Author Topic: When the book just WON'T sell  (Read 6768 times)  

Online Usedtoposthere

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Re: When the book just WON'T sell
« Reply #25 on: June 22, 2020, 08:53:32 am »
Word of mouth is magical.

A couple weeks ago, one of my books was featured with a lovely review in a checkstand womens magazine with a 1.6-million circulation. I do not have a publicist, and I did zero marketing for that book other than a BookBub featured new release (you apply for them and then pay if you are selected.) Otherwise, I just announced it to my mailing list, as usual. Some editor must have picked it up and read it for fun, is all I can think, because the book released four months ago.

I am not a big name. I am a medium name. I have never hit a list, as I am in Select. The book in the magazine had a great title and series title and an evocative cover. It is a really fun story that women relate to, and it has a very grabby first chapter.

Breaking out is not easy, but the book comes first, last, and always. After that, cover, title (often ignored), series title, blurb. The most important marketing happens before you publish the book. If you get all the above right, marketing can work great and your book can sell easily. If you do not, you can throw thousands at it and the book will not sell, or it will not keep selling.

The way to keep a book selling year after year after year is to make it re-readable and strong enough that people recommend it. That is how you get word of mouth and maximize your marketing dollars.

ETA: Yeah, my first book sold big with zero mailing list and $20 in marketing. It still sells. The audio got an Audie nomination. I got a sales award for the German translation, done through a publisher, when it topped 40,000 copies. Did I know what I was doing? Not really. Was I lucky? Yeah. I also knew what kind of book appeals to a certain kind of reader, my reader, and I am a pretty good writer with a very strong voice. My timing was good. But I have kept being lucky with my second series, my third, and on through my seventh, even though they are all pretty different. I have a chunk of my audience that comes along with me. I write for myself first and for them second. I write to my market in terms of writing an appealing romance with other elements, but I take a lot of risks in subject matter and tone. I try to tell a great story that carries the reader along in an immersive fashion, and I try to provide delight. Like I said, YMMV.
« Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 09:07:07 am by Usedtoposthere »

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    Offline Decon

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #26 on: June 22, 2020, 09:11:06 am »
    Trying to compare trad-publishing with self-publishing is futile because it is a whole different market. Our print books are not in bookstores, and though we compete with them on the Internet our main market for books is our e-books where we generally have the edge on price.

    And sorry, but while some may argue that some trad books are full of errors or crap stories, that is not the general perception of the public, many of whom are not grammar or spelling experts as many authors should be who point out that this is so. Non the less, the perception is of quality - full stop, and this is on the whole true.

    Our market has completely changed since the willdwest days of self publishing, especially in terms of quality and marketing tools. There is more knowledge now on the Internet on what to do and what not to do when self-publishing and anyone new to this who doesn't investigate before hitting the publishing bubble will likely fail.

    You have to look at the history. Someone has already mentioned slush piles. Going back to the wildwest days, maybe 12 years ago and for a few years, there was hardly any information the net as to what to do. Amazon needed content to sell its kindles and so self-publishing was born as the trad-publishers in the main didn't want to cut off the hand that fed them. This left it open to millions of rejected slush pile books being published most without the hand of an editor and so generally self-published books were not considered anywhere near a quality product.

    Now that was a period of competition, not between trad and self, but between self-published authors. That drove prices down to a level that just wasn't sustainable and only the pioneers of that 99c price point made money, but most were already published authors and therefore had a name and perceived quality of their work.

    I could write a history book on it, but to cut it short, most of those slush-pile books now languish somhwhere in the ether of the Internet, never to be resurrected, the authors of these books dissalutioned with the whole thing never to publish again. You can see this on here with posts that back in the day would dissappear in minutes, whereas now they can still be in view for days without response to the OP.

    The ones who stuck with it learned the craft of what to do to compete and how to put out a quality product equal to the trad-publishers. Many of them have a back catalogue which benefits from readers finding them from the new stuff they put out as they have built a brand people can trust and don't have to drop their prices to 99c to compete.

    Fast forward to today, and we still have new authors coming to the market and it is harder for them, trad or self, but they have far more information as to what it takes. There will be those who don't investigate and sink like a stone, but they are fewer and farther between.

    Even those who do everything right can fail and still not many can make a living, but the best anyone can do is to continue writing and studying both their craft and publishing and hopefully make at least enough to cover costs and make a profit, however small or large. One thing for sure, those who build a catalogue and continue to put out new work, these will have a back catalogue that will never be completely invisible.

    Reasoning of what is a success or not, even not selling will depend on each individual's aspiration. Some will consider it a success just to get it published and sales be damned. Maybe those with more books have a more realistic outlook than those starting out.

    The most important thing is to produce something that will provide a good reading experience.

    Typed with fat fingers on my cell phone




    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 10:12:37 am by Decon »


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    Online Vidya

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #27 on: June 22, 2020, 10:13:29 am »
    Quote
      Is visibility harder now? Absolutely. Is it impossible? Nope. I know people who have broken through in the past six months who now make way more than me on far fewer books.
     

    Amanda, would you mind mentioning their names so I can look up their books and see what they did right?

    Offline Decon

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #28 on: June 22, 2020, 11:00:17 am »
    Is visibility harder now?
     
    No, in many ways its easier, it is just that Amazon, Facebook, others and AUTHORS know just how valuable visibility is and have priced pay per click at levels that it costs too much for those without deep pockets to find the sweet spot with experimentation to make a profit.

    In a lot of ways this mirrors trad publishers paying bookstores to have a certain book displayed prominantly in the hope of pushing up sales to get a chart position.

    However, regards pay per click at current prices to be 1st on that first page, with the royalties we get, it is like paying Amazon for the readers to buy.

    Of course, get a chart position just like bookstore position placed books and take off with this chart position and your book populated as also brought which won't rely on pay per click sales, and you could make heavy bank.

    I just won't pay the price to line their coffers, but suffer from lack of sales and borrows than when I used pay per click.
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 11:25:55 am by Decon »


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    Offline funthebear

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #29 on: June 22, 2020, 12:21:11 pm »
       Incidentally, the people who perform secret sorcery and can somehow move a thousand books just by writing have at least one of the following advantages: 

    1. Multiple successful Bookbubs back when Bookbub worked (that likely got them mailing list signups). 

    2. A permafree back when permafrees worked (that likely got them mailing list signups).   

    3. A mailing list in the five figures (because of one or two or simply by buying subscribers).   

    Some of what you've posted is true, but most isn't. I'm going to focus on just this part. I experiment with different genres outside my main pen name, and here are two such recent (early and late 2019) experiments which both moved thousands of units in a few months. Neither had any advertising whatsoever. No bookbub, no mailing list, no facebook, no ams--nothing. I didn't even use free days or countdown deals. All I did was wrote.





    The drop off is because I stopped publishing anything under those names.

    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #30 on: June 22, 2020, 12:39:49 pm »
    Quote
    Neither had any advertising whatsoever. No bookbub, no mailing list, no facebook, no ams--nothing. I didn't even use free days or countdown deals. All I did was wrote.
       

    Fair enough.  According to your larger graph, you sold 5200 units in month(?). If we assume a 10% conversion rate (which would be World Series bases-clearing home-run territory) that means at least 52000 people (an average of about 1400 a day) visited your book page in that single month. 

    I'm willing to be persuaded, provided you can explain to me how to put 52000 people on a buy page in four weeks by just uploading books. From where I'm sitting (and I've been at this for 9.5 years) the only mechanism that makes a brand new author's brand new book visible is the new releases list. We all know how people feel about new authors and new series. They are reluctant as hell. 

    Again, I'm willing to admit I'm wrong if there's some kind of hidden magic that juices your books because you are publishing at such a rapid rate. Is there such magic?  Is it really that simple? All we have to do is shovel books on to the shelves like we're working the boiler in an 1875 locomotive?  Work that publish button like a fat man and his waffle iron? 

    Or are you suggesting you can publish one book (with no series to follow it up with a brand new pen name nobody has ever heard of and in a new genre where you have no experience with cover designs or branding or anything else) and move 35 units a day from go? 

    If that's true, then hey, gotta give you your props. You're the greatest [expletive]in' writer who's ever lived.   
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 12:46:12 pm by Shane Lochlann Black »

    Offline Decon

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #31 on: June 22, 2020, 01:39:47 pm »
       

    Fair enough.  According to your larger graph, you sold 5200 units in month(?). If we assume a 10% conversion rate (which would be World Series bases-clearing home-run territory) that means at least 52000 people (an average of about 1400 a day) visited your book page in that single month. 

    I'm willing to be persuaded, provided you can explain to me how to put 52000 people on a buy page in four weeks by just uploading books. From where I'm sitting (and I've been at this for 9.5 years) the only mechanism that makes a brand new author's brand new book visible is the new releases list. We all know how people feel about new authors and new series. They are reluctant as hell. 

    Again, I'm willing to admit I'm wrong if there's some kind of hidden magic that juices your books because you are publishing at such a rapid rate. Is there such magic?  Is it really that simple? All we have to do is shovel books on to the shelves like we're working the boiler in an 1875 locomotive?  Work that publish button like a fat man and his waffle iron? 

    Or are you suggesting you can publish one book (with no series to follow it up with a brand new pen name nobody has ever heard of and in a new genre where you have no experience with cover designs or branding or anything else) and move 35 units a day from go? 

    If that's true, then hey, gotta give you your props. You're the greatest [expletive]in' writer who's ever lived.

    A kindleboarder a long while back only had one book self published. The first month it did okay, rising to around 75,000 paid sales in a month, then more per month. Amazon imprint Thomas Mercer snapped her up and re published it at a higher price. Can't remember her name or the definate figures cos I've not renewed my blog and I had an interview with her on there. I think her last name was something hyphenated with Black. Someone might remember her.

    She said that she didn't market, so it has been known for a single book to take off.  Saying that, she did have a previous book trad-published.
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 02:29:40 pm by Decon »


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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #32 on: June 22, 2020, 01:57:37 pm »
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the amazing Amazon promotion machine. Amazon has over a dozen of their own imprints (Thomas Mercer, Montlake Romances, etc.). Books published under their imprints get prime ad space on the website. The imprint books are also given as free picks to Prime members and are pushed in Goodreads newsletters. Some unknown writers have become very successful publishing under Amazon imprints; others have flopped. Bookbub can't come close to competing with this; nor can any other ad venue.

    Offline Decon

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #33 on: June 22, 2020, 02:27:18 pm »
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned the amazing Amazon promotion machine. Amazon has over a dozen of their own imprints (Thomas Mercer, Montlake Romances, etc.). Books published under their imprints get prime ad space on the website. The imprint books are also given as free picks to Prime members and are pushed in Goodreads newsletters. Some unknown writers have become very successful publishing under Amazon imprints; others have flopped. Bookbub can't come close to competing with this; nor can any other ad venue.

    True. The free ones ensure plenty of reviews to start with which helps. Not sure if vine reviews are still operating, but they used them with free books to good effect when they first started with imprints.

    Saying that, they recently closed one imprint (maybe one year ago or so) that you could enter a competition. Can't remember the name, but it flopped. I think it was Kindle Scout.

    You could also mention marketing packages that trad publishers can pay for through Amazon that is not available to us.
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 02:33:44 pm by Decon »


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    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #34 on: June 22, 2020, 02:31:03 pm »
    Quote
    The first month it did okay, rising to around 75,000 paid sales in a month, then more per month.
       

    As heartwarming as these stories are, they don't address the issue raised by the OP. We'd all like to make a living, and I think it's pretty clear that some of us have put in the legwork and the years to make it happen. While it would be nice to get the bookstore equivalent of a lottery win it doesn't solve our day to day, week to week problem of paying the bills with reliable, bankable long green in amounts that matter and without the necessity of stacking three or four large every month at the ad window.     

    If there is some shamanistic ritual that makes it possible for someone to pound out a book, click the publish button and have three quarters of a million people show up to their buy page with no other effort required, by all means share it with us.  I've been hearing these stories for going on ten years and nobody has ever explained it to me or anyone else on this board. 

    I think it isn't coincidental this author you mention had unusual success right before being sprinkled with imprint dust. 

    At best (absent some plausible explanation), we can conclude these people literally got a Wonka golden ticket with their one candy bar. 

    At worst, the implication is these people write at a level so out of reach that the rest of us should just throw the towel because we'll never measure up. (This is something I find highly unlikely.) 

    The third option is they did something other than write a book and click the publish button. 

    The fourth option is these stories of instant top 100 success are a fragrant load. 

    Which is it? 
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 02:35:59 pm by Shane Lochlann Black »

    Offline CatherineM

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #35 on: June 22, 2020, 02:38:54 pm »
       

    As heartwarming as these stories are, they don't address the issue raised by the OP. We'd all like to make a living, and I think it's pretty clear that some of us have put in the legwork and the years to make it happen. While it would be nice to get the bookstore equivalent of a lottery win it doesn't solve our day to day, week to week problem of paying the bills with reliable, bankable long green in amounts that matter and without the necessity of stacking three or four large every month at the ad window.     

    If there is some shamanistic ritual that makes it possible for someone to pound out a book, click the publish button and have three quarters of a million people show up to their buy page with no other effort required, by all means share it with us.  I've been hearing these stories for going on ten years and nobody has ever explained it to me or anyone else on this board. 

    I think it isn't coincidental this author you mention had unusual success right before being sprinkled with imprint dust. 

    At best (absent some plausible explanation), we can conclude these people literally got a Wonka golden ticket with their one candy bar. 

    At worst, the implication is these people write at a level so out of reach that the rest of us should just throw the towel because we'll never measure up. (This is something I find highly unlikely.) 

    The third option is they did something other than write a book and click the publish button. 

    The fourth option is these stories of instant top 100 success are a fragrant load. 

    Which is it?

    You are a hoot, Shane.  ;D
    Thank you for posting.

    Offline Patty Jansen

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #36 on: June 22, 2020, 02:45:34 pm »
    I don't usually reply to these threads, but this here is begging to have the obvious hit home with a very large and very blunt hammer

    Quote
    The third option is they did something other than write a book and click the publish button.

    The fourth option is these stories of instant top 100 success are a fragrant load.

    Which is it?

    The only issue that remains and that Usedtoposthere has addressed several times far too politely is this:

    You have to write a book that people want to read.

    Wait, I'll say that a bit louder.

    YOU HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK THAT PEOPE WANT TO READ

    If advertising doesn't work, and you can't get people to sign up for your list, and you can't get a Bookbub, and you feel you never get a break and you feel that the world is conspiring against you, then you  haven't written books that enough people find satisfying enough to recommend to their friends and to go on purchasing.

    So stop blaming the cost of ads, Amazon, other authors, yada yada yada.

    Go back to the door that says "writing craft" and have a very good, very hard look at your storytelling and writing skills.

    Am I saying that "your writing sucks?" (general you)

    Maybe, but it could be that the book is well-written, but the audience just too niche. It could be that something about the first chapter makes people go eeeeh, no. It could be subject matter. I could be lack of skill. It could just be that it's confusing, or a character is annoying.

    But it's the book. Quit blaming others.

    Offline Crystal_

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #37 on: June 22, 2020, 02:56:59 pm »
    I think writing a book people want to read is less of an issue than PRESENTING a book people want to read.

    Writers know how to write. Most of us don't know how to package or market going into this job. People who do go in with a HUGE headstart.

    But, as with writing, these are all skills you can learn. So stop complaining and learn them. Or don't. But accept that means you may not sell as much as you'd like.

    Offline breese45

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #38 on: June 22, 2020, 03:08:08 pm »
       

    While those stories are entertaining (and also catastrophically expensive marketing disguised as the screenplay for a Disney film), they are to us what sports films like Hoosiers are to the everyday athletic coach: myths. You are not going to write a debut novel and sell 100,000 copies of it in two months any more than you are going to take seven farm boys none of whom are taller than 5'11" and win the Indiana State basketball championship.  Every time someone tells you all you have to do is publish a "great book" every month to make money as an author, look in the mirror. If you are not Gene Hackman, stop it. 

     

    http://www.chasingthefrog.com/reelfaces/hoosiers.php

    Messin' with my "Hoosiers" movie fantasy! Oh no! At least give me, half myth, half real. :)


    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #39 on: June 22, 2020, 03:17:42 pm »
    Quote
    far too politely
     

    And you've had enough so now you're coming out of the lurker line to shut me down.   

    Quote
    You have to write a book that people want to read.
     

    So now you're attacking my writing directly. Can I assume if I defend myself you're going to run to the mods and get me banned?  Or are you alternately going to invite a dogpile in true Kboards tradition? 

    Is it your position that if you can't write a book and click publish and then instantly sell thousands of copies without marketing that nobody wants to read your book? In other words, either you Wonka Ticket the top seller's list or you suck?  Please don't dodge the question, because you weren't shy about implying that I'm a [poopy] writer.   

    Quote
    If advertising doesn't work
       

    I think you'll find I mention being successful with my advertising in nearly every post. Can I take it from this elementary mistake you didn't read what I posted and you're just here to shut me down because I'm sitting a little too close to the kitchen?   

    Quote
    you can't get people to sign up for your list
       

    I can get ten signups a day and hold them for months.   
       
    Quote
    you can't get a Bookbub
       

    Is that the new tagline?  "Get invited to the Bubclub or you suck."  I've never applied for a Bookbub.   

    Quote
    and you feel you never get a break and you feel that the world is conspiring against you
       

    Huh? 

    Quote
    Am I saying that "your writing sucks?" (general you)
     

    Yes. You are. In fact you are addressing me directly based on the fact you quoted my post.  Have you read any of my books?  If so, would you be so kind as to point out where the writing sucks?  I have a policy of not listening to critics (like most pros), but I'll make an exception if you can demonstrate in good faith that I'm a [poopy] writer.  I'll make that exception on the condition that you admit you were wrong if you find (in good faith) non-[poopy] writing. Fair enough? 

    Quote
    but it could be that the book is well-written, but the audience just too niche.
       

    I don't think Military Science Fiction is too niche.   

    Quote
    It could be that something about the first chapter makes people go eeeeh, no. It could be subject matter. I could be lack of skill. It could just be that it's confusing, or a character is annoying.
       

    That's possible, But then again that would cause my read-through to be quite low.  In fact, it would cause my read-through to be close to zero. It isn't. 

    Quote
    But it's the book. Quit blaming others.
       

    All we're asking is that you explain how the quality of the book improves its visibility. Is that question really so uncomfortable? Are the rabble drawing too near the holy of holies? 

    Further, if it is just about the quality of the book, then why discuss marketing at all?  You sell a "Three Year Plan" for authors. Why would someone need a three-year plan if all their success depends on the quality of their first book?  According to you, if they don't sell 75,000 copies the first month, their book is [crap] and they should go train for a rewarding career in marine biology.  Why would they need a mailing list?  Why go to the extra effort? Why go wide? All you have to do is sit down and pound out The Choirboys and click the little button and dance partially dressed through the money sprinklers. You're Joseph goshdarnn Wambaugh now. 

    Or possibly, just possibly it isn't that simple, and some of us would like to pay our bills. 

    Let's get this straight. I will make the following statement for myself and let the other authors speak on their own behalf:  I don't want to sell 75,000 books in one month.  That's not why I started writing. I want bankable month-to-month paychecks so I can live indoors and eat three times a day. Doing the wonka-wonka dance in the money shower doesn't help me, because next month I have a fresh round of bills to pay.  I'm fairly certain other authors feel the same way I do, but I won't put words in their processors. I want a sustainable career.  Not a lottery win. 

    Now you may feel free to run to the mods and call me whatever names you please.  But I'm going to point out you attacked me and my writing personally without provocation, and I responded reasonably.  No hard feelings. 
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 03:29:56 pm by Shane Lochlann Black »

    Offline Decon

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #40 on: June 22, 2020, 03:25:02 pm »
       

    As heartwarming as these stories are, they don't address the issue raised by the OP. We'd all like to make a living, and I think it's pretty clear that some of us have put in the legwork and the years to make it happen. While it would be nice to get the bookstore equivalent of a lottery win it doesn't solve our day to day, week to week problem of paying the bills with reliable, bankable long green in amounts that matter and without the necessity of stacking three or four large every month at the ad window.     

    If there is some shamanistic ritual that makes it possible for someone to pound out a book, click the publish button and have three quarters of a million people show up to their buy page with no other effort required, by all means share it with us.  I've been hearing these stories for going on ten years and nobody has ever explained it to me or anyone else on this board.

    I think it isn't coincidental this author you mention had unusual success right before being sprinkled with imprint dust. 

    At best (absent some plausible explanation), we can conclude these people literally got a Wonka golden ticket with their one candy bar. 

    At worst, the implication is these people write at a level so out of reach that the rest of us should just throw the towel because we'll never measure up. (This is something I find highly unlikely.) 

    The third option is they did something other than write a book and click the publish button. 

    The fourth option is these stories of instant top 100 success are a fragrant load. 

    Which is it?

    No one can explain it, because the authors  of these successes don't know the answer either or they would bottle it and sell the stardust. One tried to bottle it and moneytise it, then ended up in shame as mentioned below. Even if they did know, why should they tell everyone and diminish their results.

    Two instances I know of who had megga sales were previously published authors, so they could write. The other kindleboarder that sold bucket loads (Amanda Hocking I think) and was picked up by a publisher was not a previously published author. Another published their book at 99c at a time  when if you published on Apple, they rounded it down to 0.49c. Amazon price matched their book and it became a bestseller. Harper Collins signed them up and sold it at full price and it failed. Another wrote a book on how he had made a fortune self-publishing, which itself became a bestseller, only for him to miss out that he had bought reviews for fiction new releases. Never heard of him since. There was no bull about any of these as the chart positions proved sales.

    No one can  seriously answer the OPs. 'When a book just wont sell`, because we dont know the circumstances of the author or the book of which there are many scenarios. The other problem is that what works today, maybe won't work tomorrow. And yes, luck in the form of stardust that can't be explaimed comes into the equation. Equally, Plain old bad luck can play a part.

    I'll probably break the forum with what follows due to length, but here goes. Note this really relates to new authors, originally in 2011, and is not meant to be crit of experienced authors

    How not to sell 10,000 eBooks in one month

    Going back to 2011, I was taken aback, when my article, "J Carson Black sells 10,000 eBooks in April, "How did she do it?" created controversy on kindleboards, in the writers' cafe forum. The original article on my blog proved J Carson Black's honesty in revealing the reasons for her success to new authors starting out in self-publishing and featured in a post for Creating a Buzz on my blog, is to be applauded.

    Some comments on the forum made me step back and think about what I said, so I decided the turn the article on its head. Hence the title, "How not to sell 10,000 eBooks in one month." But first let me tell you a story, because that is what I do best. It won't win any literary prizes, as it only took me ten minutes to knock together, but maybe what it says puts the point across a little differently than the original article, including forum decorum.

    Read it here, and feel free to comment.


    The Secret.

    Declan took up a position as the manager of a television rental store. He loved the notion of renting goods, which involved building a customer base, with plenty of repeat business to secure his long-term future. He set about doing what he was trained to do by Maggie, a tutor on a retail business course he attended, and he organized the store accordingly. It came as a surprise, when the area manager contacted him and gave him the good news that his shop had rented more televisions in a particular month than any other store and he asked Declan to reveal his secret. Of course he didn't have a secret, he was just doing the job in the way he been taught and put it down to good luck. The area manager continued to press for the secret of his success, which he honestly didn't know. The store was full of customers that needed attention and to get him off the phone, he told him that he liked to throw open the doors and play loud music to attract the customers inside to buy. It seemed to satisfy him and off he went. The rest of the day, Declan kept dwelling on the area manager's question as he was as desperate to find out the answer for his own good.

    After a few days, Declan was inundated with angry calls from other managers. Apparently, a memo had been sent to all the other stores to open their doors and play loud music. With winter setting in and most of the stores located in high streets, well, you can imagine their displeasure, especially as their sales failed to increase.

    The area manager moved on to new pastures and Declan was elated when he was promoted to take over the area manager duties. He set off on a tour of his new empire, full of hope.

    The first store he arrived at, he looked for the hot spot in the window as he approached in the manner of a customer passing by, to see if the display attracted his eye. There wasn't a hot spot; it looked more like something representing his ten-year-old daughter's redesigned bedroom after a sleepover. At the next store, he listened into a sales person going through his routine sales pitch with a customer. His opening was to say the least, uninteresting and not thought out to grab and hold the custome's attention. The customer gave his excuses and left. At the third shop, he was more encouraged. The window display was attractive and his eyes were drawn to the television in the hotspot. A sales person was holding the attention of a customer and was almost at the point of closing the sale, when Declan's heart sank, and he followed the customer's eye-line to the source of her apparent displeasure. She frowned, turned, and then left the store.

    The reason for the customer's displeasure was clear. The display she had glanced at revealed a television with a picture that was rolling. Another television had a picture that was dull. Even worse, the hand-written advertising caption over the television read "Bargin of the Day." When Declan confronted the manager about the state of the goods on display and pointed to the television with the dull screen with the misspelt caption, all the manager could say was, "Well, it is a bargain price."

    With time to inspect one more shop, he crossed his fingers and headed for the location. Everything seemed to be perfect, from the hot spot to the display to the general display area. There were not many customers, but the sales people seemed to be alert to their needs. As he approached the manager, all hell let loose as the manager started to argue with one of his staff in full view of the customers. The few customers that were there, made their excuses and left. Declan's face flamed and he interrupted the argument and demanded he talk to the manager in his office. A customer, paying their account at the cashier's desk grabbed Declan by the arm.

    "He's always arguing in front of customers, I'm thinking of taking my account elsewhere, you should sack him."
    After he reprimanded the manager for the altercation he had witnessed and made it clear that what he had heard would not be tolerated, it was down to business. Declan took out a spreadsheet of the sales figures and laid them out on the desk.
    "Your shop is perfect, other than curtailing your arguing in front of customers, is there anything else you can tell me why think your sales are so poor and what you can do you increase them?"

    "Competition. The other outlets in town have been going longer than my shop and have a much bigger customer base, so I can't see how I can increase sales to their levels."

    "Have you looked at the competition and thought about what made them successful in the first place?" Declan Asked.  "Maybe you could pick up some ideas. I'm not expecting overnight success, but we need to set out a plan to up the sales."
    "I'm not sure, I know some of the names, but I never get chance to leave the shop to find out what they are doing that makes them successful."
    "What are you doing with your local advertising budget?"
    "I advertise in the local monthly upmarket magazines. It saves time having to prepare copy for the daily newspapers."
    "Really. Do you think people with disposable income to buy televisions are likely to be your target market for renting televisions? Then there's the question of the frequency of the publications? I think we need to change that towards your target market in the daily newspapers."

    ###

    Declan sat in his car and made a list of his findings and the steps he would need to put in place to make things right. He knew it wouldn't be easy and it would take time to rectify, but with determination, hard work and a will to succeed. He knew what had to be done.

    ###

    Twelve months later and Declan sat at his general manage's desk, reflecting on the attention to basic details that had gained him his success from the simple advice given by Maggie during his training. He opened his mail, surprised to see an application for a management position and a C.V. from his old area manager. He recalled the phone call when the area manager asked for his secret of his sales success and considered what would have happened if he could have given him the answers that he now knew, as simple as they were.

    Declan sighed and reached out to put the application in his IN tray. He wrote out a note thanking his old area manager for writing to him, but declining his application and moved the file to his OUT tray. A moment's hesitation and he retrieved the application, having decided he owed him the truth of the secret he had asked for and gave him details of Maggie's training course.
    "God bless you Maggie and thank you," said Declan as he placed the application in his OUT tray and prepared for another hard day of work.

    The End

    Please send me editing suggestions on a post card C/O the CIA listening post, Alaska. And no, paying attention to detail when publishing won't guarantee the same success as happened for J Carson Black, but you back bet your bottom dollar it helps.

    If you need to know what this story has to do with the price of potatoes, then we are reading from a different page. lol.

    Copyright notice: This story is fictional and any inference taken that Maggie is portrayed as the author, J Conran Black, I can assure you is entirely intentional.





    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 04:30:39 pm by Decon »


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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #41 on: June 22, 2020, 03:35:40 pm »
    I think Patty was referring to general-you, not anyone specifically.

    The reason nobody can tell you why and how their first novel sold hundreds of thousands of copies is that We. Do. Not. Know. Publishers do not know either. My second book for Montlake was great. My editor emailed me to tell me that she was re-reading it in the Amazon cafeteria and sobbing. She was super excited about that book. It did fine, but not as well as the first book for them, which got to No. 9 in the store, still my highest rank. Even though I am dissatisfied with several things about that book. Go figure.

    Heck, I still do not know why some of my books resonate hard and others are more like, well, that was a good book, thanks.  If I did, I would write the Wow books every time, believe me.

    It is fairy dust. Best explanation I have. But many people write less marketable books at first and then get better at hitting the target.
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 03:39:55 pm by Usedtoposthere »

    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #42 on: June 22, 2020, 03:37:21 pm »
    Quote
    No one can explain it, because the authors  of these successes don't know the answer either or they would bottle it and sell the stardust.
     

    Then it doesn't address the question posed by the OP.  We all love a good story about the geeky 4'8" pock-marked redhead who catches the championship touchdown pass moments before being nearly killed by boys three times his weight and getting to kiss the star cheerleader in the hospital.  But we don't use the script as a business plan, nor do we use it as dating advice. 

    Quote
    The other problem is that what works today, maybe won't work tomorrow.
     

    Hear hear.   


    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #43 on: June 22, 2020, 03:41:34 pm »
    I'm double-replying for the first time in two years because this statement deserves its own reply: 

    Quote
    If I did, I would write the Wow books every time, believe me.
       

    If we don't know why someone sells so well in the first month, then can we all agree that when someone complains their books aren't selling as well as they would like, the answer "well THIS guy sold 75,000 copies in the first month so it must be YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUU" is not the right advice? 

    If that is all we accomplish in this thread I will consider it a day's work well compensated.   



    Offline unkownwriter

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #44 on: June 22, 2020, 04:08:35 pm »
    Quote
    And for God's sake DO NOT try to write for kids.

    It's amazing how many people are doing it, though. They publish their kid's book and half a minute later are asking "Whar ma money?". Anyway.............

    When a book just won't sell, sometimes it can be figured out. The cover isn't quite right. The writing is off. The description sucks. No ads were done. Just hit the market at the same time Big Name Author or Big Publisher put out a similar book. It's slightly off-genre. And sometimes, we just don't know. And the reverse for the successful books.

    It's not easy to hear, but I see it over and over, the past almost eleven years at the self publishing thing. I get the frustration, and that of wanting to get a level income without having to spend so much or work so danged hard. But, writing has never been a steady gig, at least, not fiction writing. Ups and downs. I don't like it either, but I've come to accept that sometimes the fairy dust lands on you, and sometimes it's the unicorn poop. Mainly for me, it's the unicorn poop, but someday that fairy is going to notice me, just you wait. :P

    Offline A past poster

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #45 on: June 22, 2020, 04:12:40 pm »


    The only issue that remains and that Usedtoposthere has addressed several times far too politely is this:

    You have to write a book that people want to read.

    Wait, I'll say that a bit louder.

    YOU HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK THAT PEOPE WANT TO READ

    If advertising doesn't work, and you can't get people to sign up for your list, and you can't get a Bookbub, and you feel you never get a break and you feel that the world is conspiring against you, then you  haven't written books that enough people find satisfying enough to recommend to their friends and to go on purchasing.

    So stop blaming the cost of ads, Amazon, other authors, yada yada yada.

    But it's the book. Quit blaming others.
    I don't think posters are blaming the cost of ads, Amazon, other authors, etc. for their problems. They are looking at self-publishing as it is today and what their chances are to be successful. As Shane said, not everyone gets "a Wonka golden ticket with their one candy bar." Usedtoposthere acknowledged that she writes books people want to read, but she also said that luck played a part in the success of her first book.

    The bottom line is that there is no magic formula. There are probably hundreds of books in that great swamp of books out there that people would want to read if they knew about them. Sometimes word of mouth works. Sometimes it doesn't. As Shane and others have acknowledged, the path has gotten a lot steeper.

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #46 on: June 22, 2020, 04:28:45 pm »
    Personally, I just try to keep learning and to pay attention to what resonates and does not. I know I am a much better writer than I was when I started. That is not enough, as Crystal says, but it is satisfying. If I were of an age and place in my life where sales really mattered, I would try to learn and pay attention to that side of things. It is learnable, I know. Probably more so than the writing part in some ways. Not as mysterious.

    Offline jb1111

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #47 on: June 22, 2020, 04:58:23 pm »
    The only issue that remains and that Usedtoposthere has addressed several times far too politely is this:

    You have to write a book that people want to read.

    Wait, I'll say that a bit louder.

    YOU HAVE TO WRITE A BOOK THAT PEOPE WANT TO READ

    That sort of goes without saying, right? I think every indie author on KB probably attempts that, and most may actually be delivering such books.

    The fact is, with multiple thousands of authors per major fiction genre, and with several thousand new books in every major fiction genre being released every month, most books are going to be lost in the shuffle. In my own genre I am competing with thousands of authors, and many of them release books more than once a month. That is a lot of competition.

    You can perfect your marketing to decrease that invisibility and tweak the math, but the math still remains.
    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 05:16:13 pm by jb1111 »

    Offline CatherineM

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #48 on: June 22, 2020, 04:58:49 pm »
    Since this is such a frustrating topic for so many authors, I thought I would try to bring some levity for just a minute. As it turns out, I was on the phone (actually talking) to a customer service rep today for a certain company. The conversation strayed while he had to do what he was doing on his end and it turns out he's a writer, too. He told me to check this out and even though it's kind of old, it's indirectly related to OP's original question. Sort of. I just thought it was funny.

    So.

    Just for fun:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Nights

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/366054.Atlanta_Nights



    « Last Edit: June 22, 2020, 05:00:44 pm by CatherineM »

    Offline Decon

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    Re: When the book just WON'T sell
    « Reply #49 on: June 22, 2020, 05:28:18 pm »
    Since this is such a frustrating topic for so many authors, I thought I would try to bring some levity for just a minute. As it turns out, I was on the phone (actually talking) to a customer service rep today for a certain company. The conversation strayed while he had to do what he was doing on his end and it turns out he's a writer, too. He told me to check this out and even though it's kind of old, it's indirectly related to OP's original question. Sort of. I just thought it was funny.

    So.

    Just for fun:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atlanta_Nights

    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/366054.Atlanta_Nights

    That second link is so funny.



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