Why Selling books is Difficult and How to Make it Easier
Are you compulsively checking your author accounts to see if you've sold books? Me too! Are the sales less than you'd like? Is the ranking continuing to drop?
Ugh! One of the worst feelings an author can have is feeling stuck, especially when you've done all the work to write the book, edit, turn it into a product, and then publish it. That's not easy to do!
But then the sales don't roll in like we thought they would. Was it our keywords? Did we not choose the right ones for the right time? Did we price it correctly? Did we do enough promotion? Should we use ads to boost our traffic?
These questions can overwhelm and eat at us, but they pull us so many different directions that we're not sure what to do to sell books.
Let me ask you a question... Have you ever read a "Get Rich Quick" article? Like the ones that list a whole bunch of ideas for making money online, from home? Isn't it a little depressing that they mention eBooks as a way to make money fast? (Admittedly, I've read so many of these, and I can't think of one that didn't mention eBoooks as an option).
But we've already written and published and eBook....
And we're getting crickets...
Or we're getting a few sales here and there, but not as much as we want, and it's not sustainable sales.
Sometimes being an author just makes me want to put my head down and cry. I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel ashamed of being an author because of my failures. I don't mention it to friends and family. I don't share it on Facebook or Instagram.
When family members ask me how my career is going, I try to keep my chin up and say things like, "It's a tough market." Since, the prevailing views on book marketing are that hardly anyone makes it, they just nod sympathetically and leave me alone about it.
Sorry to get all down and real on you for a moment, but if you're in this boat, I want you to know that I get it.
Selling books is difficult because there's a lot of emotion surrounding the publication of your book. There's fear of rejection, exhaustion and relief after a launch, and the depression that goes with decline in sales when the hype wears off.
Selling books is difficult because we may not know where our audience is, and they may not know us or how to find us.
Selling books is difficult because with all the work we've done, it doesn't feel like enough when sales trickle off. Is there more that we can be doing? How will we know what works and what doesn't?
Here's some advice...
If you're lost and don't know what to do, you can find help.
Professionals like Tim Grahl, Jeff Goins, and Joanna Penn.
Principles that work for you and for your audience
With other authors, with those professionals you follow, with your readers. It is so important to build an nurture a community around the work that you're pursuing.
You will find fans, you will find people/influencers who know how to find your fans, and you will build a tribe around yourself if you put yourself out there in the writing community.
Let me give you an example of this...
I started a Twitter account for my Pen Name. I called it "Writer Cat" to begin because I hadn't settled on a pen name yet and just wanted to connect with other writers.
*Note... Twitter can be a great place to meet and engage with writers, editors, book cover designers, etc., but it can also get ugly and judgemental. I've heard many people say it's not the same atmosphere. Just be aware of who you're communicating with and stay with the positive members who want to make the experience great for all.
Back to the story...
"Writer Cat" started engaging with other authors who fit my profile and seemed funny, upbeat, and knowledgeable. Most of them were willing to talk and give advice. I learned a few things about advertising and promos from watching others.
I made friends. Close friends. We share work with each other to critique. We include each other in the games and follow trains. We share each other's work, promote when appropriate, and give reviews on Amazon.
This is what tribes do for each other. We build audiences by building each other.
It's not a perfect system, and it's not what I'm recommending for selling books. It's just one platform with a firehose of information surrounding other authors and what they're doing to be noticed. It will point you to people who have book blogs, YouTube channels, and Podcasts who love books, and are active about sharing books with others.
It's definitely not the only strategy to use. It shouldn't take the place of all your outreach. And you definitely shouldn't spam your followers with your book promos every two seconds. But it's a simple way to get started, find some people who might be interested in your book or genre and connect with readers.
Another example of engagement with your community is your email list.
The most powerful way to connect with your audience because it's direct communication with your reader, free from the social media algorithms. It's a more genuine and sincere way of telling your readers that you have a wonderful new book that your excited about. It inspires communication between you and them about the things that excite you.
Talk to your audience. Talk to the people who signed up for your list, who raised their hands and said, "I'd like to hear more from you."
Selling books is difficult. No doubt about it. But it's less difficult when you have a community of people around you who can share in your author journey.