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Thread: Book not selling as I'd predicted

  1. #1

    Book not selling as I'd predicted

    This is my second book and I thought I had covered every angle - started marketing it way ahead of time. Got several pre-release reviews up on Amazon, started doing guest blogs about two weeks ahead of time. The book released a week and a half ago and as of today, I've done 22 guest blogs (and some of these blogs have 800+ followers). I've got 29 reviews on Goodreads (average rating 4.08) and 20 reviews on Amazon (average 4.03). Nothing too negative. I've got a quote on the cover from a bestselling author. 148 people on Goodreads have added the book. But sales are slow, slow, slow. Like one every other day.

    Any suggestions on anything else I could be doing to get this book moving? Or is it just a matter of bad timing - school shooting and then Christmas? If that's the case, did I miss my window or should I expect things to improve after the holiday hoopla? I purposefully chose December to release it because I read somewhere that Dec. is the best month for a book to release. Hm.

    Also, I'm wondering how important rankings are to the average Amazon customer, the non-authors. Do you think they notice them? I wonder if people are seeing my rating in the 100Ks and thinking, "oh, that's not good" and moving on, and what I need is for it to be consistently under 50K or something.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Sucky situation - I've been devoting 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week to marketing this thing for the past 3 months. Endless googling, researching, compiling a database, contacting reviewers, emailing back and forth, writing marketing material, writing blogs on all sorts of topics (more than 40 of them. My blog tour picks back up in January), reading/supporting/reviewing/commenting for other authors, reviewers and bloggers. The list goes on. It's been 3 months of soul-destroying, mind numbing work and I would hate to think that it's all been for nothing.


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  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW MelodySRV's Avatar
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    How long has it been since your book came out?
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by MelodySRV View Post
    How long has it been since your book came out?
    About a week and a half. It says the 11th, but it was actually the 12th.


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  4. #4
    nurturing tomorrows criminals today PorterStarrByrd's Avatar
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    What kind of preparation did you do with your book? Is it well edited? Do you have several beta readrs or the equivant who have provided you with observaton or advise?

    Did you do that type of preparation for your first book, which has begun to establish a reputation for you?

    Having no idea how good yourbook is, I know that without it, almost all writers have problems with their writing thay they would never have dreamed were there.

    Marketing is great and it looks like you have tried to do a good job. Does the product meet high expectations likely from a 'professional appraoch' to that facet of the project?
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  5. #5
    Your experience sounds typical for self-published books. Very few really sell in significant numbers.

  6. #6
    permaflounced
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    I think it's just timing. Sales are slow before Christmas because people aren't spending money on themselves. They should pick up quite a bit after the holiday as people want to stock their new ereaders and spend their Amazon gift cards. It sounds like you are in a great position to do well in the next few weeks.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by PorterStarrByrd View Post
    What kind of preparation did you do with your book? Is it well edited? Do you have several beta readrs or the equivant who have provided you with observaton or advise?

    Did you do that type of preparation for your first book, which has begun to establish a reputation for you?

    Having no idea how good yourbook is, I know that without it, almost all writers have problems with their writing thay they would never have dreamed were there.

    Marketing is great and it looks like you have tried to do a good job. Does the product meet high expectations likely from a 'professional appraoch' to that facet of the project?
    I didn't hire a professional editor, but I had four betas who were very helpful. One towards the end who caught a couple of typos, pointed out over-used words, etc. For the first book, I had only two betas, but this one was released by a publisher, so we went through more edits there, although not many, to be honest. The new book is my first attempt at self-publishing.

    None of the reviewers have said anything about it being poorly edited. A few of them have complained that it wasn't long enough - this was a problem I hadn't foreseen. My thing is chick lit/romance hybrids and it's the size of a category romance (50K words) which is kind of throwing the chick lit fans who are used to longer stories. Apart from that (and there are plenty of reviewers who make no mention of this) they didn't have issues with the technical stuff.


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  8. #8
    permaflounced
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Your experience sounds typical for self-published books. Very few really sell in significant numbers.
    I think overall, you may be right, but if you separate the average self-published author who uploads their book and expects it to sell itself, from the sub-set of self-pubbed authors (which is a fairly good sized sub-set) who prepare as well as the OP seems to have done, it's a whole different ballgame.

    Out of curiosity, I'd also like to know what 'very few' means? And what do you consider significant numbers?

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    Your experience sounds typical for self-published books. Very few really sell in significant numbers.
    Typical perhaps for authors who don't aggressively promote, but I know quite a few people who are making a steady income out of their books. Not a fortune, but I would estimate they're earning about $1000 to $2000 a month or so, which I would be thrilled with. I've studied their methods and that's how I came up with my game plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by MMcDonald64 View Post
    I think it's just timing. Sales are slow before Christmas because people aren't spending money on themselves. They should pick up quite a bit after the holiday as people want to stock their new ereaders and spend their Amazon gift cards. It sounds like you are in a great position to do well in the next few weeks.
    I hope so! Fingers crossed, knock on wood and all that. From your keyboard to God's ears.


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  10. #10
    Mushroom Polenth's Avatar
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    The things you've done are good, and it looks well presented on the Amazon page, but it's not going to mean great sales from day one. It takes time to build up a reputation as a self-published author and it usually takes more than one book.

    So it might be rather than doing more, you'd be better off doing less. Have a cutoff point for promoting this book, so that you don't run yourself into the ground. After that, it's on to the next book.
    * Polenth *

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  11. #11
    A Gentleman of a refined age... thothguard51's Avatar
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    As a reader, I really don't pay attention to the Amazon rankings, but that may be because I am also a writer and know the rankings can be skewed with 10 ways to Sunday...

    Don't get impatient, from everything I have read, its the after Christmas crowd who will bump your numbers upward...

    Good luck and Happy Holidays...
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  12. #12
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    At this point, I'd start concentrating less on directly specifically marketing your book, and concentrating on the next book.

    But that doesn't mean stop talking about your book.

    That means in fact that you participate in conversations that aren't designed to be about you and your book. You engage with readers without selling your books as your primary motive.

    People will see you posting/tweeing and will click through to your profile, and read about your books, and might decide to check them out.

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  13. #13
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    I've marketed myself blue in the face for my first self-pubbed e-title, basically making announcements, pitches, and short blurbs at dozens of sites. Here's a list of what I did in the first few months of release, and even before release:

    I first went to Book Blogs and added some groups to the ones I'd already had. I joined a total of 18 groups, but realized that about 10 to 12 of them were adequate for announcing the debut launch of The War Gate. I simply pasted a refined query letter into the topic box, added a cover that I copied directly off the Amazon page, and listed the price--$2.99. I went to Gather and shared about four announcements in separate groups. I hit LinkedIn, announced there, then GoodReads, Pinterest, Stumbled Upon, Chronicles SF forum, Writers.com. Absolutewrite, SFF Chronicles, Bookwhirl, Shelfari, Red Room, Accentuate Writers, Library Thing, Stage 32, Authors.com, WritersCafe, Bookhitch, Wattpad, Published.com, Booksie, Twitter, FaceBook, SFF World, Published.com, and just about any other YADS (yet another display site) I could think of. I didn't use any PR webs, since they often require a purchase plan. I would spend no money on promotion, marketing or advertizing. I pushed this campaign for 10 days straight, then repeated two or three times per week for a couple months.

    I've had about eight author interviews, five or six book reviews and a ten-day blog tour (which was donated to me).

    The sales have been very tepid, probably about your average showing for a self-pubbed book. It's always around a 275,000 sales rank and rarely moves up or down. I might sell one or two a week, and that's about it. I've probably sold a total of 30 books tops since it came out.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW MelodySRV's Avatar
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    If it's only been a week and a half, I wouldn't worried too much about it. You're just getting started and especially for new authors things take a while to get off the ground.

    Make sure you interact with people who comment about your book. That's the best kind of marketing.
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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Polenth View Post
    The things you've done are good, and it looks well presented on the Amazon page, but it's not going to mean great sales from day one. It takes time to build up a reputation as a self-published author and it usually takes more than one book.

    So it might be rather than doing more, you'd be better off doing less. Have a cutoff point for promoting this book, so that you don't run yourself into the ground. After that, it's on to the next book.
    I'm glad you think it looks good and well presented. I don't know, though. I've observed it happening with these authors who promote their books like crazy. And actually it happened with their first books. Since mine is my second book, I thought that would be beneficial, but perhaps not. Readers can see that Book 1 didn't set the world on fire. I didn't market it properly because at that point, I was still learning. I just don't want to give up because I feel like all the key elements are in place - just that something might be missing. Hopefully it's just a matter of time. I hope.

    Book 3 is actually done, dusted and ready to go, but I was hoping to take a break from marketing for a couple of months before I start it all up again. Looking forward to getting back to the actual writing, though! Book 4 is halfway there.

    Quote Originally Posted by thothguard51 View Post
    As a reader, I really don't pay attention to the Amazon rankings, but that may be because I am also a writer and know the rankings can be skewed with 10 ways to Sunday...

    Don't get impatient, from everything I have read, its the after Christmas crowd who will bump your numbers upward...

    Good luck and Happy Holidays...
    Good for you for not paying attention to the rankings! It's horribly addictive I find. Told my mom it's like being on a diet and weighing myself six times a day.

    I hope you're right about post-Christmas. I mean, I know you're right, but I hope people will select my book and they won't have forgotten about it by then. There's just so much out there. Happy Holidays to you too.


    Note to everyone: My brain is obviously fried because it's damaged my manners. Thanks so much to everyone who has replied.


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  16. #16
    Cultus Gopherus MacAllister SuperModerator Medievalist's Avatar
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    You know, sometimes the claims of amazing sales are inflated, in hopes of generating more sales.

    And sometimes, some writers engage in unethical techniques, like paying for Amazon reviews, buying their own books on credit cards in carefully staggered numbers, etc.

    Don't despair. Remember the best way to sell a book is to write another and even better book.
    Last edited by Medievalist; 12-24-2012 at 03:47 AM.

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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    At this point, I'd start concentrating less on directly specifically marketing your book, and concentrating on the next book.

    But that doesn't mean stop talking about your book.

    That means in fact that you participate in conversations that aren't designed to be about you and your book. You engage with readers without selling your books as your primary motive.

    People will see you posting/tweeing and will click through to your profile, and read about your books, and might decide to check them out.
    I do participate in conversations not about my book - retweet, comment on review blogs, etc. and all that. And if you missed it, I've already got Book 3 ready to go. Anyway, I've still got nearly 20 guest posts scheduled for January and I'm expecting at least a dozen more reviews to trickle in as well, so turning things off right now probably isn't an option. I just wonder if there's some elusive element I could add that would help... Thanks so much for the advice!

    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    I've marketed myself blue in the face for my first self-pubbed e-title, basically making announcements, pitches, and short blurbs at dozens of sites. Here's a list of what I did in the first few months of release, and even before release:

    I first went to Book Blogs and added some groups to the ones I'd already had. I joined a total of 18 groups, but realized that about 10 to 12 of them were adequate for announcing the debut launch of The War Gate. I simply pasted a refined query letter into the topic box, added a cover that I copied directly off the Amazon page, and listed the price--$2.99. I went to Gather and shared about four announcements in separate groups. I hit LinkedIn, announced there, then GoodReads, Pinterest, Stumbled Upon, Chronicles SF forum, Writers.com. Absolutewrite, SFF Chronicles, Bookwhirl, Shelfari, Red Room, Accentuate Writers, Library Thing, Stage 32, Authors.com, WritersCafe, Bookhitch, Wattpad, Published.com, Booksie, Twitter, FaceBook, SFF World, Published.com, and just about any other YADS (yet another display site) I could think of. I didn't use any PR webs, since they often require a purchase plan. I would spend no money on promotion, marketing or advertizing. I pushed this campaign for 10 days straight, then repeated two or three times per week for a couple months.

    I've had about eight author interviews, five or six book reviews and a ten-day blog tour (which was donated to me).

    The sales have been very tepid, probably about your average showing for a self-pubbed book. It's always around a 275,000 sales rank and rarely moves up or down. I might sell one or two a week, and that's about it. I've probably sold a total of 30 books tops since it came out.
    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. There are a lot of places you mentioned that I'm not familiar with. Will have to have a look later. Although I imagine some are genre-specific? Were you with a publisher for your first book or have you now self-published two? Is the second one faring better? Sorry about all the questions, but I'm just trying to figure it all out.

    Quote Originally Posted by MelodySRV View Post
    If it's only been a week and a half, I wouldn't worried too much about it. You're just getting started and especially for new authors things take a while to get off the ground.

    Make sure you interact with people who comment about your book. That's the best kind of marketing.
    I've always been a bit of a slavedriver when it comes to myself. Opened up a boutique several years ago and worked ALL the time - sewing clothes at my empty shop at 2am and whatnot. Always said I'd never had such a mean boss before.

    I do definitely interact with people who comment. It takes me a while sometimes when the comment the next day, for instance, and I might not check that particular blog for a few days later.

    Thanks so much for chiming in! I must run. Got to jump in the shower and head out.


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  18. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by MMcDonald64 View Post
    Out of curiosity, I'd also like to know what 'very few' means? And what do you consider significant numbers?

    I don't know if anyone has done any studies, but I'd be surprised if more than 1% of self-published authors sell more than double digits.

  19. #19
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chiquita Banana View Post
    This is my second book
    How many copies did your first book sell in the same time period, and in total? I think that's the only meaningful comparison.

    If the first book leapt off the shelves and the second one didn't, that suggests the first book didn't live up to its promise and left readers disappointed. If the first book had slow but steady growth in sales and the second book didn't leap off the shelves, that suggests fans of the first book weren't waiting with bated breath for the second to be released. If the first book didn't sell terribly well, I can't see why the second book would sell any better, particularly if it's a series.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Medievalist View Post
    You know, sometimes the claims of amazing sales are inflated, in hopes of generating more sales.

    And sometimes, some writers engage in unethical techniques, like paying for Amazon reviews, buying their own books on credit cards in carefully staggered numbers, etc.

    Don't despair. Remember the best way to sell a book is to write another and even better book.
    I hear ya, but it's not the case. I know this from observing their Amazon ranks and also the reviewers they had are the same ones I contacted too. I wish I knew what the secret was.

    I know! About the next book. Seriously, folks, there is no need to tell me this. I already have Book 3 ready to go. Book 4 is exactly halfway finished. And I also have Books 5 & 6 finished, but they are different from the first four - better, I think - but different and will require a bit of rebranding, so I want to get all four chick lit/romance hybrids out there before I unleash the other two.

    Thanks so much for the input, but I really must pull myself away from the computer now.


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  21. #21
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    It looks basically fine to me, inside and out. But December is actually known as about the lowest sales time for ebooks in the year. I would suggest that you update your Amazon author page so it shows all your work and has a pro looking picture and blog feed.

  22. #22
    permaflounced
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    Quote Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
    I don't know if anyone has done any studies, but I'd be surprised if more than 1% of self-published authors sell more than double digits.
    Wow! I'd have to say that's an extremely low figure. I know a lot of self-published authors and most sell a ton more than that. I have a bunch of author FB friends and many became my friends a few years ago when we were all delving into self-publishing at around the same time. Since that time, several have been picked up by Amazon imprints, and I can think of at least four who have become NY Times Bestsellers. There are also a few right here on AW who have been hugely successful.

    Then there are the authors like me who have been fairly successful. You don't hear about us because we're actually too common to be newsworthy these days. I'm talking those who sell 20,000 plus books. I don't consider myself in the one percent. Maybe the 20%? 25%

    I suppose Amazon could tell us their figures so we would know for sure, but I doubt they would share that information.

  23. #23
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Thanks so much for sharing your experience. There are a lot of places you mentioned that I'm not familiar with. Will have to have a look later. Although I imagine some are genre-specific? Were you with a publisher for your first book or have you now self-published two? Is the second one faring better? Sorry about all the questions, but I'm just trying to figure it all out.

    I have a total of nine books on Amazon--four of them are out of print (trade published). I have a SF, and werewolf thriller, both novels and trade published, and two trade SF stories. My fifth active title, a paranormal romance, is the only self-published book and the newest in the lineup.

  24. #24
    practical experience, FTW
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    CB,

    I'd be interested in your marketing plan. I'm hoping to launch a second book soon, but I'd like to give it a "little shove" out the gate.

    I agree with the others, people are waiting for their Amazon cards. Romance books do pretty good from my observations.
    My Blog: rvdoon.com

  25. #25
    This is not my day. Internet keeps going in and out - maybe because of the constant rain. Anyway, I lost the long, detailed reply to all of you, so I'm going to sum up.

    Unimportant: comparing the two books is really not as straightforward as you might think. Book 1 had very little exposure. As of yet I haven't had any bad reviews on it (knock on wood) so if I disappointed readers, it's news to me. It didn't sell well though. Well over half of the books went to people I know. Add in the number of people I know in the virtual world who bought my book, and probably only 20% of them were purchased by strangers.

    Veinglory: Eek. I think I must have read that book sales were best in Dec. thinking it included ebook sales, but whatever it was probably was just talking about print. Live and learn. Thanks for the Amazon author page tips. My books are both up there, but I have yet to get that feed on there. Been trying, but to no avail. And I know I probably am going to have to shell out for an author photo. Only got casual friend-shot pics otherwise.

    MMcDonald64: This is very encouraging news. It would be so great if Amazon could give us a few clues to help us set realistic goals, such as "to maintain a 50K-75K ranking, you need to sell an average of X books a week" or "to crack 10,000 in the ranking list, you need to sell an average of X books on one given day." That'd be nice, huh?

    Triceretops: Cool, thanks for letting me know.

    Bay: What would you like to know? Fingers crossed about those Amazon gift cards. I'm thinking new Nooks, Kindles, etc. too. Hopefully...


    Thanks everyone. Am trying to be patient. I'm just so worried that there's some key element I've overlooked. Totally have put my life on hold to market the living daylights out of this thing and if it fizzles and dies... well, I don't even want to think about that. Thanks again!


    Unmasking Maya on Amazon

    Fashioning a Romance on Amazon

    Espresso Macchiato, a FREE short story on Smashwords

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