So you want to know why your book isn't selling at all, or as much as you'd like, and you're searching for help. The answer is probably more simple than you realize. And the good news is, it's an easy fix!
If you have invested time, money, and heart into writing and publishing a book, only to be disappointed by minimal sales, you'll want to know the number one reason why your book isn't selling, and what you can do about it. That's exactly what this post is going to tackle.
If you struggle to sell books beyond people you know, you're not alone. According to Bookstat.com, in 2020, only 4% of books released sold more than a thousand copies. And that was in 2020, the first year of the pandemic when book sales soared with people stuck at home.
But knowing that you are the only one struggling to sell books is little comfort. So, what can you do to increase your sales, reach more readers, and improve your income?
The first thing to know is that while your book cover and metadata are super important for book sales, they are not the reason why your book isn't selling.
The obvious reason why your book isn't selling
Forgive me if this sounds a little obvious, but the number one reason why your book isn't selling is because you are not selling it!
Let's dig into this a little. What do I mean by selling it? You might confused because you're running yourself ragged with marketing activities. You're doing TikToks and going live on Instagram. You're nurturing your email list, sending regular emails, writing blogs, and doing All The Things. So what else am I asking you to do that you're not already doing?
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Have you asked readers to buy?
Well, if you're already doing any of the above; if you are building an email list, creating content, nurturing readers, then I don't want you to do much more. You're already doing a lot of great work.
But what I want you to think about is, are you asking people to buy your book?
Do you have a strong call to action whenever you put yourself out there? When you send an email, when you go live on Instagram, are you telling people about your book? Do you send people to your book's sales page, whether that's on Amazon, on your website or one of the other retailers?
I know that this may come as a bit of a surprise because I, along with most other marketing people, will tell you not to forever post ‘buy my book' messages. And yes, I stand by that. I don't want you to be forever trying to sell the book. I don't want you to always be talking about money off, or discounts, or that the book's out now.
Value is important
You do need to give valuable content, as well. And by valuable content, I mean things that let your readers get to know, like, and trust you. So you might talk about other books you enjoy or why you write what you write. All that regular marketing activity, that nurture activity, is so that one day you can ask people to buy your book. That might be around a launch, but you should be doing it at other times, as well. Your book is on sale forever, so you want to keep directing people to it, certainly until the next book comes out.
But you can't add a buy link to your website or your social media bios and hope that people find it by themselves. You do need, every now and again, to ask readers to click that button, to go and check out your book, to go and buy your book.
Give readers a reason to buy
Of course, you might need to give people a good reason to click the buy button. Sometimes that might be an incentive, such as a discount, or a bonus, but sometimes it could be reminding them why your book is a an awesome read.
If you write non-fiction, remind readers of the value you share. What lessons will they learn? What problems can they solve with your book? And if you write fiction, remind readers of some awesome passages. If it's a book in a series, remind them of how much they love your characters, and how they need to know what happens next. If it's a brand new book or a standalone, then give them a little bit of insight. Give them a glimpse. Share some extracts from the book, so they can get excited and think, yeah, I definitely want to buy that book!
This is how you sell with integrity. You nurture your audience all the time. Between book launches, you send those regular emails, you write regular blogs, you show up on social media. You do the work to build your audience and develop a relationship with your readers. That's what earns you the right to sell.
You're not marketing just for fun
You're not only doing marketing activities for fun, although I hope that you do enjoy the work, but you are doing it to sell books. So the day comes when you need to send that sales email or post that sales post on social media.
We often talk about those authors that try to sell all the time. They don't put in the work to build an audience or nurture their readers between books, then wonder why their book doesn't sell. It's because nobody likes to be sold to. Readers don't want someone hammering them over the head with buy my book messages. We talk about that a lot and say, don't do that!
But we need to talk about the fact that if you are growing a readership, you do need to sell to them now and again.
You need to ask readers to buy your book, and you shouldn't be afraid to do that.
Is that something that you can relate to? Are you on social media all the time and doing All The Things, but not actually asked anyone to click the buy button or check out your book's sales page? If so, I can almost guarantee that's the number one reason why your book isn't selling. This is especially likely if you have a loyal audience but they're not buying from you.
Check in with yourself. Have you asked your readers to buy from you recently?
Your best next step
I'd love to know, do you oversell, or undersell, whether that's in your emails, your social posts, or your blog? Do you sell too much or do you forget to sell at all? Let me know in the comments below!
If you need some help figuring out a book sales and marketing action plan, grab my guide to investing in your book marketing. It will help you weigh up all your options, whether you need to hire some help, or pay for some services. All the options are in there. The guide will help you decide which is right for you, or whether you want to do it all on your own. Download it here and figure out your best next step.