The moment you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. Your manuscript is finished, it’s been transformed into an actual book and you’ve uploaded it to the internet so that the whole world can get immediate access with a single click!
But somehow things don’t seem to be going the way you imagined.
One hour after launch…you have no sales.
A full day later…still no sales.
An entire week later and there’s absolutely no change.
You start to wonder if something is wrong with your landing page. But upon further investigation you see that everything works fine. People just aren’t buying your book.
Common Reasons for Poor Book Sales
If the scenario above sounds all too familiar, consider the following common reasons for slow or non-existent sales of self-published books and some simple ideas on how to fix the problem.
- Your book isn’t high quality.
Let’s begin with the most basic requirement for generating sales – creating a quality book.
Since “quality” is a very subjective term we’ll go ahead and define it as the following:
- Well written. Whether you’re writing a fiction or non-fiction book, always ensure you write well. Writing well entails crafting a story or information resource that your audience actually wants to read along with making sure that the content of your book makes sense, is interesting and entertaining.
- Cleanly formatted. Another important selling point is creating a book that is well organized and easy to consume. Nothing ruins the appeal of a perfectly good book more than having to struggle to make sense of its contents. A well-designed layout with good word and line spacing, margins, font styles, lists and graphics helps to make reading your book a joy, which eventually leads to positive reviews and steady sales.
- Properly edited. Pay attention to details like the flow of your content, as well as its completeness. Performing thorough proofreading and editing once your manuscript is complete is essential for the most professional results. Don’t be afraid to outsource this step if necessary.
- You’re not targeting a specific audience.
Another major concern at the root of why your book sales are under whelming could be that you aren’t really targeting a niche audience.
- Why you should specialize. An age-old truth is that trying to please everyone usually ends up pleasing no one. It’s not beneficial to write an ‘okay’ book on a broad subject that anyone could want read. That only leads to low interest and low or non-existent sales.
- How to boost sales. Instead, aim to write an exceptional book on a very niche topic. That leads to your target audience feeling like they have to have your book or they’ll be missing out.
So, for example, instead of a book entitled “Business Ideas for Women”, which is a very broad and unfocused topic, consider writing a book about “Craft Business Startup Ideas for the Stay-at-Home Mom”.
Honing in on a specific subject that appeals to a niche audience often means the difference between releasing a book that goes unnoticed and having a new offer become an overnight sensation.
- Your cover design is not appealing.
Contrary to popular belief, most people can and do judge books by their covers. This is true whether you decide to offer your book in print or digital format.
- Why cover design is so important. Many self-published authors tend to underestimate the level of influence their cover design has on their prospects purchasing decisions. However, in a sea of options and with limited ability to show your reader what they’re going to get before they buy, your cover art helps you to communicate the quality and value prospects can expect to receive after purchasing your book.
Make sure that your cover is eye-catching, relevant and emotionally appealing. This goes a long way towards piquing a potential customer’s interest enough for them to click the buy button.
- You have no tribe.
If you want to make it as a self-published author, one of the most important things you can do is start and grow your very own ‘tribe’ or group of loyal followers.
- 1000 true fans. It’s the opinion of many influential entrepreneurs that being wildly successful in any niche of your choice only requires having 1000 true fans. That’s it!
Of course, more is better, but instead of worrying about how to get a significant portion of the more than 8 billion people on earth to notice you, you can focus on the 1000 that matter the most instead.
But how do you build a tribe of loyal fans?
Carving out your spot among the most relevant players in your niche is usually a long and tedious process. But the good news is that there are shortcuts that can get you there much faster.
- Using existing popularity as leverage. Leverage the popularity of influencers and other authority figures in your niche to grab the attention of their audience and introduce them to your own offers.
Write guest blog posts, do interviews and engage in the comments sections of popular blogs and forums. In other words, simply be helpful and incessant and you will eventually get noticed by the right people.
Work to become an authority figure in your niche and a go-to source of quality information and your tribe will come together in no time.
- You don’t have any customer feedback.
In today’s buyer market, one of the most effective ways to instill confidence in your product and influence people to buy is by having social proof in the form of positive reviews and feedback on your offers.
This is particularly true if you are new to the publishing game and haven’t yet built up your reputation enough to have customers flocking to your latest release.
- How to get your first review. Even if you’ve never released a book before there are free and ethical ways to get the review ball rolling in your favor.
Simply contact a few people that you think would be interested in your book and offer them a free copy in exchange for honest feedback. This works especially well if your reviewer also happens to be a very influential person.
Getting even one review from someone who is viewed as an authority figure in your niche can do a lot to bolster sales.
- You’re not marketing effectively.
You could have the next Harry Potter on your hands, but if you can’t figure out how to connect the dots between your book and it’s intended audience you might as well quit while you’re ahead.
No book becomes a best seller without a long line of ready-and-waiting buyers who want what it has to offer. And the only way to reach your would-be buyers is to let them know that you have what they want through effective marketing.
- Marketing techniques for self-published authors. Set up your author blog, start an email list, guest post, do blog tours, create a Facebook fan page, SEO your books and make them available on all the major book distribution platforms for best results. For more effective ways to market your book, check out this extensive checklist of book marketing ideas.
If poor book sales have you feeling depressed, take heart. There is likely something very simple you’re overlooking that’s keeping you from the kind of success you’ve dreamed of with your self-published books.
Always keep in mind that to enjoy brisk book sales, hitting a home run is about having all the pieces of the self-publishing puzzle fit together perfectly.