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. 🙂
Do you enjoy writing and publishing your books, but find that marketing them is a challenge? You're not sure what works, so your efforts are muddled, half-hearted, and inconsistent.
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