If you’ve published a book, you’ve probably found yourself asking “Why isn’t my book selling?”
Heck, let’s just be real here. If you’re independently published or even lounging under the umbrella of the Big 6, you’ve most definitely asked that question.
Oh, c’mon! Of course you have. We all have.
In this vast ocean of pages and ink and black pixels on white, Why isn’t my book selling? is the bond that links us, all of us — rich, poor, newbie, old salt, superstar, anonymous hack –, together.
And if you haven’t wondered Why isn’t my book selling?, well, let me be the first to welcome you, Mr. King. Or is that you, JK? Mr. Patterson? In any case, Hello!!! Glad you could drop by.
Trudging your way out of NoSales Desert isn’t always an easy thing. And, in the end, the answer to your How the Heck Do I Get Out of Here may not be up to you anyway. I’m as proactive as the next guy, but sometimes the What of what has to happen isn’t a Something you can do.
I mean, there are the usual culprits to look at first. The inevitable chaff to separate from your literary wheat. Your formatting sucks or your writing isn’t what it could be or your cover throws people off or the lack of reviews makes potential readers skittish or your price is way, way too high or, swimming in a sea of millions, people just don’t know you exist yet and you’re still stuck believing that somehow the book will magically market itself.
It could be any one of those things. And those are things you can fix. Sometimes.
What you can’t fix is Time.
Someone once said to me that a good book — a really good book with great writing and professional formatting offered at an appropriate price with a cover that is genre specific and really pops — takes a solid 6 months to a year to find its audience.
Yep, six months to a year. If you’re lucky.
Do some writers bolt out of the gate and become overnight sensations? Sure, if by “overnight” you mean a couple years spent building a readership on fan-fiction sites or laboriously crafting an online platform for the past three years via their blogs and websites and social media.
But most of us aren’t that prescient — or smart –, so instead of working our already strong internet presence, we spend the first several months wondering where in the heck we went wrong.
Which is where the second piece of advice from this very wise Someone comes in.
Instead of waiting for your book to sell, obsessing over the big, fat 00 on your sales chart, and wondering when it’ll get better, write.
His point, this Wise Someone of whom I speak, was that writers with more than one book tend to sell more. As if somehow readers feel more likely to commit to an unknown if they see the journey has the potential to continue past that first book. Furthermore, he insisted, books in a series tend to attract readers who prefer, well, reading series. They’ll buy one and then another and another until the end. And then look for your next one. If your work is good, of course.
I guess the point of this rambling missive is this:
You’re a writer, so write. Don’t worry about sales. Don’t worry about your plummeting ranking. Don’t woulda, coulda, shoulda yourself to death. It is what it is.
If it means writing another book, write another book. I think every writer has more than one in them. You should by all means offer as much as you can to potential readers. If they like what you do in one, the chances are great they’ll follow through with your next.
So, get busy. Type The End, publish the book, open a new document, type Chapter One, lather, rinse, repeat.
If it means writing on a blog, go for it. In this day and age, the more readers interact with you, the better. For some, having a glimpse behind the Chapter Headings and discovering an opportunity to talk with the author of a book they’re considering reading could be a key selling point that tips it in your favor. Or slamming out a guest post on someone else’s site. Abso-frigging-lutely. Brilliant. Being a part of a community never hurts. And, again, the more who know you exist, the better.
Whatever can draw more eyes to your work, that’s what you want to do.
Besides, anything is better than looking at those double doughnuts on your sales chart, right?