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Hi friends,

I'm having a tough time today. Checking my KDP stats has been something I've successfully avoided for several weeks because I pretty much knew what the numbers would be. Today I decided to have a look. {Sigh} There's only a flatline. No sales and zero borrows. It's been this way for weeks now. :(

My works are in my signature if you want to have a look at them (just mustered up the courage to put them there). They were all published back in October 2014; the collection in December 2014. Before saying anything more, let me tell you what's going on:
  • I have them placed in applicable categories.
  • I have applicable keywords and keyword phrases.
  • The covers are branded despite being self-made.
  • I have my books listed as a series.
  • I mention other books in the series in the back of each book.
  • I thank readers for their purchase and ask for a review at the end of each book.
Money is an issue for me. There simply isn't any for professional editing, book covers, and advertising, so I tried to make due with what I have by making the covers and editing the books myself. The books were published to Google Play, B&N Nook, Kobo, and Amazon. I made the first in the series free and priced the remaining four books at $1.99. Between October and November, I gave away about 90 books on Kobo and over 400 on Amazon due to price matching. However, Amazon made some kind of algorithm change in late November/early December and the numbers on my freebie shrank. Got no free downloads elsewhere. As for sales, I sold three books total, all on Amazon.com. I guess $1.99 being a black hole is right.

I raised the price to $2.99 at all stores in December when I released the collection. I also placed them in more different categories (went for Christian Living and Christian Education instead of Old Testament) and made keyword changes. As they're non-fiction, I thought that price would be appropriate for them. I priced the collection at $4.99 hoping that would encourage readers to buy that and save money ($6.97) instead of buying the individual titles. What happened is that I sold just one of the collection and none of the rest.

Last month, I took all my books off all other vendors and joined Kindle Select. The only book I didn't put in Select was the collection. Since I wasn't making any money going wide, why not give Select a try. At least I could get some money off borrows. Then I contacted the moderators of several prominent Facebook to see about advertising (hopefully cheap), but nothing ever materialized. My results: I sold one copy of the collection, one of the former freebie (it reverted to $0.99 since it was no longer price matched) and nothing else. In frustration, I raised the price of the collection to $7.99 just to see if buyers preferred higher-priced books, but that made no difference at all. My most recent sale was on January 19. In all that time, I haven't gotten a single borrow. Not one. :-[ Furthermore, I haven't gotten a single review for any book since publishing back in October.

It's discouraging to say the least. Seeing the numbers today (or lack thereof) just makes me want to unpublish everything. I did that once in 2012 (with fiction books of another genre) for pretty much the same reason but found myself writing and publishing once more. Before I throw in the towel, I want to know what's wrong and see if there's something more I can do to breathe life into my works. Is it the covers? Is it the lack of professional editing? Categories? Keywords? Lack of an online presence? Confusing titles? Must I ditch all five books and stick with the collection only (and retitle it)? What is it?

Could use some advice from my fellow Kboarders right now. I don't want to quit again, but I just might give in to the temptation. :'(
 

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O.K., so your stuff is out there, ready to be purchased. What else have you done for marketing? If you are to be successful at all in this business, you have to learn how to do it. If you don't know how right now, it can be learned. Are you capable of learning it, I don't know.

As best-selling author Russell Blake says:

Your only shot is to become extremely good at creating content that your audience feels it can't get anywhere else but from you, and then communicating to that audience that you've got it.

Is your content unique, and have you effectively communicated that to your potential customers? Ultimately, only you can answer that.
 

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Hi there.    You seem to be in a niche market.  What are you doing for marketing?   
Paging Lisa Grace.  She is more familiar with your niche than I am.
 

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Hi Mr. RAD,

I'm the first to say I know very little about your genre but at quick glance your covers do very little to draw me in. Remember, long before your blurb, reviews, or sample chapters your cover needs to be enough for people to look at and be intrigued.

I know first hand the struggles of working on a budget but there are a lot of stock image cover creator sites (canva being one) that you can turn to for some great design. Also, FIVER could also be used for a cover design that you later customize.
 

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Well, I saw a recent post on here about how hard it is to gain traction with Christian audiences, and I imagine that's the tide you're fighting as well. As covers for non-fiction go, I think these are serviceable and clearly branded... but this is a hard niche to get into.
I just read the description of the first volume and it's very clear, (I think you should keep all that info in there), but it doesn't really address WHY a Christian would want to read this. Is it just to feel convicted? If so, you need to address why the reader wants that. For instance, "Are you feeling distant from God? Your prayer life is drying up? Perhaps you are the one distancing yourself from God. Read on to find out the common ways committed Christians offend God in the worst ways..."
Okay - well, that's a little cliche, and that may not be the right direction for your book, but you get the idea! I'm sure you've heard it before - non-fiction has got to be the answer to a problem in the reader's life. Perhaps you can spell that out a bit better and see if that helps?
Good luck!
 

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When you write nonfiction, your author bio REALLY matters. Your bio doesn't tell me you're qualified to write this subject matter because you bury the fact you did a 10-year study on the Ten Commandments after unrelated information (your profession as a computer programmer) and talking about failures. Readers don't want to know you're self-published or that you failed at anything. They want to know why you have valuable information. :)

Also, have you reached out to churches and Bible study groups and offered review copies? That's a huge market, and one reason The Shack took off, churches began using it for men's Bible study groups. There are many Christian groups that you can reach out to, even just participating in #BibleStudy discussions on twitter for example. If you have valuable things to say on the subject, people will check out your Twitter profile and you can have a banner showing your books etc.
 

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This is just my unfiltered opinion:

First, you're in a niche market. Every T.V preacher and mega pastor and his son has some sort of religious book. They usually get their sales from their congregation (be it televised or in person). Everyone has an opinion on the bible, the question is, what makes your opinion worth listening to? What separates you from the guy on the corner with a sign about the apocalypse around his neck? I don't mean that as an insult or joke, it's a legitimate question.

When you're writing a nonfiction book, giving people "advice", they usually want to know why they should listen to you. That's their first question. I don't buy "self help" books, but if I did that would be my number one requirement. "What are this guys credentials? Does he have some sort of PHd? A massive following that lives by his advice? Is he a millionaire? Did he die and come back to life and claim to see heaven (that shtick has worked VERY well for a few people)."

Just like a fiction book needs a hook, so does a nonfiction book, and your "expertise" is your hook.

Just my opinion.
 

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cinisajoy said:
Hi there. You seem to be in a niche market. What are you doing for marketing?
Paging Lisa Grace. She is more familiar with your niche than I am.
You are in a very small niche market.

I'm going to be blunt. This is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. I think that your books won't sell at all unless you somehow become a well known presence in the Christianity sphere. I don't think most people in your audience want to hear someone's opinions on Biblical things unless they are well known or are an authorative figure. You can google most of the stuff you talk about it in your blurb and get various random opinions from people.

Do you have a blog and some sort of internet following? Do you have an advanced degree in your field? Are you a pastor? I don't think you will sell much without one or two of those things.
 

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You need for your target market to know these books exist. You can do this without spending a cent, but it'll cost you time. You need to brainstorm ideas for guest posts you could write that are relevant to your books and your target market. You need to research blogs and websites your target audience visits. You need to contact the people who run these sites, tell them (briefly) about your collection, and offer to provide them with a guest post, article, or excerpt. Tell them you're also available for interviews. Do not send a mass email out to all the contacts. Personalize each one. Make your pitch brief, clear, and compelling. If anyone takes you up on it, grab hold of that opportunity: offer to provide them with a copy of the book for review. Then make sure you provide them with anything you promised them in a timely manner. When they support you by featuring you on their site, share those links on whatever social media you use so they see you're supporting them back. Build a relationship--you might be able to keep "promoting" your book by providing more posts/articles/excerpts/interviews in the future.

I also think Elizabeth's idea of reaching out to churches and study groups is a great one.
 

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I'm gonna say it's your covers. I don't think that they probably look like a Christianity related cover should look like. I always think of sunlight on the mountain or a rainbow or something of the sort when I think of Christianity books.

I would a) look at the covers of others in your field and try to emulate them and then b) find a good image on Shutterstock. I think you can get one for like $20. Then go to canva.com and design a cover yourself. It couldn't hurt, and that doesn't cost a ton of money.

Then I would re-do your bio. I agree with Elizabeth, you should emphasize your expertise and what you learned in your studies. Show why you're the expert that they should listen to.

I wish you the best of luck..... :)
 

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I agree with some of the earlier posts. The blurb gives me the idea that it's some kind of research paper. I'm not familiar with your niche but I try to focus my books on how it can solve some kind of problem for the reader. Interesting stories are always good. For example, maybe how following the commandants helped to save you or something to that effect? I'm just throwing ideas out. I know little about this genre.
Have you also thought of trying to submit your books to popular blogs with large Christian following? You can try moneysavingmom.com to start. Submit when your book is free. You may get a big boost if she features you. She has a very large following.
 

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I've run into similar situations, but things have gotten better as I learned more. I had to speak to hundreds of people at book festivals to learn what they really liked in a non-fiction book. I also spent a lot of time reading email responses to my blog posts and lectures. This business is really tough, but you are capable of getting through the hard times. Anyone that starts writing a book and makes it to the end already has what's needed to be successful in this industry -- commitment. Don't let these short-term setbacks keep you from your long-term glory!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the advice, everyone. You've given me much more to think about.

Peter Spenser said:
O.K., so your stuff is out there, ready to be purchased. What else have you done for marketing? If you are to be successful at all in this business, you have to learn how to do it. If you don't know how right now, it can be learned. Are you capable of learning it, I don't know.

As best-selling author Russell Blake says:

Your only shot is to become extremely good at creating content that your audience feels it can't get anywhere else but from you, and then communicating to that audience that you've got it.

Is your content unique, and have you effectively communicated that to your potential customers? Ultimately, only you can answer that.
Yep, marketing is a skill I've yet to acquire. Thankfully, the good people here at Kboards have a wealth of marketing tips and tricks that I can learn from.

Elizabeth Ann West said:
When you write nonfiction, your author bio REALLY matters. Your bio doesn't tell me you're qualified to write this subject matter because you bury the fact you did a 10-year study on the Ten Commandments after unrelated information (your profession as a computer programmer) and talking about failures. Readers don't want to know you're self-published or that you failed at anything. They want to know why you have valuable information. :)

Also, have you reached out to churches and Bible study groups and offered review copies? That's a huge market, and one reason The Shack took off, churches began using it for men's Bible study groups. There are many Christian groups that you can reach out to, even just participating in #BibleStudy discussions on twitter for example. If you have valuable things to say on the subject, people will check out your Twitter profile and you can have a banner showing your books etc.
Point well taken. Reaching out to churches and Bible study groups sounds neat. Gonna have to get my books in print so I can explore this avenue. I think I'll need new covers first, though. And that hashtag is completely new to me. Thanks you for that.

Sarah09 said:
You are in a very small niche market.

I'm going to be blunt. This is just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt. I think that your books won't sell at all unless you somehow become a well known presence in the Christianity sphere. I don't think most people in your audience want to hear someone's opinions on Biblical things unless they are well known or are an authorative figure. You can google most of the stuff you talk about it in your blurb and get various random opinions from people.

Do you have a blog and some sort of internet following? Do you have an advanced degree in your field? Are you a pastor? I don't think you will sell much without one or two of those things.
Sad to say, but I agree. Only well-known ministers seem to dominate this particular niche. Not only do we judge books by their covers, we also judge those who promote religious truth by their credentials. Both are wrong in my opinion, but it is how it is I guess.

corriegarrett said:
Well, I saw a recent post on here about how hard it is to gain traction with Christian audiences, and I imagine that's the tide you're fighting as well. As covers for non-fiction go, I think these are serviceable and clearly branded... but this is a hard niche to get into.
I just read the description of the first volume and it's very clear, (I think you should keep all that info in there), but it doesn't really address WHY a Christian would want to read this. Is it just to feel convicted? If so, you need to address why the reader wants that. For instance, "Are you feeling distant from God? Your prayer life is drying up? Perhaps you are the one distancing yourself from God. Read on to find out the common ways committed Christians offend God in the worst ways..."
Okay - well, that's a little cliche, and that may not be the right direction for your book, but you get the idea! I'm sure you've heard it before - non-fiction has got to be the answer to a problem in the reader's life. Perhaps you can spell that out a bit better and see if that helps?
Good luck!
I saw that post, too. It's disheartening, yet truthful. This is a tough market. Thanks for the "thumbs up" on the covers. And that example you provided is golden! Can I use it?

Oh, and here's a question: would it be appropriate to use such wording in all the book descriptions, or would this only work on the collection?

Z. Rider said:
You need for your target market to know these books exist. You can do this without spending a cent, but it'll cost you time. You need to brainstorm ideas for guest posts you could write that are relevant to your books and your target market. You need to research blogs and websites your target audience visits. You need to contact the people who run these sites, tell them (briefly) about your collection, and offer to provide them with a guest post, article, or excerpt. Tell them you're also available for interviews. Do not send a mass email out to all the contacts. Personalize each one. Make your pitch brief, clear, and compelling. If anyone takes you up on it, grab hold of that opportunity: offer to provide them with a copy of the book for review. Then make sure you provide them with anything you promised them in a timely manner. When they support you by featuring you on their site, share those links on whatever social media you use so they see you're supporting them back. Build a relationship--you might be able to keep "promoting" your book by providing more posts/articles/excerpts/interviews in the future.

I also think Elizabeth's idea of reaching out to churches and study groups is a great one.
Awesome stuff. Fortunately, I have a list of Christian blogs that I compiled some time ago. Gonna have to dust it off and see whom to contact.

harker.roland said:
Hi Mr. RAD,

I'm the first to say I know very little about your genre but at quick glance your covers do very little to draw me in. Remember, long before your blurb, reviews, or sample chapters your cover needs to be enough for people to look at and be intrigued.

I know first hand the struggles of working on a budget but there are a lot of stock image cover creator sites (canva being one) that you can turn to for some great design. Also, FIVER could also be used for a cover design that you later customize.
Would you believe I made those covers from pure HTML and CSS? It's all text and color. They're not bad, but I know they can and need to be better because they don't work. As for using images, I haven't the slightest idea of what to use. Guess I'll head over to FIVVER to see what's shaking.

JV said:
This is just my unfiltered opinion:

First, you're in a niche market. Every T.V preacher and mega pastor and his son has some sort of religious book. They usually get their sales from their congregation (be it televised or in person). Everyone has an opinion on the bible, the question is, what makes your opinion worth listening to? What separates you from the guy on the corner with a sign about the apocalypse around his neck? I don't mean that as an insult or joke, it's a legitimate question.

When you're writing a nonfiction book, giving people "advice", they usually want to know why they should listen to you. That's their first question. I don't buy "self help" books, but if I did that would be my number one requirement. "What are this guys credentials? Does he have some sort of PHd? A massive following that lives by his advice? Is he a millionaire? Did he die and come back to life and claim to see heaven (that shtick has worked VERY well for a few people)."

Just like a fiction book needs a hook, so does a nonfiction book, and your "expertise" is your hook.


Just my opinion.
A hook. Hm, never looked at it like that. Thanks for the tip!

anniejocoby said:
I'm gonna say it's your covers. I don't think that they probably look like a Christianity related cover should look like. I always think of sunlight on the mountain or a rainbow or something of the sort when I think of Christianity books.

I would a) look at the covers of others in your field and try to emulate them and then b) find a good image on Shutterstock. I think you can get one for like $20. Then go to canva.com and design a cover yourself. It couldn't hurt, and that doesn't cost a ton of money.

Then I would re-do your bio. I agree with Elizabeth, you should emphasize your expertise and what you learned in your studies. Show why you're the expert that they should listen to.

I wish you the best of luck..... :)
Another vote for emphasizing one's expertise. I must look into this.

jillb said:
I agree with some of the earlier posts. The blurb gives me the idea that it's some kind of research paper. I'm not familiar with your niche but I try to focus my books on how it can solve some kind of problem for the reader. Interesting stories are always good. For example, maybe how following the commandants helped to save you or something to that effect? I'm just throwing ideas out. I know little about this genre.
Have you also thought of trying to submit your books to popular blogs with large Christian following? You can try moneysavingmom.com to start. Submit when your book is free. You may get a big boost if she features you. She has a very large following.
A story. That just might work.

DidEverythingButThink said:
I've run into similar situations, but things have gotten better as I learned more. I had to speak to hundreds of people at book festivals to learn what they really liked in a non-fiction book. I also spent a lot of time reading email responses to my blog posts and lectures. This business is really tough, but you are capable of getting through the hard times. Anyone that starts writing a book and makes it to the end already has what's needed to be successful in this industry -- commitment. Don't let these short-term setbacks keep you from your long-term glory!
No disrespect to any other posters in this thread, but I really needed to be reminded of this. Thank you for the encouragement.
 

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I was an agent for my older sister who was a pastor's wife and wrote Christians novels.  She only had one novel that sold well and that one had sex, incest, murder, and other things that normally aren't considered good Christian writing.  She did pretty well with the books when they were with a publisher, but the publishers got bought out.

I tried to get her to write regular novels since she was a very good writer.  However, she felt she was doing God's will so I couldn't get her to change.  Since I got a percentage from each sale, I made some money off of her sex book.  She never considered it a sex book though.

So maybe you are writing for the wrong audience.  Perhaps you should write for a more general audience.
 

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Ummm...I guess I have a different set of opinions than everyone here, but maybe you need to work on the writing.

Yeah, I think the covers are terrible, too. And if there's not money for professional covers, there are other alternatives. GIMP is a free photo manipulation software, and you can take some beautiful pictures of sunrises and sunsets with a camera phone nowadays. So you can come up with something that looks more inspirational than the boring things you're working with now.

So I did the "Look Inside" feature, and there are formatting problems, too. Your front matter runs into your book with no section breaks, and that's an easy fix in Word or Scrivener. So fix your formatting.

Then the writing isn't good. In the first paragraph you have a sentence that reads "God created man with the innate capacity and desire to reverence someone greater than himself." "Reverence" is not a verb. It's a noun. You don't reverence something, you revere it. We move on to a sentence that begins with "His spiritual nature," wit no understanding of whose spiritual nature we're talking about. Are we talking about God's spiritual nature, or Man's?

Look, I'm not ever going to get nominated for a Man Booker Prize, but this stuff is basic English lit. You need to write better before you ask for money for your work.

Then you need to not self-publish. This isn't a series, it's one decent-sized book that could be very well-served by any one of a number of very successful Christian presses, who move a lot of books. Lifeway is obviously the one that jumps to mind. But if you want to write Christian non-fiction, and get it in front of people, trad pub is still the best path to market.

Sorry if that was harsh, but sometimes it's not about the packaging, it's about the product. And if you put in ten years studying the Ten Commandments, you owe it to the book to spend at least that much time learning to write effectively.
 

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Elizabeth Ann West said:
When you write nonfiction, your author bio REALLY matters. Your bio doesn't tell me you're qualified to write this subject matter because you bury the fact you did a 10-year study on the Ten Commandments after unrelated information (your profession as a computer programmer) and talking about failures. Readers don't want to know you're self-published or that you failed at anything. They want to know why you have valuable information. :)

Also, have you reached out to churches and Bible study groups and offered review copies? That's a huge market, and one reason The Shack took off, churches began using it for men's Bible study groups. There are many Christian groups that you can reach out to, even just participating in #BibleStudy discussions on twitter for example. If you have valuable things to say on the subject, people will check out your Twitter profile and you can have a banner showing your books etc.
Hi,

Elizabeth Ann West hit the nail on the head. I went to your book 1/2 page and read your blurb and your author bio. Now I am not going to comment from the perspective of an author as I have yet to publish my first book but as a serious reader with KU (Yes, I read that much!) here is what I see:

1) Blurb is pretty good but you need a HOOK! Say right up front why I, or any other person, should read this book or even this series of books but for sure THIS BOOK. The small hooks you use in each bullet point are pretty good. I would keep those but as others have said explain right up front WHY one should read/buy this book. What does/will it do for your reader?

2) Marketing. You only have 1 review. I'd personally walk this book to every church in my neighborhood and talk to a pastor and explain why I thought it was worthy of reading and what could it do for their congregations. Obviously don't SELL a book in a church but let someone, anyone know in any format, (bible study, seminary classes, church based activities) and offer the book on your permafree thing so it doesn't look like your trying to sell for mullah. If I'm not mistaken you want the material to be read and to help people first and foremost. That sounds like a noble goal and the ability to profit from it would allow you to spread the message further.

3) Author Bio. I want to be delicate here but... Have mercy on me but I got to say it. West was correct. This is painful for me but here goes:

A) You can't lead with writing computer code and playing dominoes. That does not inspire confidence in the would be reader.

B) Secondly you state that your first two works were "unsuccessful" followed by "Not ready to give up HIS dream" (I added the all caps) so you reference yourself in the third person and make the book and its publication about fulfilling your personal dream and not about what it can do (again) for the would be reader. As a reader (and a Christian) I wish you success but not at my expense.

C) Thirdly you write about your study (which is the only good part here) and then you state "And even though I'm a 'nobody' in a sea of superstar religious writers, I have truth that must be told." OMG! (Forgive my use of his name initial in vain but) please don't refer yourself as "Nobody" and then put it in single quotes. I mean this really turns the reader off if the author himself has no self esteem and we'll address that soon...

D) Fourthly you now inform the would be reader that you have unpublished works and that they are "Works of fiction that just aren't good". Really? Please don't tell me that.

E) Finally you inform the would be reader that you have a Facebook page and a Twitter account but that you don't really use them so if a would be reader wants to engage with you then best to do so via email because... "I'm an introvert by nature and find it a little difficult to freely engage with others. That's something the Lord is still working to change." NO! You change that yourself please!

So let me summarize. Good blurb, just need a beginning hook, WHY MUST (not should or could or maybe) I read this? What will it do/add/help/teach me? You need to get a marketing plan together in order to demonstrate what you have but ONLY AFTER you change your bio. Put the 10 year study up front and change everything else to exude confidence in yourself and, more importantly, your message!

Honestly I hope you take this the right way since you asked and I took some time to deconstruct your book 1 Amazon page and offer you some constructive criticism. I don't think I could do a better job of sabotaging your book sales if I was your enemy especially with the Author Bio. You did the right thing to ask for help and as I said I borrowed you book and will read it tomorrow during my commute (1hour 20 min on the bus each way) and I think I should be able to finish it by tomorrow night since its a shorter work. I'll come back here to post some more if your still up for it.

Don't give up till you've exhausted all your options. I'm not surprised you aren't successful with a page like that. You can do this! Get yourself ready and rework your book 1 page then the others then lay out a marketing plan. It can happen if you make the effort. Niche markets are tough from what others tell me but sounds like your message is a worthy one.

Really, all my best then, till tomorrow evening.
SM
 

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You and I share a very similar niche.  I'll share what I've learned through this growing experience:
1.  The expression "You've got to be in it to win it!" applies.  If you unpublish and walk away, you are guaranteed to fail.  If you hang in there and patiently wait for God to guide you in His perfect timing, you always have the hope that today may be the day things turn around for you.  But that will never happen if you walk away. 
2.  My mother always said "Can't never did anything."  And she's right.  Actually, Henry Ford is famous for a similar comment which I like very much, "If you think you can't, you're right and if you think you can, you're right."  In other words, whatever you put your mind to is what's going to happen.  Determine what you are going to do and then go do it.  No second guessing yourself or wavering in your determination.
3.  You haven't done any marketing.  Until you start putting some serious marketing efforts out there, you have no basis to evaluate if you are succeeding or not.  I published my first book in August of 2013.  In my self-publishing ignorance, I thought that just by publishing it, the magic of the internet would kick in and it would sell.  By Christmas I had a few sales to people who knew me, but otherwise it was a complete flatline.  My author rank was worse than horrific--somewhere around 3.5 million.  So I purposed in my heart to get the word out and spent Christmas of 2013 working on a marketing plan and getting the ball rolling.  I sold 92 in January 2014 and 108 in February 2014.  Sales have been steady and growing ever since.  Two days ago I hit a new author rank high of 17,206.  Maybe not the top 100 (yet), but compared to where I was, well, there's no comparison.  Publishing is like a driving a car--if you don't put your foot on the gas pedal (marketing), even a Lamborghini will just sit there and do nothing. 
4.  I actually ran across your book the other day while I was doing some simple market research for my books on Amazon.  Your concept packaging immediately struck me as off.  I have a hard time seeing anyone wanting to buy a book that breaks the 10 commandments down into a multi-book series.  My suggestion would be for you to re-package the entire set into 1 book which can be used as a 10 week Bible study (1 commandment per week).  Then release another single book dealing with another stand alone topic in the Bible for them to rotate into when they are done with the first book.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Wild Rivers said:
I was an agent for my older sister who was a pastor's wife and wrote Christians novels. She only had one novel that sold well and that one had sex, incest, murder, and other things that normally aren't considered good Christian writing. She did pretty well with the books when they were with a publisher, but the publishers got bought out.

I tried to get her to write regular novels since she was a very good writer. However, she felt she was doing God's will so I couldn't get her to change. Since I got a percentage from each sale, I made some money off of her sex book. She never considered it a sex book though.

So maybe you are writing for the wrong audience. Perhaps you should write for a more general audience.
:eek: I've heard Christian readers that they try to avoid books with sex and other questionable things in it. I guess they were the minority.

John Hartness said:
Ummm...I guess I have a different set of opinions than everyone here, but maybe you need to work on the writing.

Yeah, I think the covers are terrible, too. And if there's not money for professional covers, there are other alternatives. GIMP is a free photo manipulation software, and you can take some beautiful pictures of sunrises and sunsets with a camera phone nowadays. So you can come up with something that looks more inspirational than the boring things you're working with now.

So I did the "Look Inside" feature, and there are formatting problems, too. Your front matter runs into your book with no section breaks, and that's an easy fix in Word or Scrivener. So fix your formatting.

Then the writing isn't good. In the first paragraph you have a sentence that reads "God created man with the innate capacity and desire to reverence someone greater than himself." "Reverence" is not a verb. It's a noun. You don't reverence something, you revere it. We move on to a sentence that begins with "His spiritual nature," wit no understanding of whose spiritual nature we're talking about. Are we talking about God's spiritual nature, or Man's?

Look, I'm not ever going to get nominated for a Man Booker Prize, but this stuff is basic English lit. You need to write better before you ask for money for your work.

Then you need to not self-publish. This isn't a series, it's one decent-sized book that could be very well-served by any one of a number of very successful Christian presses, who move a lot of books. Lifeway is obviously the one that jumps to mind. But if you want to write Christian non-fiction, and get it in front of people, trad pub is still the best path to market.

Sorry if that was harsh, but sometimes it's not about the packaging, it's about the product. And if you put in ten years studying the Ten Commandments, you owe it to the book to spend at least that much time learning to write effectively.
Good advice.

My design skills are worse than my marketing skills. GIMP, Paint.NET, Photoshop, or any other photo-editing software ain't gonna help me. I need a pro's touch. Seriously. Otherwise, I'll create something worse than I already have. :p

Concerning the formatting issue. I have zero control over Amazon's "Look Inside" feature. Absolutely none. When I preview the books in Amazon's software (e.g. Kindle 4 PC, Kindle Previewer), everything comes out just fine with the specified section/page breaks and all. Like others have said, the "Look Inside" feature doesn't always work as expected. Then again, is there a way to tame it?

I'm aware that my work could use an editor. Thanks for pointing out that error. (Just so you know, that sentence that begins with "His spiritual nature" reads: "His spiritual nature, which was toward the Lord only, became corrupted when he sinned in the Garden of Eden." I think readers know whose spiritual nature I'm talking about. :D)

Just know that I NEVER said I spent ten years studying the Ten Commandments or that it is a 10-year study (as @Elizabeth Ann West said). I said the series is based on a 10 year-old study (one that I did 10 years ago). ;)

Salvador Mercer said:
Hi,

Elizabeth Ann West hit the nail on the head. I went to your book 1/2 page and read your blurb and your author bio. Now I am not going to comment from the perspective of an author as I have yet to publish my first book but as a serious reader with KU (Yes, I read that much!) here is what I see:

1) Blurb is pretty good but you need a HOOK! Say right up front why I, or any other person, should read this book or even this series of books but for sure THIS BOOK. The small hooks you use in each bullet point are pretty good. I would keep those but as others have said explain right up front WHY one should read/buy this book. What does/will it do for your reader?

2) Marketing. You only have 1 review. I'd personally walk this book to every church in my neighborhood and talk to a pastor and explain why I thought it was worthy of reading and what could it do for their congregations. Obviously don't SELL a book in a church but let someone, anyone know in any format, (bible study, seminary classes, church based activities) and offer the book on your permafree thing so it doesn't look like your trying to sell for mullah. If I'm not mistaken you want the material to be read and to help people first and foremost. That sounds like a noble goal and the ability to profit from it would allow you to spread the message further.

3) Author Bio. I want to be delicate here but... Have mercy on me but I got to say it. West was correct. This is painful for me but here goes:

A) You can't lead with writing computer code and playing dominoes. That does not inspire confidence in the would be reader.

B) Secondly you state that your first two works were "unsuccessful" followed by "Not ready to give up HIS dream" (I added the all caps) so you reference yourself in the third person and make the book and its publication about fulfilling your personal dream and not about what it can do (again) for the would be reader. As a reader (and a Christian) I wish you success but not at my expense.

C) Thirdly you write about your study (which is the only good part here) and then you state "And even though I'm a 'nobody' in a sea of superstar religious writers, I have truth that must be told." OMG! (Forgive my use of his name initial in vain but) please don't refer yourself as "Nobody" and then put it in single quotes. I mean this really turns the reader off if the author himself has no self esteem and we'll address that soon...

D) Fourthly you now inform the would be reader that you have unpublished works and that they are "Works of fiction that just aren't good". Really? Please don't tell me that.

E) Finally you inform the would be reader that you have a Facebook page and a Twitter account but that you don't really use them so if a would be reader wants to engage with you then best to do so via email because... "I'm an introvert by nature and find it a little difficult to freely engage with others. That's something the Lord is still working to change." NO! You change that yourself please!

So let me summarize. Good blurb, just need a beginning hook, WHY MUST (not should or could or maybe) I read this? What will it do/add/help/teach me? You need to get a marketing plan together in order to demonstrate what you have but ONLY AFTER you change your bio. Put the 10 year study up front and change everything else to exude confidence in yourself and, more importantly, your message!

Honestly I hope you take this the right way since you asked and I took some time to deconstruct your book 1 Amazon page and offer you some constructive criticism. I don't think I could do a better job of sabotaging your book sales if I was your enemy especially with the Author Bio. You did the right thing to ask for help and as I said I borrowed you book and will read it tomorrow during my commute (1hour 20 min on the bus each way) and I think I should be able to finish it by tomorrow night since its a shorter work. I'll come back here to post some more if your still up for it.

Don't give up till you've exhausted all your options. I'm not surprised you aren't successful with a page like that. You can do this! Get yourself ready and rework your book 1 page then the others then lay out a marketing plan. It can happen if you make the effort. Niche markets are tough from what others tell me but sounds like your message is a worthy one.

Really, all my best then, till tomorrow evening.
SM
My goodness! THANK YOU for all of this detailed info! :-* :-* :-* (I don't agree with the underlined portion. I believe I need His help in rising above this. If left to me, I wouldn't bother, but He's got something else in mind since my works are about Him and all that. :) )

Christine Tate said:
You and I share a very similar niche. I'll share what I've learned through this growing experience:
1. The expression "You've got to be in it to win it!" applies. If you unpublish and walk away, you are guaranteed to fail. If you hang in there and patiently wait for God to guide you in His perfect timing, you always have the hope that today may be the day things turn around for you. But that will never happen if you walk away.
2. My mother always said "Can't never did anything." And she's right. Actually, Henry Ford is famous for a similar comment which I like very much, "If you think you can't, you're right and if you think you can, you're right." In other words, whatever you put your mind to is what's going to happen. Determine what you are going to do and then go do it. No second guessing yourself or wavering in your determination.
3. You haven't done any marketing. Until you start putting some serious marketing efforts out there, you have no basis to evaluate if you are succeeding or not. I published my first book in August of 2013. In my self-publishing ignorance, I thought that just by publishing it, the magic of the internet would kick in and it would sell. By Christmas I had a few sales to people who knew me, but otherwise it was a complete flatline. My author rank was worse than horrific--somewhere around 3.5 million. So I purposed in my heart to get the word out and spent Christmas of 2013 working on a marketing plan and getting the ball rolling. I sold 92 in January 2014 and 108 in February 2014. Sales have been steady and growing ever since. Two days ago I hit a new author rank high of 17,206. Maybe not the top 100 (yet), but compared to where I was, well, there's no comparison. Publishing is like a driving a car--if you don't put your foot on the gas pedal (marketing), even a Lamborghini will just sit there and do nothing.
4. I actually ran across your book the other day while I was doing some simple market research for my books on Amazon. Your concept packaging immediately struck me as off. I have a hard time seeing anyone wanting to buy a book that breaks the 10 commandments down into a multi-book series. My suggestion would be for you to re-package the entire set into 1 book which can be used as a 10 week Bible study (1 commandment per week). Then release another single book dealing with another stand alone topic in the Bible for them to rotate into when they are done with the first book.
Wow! Another gold-tipped boot to the rear. Such encouragement is much appreciated.

The only reason I broke the commandments down into a multi-book series is because people are gobbling up shorter works these days. I thought several smaller books between 10K-25K words would be better than reading one that's 100K+ words. Perhaps I was wrong, in which case I should get rid of the five separate books and just concentrate on the collection. I guess the only way to know would be to change the covers, blurbs, and other data to make sure.

Making it a 10-week Bible study (one commandment per week) never crossed my mind. Is there any particular structure I should follow? Is there any particular length each commandment should be (currently there are no length restrictions)? Are there any Kindle books that show how to do this?
 

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Mr. RAD said:
Wow! Another gold-tipped boot to the rear. Such encouragement is much appreciated.

The only reason I broke the commandments down into a multi-book series is because people are gobbling up shorter works these days. I thought several smaller books between 10K-25K words would be better than reading one that's 100K+ words. Perhaps I was wrong, in which case I should get rid of the five separate books and just concentrate on the collection. I guess the only way to know would be to change the covers, blurbs, and other data to make sure.

Making it a 10-week Bible study (one commandment per week) never crossed my mind. Is there any particular structure I should follow? Is there any particular length each commandment should be (currently there are no length restrictions)? Are there any Kindle books that show how to do this?
My suggestion to you would be to go to a local Christian bookstore like Family Christian or the like and browse their Bible study sections. Look through a variety of books to see how the author treats the presentation/format. Then be yourself. Ask yourself, if I were doing this Bible study, how would I expect it to go? That's how I came up with the format I use for my Bible studies. The first book (yellow cover) was actually written for my Bible study group at church when we couldn't find what we were looking for. I new what we needed, so I wrote something to get us going. Then we moved on to another study. After the other study, the group liked mine better and asked me to write another one for them. That's when I decided to make them available to other Bible study groups through self-publishing. Anyway, my point is not to worry about getting it "right". Worry about writing something you would want to read if you didn't know you and bought your book as a reader. In fact, doing something different sets you apart from the pack and makes your writing unique. At the beginning of each lesson, I do a a fun ice-breaker to get people warmed up. It's not standard, Bible study issued format, but I think it sets my series apart from all the other series out there. By giving people something different, you've now given them a reason to want to read your material.
 
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