Tag Archives: publishing

Self-Publishing Disaster: 3 Tips To Rebuild Your Confidence

Self-Publishing Disaster: 3 Tips To Rebuild Your Confidence

You had huge hopes for your latest book but those hopes have faded. Three months after publication, you’ve sold few copies. Whether you’re a self-publishing pro, or a newbie, you’re disappointed.

Let’s unpack your “failure.”

Here’s the reality. Books fail. Indeed, most books fail. Ask any author. Bestselling ebooks/ books (let’s just call them books) are rare. Luck boosts many books to bestsellerdom. Concentrated effort boosts others.

That said, you don’t need to write bestselling novels or nonfiction books to make a nice living as a self-publishing author.

Why self-publishing fails…

While there are any number of reasons you can self-publish a book and winces at its sales, here are some common reasons for failure in fiction:

  • The author didn’t pick a genre at all, or picked an overcrowded genre;
  • Readers can’t find the book: the description is skimpy, and there’s no meta data, so Amazon has no idea where to “file” the book;
  • The book’s cover gives no clear indication of its genre. Readers are confused, and pass the book by;
  • A lack of promotion.

What about nonfiction? Reasons for the failure of a nonfiction book include:

  • An itty bitty audience, or an audience which is well-served with a large number of new books, and the author’s offering doesn’t stand out;
  • As with fiction, above — the readers can’t find the book, because of a lack of attention to meta data;
  • An unappealing cover. A cover needs to grab readers, and make them FEEL something. If you’re selling a diet book, an apple and a tape measure can make for a great cover, depending on the book’s title, and the photography. Or it may not;
  • As above, a lack of promotion.

There may be no clear reason a book fails

Mainstream publishers publish lots of books. Simon & Schuster for example publishes around 2,000 titles each year and most of those titles will lose money. The occasional bestseller helps any publisher to stay in business.

Please be ware of this: publishing houses expect slow sellers and abject failures in the books they publish. Like you, if they had their way, they’d publish only bestsellers. 🙂

You’re a publisher too. Take the attitude that you’ll publish many books. Some will succeed beyond your dreams.

Now let’s look at how to rebuild your confidence.

1. Publish the next book, and the next, while trying to learn from your failure

Yes, keep publishing. It’s amazing how often a “meh” book you don’t particularly like will shock you with great sales. It happens.

While you keep writing, and publishing, if you think you know why a book isn’t selling, fix what you can. BUT: don’t spend too much money on your book’s revamp. A new cover may help. On the other hand, it may not.

Ask other self-publishing authors their opinion on whether spending money will help. It’s best to spend money boosting books which already sell.

2. Always be learning: the self-publishing industry changes rapidly

Many authors who made huge incomes in 2014 have left the industry. When self-publishing changed, they didn’t keep up. Their books stopped selling, because they stopped experimenting and and growing.

Try new things; keep learning and growing.

3. Build your platform on social media: get readers onto your mailing list

Today, with several million ebooks and many, many millions of books widely available, reaching readers who will love your books is more challenging than ever. Make a real effort to build your platform. Social media is essentially free, other than the time it takes. Use social media to grow your mailing list.

Keep self-publishing: your next book may hit the bestseller lists

Someone once said that success doesn’t last, and neither does failure. Who knows? Your “disaster” may be a sleeper title, which suddenly sells hundreds of copies a day.

In the meantime, success or failure, keep publishing. 🙂

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Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

Writing Success Secrets: How To Conquer Self Doubt, And Achieve Your Writing Goals, Starting Today

eBook: $5.99
Genre: Writing
Today, the opportunities for writers have never been greater. Back in the day a writer who was making six-figures a year seemed a creature of myth. These days, highly successful writers are making six figures a month. More info →
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3 Author Behaviors Which Will Kill Your Career

3 Author Behaviors Which Will Kill Your Career

Happy days, you’re an author. Whether traditionally published, or self-published, publishing a book is a wonderful achievement, so kudos to you. Chances are you’re on a high. Unfortunately, that high won’t last. After the happy glow wears off, it’s time to consider that you’re now a pro, and think about what that means.

Basically, it means that what you say and do matters to your career.

You’re a professional author — what you say and do matters to your career

You’ve published a book. Whether you sell ten copies or 100,000, be aware that people are watching:

  • Editors and agents will Google your name;
  • Your readers will form an opinion of who you are, and that will affect whether or not they buy your next book;
  • Other authors will form an opinion too.

Let’s look at some author behaviors which will damage your career, or kill it entirely.

1. Acting like Cinderella: waiting, and waiting some more

This is very common author behavior. Cinderellas wait for other people to do stuff, because they feel that this is their route to success. They wait for:

  • Their agent and/ or editor to get back to them;
  • Readers to provide reviews;
  • Advertising to boost them into bestseller-status…

I met a writer I hadn’t seen in two years. When last we spoke, she was sending query letters for her first novel out to literary agents. Since I hadn’t heard that her book was out — not surprising, because so many books are published — I asked her who her publisher was.

She told me that she didn’t have a publisher. She’d parted ways with Agent One, and was now with Agent 2.

There’s not much you can say to that, so I made commiserating noises and asked what she was working on.

“Oh, I’m not writing. I want to see how this book does.” I wished her well, even though I wanted to shake her.

If you’re waiting for something, stop waiting. Keep writing. My friend could have written three or four more books in the time she was obsessing about agents. Not only would her additional novels had made her a more appealing prospect to both agents and editors, but she could have sold at least one or two.

And of course, she could also have self-published her novels, without waiting for anyone.

Listen up. Writers write. Everything else is totally peripheral. Whatever you’re waiting for won’t change your basic reality: you write today, you’ll write tomorrow, and you’ll write the day after that. As for waiting for things to happen: your aim needs to be to do all you can to make them happen.

2. Being a big mouth: gossiping, and/ or sharing proprietary information

This behavior is unfortunately common among traditionally-published authors, but self-publishing authors are guilty of it too. Traditionally published authors gossip about their agent and editors, and their sales; self-published authors gossip about their designers, web developers, other writers, and their sales.

Shush! Stop it, please.

Please don’t gossip. Word gets around, and sooner or later people won’t return your calls. It should also go without saying that you never share any proprietary information given to you by your agent, editors, or anyone else with whom you’re working.

3. Being a depressing Eeyore: cheer up!

Eeyore is a pessimistic stuffed donkey in the Winnie the Pooh books:

He usually expects misfortune to happen to him, accepts it when it does and rarely even tries to prevent it. His catchphrases are “Thanks for noticin’ me” and “Ohhh-kayyy”.

Never complain in a public forum, and that includes on your blog, on Facebook, in groups… Several editors have told me that when they’re considering an author, they check his social media profiles carefully. Any hint that you’re high-maintenance and prone to complaining, and you can kiss a publishing contract bye-bye.

Everyone has challenges. You can be as weepy as you like in the comfort of your bedroom or home office, but aim to be cheerful in public. You don’t need to be a Pollyanna, but remember that you’re a professional author.

Anyone and everyone can and will Google your name. Even if you’re a member of a private mailing list, or private Facebook group, these groups are public spaces. Keep everything positive.

Your career as an author is up to you

Be professional, and kind. Your career is always what you make it. Enjoy it. 🙂

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

Self-Publishing 2016: Amazon Cracks Down On Scammers

Self-Publishing 2016: Amazon Cracks Down On Scammers

One of the big events in 2016 was that Amazon started cracking down on scammers. Of course, this was long overdue. Writers’ message boards were full of writers horrified by the shenanigans of some of the scam-artists.


Self-publishing’s challenges: Amazon targeted by scams

Revealed: How one Amazon Kindle scam made millions of dollars reported:


There are a lot of four-letter words to describe Shershnyov. One springs to mind: “rich”.

On a small scale, each ebook can generate anything from a few cents to hundreds of dollars over the course of its life span — until Amazon figures out that the book is a fraud. Fraudulent books get pulled offline quickly but often reappear under a different title, cover, and author’s name.

How Amazon Kindle Unlimited Scammers Wring Big Money From Phony Books reported on the infamous Kindle Unlimited scam:

In other words: if a scam author publishes a book filled with nonsense (maybe a mishmash of a few thousand randomly picked pages from public domain websites), but then includes a link at the front that takes a Kindle Unlimited reader to the last page, Amazon will register that as if the user has “read” the entire book and pay the author for thousands of pages of reading that never took place.

In October, I gave authors ideas on how to get sales if their numbers were down, because some innocent authors seemed to be getting caught in algorithms targeting scammers:

Over the past couple of months, reports from some indie authors indicate slashed earnings at Amazon. Their Kindle Unlimited (KU) “pages read” counts are down, and ebook sales seem to be affected too.

What’s happening? The problem could be as simple as a software glitch in sales reporting. For more on this, there’s a very long thread on KBoards.

Challenges for authors: Amazon cracked down on reviews, too

Reviews are of course essential for authors. Since reviews are an easy way to game Amazon, Amazon cracked down on them too, as Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors Should Know reports:

Most notably and most discussed among authors: It is not okay to post a reader review if you are, according to Amazon, “a relative, close friend, business associate, or employee” of the author. Interpretation of this policy, as you can imagine, drives considerable debate.

Finally, to post a review, customers need to have spent at least $50 on Amazon. Yes, this is official Amazon policy. This helps prevent fake reviews from people who never shop at Amazon and may receive payment to leave reviews.

What if you’re affected by an algorithm which targets scammers?

Innocent authors do occasionally get caught when Amazon whirls the dials on its algorithms. According to several unfortunate authors on message boards, their Amazon accounts were cancelled. Although this was worrying for the authors, when contacted Amazon investigated, and reinstated their accounts.

So if you wake up one day and find that you’re in a mess because your Amazon account is closed, or you get nasty notes from Amazon about one of your books, don’t panic. Contact Amazon and explain your situation. Chances are you were caught by an algorithm, and Amazon will rectify the situation.

What if you’re gaming Amazon “harmlessly”?

In Ebook Self-publishing: Your Share of a $1 Billion Industry, I suggested:

What do I mean by “trickery”? Basically, anything which is against Amazon’s Terms of Service, even if it feels as if it’s harmless. There are a mile of ebook author groups set up solely to promote each other’s work. Chances are that you won’t get caught if you’re playing these kinds of games.

However, remember Amazon’s algorithm… you can get caught even if you’re completely innocent. If that happens, you have recourse. You can ask Amazon to reconsider, and they’ll get a human to examine your self-publishing account, which will be reinstated. On the other hand, if you’re guilty, your self-publishing business is dead.

Amazon cracking down is a GOOD thing

Scammers have targeted self-publishing since Amazon opened the Kindle Store. Most scams are low-level. Authors are aware of them, as is Amazon. Once these scams start getting out of hand (as with the erotica situation a few years ago), and the more recent, bigger scams, Amazon acts.

This is a good thing. Readers are happier, and authors receive the income they should, rather than seeing that income siphoned off by scammers.

Happy self-publishing in 2017. 🙂

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Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing
How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. More info →
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