So you’ve finally done it; you’ve unleashed your masterpiece to the Kindle wilderness and now you can just walk away and let it fend for itself, right? Wrong actually. Your masterpiece is going to be eaten alive by the vicious predators already competing for attention. So why is your book not getting the attention it deserves? Here are the main points that could be sabotaging your book’s ability to thrive in the wilds of Amazon.
- Initially and most obviously, does your book actually deserve the attention? Marketing may be the buzz topic surrounding self published books, but the fact remains that the book has to be pretty damn good to start with. You’ve heard the phrase: You could sell ice-cream to the Eskimos’? Well with excellent marketing you could potentially sell hundreds of books to eager readers; however, if those books are complete rubbish, your buyers will pretty soon get wise to the fact that you’re a terrible author. Long term, this is not the best strategy.
- Pretending you don’t care. When confronted by terrible sales figures, it’s only natural to trot out phrases like: “Oh well, I’m only doing this for myself anyway”, or “If people don’t like my writing, that’s their problem not mine”. You need to care, and you need to care publicly. Swallow that pride and ask for the attention your book needs. Get friends to give authentic reviews and ask fellow bloggers if they could review your book on their site in return for doing the same. Talk freely about your book the way you talk about your children; be proud of what you have created and be proactive in pushing them forward.
- Your books aren’t different enough. We all know the trendy subjects that dominate the best sellers list, but what makes yours stand out? Well that’s up to you to try and find a unique angle. If you’re writing about the Paleo diet, you will just be swamped in the competition, so you need to niche it down in order to get some traction. It may seem that targeting a smaller audience is counter-productive, but actually your book will stand out to the people searching with more specific terms. For instance; ‘Paleo diets for pregnant women’ is a much smaller target audience but because it’s more specialised it will reach the exact target market you are aiming for. It will actually be more highly visible for those search words and that will generate more sales.
- Your niche is not profitable. You need to check that there is actually a big enough audience demand for your niche. The best way to check this is to search Amazon’s own Kindle store for your subject. Searching ‘Dog training techniques’ will give you a good idea of the quality of competition and the ranking of the best of the competition. If you search ‘Train your Yorkshire Terrier to win Britain’s Got Talent’, well you will quickly see that no matter how great you make that book, there is just no interest in the subject. Targeting your book at a specific audience and solving their problem is a must; just really take the time to assess whether there are enough people with that problem who will potentially buy your book.
- Your aim is not clear. It’s fairly easy to identify problems that need solving when writing a book. There are always people who want to lose weight, get rich, become a film star, learn to drive, pass an exam; the list is endless. You need to have a solid reason and result so that people who buy your book know exactly what you are offering them. If you write a book called ‘How to pass your driving test’, not only will you have some stiff competition but your aim is possibly too broad. Create a more definite result: ‘How to have the confidence to pass your driving test first time’. The aim in the second example is very clear and solves a specific problem.
- It’s normal not to sell many books – unfortunately. The unsavoury truth is that very few self-published authors sell thousands, or even hundreds of books. The authors who do manage it are definitely in the minority, but it’s those success stories we choose to base our own aspirations on. There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, in fact we should all reach for the stars; but we need to accept that our efforts are not likely to get the results we really desire – and that’s fine. If you’re looking to make wads of cash from your business, I suggest you go set up another type of venture. In many cases, not selling books doesn’t mean your work is terrible, it’s just normal. I have read many estimations of the total percentage of self-published books that never sell a single copy, and the estimates are as high as 25%. That means that even if you only sell a few copies, you are already passing a quarter of the competition, so celebrate the small victories and remember that success is not just measured in money.