Like many writers, I take the time to comb forums and learn about the business beyond writing itself. Recently, Mark Coker of Smashwords posted Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back From the Doldrums – Reading the Reader Tea Leaves. All of his advice is good but most of it – although not all – can be applied at any stage in your book selling process.
The tips boil down to:
- Look at Your Reviews – The bottom line is that reviews help sell books. You don’t have to wait to pursue this strategy. In truth, this is a marketing tool that should be constant. How many reviews do you need? Well, no one can say what the magic number is but why wouldn’t you want as many as you can get? All writers need reviews. I recently got an email from a traditionally published writer who’d just released his latest book and he asked for reviews. EVERYONE needs them. But understand, not everyone you ask will write one. Even your family and your closest friends, even people who profess to love your book, will not always write them. They might forget or maybe they’re just not comfortable doing it. Be respectful and professional when seeking reviews and even more important, be grateful. For more help, seek out book bloggers, virtual book tours, or a publicist.
- Redo Your Cover Image – Great idea if you’re aren’t getting favorable response but in truth, this should be professionally done before you publish. Do your best the first time!
- Is Your Book Priced Too High? – I hear all the time about writers experimenting with the price of their books as well as using the Amazon Select Free Days to jumpstart sales. I can’t attest to how well this method works as I haven’t tried it but do your research before you do. Check out other books in your genre and don’t do it in a vacuum. If you discount or go free, advertise to get the maximum mileage out of the change.
- Look at Your Sampling to Sales Ratio – This is relevant if you have used Smashwords. If you published solely with Amazon, you won’t know. My only issue with this is if you do determine your sample is not selling your book, the only way to change that with Amazon is to rewrite the first several chapters. If that’s necessary, there may be bigger issues.
- Are you targeting the right audience? – Have you listed your book in the correct category? If you aren’t sure or want to get more specific, don’t hesitate to contact KDP support. Also, check out this link from Indies Unlimited for some additional advice on categories: Helping You Become a #1 Bestselling Author.
- Pride Goes Before the Fall – There are dozens of posts about bad reviews or comments on Amazon, B&N, Goodreads, etc. Everyone’s heard it but it’s true. You can’t please everyone all of the time. It’s okay if a bad review hurts. Can you learn anything from it? If not, remember the books, movies, and TV shows you didn’t like and everyone else was raving about. Reviews are subjective.
Mark Coker clearly didn’t get where he was without knowing a few things about publishing (Thank you, Mark). One thing I noticed in Mr. Coker’s article is that he doesn’t talk about blogging, tweeting, or Facebook. I don’t think it’s because he doesn’t think you should but more because it may not be as big a factor in your overall sales as the six tips he mentions.
Another important thing to remember is that there is one factor that no writer can control – LUCK. Success is a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck (read about Hugh Howey here) – no matter who you are. This is not to say that all the work is a waste of time. My point in mentioning it is that in order to find or make your own luck, you still have to be in the right place at the right time and that does take work – lots of it.
Hopefully, these tips, along with some good luck, will be useful when you launch your book as well as after it’s been selling for several months or even years. The success of your book takes nurturing all the way through! Good luck!