You’ve published an ebook, or perhaps more than one. Congratulations: you’re a Kindle author. I work with many authors and they all want one thing: more sales. We all want guaranteed bestsellers. But it’s impossible to guarantee a bestselling book, sadly.
That said, you can make it more likely that your ebooks will sell more copies, and with very little extra effort. Here’s how I know this. I work with authors every day. They make avoidable errors. Once they correct those errors, their ebooks start selling well.
Often not as well as they’d hoped, and for a simple reason: they haven’t baked-in sales potential. An author writes the book he wants to write, and gives little thought to his readers.
Make the decision: correct your authors’ tunnel vision
All authors have tunnel vision. I do, you do. It means that we’re focused on the writing. Readers don’t care about that. They want what they want — entertainment if you’ve written fiction, and useful, practical information if you’re writing nonfiction.
Long before you start writing, think about readers. What appeals to them? In this article, we’re discussing fiction, but you can use the same process for nonfiction too.
Start at the level of ideas.
Ideas sell, so before you start writing, focus on your ideas
I’m fond of saying that authors can write what they want. That’s true. You can write whatever you like. However, you also need to know what’s selling. Not so that you can slavishly go and clone the latest bestseller… although that does work for many writers.
The best reason to see what’s selling is so that you can work out why it’s selling. Here are the current bestsellers on Amazon.
I like to look at the top bestselling books at least once a month.
Check out the titles. Read the book descriptions, and the reviews. Make notes if you like, or don’t make any. The point of the exercise is that you’re starting to pay attention to what sells.
It’s surprising how many authors (both new, and veteran) focus solely on themselves. However, even if you want to get published the traditional way, the first thing an editor or agent will ask you is: “what’s this book like?”
You’d better be able to answer:
- “It’s Harry Potter for adults”; or
- “It’s a modern version of Pride and Prejudice”; or
- “It’s for women interested in online dating”.
When someone asks you “what’s this book like?”, they’ll usually be able to work out who the book’s targeted at. If they can’t, that’s the next question: “who’s this book for?”
An editor or agent asks these kinds of questions, because they know that no one’s going to read your ebook, and then decide what it’s like, and who it’s for. You need to know that. Moreover, you can train yourself to think in these terms. If you can do that, you’ll write salable books.
You can train yourself to improve your ideas
When you start paying attention to what’s selling, you’ll start thinking in terms of salability, and you’ll have taken a huge step forward in your self-publishing career.
As we’ve said: you’re not trying to copy bestsellers, or clone them, or anything else. You’re trying to gauge the pulse of readers all over the world. Way back in the 1980s, I read a lot of gothic romances. Publishers are putting those books into the Kindle store these days. I’ve downloaded a few, and now dislike the way they were written.
That’s natural. Times change. What appealed to readers 40 years ago doesn’t appeal now.
When you train yourself to improve your ideas, your subconscious mind gets in on the act. It will start feeding you ideas, based on your own experiences, which will be in the spirit of what readers love today.
Start paying attention to what’s selling.
Make lists of ideas of ebooks you could write.
If an idea appeals, ask yourself: “what’s this book like?” and “who’s this book for?”.
If you can do that, you may not write an ebook which hits the top 100 bestsellers, but you will be a Kindle author who sells more ebooks.
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