihood of finding your ideal reader here is not good. Instead pick even narrower, more accurate category such as "1920s romance" or "jazz age romance". These are smaller markets where your ideal reader, who is searching for this type of book, can be found.

3. Adjust Your Search Keywords

Keywords help the algorithms of your chosen publishing platform to categorize your book and promote it in said category. It acts as an organizer that helps your ideal reader find what they are looking for when they use the search bar. Keywords are the words or short phrases that you want associated with your novel, meaning that when these words are searched for, your book will appear.

Here are a few things to keep in mind regarding these important helpers:

  • Keep them as short as possible

  • Use the Search Field on Amazon and look at the results in the drop-down list of suggestions to find new keywords

  • Keep trying new ones periodically to test their efficiency

The trick with keywords is to keep varying them until you've found the combination that garners the best results. It may take a little while but putting the work in is one-hundred-percent worth it.

4. Make The Most Of Your Book's Sales Page

Think of your book's description as your book's handshake. It's an introduction and elevator speech given to your reader that ultimately helps them decide whether or not to purchase your novel. For this reason, every word counts. Give your book description a boost by including the following:

  • Quotes from other authors or reviewers

  • A quote from your book

  • Awards your book has won

  • Language that caters to your audience

Another piece to think about is your book's preview. This is the short excerpt that a potential buyer is allowed to read to see if the book is for them. Though it may seem like obvious advice, many writers keep their prologue and acknowledgement in their preview as it would be in the actual book. Don't make this mistake! Your preview should show as much of the first chapter as possible. Let your reader read your work and let it speak for itself.

5. Periodically Change Your Book Cover

If you've done all of these other steps but still aren't seeing changes, the issue may be your book cover. Book covers are the first thing that readers judge a book by- and often what initially entices them to buy. If your cover isn't eye-catching enough, has hard-to-read lettering in the title, is missing key information, or looks too homemade it might be the reason why you're not seeing sales. A great way to test this is by creating a new cover with multiple options, then sending out a survey to your newsletter subscribers and social media followers to vote on which they like best. This will help you gain perspective on what your readers find attractive in a book cover. Regardless, it's always good to refresh your cover periodically to keep it new and enticing. Even as little as changing the cover's color can help you see a positive change in your book sales.

Like anything with authorhood, it doesn't happen overnight. Patience and practice are the key to book-selling success. Remember, once your novel is out in the world it's got an infinite amount of time to sell itself. More likely than not it will add up it just won't happen immediately. Don't give up!

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