Reasons your book isn't selling: Negative Nancy

Welcome back to Reasons your book isn't selling, where every Wednesday I discuss common mistakes I see authors make that are hurting their book sales. Last time I talked about saying no.

Today's reason your book isn't selling: turning into a Negative Nancy

We all know those people are are always complaining about something. They are convinced that the whole publishing game is one big roll of the dice and everyone but them has a weighted pair. Nothing you say can convince them that there is still hope for them and their books and they are determined to be souless, life-crushing authors who write into ignominy forever. These people aren't even reading this blog, because any marketing advice I might offer them is irrelevant. It's all a big luck showdown. They are convinced that they'll never sell any books and their attitude becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

But then there are those authors who are really trying. They want to get their book out there and are genuinely seeking out opportunities to improve sales. In general they are positive people and they probably started out their journey into authorship with pie-in-the-sky dreams and a big smile. But then, success doesn't come as easy as they thought. Their book isn't the run-away smash hit they dreamed about and they find their efforts are less effective than they had hoped or planned. And the negative language starts slipping in.

They don't mean to come off as negative. Many times, their blog posts and social media messages are meant to be marketing focused. "Hey guys, I'd love to get a few more reviews for my book, XYZ. Let me know if you're interested in a free review copy!" turns into "My book tour turned out to be a waste of time so I'm trying anything to get more reviews. Let me know if you can help out with a review of my book, XYZ."

Both options are asking the same thing, but one comes out as upbeat and engaging, while the other comes across as whiny and desperate. Sadly, I see too many examples of the latter.

The reality is that publishing is hard regardless of whether you are with a big publisher or going on your own. There are so many books released every week and only a tiny fraction of them ever make real money and an even smaller percent become the books that all the readers are talking about. It's a trying and difficult process. And every other author out there knows it.

But the readers are not interested in your blog tour woes. They don't care that your publisher isn't helping as much as you want or that you got turned down for a BookBub ad...again. To readers, you are living the dream, achieving near god-like status as the creator of magical portals to endless stories. I'm not saying you can't get real from time to time and share your woes with your readers, but these should be rare instances, not a daily occurrence.

Go back and read the last five posts you wrote about your book. They can be from your blog, website, or any social media platform. Now check the tone. Is it positive and hopeful, or are you setting the stage for disappointment?

Readers will take their cue from you. If you constantly add little lines into your posts about how hard it is to find readers, get your book into libraries, or earn reviews, readers will get the impression that your book isn't good enough. In their mind, a book that is causing that much trouble must not be worth the read. And that's the exact opposite impression that you want readers to have.

I know how tempting it can be to get out a little steam, but social media is not the place. Instead, find a safe group of people who can sympathize and (if you can) take the conversation offline where it's less likely your words will come back to haunt you.