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All Things Writing & Publishing > Can a lowseller become a greatseller?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 12929 comments Once the book is aired, it gets certain exposure whether in new releases on Amazon, through author's effort to announce it's out, through gathering reviews, blogs, some PR and marketing.
Some books sell pretty well from the beginning or with a minimal effort gain traction.
Others - don't, sometimes despite even more serious marketing effort.
Some authors say - if your book didn't catch on, don't bother with it - write another one. Indeed, if any book of the same author becomes a best-seller, it may make all the others well-sellers retroactively..

What do you think - if, say, after release and few months of exposure, where readers had an opportunity to see it, the sales ain't great and the book doesn't show signs of virality, is it worthy to bother promoting it further or better switch to another project?


message 2: by Mehreen (new)

Mehreen Ahmed (mehreen2) | 1911 comments Look, I think a lot depends on how much exposure the book got. It really depends on effective marketing. Some books with bad, bad reviews have sold heaps of copies. I really don't know how. My advice will always be not to give up.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments I think more books will always be better than fewer books, especially if you write the best book you can. It's all a gamble but I think people who love writing feel compelled to write more than one title. Never give up!


message 4: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments Sales is a component of marketing not writing. As Mehreen says a lot of badly reviewed books have sold a lot of copies.

Many say keep writing, I say keep marketing.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Michael wrote: "Sales is a component of marketing not writing. As Mehreen says a lot of badly reviewed books have sold a lot of copies.

Many say keep writing, I say keep marketing."


I say do both. No success without marketing but it may be your second, third or fourth book that resonates with readers. Lian Moriarty has written lots of books but I'm only in love with one of them and it's not her first one.


message 6: by Daniel J. (new)

Daniel J. Nickolas (danieljnickolas) | 111 comments The publishing world has gone through a lot of changes within the past few decades, and I have wondered how this might affect great books that don't, at first, sell.

There have been plenty of examples of great books not being well received, but eventually becoming best sellers (The Great Gatsby, Moby Dick, The Lord of the Flies). However, this seems far less likely in the oversaturated market of today.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Daniel J. wrote: "The publishing world has gone through a lot of changes within the past few decades, and I have wondered how this might affect great books that don't, at first, sell.

There have been plenty of exam..."


This is why I feel there's no need to do this if you don't enjoy it.


message 8: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments Tara Woods Turner wrote: "I say do both. No success without marketing but it may be your second, third or fourth book that resonates with readers."

I agree that in this day and age, series are necessary. But you also have to define what is "successful."

Here's an article (somewhat dated) that says the average sale for an author at a publishing house is 10,000 copies. It doesnt say if thats in a month, a year or life time. I assume total for the life of the book.

https://stevelaube.com/what-are-avera...

Here's a quote (also dated) I found online...

"The average book in America sells about 500 copies (Publishers Weekly, July 17, 2006). And average sales have since fallen much more. According to BookScan, which tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books, only 299 million books were sold in 2008 in the U.S. in all adult nonfiction categories combined. The average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime."

A more recently article says an indie author can expect 300-700 sales.

https://chrismcmullen.wordpress.com/2...

There was another article that I found (cant find the link) that for new unknown self published authors a range of 500 to 2000 sales per book (lifetime) was considered successful. Which is the number I think most accurate reflects the range.

If you're an unknown indie and you're doing 5000 -10,000 sales well you're on fire. If you doing 500-2000 a book, I think you can pat yourself on the back. If you're under 500 - you need to step up your marketing game before launching another book.

Authors need to treat books like products. If a company makes a product that doesnt sell initially, the answer isnt to keep making more of the same and hope later that it sells.

The answer is to market the first product more to see if it will sell. Selling isnt in writing its in marketing.

With that I leave you to ponder the "Pet Rock"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_Rock

1.5 million sales at $4 a piece for something you can find for free in your backyard.


message 9: by Alex (last edited Feb 01, 2017 12:09PM) (new)

Alex (asato) To piggyback more on what Michael wrote, An author needs to first figure out why it isn't selling as well as as expected or desired. To do that these are the components that need to be evaluated:

1) Market conditions
Is the target (sub)genre hot? Is it small?
2) competitive analysis
In comparison to the top 100 or so: Is the product priced too low or high? Does the cover look similar in subject and identify it within that category?
3) effectiveness of marketing efforts
Is the product promoted in the places where it's potential readership is? How many potential readers are being reached? Is it discoverable (Amazon metadata set corrrctly; website SEO set appropriately). Is there enough marketing material for the product's fans to help them spread the word?
4) effectiveness, efficiency of sales channels
Is the book only available on kindle or is paperback also available? Is the distribution wide or narrow (typically KDP select)? Is there always a direct link to the point of sale in any direct emails or on the websites or other social media profiles.
5) Quality of the product
Is the cover, blurb, and story itself of good quality? Free of basic mistakes? Tell a good enough story, have deep enough characters, have clear and expressive enough writing to compete with the top competitors as identified in the competitive analysis?


message 10: by Joanna (new)

Joanna Elm | 145 comments Did anyone see this article on Medium about Amazon bestsellers?
https://medium.com/the-mission/behind...


message 11: by Michael (new)

Michael Fattorosi | 477 comments That was awesome. I shall quit writing now. I will never beat a picture of that guy's foot.

Unless of course I move my next title to the category transpersonal movements.


message 12: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 12929 comments Excellent article. Silly me - instead of making a bestseller, I sacrificed my foot for producing the group's picture -:)

In big categories the competition is real and tough though.

The question in a sense is whether a baptism of fire by presenting a book in front of a few thousands readers, produces little effect or interest, whether there is a problem with the package of: blurb-cover-beginning or with book's readworthiness, meaning it appeals to a relatively small niche of readers. One can change the package and try again and the reviews may help understanding readers' perception, however in my vision there might be a point in time for a decision where to put your time, effort and money.

Say, 500 books sold after 20 years of different efforts, is probably not a very impressive result (for me at least). So, I'm thinking whether there is a point of time much earlier than that where you should understand book's potential or not?


message 13: by Alex (last edited Feb 02, 2017 10:57AM) (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "however in my vision there might be a point in time for a decision where to put your time, effort and money.

I think what you're saying is that if 2-5 are of high enough quality, then it's reasonable to believe that the main cause is that (1) market conditions aren't sufficient to reach your desired sales numbers. Therefore how long should you put effort into 2-5
Before reducing that effort. Assuming that you're still working on your next book at the same time you're promoting your just released book, then maybe 6-12 months or when your next book comes out, then you focus on the new book, whichever comes first. You can still put your previous books on sale when a new one comes out. You should also stay abreast of current events and market trends that your book could tap into; for example, Trump's presidency had a positive effect on dystopian novels; you could change your blurb to include Something about Trump--only if it applies (of course, I'm not saying to just shoehorn it in). ^_- It's also good to just periodically (maybe every quarter) review your released product line to see if improvements can be made or they can be repurposed. For example, maybe if sales are really languishing, then you could serialize it for free on your website or other social media. You could also rewrite it as a script, or a mobile game, or a short story for inclusion in an anthology or submission to an ezine.

Thoughts, anyone?


message 14: by Lyra (last edited Feb 02, 2017 11:01AM) (new)

Lyra Shanti (lyrashanti) | 3 comments The first book in my Shiva XIV series came out at the end of 2014, and I literally had zero idea of what I was doing. I had no knowledge about marketing or how to do any of this self publishing madness.

I still am no expert, but I learned about kdp select, goodreads, Twitter RTs, giveaways, author takeovers, and all that fun stuff. The book has gathered more interest, and the entire series is still going, though it's a climb.

My point is that you can gather steam for something that initially didn't sell, but it's better to start strong. It's not impossible, however. Just keep swimming!


message 15: by Marie Silk (last edited Feb 02, 2017 01:07PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 1020 comments A few months isn't long enough to gauge a book's sales potential imo. I'm not even sure a year is long enough.


message 16: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9056 comments My guess is, it is hard to give up. The problem with marketing is to know why your previous efforts have not worked as well as you would like. As Einstein noted, if you keep doing the same old thing, you could expect the same old result. Doesn't always happen, but you should expect it.


message 17: by Alex (last edited Feb 02, 2017 09:28PM) (new)

Alex (asato) Lyra wrote: "The first book in my Shiva XIV series came out at the end of 2014, and I literally had zero idea of what I was doing. I had no knowledge about marketing or how to do any of this sel..."

Marie wrote: "A few months isn't long enough to gauge a book's sales potential imo. I'm not even sure a year is long enough."

1 - 2 years, then? we're just talking broad numbers here. of course, there are a lot of dependencies. it could happen that 1, 2, or 10 years down the road, cold war thrillers take off again because of another writer's blockbuster and you piggy back off of that.


message 18: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 12929 comments Alex G wrote: "cold war thrillers take off again because of another writer's blockbuster and you piggy back off of that...."

Or because of the return of the cold wars?


message 19: by M.L. (new)

M.L. That's funny about the foot! You can always try 'Putting My Foot Up' instead of 'down' and still use a foot.


message 20: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Nik wrote: "Alex G wrote: "cold war thrillers take off again because of another writer's blockbuster and you piggy back off of that...."

Or because of the return of the cold wars?"


right. when writers say that book had "luck" and it took off, i think that that luck is market timing. it could also be connections--like a big endorsement--but those connections can be cultivated.


message 21: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1020 comments Alex G wrote: "1 - 2 years, then? "

Hm, I'm not really sure. I'm still in my first year and the learning curve is...interesting :D. My books show a pretty big difference in sales from the initial few months of release compared to months 8, 9, and 10 after release.


message 22: by Lyra (new)

Lyra Shanti (lyrashanti) | 3 comments I think it's also different for series than one off books. A series can grow in popularity with time and marketing, whereas a regular novel may just sit there getting dusty.


message 23: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 12929 comments Are first months of book's life 'telling' or not necessarily?


message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 9056 comments Assuming you don't get a sequence of bad reviews, I doubt it. The key is discovery, but how can you be discovered? If you are lurking on p 47 of a browsing list, you won't be discovered by browsing. It is possible to take a book from poor seller to great seller, but my problem is I don't know how, and I suspect most others don't either.


message 25: by Nihar (new)

Nihar Suthar (niharsuthar) | 38 comments I think you need to do both (writing and marketing) simultaneously, but you need to be smart about how you market. I see a ton of authors just posting links to their books in random threads and forums online without any context. But there are many more effective ways you can market your book. For example, if you wrote a book about basketball, I think it might be more effective to place a display ad on basketball-related Youtube videos (1,300,000,000 hours of Youtube watched per day). Maybe you can even promote your book at basketball camps over the summer. I think there are lots of ways to promote your book, you just have to figure out clever ways of getting it in front of an audience. My advice is to continue to market (you never know, your book can take off anytime) and also keep writing new books to maximize your chances of going viral.


message 26: by Graeme (new)

Graeme Rodaughan | 7024 comments Great advice Nihar.


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