21 Reasons You Aren’t Selling More Books

Posted May 8 2015, 10:45 am in , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

As a professional author, it’s not enough for you to write the most amazing books possible… you’ve got to sell them, too. Could your sales be b21etter? If so, consider the following list of popular pitfalls waiting to trip up even the cagiest of authors.

  1. You’re locked in the editing waltz. One, two three – one, two, three. Instead of moving efficiently and methodically through the editing process, you are stuck on polishing and re-polishing the first three chapters of your newest book.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Get thee behind me, Manuscript! Find an amazing editor or copy-editor (or even a Beta Reader if you want to rock it DIY) and hand off that manuscript. Just getting it out of your hands for a few weeks will help you break the cycle of constant editing.

  2. You don’t have a clear plan of action beyond your current book. You’ve been so focused on writing, editing, formatting and uploading your book, you’re wiped out. The only thing you can imagine coming next is a long nap.

    POSTSCRIPTION: You need a plan, stat. Whether it’s you and a whiteboard or blank sheet of paper, or quality time with a strategy consultant, take a few hours (or a few days) to create a plan for the next 3-12 months.

  3. Your cover sucks. The amazing thing about Indie publishing is how quickly a book can come together. But you were moving so fast that the cover you created somehow seems less awesome than you imagined it would.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Changing a cover on a book is a time-tested tool for smart marketers. Is yours in need of a refresh? Poll readers, fellow authors, or get the opinion of publishing professionals on how a different cover could better showcase your amazing book.

  4. You have SMAD – Social Media Attention Disorder. You’re so busy keeping up with Twitter, Tumblr, Pintrest, Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and that last Yahoo group you can’t quite kill, you’re not hitting your writing goals.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Pick one social media outlet as your base, and automate your outreach for the rest. It’s easier than you think!

  5. Something’s the matter with your Front and Back Matter. Front and back matter are the pages that come before and after the actual story – your copyright page, dedication, acknowledgements, special author content, ads, links, etc. Is yours doing all it should be to promote your other books?

    POSTSCRIPTION: In this case, imitation is the sincerest (and smartest) form of flattery. Download books of authors whose careers you admire, and study how they handle front and back matter. Do they use affiliate links (they probably do)? What ads do they include? What special content? Consider similar solutions for your books, or hire an expert for additional suggestions.

  6. You just don’t have time to write. This seems reasonable as an issue, until you are at a conference and start talking to that author who is the mother of five kids, plus runs a successful, popular blog, plus puts out amazing books on a regular basis. How does she do it all?

    POSTSCRIPTION: Ask fellow authors who are in a similar situation as you, what their tips and tricks are. Everyone is different, but pay attention to what’s consistent. Chances are, those are the tricks that will work for you, too. Looking for more inspiration? Set some goals and get started.

  7. Every book you want to write is different. This doesn’t have to trip you up – lots of authors sell a diverse range of books. But you’re trying to publish steamy romance and children’s picture books under the same name. And on the same website.

    POSTSCRIPTION: It’s time to figure out who you want to be when you grow up! Author Branding has come a long way over the past several years, and finding ways to present yours effectively can help streamline your promotional time, up your readership, and increase sales.

  8. Your metadata is more “meh” than data. Yes, your book is online, you’ve got a description and even relevant categories. But instead of standing up and cheering about your book, your metadata is lying down on the job.

    POSTSCRIPTION:  Think of your book as a living entity, not a stone tablet. Just because you used a certain description and tagline when you launched doesn’t mean it must remain that way forever. Experiment with new keywords to position your book effectively!

  9. You’re bummed out because everyone is moving more quickly than you are. Being an author is a tremendously social job, and it’s almost impossible to avoid comparing yourself to other authors. Sometimes that’s motivating, and sometimes… it’s not.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Instead of simply comparing yourself to other authors’ success, learn from that success. You’ve got an enormous pool of data to mine at your fingertips! When you find a technique that works for you, adopt it and use it consistently. Consistency is critical in this business!

  10. You’re completely anti-social. This is the flip-side of #4. Too much time spent on social media can be a bad thing… but so can too little.

    POSTSCRIPTION: It’s important in today’s market to be accessible to your readers as well as to other authors. Even if your network is small – build it and nurture it.

  11. Your books aren’t as strong as they could be. You’re a good writer, but are you a great writer? Bestselling authors generally are.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Pay attention to the larger trends of your reviews – not the odd outlier who thinks everything you write is trash, or the raving fan who thinks everything you write is gold. What is consistently being picked out as your strength…and weakness? If it’s something you can fix editorially, consider an editor or proof reader. If it’s a craft issue, take a class or check out related books!

  12. You’re moving so fast, you don’t have time to market. Everyone says that writing the next book is the most important thing, right? Trouble is, you’ve made it the only thing.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Slow down there, Sparky. Your books deserve to be shared with as wide an audience as possible. The good news? It’s never too late to create a great marketing plan.

  13. You’re burning the candle at both ends and down the middle. It’s important to maintain a high level of productivity, but you’re starting to get a little crispy at the edges.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Sometimes, it’s easy to confuse activity with productivity. If you’re feeling a little burned out, take a step back from your go-go-go mindset and analyze everything you do, and its ultimate impact on your bottom line. Most people find that 20% of the work provides 80% of the profits… is there something you could cut out?

  14. You don’t really “own” your reader connection. You’ve got Twitter followers and Facebook fans, Instagram buddies and Pintrest pals, but how can you keep track of them all?

    POSTSCRIPTION: It’s time to embrace your eNewsletter, gentle author. More than any other reader tool, it’s a way to communicate your latest news, hot-of-the-presses inside scoop, and special opportunities to a readership who has already shown they care about you and what you have to say.

  15. You’re having a hard time reaching new readers. People who read your book love it… but not enough people are reading it.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Broadening your reach is a necessary step to take you from beginner to mid-list, or mid-list to bestseller. To do that, you have to go to where YOUR readers are. Choose the social media platform most suited to your readership and create a presence there. If it’s a more advanced platform like Facebook, consider advertising or cross promotional apps for best effect.

  16. You’re not asking for help from retailers… or anyone. You know writing is a business, and asking an online retailer to assist you with a promotion simply is another business email. And yet you haven’t written it.

    POSTSCRIPTION: It’s time to cowboy up and ride, pardn’r. Imagine yourself in an environment where you routinely get things done, and start applying that mindset to your writing business as well. Until you do, the only one who will suffer is yourself (and your amazing books.)

  17. Your books need more buzz. You’re introducing new books, but no one is noticing them, and your last launch fizzled before the confetti hit the floor.

    POSTSCRIPTION: One of the best ways to build buzz is early reader reviews that appear on your website on launch day. Several review services are available, including Postscript Review Service, but also consider building your own Street Team or Advance Reader Team to help score those critical early reviews.

  18. Learning is SO not fundamental to you. Maybe you’re used to being on top of things, maybe you’re a previously traditionally-published author who didn’t have to *know* so much about the business of marketing and publishing books in order to be a success. But now you do, and it’s bumming you out.

    POSTSCRIPTION: See “cowboy up”, above. Indie publishing is extraordinary because there is so much you can do yourself… but the responsibility of doing all the things also rests on you. But if that idea makes you want to take a long nap, then help is available–more economically than you think! From virtual assistants to street teams to strategic consultants, your team is waiting.

  19. You’re not thinking big enough. You absolutely love your sub- sub- sub-genre of books and you own that niche, but there just aren’t enough readers to keep you afloat.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Do the monster mash (up). Don’t stop writing the kind of books you love, but consider introducing them to a whole new readership by combining your fav sub-genre with a more mainstream sub-genre or genre of books. Love writing puzzle mysteries? How about writing a cozy mystery with a puzzle focus? Insane about Native American history? Consider adding a mainstream thriller element. When it comes to readership expansion, it’s all about smart strategy.

  20. You’re not leveraging your platform effectively. You’ve spent the last seven months learning everything there is to know about your heroine’s profession… and you’re not breathing a word about it.

    POSTSCRIPTION: Let us be the first to tell you: you’re smarter than you think you are. And chances are, you’ve done a lot of fabulous research about the subjects of your books. Whether archeology or knitting, special ops forces or Colonial history, there’s an entire readership of people as rabid about your subject as you are. Start sharing your knowledge in non-fiction venues, and you’ll open up doors to new readers of your books. 

  21. You keep getting bogged down in the details, instead of focusing on your next book. There’s a lot that goes into Indie publishing (or any sort of publishing), and you’re losing ground, fast.

    POSTSCRIPTION: You’ve come to the right place! From information to services to expert advice, Postscript Media Services was created for you.

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