Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Reasons your book isn't selling: bad luck

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 ignoring Amazon.

Today's reason your book isn't selling:Bad luck


For the past few months I've talked about some of the mistakes I've seen authors make during my time in the industry. Most of these have been easy fixes. But today, for the last post in this series, I want to talk about something that doesn't come with a three step solution.

Bad Luck

I feel like it's pretty easy for an author who has had some success to make lists of all the ways that other authors can find similar success. I'm a far cry from being a super star, yet I recognize that I've done well and others would like to see similar results. But the reality is that you can't follow a list of to-do items and be guaranteed success.

Instead, there are a lot of variables that can make taking your book to the next level nearly impossible. Let me say this. I truly believe that most authors who are not where they'd like to be are leaving opportunities on the table. AND I believe that changes like the ones I've talked about in this series can make a difference. But sometimes, the cards are stacked against you. That's not an excuse to stop trying, but recognizing these unwinnable scenarios can sometimes let us move on from a project that is not going to be the success we wish it were.

Here are a few unfixable issues that your book might be facing:

1. Timing - We can plan around certain events, but some are outside our control. I can tell you that trying to release a book right before Christmas is not a good idea. I'd also think that anyone with a book coming out this fall has an uphill battle to climb over the election news. But there's nothing you can do if there is a natural disaster the week of your book's launch. Or, heaven forbid, a terrorist attack.

2. Trends - It takes forever to get a book from concept to published and no one can predict what readers will be clamoring for once you get there. There's nothing you can do about it readers just aren't interested in your genre by the time your book comes out. But even worse than hitting the tail end of a trend is being ahead of the trend. Maybe you though underwater superheroes was going to be the next big thing. But it's not. It doesn't matter how much you market your book if there aren't readers for it.

3. Other books - You've got a great book with a topic right on track with what readers are looking for. And then the week before your book comes out, a big name author drops their book with a similar plot line. There's nothing you can do about that. And even though you knew nothing about this other author's book and have been working on yours for a year, there's no way you don't look like you are trying to ride coattails.

4. Not your best - You've worked really hard on your book, got it published and marketed the heck out of it. Now, six months later, you realize this isn't your best work. While authors always hope to improve with each project, sometimes we put out projects before we were ready. I've seen authors do this and then a year later, they re-release. I actually saw someone advertise their new release with the language "Now professionally edited". Which made me think, it wasn't edited before? Does that mean none of your books were edited? Honestly, nothing makes me run from an author faster.

Like I said, I think most authors have more than can be doing to market their books, but sometimes, there really is nothing you can do to save a book. Maybe a trend will come back. Maybe your next books will be big hits and readers won't mind that your older books aren't as good. There are lots of possibilities. But sometimes, you have to walk away and let a novel sink or swim on its own.

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