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I published 2 books several years ago but both failed to get more than a few sales. I got discouraged, then life happened and I did not write any more books.

I'm back but many things must have changed by now. Any tips for someone who wants to start again at the end of 2021/ beginning of 2022?
 

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I published 2 books several years ago but both failed to get more than a few sales. I got discouraged, then life happened and I did not write any more books.

I'm back but many things must have changed by now. Any tips for someone who wants to start again at the end of 2021/ beginning of 2022?
It takes money to make money. Plan on spending, at the very least, $500 your first month on marketing. Don’t rely on family and friends for cover design or Editing—yes, they may be talented, but they aren’t professionals. Stick with people with proven publishing experience. Build your platform / mailing list with promotional opt ins.

You invested in writing it…now invest in selling it.
 

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+1 to @scottdouglas

You have to remain invested in marketing. For example, I have several books that are doing well, have hundreds of reviews, and yet whenever I take the pedal off the marketing channels, the sales just tank.

Generally, you have to spend to sell, spend more to sell more, and then find a way to ensure that (royalty - marketing costs - any other fixed costs) > 0
 

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If you have the extra money to spend on marketing your next book, great. Go ahead and market your next book when you put it out.

However, a lot of authors don't have money to market, and some who spend money on marketing end up in the red because of it, and the marketing expenses can be counterproductive.

The most important thing is to get back into the idea of writing and publishing, because you were discouraged before, and because you are returning after a several year break.

Write a shorter novel, get the best cover you can for it, within reason. Make sure your blurb is good. Make sure you have your Author Central page updated (if you are placing your book on Amazon). The Author Central page is an added bit of free 'marketing'. Some authors don't use it, but a lot of them use their Author Central to notify readers of new books.

So, finish your next book and get it out there, so you can get used to publishing again. Then set your goals for the next book after that one, including some marketing.

You can always market books that have been published. You can't market books that aren't already published.
 

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Best tip I can give is... don't get discouraged!

Seriously, though, writing is a long game. You can't expect immediate results. So in the meantime you have to keep writing and build your backlog. When you start selling more books, readers will look at what you've done previously, and so the more backlog you have the more your sales will increase. So just keep writing.

If you have money to spend on marketing, you can do that, but otherwise just wait until you can afford it and focus on building that backlog.

Oh, and do you have a mailing list? If not, definitely start one.
 
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OP, I hope what I say, is going to satisfy you, as it would satisfy myself, if I were asking this question.

Realistically, you already have done, and accomplished, and have experience with half the battle. Us indie authors, half of it, is learning, educating ourselves, doing a lot of observing and research. You have books that you indie published, and they didn't perform as well as you hoped. Which that's the literature/book community for you. Hmpf smh. lol. Now what?

Well you can argue, that's probably the fun and exciting part. You have proven that you can write books and novels. So the issue of you not being able to come up with ideas and plots; Characters, cliffhangers, twists, beginnings, inciting incidents, climax, final showdown and ending; that's not true, and clearly false. As you are able to get all those ideas of yours on paper, and into a prose story etc. So what is the issue?

The issue, and my tip to you, is that, you just need to go on your own pace, and explore your own identity and journey as an author. As on the marketing side, nothing has really changed. Social media controls a lot of what new readers go for, and so do ads on social media websites, and book sites. (Although I don't personally recommend Facebook ads, but that is an option to use.) Write your own stories, research, possibly talk to book blogs, and book and literature critics, for them to feature your book for promotion. Do a preorder campaign etc. Advertise, advertise, advertise. Promote, promote, promote. etc.

I have faith in you, and I salute you, for being an author. Hope the best for you. Thank you. :)
 

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Two books isn't enough to judge anything one way or the other.

1) Find a genre you enjoy that also has a decent sized readership.
2) Write a series in that genre 3+ books long firmly in that genre.
3) Pay for genre appropriate covers.
4) Promote the first book in the series.
5) Build a mailing list via a link in the back of your books.

This all assumes you can write a good story. If you aren't sure, get outside feedback on your writing from readers of that genre.
 

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My 2 cents: Spend $$ on a professional editor and write Quality instead of quantity (not a popular opinion here). I used to pump out so-so books in a series and got nowhere. Then I stopped, took 2 years to write a quality book, spent $1500 on editing, then $2500 on marketing. It has now sold 80,000 copies in the last 16 months at $9.99. That one book enabled me to write for a living. I do spend $5000/month on marketing, though. Don't focus on pumping out a bunch of "average" quality 3.99 books. They're literally a dime a dozen. Write one good book, price it high and make it stand out.

That's my experience. Take it for what it is. Maybe I just got lucky. Who knows?

Everyone here seems to tout quantity ("keep pushing them out, pump pump produce more, assembly line, next...!") but remember: Tom Harris got famous on 1 book. So did Peter Benchley, Herman Melville, Margaret Mitchell, Salinger, Terry Brooks, and hundreds of others. Sure, they wrote a few others, but it was that 1 good book that sent them into fortune. Write the next Lord of the Rings (or Lord of the Flies) and not the next 25 forgettable "vampire lychen" books. Again my small 2 cents. (Let the hate mail fly ... my armor is on!)

And if it takes you 7 years, so be it... make sure it's the book you want.
 

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Everyone here seems to tout quantity ("keep pushing them out, pump pump produce more, assembly line, next...!")
Just want to point out that quality and quantity don't necessarily cancel each other. You CAN have both.

The trick to it is to find the right balance between the two.

But, honestly, this has more to do with how fast you can write (while maintaining a good level of quality). If it takes you a year to write a book, quantity becomes a moot point anyway.
 

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Many things have changed. Some will be helpful. Others not so much.
Let's start with the good things. Cover art, formatting, editing, and all the things it takes to put out a professional-looking, quality product are much easier to find. And more reasonably priced. There are more groups to help you, free videos to teach you, and podcasts to listen to that can sterer you in the right direction. Seriously. You can watch a ten-part BYU class by Brandon Sanderson free of charge on Youtube. So assembling the product is simple compared to years ago.
The bad news is that visibility is much harder to achieve. Your marketing budget is as important as your editing budget. More so in some cases. And quality is a real issue. The bar has been raised over the years. Readers are not as understanding when it comes to indie work. Where a writer could get away with a few typos here and there, or a spelling mistake, or minor continuity error, indies are treated as harshly as their traditional counterparts. I for one am okay with this. It means standards are higher for success. Which gives indie more credibility.
 

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Just wanna say if you think it was hard when you left then you ain't seen nothing yet. As others pointed out, the publishing business is now pay-to-play, meaning the ones with the most marketing dollars are the ones being seen. Indies are much savvier now. To compete these days your book covers and editing have to look better than the trades. No longer can indies just stick a bad cover on the book, don't edit, and then put the book up for 99 cents and make a killing. Those days are gone. It's TONS of more competition now and today's indies are WAY more serious and business savvy than several years ago. You gotta make up your mind whether or not it's worth it to you and then if so, just write and do the best you can. But the writing world's changed a lot since you've been gone.

Way more books, way more authors, and much, much tougher to be seen.
 

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Find a book on amazon that is similar to what you like to write. Look at its rank. Look at the subgenres it's ranking in. Look at the top 100 paid books in those subgenres in the store (by clicking on the subgenres on the book's page). How high in the store overall is the #1 book in each subgenre? How high in the store overall is the #100 book in subgenre? Broadly speaking, if the #1 book is something that does obviously belong in that subgenre, its rank in store reflects the subgenre's popularity to some extent. Again, if the #100 book in subgenre has a very high overall rank in store, that supposedly reflects a very competitive, volatile subgenre, while moderately high ranks (one book on the topic that I read gave a rank above 20,000 for this, but it's a few years old) for the #100 book supposedly indicate a popular but underserved subgenre, and presumably lower ranks on the #100 book indicates a sleepy backwater genre whose biggest hits are crossovers from other genres.

This was originally described me as a "Write to Market" exercise, but it can also be an exercise in understanding the market potential of what you've already written or are planning on writing.
 

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Tom Harris got famous on 1 book. So did Peter Benchley, Herman Melville, Margaret Mitchell, Salinger, Terry Brooks, and hundreds of others.
And all those people had a publishing house behind them, in a different era. One book wonders do happen, but it's not nearly as easy as you seem to think. Self publishing isn't the same animal as those going the other route. We have challenges those folks never imagined.

That said, a quality book would seem to sell better (except, don't look at the majority of the PA fiction genre), and quality can take time. Or maybe not. Writing speed doesn't always mean quality, or conversely the lack thereof.

My advice to the OP, and everyone starting out, is to study their genre. See what's out there, research what readers like, what they're tired of, what they want more of. Then give them that, to the absolute best of your ability. Spend time learning about ads, see what kind of service providers you might be able to hire (covers, editors, formatters). Learn everything possible, then keep on learning, because it changes. And write, write, write.
 
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