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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone,

I just thought I'd seek out your help as I've seen lots of good advice given in this forum. I know the majority of advice is for fiction writers, but you could probably help a non-fiction writer like me get started!

A little background: I released a book under a pen name on KDP, and it immediately gained a reasonable amount of traction. I have since followed up by publishing more books under this pen name, and each book has done alright (combined sales probably amount to $6-700 for month, which isn't bad with minimal marketing).

I decided to write another book on a different topic, so  I didn't want to use my original pen name. Unfortunately, I think I hit lucky with the immediate traction from my first books, and I expected similar results for the second one. This just hasn't happened, and my second book has sold 2 Kindle copies in 2 months, and 6 paperbacks (I'm not sure why paperbacks has sold more!).

I've given it a bit of time to see if anything happened organically, as before, but it hasn't so I want to start actively marketing. In my humble opinion, my book is good, it's at the very least on a par with the top selling self-published book in my genre. I just can't work out why one book does incredibly well, while another completely flops. I've put more effort into my sales description and cover (every other cover is generic, and hard to differentiate) but still no sales.

Could anyone give me tips for gaining traction for a new author? I really have no idea where to start.

On a slightly different topic, can anyone tell me how some of the awful 25 page books on Kindle manage to sell so well at $2.99? The content is usually awful, with little value in such short books (not that length is an indicator of quality!). However some do incredibly well, and I have no idea how! If these authors are so good at marketing garbage, I just think how well they could do if they put the time and effort into producing a decent book! Anyway, rant over!!

Thanks in advance for any help kboarders!
 

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First,

It's wonderful that you had such a successful start. I don't think most new authors are successful so early in their career.

Your experience with your second set of books is probably more common.

As to why some books take off and some books don't, that is a mystery.

Second,

You shouldn't refer to another author's work as "garbage". That's your opinion.
Others must think the work is good/great/worthwhile/valuable if they are willing to pay $2.99 for that author's short stories.
 

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Well first you need to put some weight in the trunk.  Then put some sand on the driveway or put on snow chains.  Don't drive to fast and if you start slipping,  take your foot off all the pedals.
Oh wait that works for everyone.

No clue on your books but welcome.

Now on those 25 page books do you mean something like this
How to do everything.  (Everything,  do everything,  how everything,  everything,  everything,  everything) books?

Not sure how well they sell but I see some free everyday.    I always giggle because the blurb usually starts out with this book is only $2.99. 
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@dianapersaud, I think you're right, and my second book is the "normal" experience. Regarding calling another author's work garbage, I think you got the wrong idea. In fiction, I can understand that good short stories can be 25 pages, and quality is more subjective. However, you really can tell in non fiction, so I stand by my point. They are selling the "ultimate guide to x topic" and they are giving 25 pages of limited content, littered with typos, loads of factual inaccuracies etc (and usually about 60+ reviews despite the book being out for only a week....). I've seen them referred to as spamphlets, and they are the scourge of the non-fiction market in my opinion. Some of them sell well, though, that's why I raised the point.

I'm not too concerned with what others are doing, just that they are marketing their books a whole lot better than I am. Good for them in that regard, and I'd love to learn their marketing secret.
 

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Is your second book in an underserved topic? One of the things constantly pushed for nonfiction books is the need to be relevant to the needs of the readers. So the topics need to scratch that itch, to answer the question the reader needs answered.

 

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My first book followed pretty closely what you experienced with your second book. When I published it, I sold five copies to friends and family, then only eight copies over the following six months.

I got my butt into gear last year and started publishing more. It's still nothing compared to what more experienced authors have done, but I've published another novella and four short stories. My "no sales" turned into a small trickle of a couple copies each week. Promotions made the biggest difference for me; I had a very successful Countdown deal on the novella and, six weeks later, my sales are still hovering around one or two a day.

Now, that's nothing compared to what you managed with your first pen name, but it's an example of how a brand-new author can get off the ground. Publish more + countdown deals + free days + mailing list (even if it's tiny). I have a short story collection and a third novella I'm getting ready, and I'm hoping my tiny trickle will turn into a slightly less tiny trickle after they're released. ;)


As for the scamphlets - you don't want to worry about replicating their "success". They usually don't write the books themselves; they either hire freelance writers from third world countries, or run articles through "spinners" - programs that will rearrange sentences and substitute words for synonyms, so they can avoid being caught by Amazon's filters (which is why they're usually clunky as all get up). The positive reviews you see come from either their marketing buddies or are bought.

Amazon's algorithms currently favour authors who release more frequently, so they're taking advantage of that to get better rankings by releasing multiple scamphlets a day. It's a really dirty business, and a lot of people are suckered in by the good reviews.
 

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Darcy said:
As for the scamphlets - you don't want to worry about replicating their "success". They usually don't write the books themselves; they either hire freelance writers from third world countries, or run articles through "spinners" - programs that will rearrange sentences and substitute words for synonyms, so they can avoid being caught by Amazon's filters (which is why they're usually clunky as all get up). The positive reviews you see come from either their marketing buddies or are bought.

Amazon's algorithms currently favour authors who release more frequently, so they're taking advantage of that to get better rankings by releasing multiple scamphlets a day. It's a really dirty business, and a lot of people are suckered in by the good reviews.
I bet these books are mostly after KU borrows. They may be priced at $2.99, but they're free to KU members. The KU reader downloads the book, opens it, turns through the title page and other front matter, hits the main text, realizes it's garage, and chucks it. But because it's a short book, they've officially "read" 10% of it just getting to the garbage, and the author gets paid. I bet folks at Amazon are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to stem the abuse. They're really the ones getting scammed, after all.
 

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Becca Mills said:
I bet these books are mostly after KU borrows. They may be priced at $2.99, but they're free to KU members. The KU reader downloads the book, opens it, turns through the title page and other front matter, hits the main text, realizes it's garage, and chucks it. But because it's a short book, they've officially "read" 10% of it just getting to the garbage, and the author gets paid. I bet folks at Amazon are scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to stem the abuse. They're really the ones getting scammed, after all.
This is definitely happening. All you need to do is visit one of the many "black hat" forums out there to read about it. They user article writing services where a cheap (and usually poorly written) article can be outsourced for very little money. Then they slap a cover on it and call it an eBook.

What makes me nervous is that when Amazon clamps down on this abuse -- legitimate writers are going to be impacted. Oh well not much we can do but wait to see how it falls out.
 

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The fantastic thing about self publishing is there are no gatekeepers.

The sucky thing about self publishing is there are no gatekeepers.

:p

It's a fine line for Amazon to walk - getting rid of the exploitative garbage while keeping genuine authors (even those with terrible spelling and no grammar skills), but I would be very happy to see the black hat marketers booted off KDP.
 
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