June 30, 2004
Don't Fool Yourself About Poor Book Sales By Angela Hoy | printable version
Authors can come up with some pretty creative reasons to convince themselves of why they're book isn't selling. When you know as many authors as I do (more than 800) and you see the variety of successful and not-so-successful marketing techniques used today, there really are only two excuses for poor book sales...bad marketing or just a plain old bad book.
One author wrote to me last week complaining and claiming that inflated bookstore prices and high shipping costs were to blame for his low book sales. However, his book is the same size as many others in his genre, has the same list price in the bookstores as many others, and also has the same shipping costs. So, why are so many books selling so much better than others? No, it's not the bookstore costs, and it's not the shipping costs. It's the book itself and it's the author's marketing prowess.
If your book is poorly written, poorly presented, doesn't have a good hook or receives bad reviews online, your sales will suffer. If you've written a book for yourself instead of for a specific audience, you may soon discover that your book will not sell well, regardless of your writing skills and marketing savvy. It's best to have a target audience in mind before devoting months or years to a book manuscript. Likewise, if you aren't willing to market your book, if you wait for buyers to find you instead of seeking them out, and if you spend more time making excuses than pounding the virtual pavement, you can't blame outside factors on low book sales.
If a book is good, and it's marketed effectively and aggressively, it's going to sell. The plain fact is this: If someone wants a book badly enough, a $1 or $2 difference in the price isn't going to make a diddly doo of difference. They're going to buy that book. If your book isn't selling, it's a good idea to talk to potential customers and ask them 1. if they didn't buy your book, why not? and 2. if they did buy your book, would they recommend it to a friend? Why or why not?
Only through this type of market analysis can you determine why your book is not selling as well as others in its genre, size and price-range. And, don't take the word of only one customer. You'll need a wide variety of opinions before you can be sure of the reason for your book's slow sales. Only then can you seek to remedy the situation and find new ways to attract future fans.
Angela Hoy is the co-owner of Booklocker.com, Inc., an author-friendly POD publisher that takes no rights, pays high royalties on a monthly basis, and treats authors like people, not numbers. Booklocker.com is happy to work with the parents of child authors! She also publishes WritersWeekly.com, the free marketing emag for writers, offering paying markets and freelance jobs every Wednesday at no charge.
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