Every author struggles to sell books. No matter who you are, what your write, you want to sell more. Authors who sell five books a week want to sell ten. Authors who sell ten books a week want to sell twenty. Authors who sell five thousand books a week want to sell ten thousand. We always want more more MORE!
So what's keeping us from getting there? Let's have a look.
1. You aren't reaching enough people.
If you want to sell ten thousand books, you need to know AT LEAST ten thousand people. If you look at all your social media accounts, do your followers add up to ten thousand? If you are only reaching 900 people, there's no way you'll sell more than that at any given time, and a high likelihood you'll sell far less. You simply aren't getting your book in front of enough people.
2. You aren't engaging the people you're reaching.
Let's say you have 900 Twitter followers. How many of them are liking, retweeting, or responding to your tweets? Ten? Five? Just one? If that's the case, you aren't connecting well to your platform. Try the 5-3-2 method:
Five posts your shared from someone else.
Three posts you created about books but not about *your* books
Two posts about you and your books
If you're stuck in a book promotion rut, try branching out to other bookish things. Readers will be grateful for the change of pace and topic, and their increased interest will help them engage better.
3. You aren't working with bloggers.
Bloggers (generally) proudly display their readership. Two thousand. Five thousand. One hundred thousand. And they should! They worked hard to reach that many people.
By contacting bloggers to read and promote your books, you are reaching all of their readers. That's hundreds of thousands of new readers who are seeing your book and deciding if they'd like to buy it. Give them something great, and you'll be sure to snag a big bucket of new readers.
4. You aren't promoting your backlist in the backmatter.
At the end of your books, you should include links to your other titles, particularly if they are the same genre or theme. If a reader made it all the way to the end of your book, chances are they liked it, and if you have multiple books in that genre, chances are they'll like those too. You are robbing yourself of sales if you don't let them know about your other works. It's a quick and easy way to make a big difference in your sales.
5. You aren't working with other authors.
Every author works hard to reach readers. By working with authors in your genre to review and cross-promote, you are reaching a group of people who enjoy reading books like yours. You can even ask other authors to write a blurb to include on your cover, description, and promotion materials.
"This book was an awesome journey into a magical world." ~ RS McCoy, Author of Blossom and the Beast
Your books look more credible and you're reaching a new group of readers. Win-win!
6. You aren't utilizing giveaways.
Book markets are heavily saturated right now and likely will be for years to come. That means readers have way more books to read than they could ever read in a lifetime. How do you set yours apart?
With so many free and discounted books out in the world, many readers won't take a chance on a full price book. By discounting books or giving them away at specified intervals, you give those readers a chance to get into your stories, and a good chunk of them will likely come back for more.
Are there readers who only read free books? Yes. Are there readers who will never buy one of your books? Yes. Will you be giving those readers a book for free and never make a penny off them? Yes.
But you're getting your book into the hands of LOTS of new readers. And sharing stories is what it's all about, right?
7. You aren't utilizing established promotional newsletters
Getting a company like BookBub to promote your book could net you THOUSANDS of sales or downloads in a single day. That could make your month. Hell, that could make your year!
If you can't get into BookBub (admittedly, it is a hard nut to crack), try other, smaller, cheaper options like BargainBooksy, FreeBooksy, Bknights, BookBarbarian, BookGorilla, ENT, and dozens of others. They cost money, but you're likely to make back what you spent and then some.
8. You aren't a part of your community.
Want people to read your books, write reviews, and discuss your books with their friends and family? Then you better be doing it too. Buy books, read them, discuss them, and write reviews. Find other people who the same books you do and hold a meaningful conversation about what you liked or didn't like. Develop relationships with book lovers and give just as much as you want to receive. Be the example of the kind of reader you want to have.
9. You aren't marketing your book well.
Does your cover indicate genre, theme, and character? Does your description leave readers wanting to know more? Is your book listed in the appropriate categories?
If you answered 'no' to any of these, then you aren't marketing your book well. Leave behind your personal preferences (I hate books with half-naked dudes on the front!) and appeal to your audience. Utilize establishments of your genre while still being unique and creative. It's a fine line to walk, but that's what it takes to connect to new readers.
10. You aren't being consistent.
Having long periods of promotion followed by long periods of silence doesn't work. If you're not promoting, connecting, engaging, and working to reach readers every day, then you can't be successful. This is a long uphill battle and the tortoise will always win. Set aside time every day to update your social media accounts and meet new people. Your career is 100% in your hands, so don't take your hands off the wheel!
Publishing and selling books is a tough, complex business and it will take even the most educated and diligent authors years to get their ball rolling. Start small, start now, and work every day to making your platform just a little bit better.