This is the true, unshackled reality of book sales- and what to do about it. If you can stomach the facts and implement the advice, you can plan for success.
So you’ve completed your first book – congratulations! It’s no easy task, you are to be commended, and that’s sincere – I’ve done it, I know what you’ve been through.
It’s probably in Word, or Scrivener, or maybe some other word processor. Perhaps you’ve done battle with Amazon’s comprehensive instructions, and uploaded it, it’s been processed and viola! – your book’s for sale as a Kindle download, or maybe a paperback using their CreateSpace offering.
You’ve sat and waited for the sales counter to tick up.
Nothing (or maybe a few to friends and family).
A week later, no more sales. Many people who said they’d buy the book, haven’t, and don’t.
A month passes – more nothing…
How to sell 1000’s of Books – Mindset
In this series, I’ll be covering what Book Marketing really works for authors who want to sell books in the 1000’s to make a full or part-time living.
Some of it is painful reading, as I bring your mindset into tune with reality – which I must. If you can accept what I proffer, then the rest will transform your book sales – if you’re ready to do some hard work – which you must.
So let’s do some groundwork and set the scene. Then, throughout the series, I’ll attack each issue with detailed help to overcome each one. Some of you at this point will be tempted to skip to specific lessons, to get to the nitty-gritty. I get that – I tend to do it myself – we’re busy people, and there’s a lot of other advice out there you’ve possibly read. You just want anything that might supplement what you’ve already found. All I can tell you is: I don’t do packing or page filling. I only write what’s required. If you skip, you’ll miss something, and at some point later, misunderstand the importance, or misinterpret an application of information. Everything before builds on everything after. I ask you to trust me – and read it all – in order…
The Five Fierce Facts (to selling 1000’s of books)
FACT 1 – BOOKS DON’T SELL THEMSELVES
If you told NO ONE about your book, did no Book Marketing, and uploaded it to Amazon. After a year you will have sold zero copies.
It’s not a reflection of your skill as a writer. It’s because, in the last 30 days, 350,000 new books were added to Amazon (figure at time of writing, and it’s growing by 10,000 a month).
Not all are in your genre, of course, but for a popular genre, such as Crime, Thrillers and Mystery the hard reality is: the day you publish your book, you’ll be competing with 250 other authors publishing that day in your genre. By tomorrow there will be another 250 competing books published! By the end of the week, you’re just one of nearly 1,750 new books in your genre. You’re old news.
FACT 2 – You need to put in a lot of effort over a long period of time
For authors that come to me, this is the single largest factor that convinces them not to write a book for an income. “I’ll just try one first. See how it goes,” they say. I tell them the reality of their plan. A few choose to go ahead anyway, without strong Book Marketing, believing their book is going to be different. It always ends in disappointment.
So, how long?
Three to five years. Yes, I know, that’s disappointing, and some of you will leave now and not read on. The reason for the length of time is two-fold. First, it takes time for people to learn you exist and like your writing, and build your fan base. And second, is FACT #3.
FACT 3 – You have to publish a lot of books
Sure, you can sell thousands of your first book, maybe even financially break even if you work really, really hard. But you’re not going make a living from it to fund you while writing book two. One book isn’t going to cut it. Two books, won’t either. Three, and especially as a series, you will see some traction, and maybe pay for itself with a little left over, but not enough to live off. Book four is normally the breakpoint. If your Book Marketing is appropriate, you’ll have a good number of followers by then, and you can use them as meat into the grinder that is Amazon’s chart algorithm (more on this later). After that, things will take off, and residual sales, plus sales of your new books, will sustain you.
FACT 4 – The Product has to be good
As much as you don’t want to hear it, your book is nothing more than a product, like in any other business. Clients (readers) have to know it exists, they have to be wooed into trying it out, and they have to like it if they’re to buy from The Company (you) again. And there’s a LOT of competition, as we’ve said.
What does this mean, exactly? It means your writing has to be sharp, your stories intriguing, your book well produced: a great cover, quality materials, professional formatting, well edited, and proof checked. Weakness in any of these areas and your books will not compete. There are plenty of good authors throughout history who disappeared due to one bad apple in the book cart. As a society, we place our heroes on pedestals. We expect them to be perfect. One slip can have a catastrophic affect on their popularity, causing eventual demise. And getting followers as authors is hard enough as it is.
FACT 5 – The 90% Amazon factor
Like it or not, if you want to sell 1000’s of books and have a career, Amazon is going to be 90% of your book sales. You will need to understand how their secret algorithms work and keep pace with the constant tweaks. You’ll need tools to do this – and they’re out there. Keep it up, and at some point, your book sales will start to take care of themselves – mostly. This is the happy ending to your long, dedicated, slog. This is the gravy train. You’re now a successful career author.
If you’re still with me – good for you! That wasn’t an easy pill to swallow, but you’re still here and not put off. So let’s get into the details of how you go about taking the Five Fierce Facts head on and breaking out the other side.
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Miles changed careers in 2008 from Senior Systems Designer in aviation to become a self-published fantasy author. His first book hit No 1 on Amazon for Epic Fantasy and knocked The Hunger Games from the top slot in Waterstones. In 2010 he started a self-publishing business, and began creative writing meet-ups in Kent called NAGS which have been running bi-weekly for four years.
He now writes, runs NAGS, and teaches a range of frank and honest courses for new authors on creative writing, self-publishing and book marketing, including for the Canterbury Christchurch University and North Kent College.
“It was great having Miles teaching to us today.
It’s given me some fantastic things to
think about – a very inspiring speaker,
thank you for a brilliant session.”
Emily Dorsett Beard
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