Time for a Book Marketing Makeover, aka “My Book Sales Suck”

Since today’s post is about my books sales, it could very easily take on a rather dismal tone. But since moaning and groaning isn’t the point of this week’s indie author musings, I promise I’ll try to keep it as upbeat as possible without going all Pollyanna on you. Because even though I’m starting from (almost) nothing, at least I’m starting and not giving up (okay, maybe that was a tad Pollyanna-ish)

I think I just gagged.

The Hard Facts – My Book Sales This Quarter

Okay, this is taking a HUGE amount of bravery to reveal and I nearly chickened out because, let’s face it, these numbers are absolutely embarrassing. Before I “show off” my recent book sales numbers keep in mind that I am not doing this in any way to say, “Oh poor me, go out and buy my books to make me feel better.” I mean, if you’re going to buy my books, I want you to buy them because you’re interested in them, not to toss me a $3.99 bone of pity.

And I also don’t want in any way to seem unappreciative to the wonderful people who have bought my books over the past few months (all three of you…haha), because I do really appreciate your support (and the emails from a couple fo you saying “I love this book!” – thanks Weekes and Helen).

So my big sales numbers over the past three months are….

  • September – 4 (no, that’s not a typo…four)
  • October – 8 (woohoo, sales doubled)
  • November – 28 (The Maze‘s launch month)

Yeah, that’s a grand total of 40 books in three months. Given that there are indie authors selling 40 books between the time they wake up and the time they’ve poured their bowl of Wheaties, those numbers are awful to say the least.

I Should Be Bitter

Keeping in mind that I am not an optimist, those numbers should have me tossing all my notebooks into the recycle bin, breaking my pencils in half, and trudging down to the nearest Walmart to get a job I’m more qualified for like emptying trash bins.

But weirdly enough, I’m not doing any of those things. And no, it’s not because I’ve put myself into a drunken stupor so deep that my brain is only functioning well enough to keep me breathing (in which case I’d probably still be able to get that bin job at Walmart).

It’s because I’m weirdly certain I can turn those numbers around. No wait, not literally turn around, that would only be 04 sales….figuratively turn around, as in boost, increase, skyrocket (okay let’s not get ahead of ourselves).

Naive Dolt or Savvy Salesgirl?

With such dismal numbers it may seem naive to think anything can be done, but I’ve recently taken an attitude adjustment toward my writing (which started back in early fall). Because I feel like my writing skills are pretty strong (always room for improvement though), I know shitty books aren’t the reason for my poor stats. It’s the fact that I suck at marketing.

Part of my attitude adjustment lately has been educating myself on how to better market my books. Sure, I’ve read loads on marketing over the years but I’ve taken a scattergun approach with the idea that doing everything will boost sales. It doesn’t. It causes burn out, frustration, and there are some aspects of marketing I hate (yeah I’m talking about you social media).

Instead, i’ve been absorbing all the possibilities and narrowing down what might work for me and that is slowly being cobbled into a concrete marketing plan which is going to include a few things I’ve never done before. No, not sky diving with a giant parachute decorated in my book covers. Yet.

Inspring Words

Part of this education has come from listening to a few podcasts (Smarty Pants, Mark Dawson, and The Creative Penn). One of the top things I’ve learned is that the only person to blame for my lack of sales is me. On the same side of that coin, this means that I’m the only one who can turn those sales numbers around.

The second thing is that if I’m going to succeed in this, I need to have concrete goals and I need to treat writing as a business. So I’ve sat down and mapped out a five-year plan of goals (very meager goals for Year One, but moving on to bigger goals by Year Five) and, after years of telling myself I need to do so, I’ve finally opened up a separate business account for my writing income and expenses.

Expenses? Gasp! Yes, I’ve gone too long thinking I can market without spending a dime and it’s beyond time to get rid of that Scrooge-esque mindset. I’m not going to break the bank, but I have set aside a tiny budget for ads.

Beyond that I’m learning that I need to examine my books more closely and try to understand why they’re not selling. I’ve been doing that and have come to the understanding that my books’s covers and descriptions really don’t fit their genre. There’ll be more on all that next week.

I’m also going to be rolling out a whole new mailing list with loads of fascinating features and goodies, but again, more on that to come.

To Infinity and Beyond

Geez, how would Amazon calculate the royalties for infinity book sales? Well, I may never find that out, but as I move forward with this whole process I’d really love to see a quarterly sale number much higher than 40 (every Douglas Adams fan just said, “How about 42?”). Of course, I’m not going to bore you with every detail of my marketing highs and lows, but I am planning on perhaps a monthly update on how the goals are proceeding and I sincerely hope you’ll join me on this journey!

How about you? Any Pollyanna/attitude readjustment moments for you this week? Any “picking yourself up by the bootstraps” times in your life? Tell me all about it in a comment!

You’ll be glad to know that Finn McSpool is re-entering the blogosphere this Saturday with his foray into cosmetics chemistry. And, as I said, I’ll be back next week to reveal what in the world is going on with my books and to get your opinion on some new book covers!

Speaking of chemistry…

 

 

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29 thoughts on “Time for a Book Marketing Makeover, aka “My Book Sales Suck”

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Considering most books sell less than 100 copies total, you’re doing quite well. I think there are just so many books out there, it’s hard to get noticed. I can’t buy a fraction of the books I’d like to, because I know I’ll never get to them. As it is I have far too many waiting for my attention. As a reader, it’s great. As a writer, not so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      Thanks Carrie! Funny you should say that. I just listened to a podcast about the market getting saturated with books. They explained this is why it’s more important than ever to put out high quality books instead of this “quantity” race to publish as fast and as many as possible (the trend for many self-publishers over the past years), as well as making sure you’re targeting your books to the right audience so your words don’t get lost in the mayhem. I can also see this saturation being a point for putting out audiobooks as another way for people to consume your books. But, I’m not to that point yet. One day.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nyssa The Hobbit says:

    I get ads for interesting-sounding books all the time on my Kindle, but can’t afford to buy them all. 😛 It also takes me weeks to get through even a moderate-sized book. To paraphrase Sean Bean’s Lovelace, One can’t have every book worth having. 🙂 But it makes me wonder how any book gets sales with a saturated market.

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      I hear about people who can read an entire book in a day and can’t imagine how they do it…although these are the people I need to market to, right!? I recently signed up to get the BookBub deals and that’s proving quite addictive for downloading new books…many are free which is right up my book-budget alley!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Nyssa The Hobbit says:

        I keep finding old classics which only cost $1 at most on the Kindle, so that’s addictive, too. 🙂 If all the new writers sold their Kindles for that price, I’d probably buy more. 😉

        Like

      • Nyssa The Hobbit says:

        Thanks for mentioning Bookbubs–I didn’t know it existed! I’ve just downloaded a whole bunch of free Kindle books. It’s part because they look interesting, and part as research into today’s genres. I’m not sure yet how to market my latest novel when it’s finished: Sci-fantasy? Time travel romance (but the guy’s narcissistic and it ends tragically!) ? Literary? But hey, for exactly $0, I can download examples of those genres. 🙂

        Like

  3. crawcraftsbeasties says:

    Oh, I hear you! Your most timely post has caught me well and truly in the process of picking myself up by my bootstraps… My biggest market of the year starts today, and I’ve completely lost my voice! 😨😨😨 What I wouldn’t give to stay in bed with a steaming mug of tea… So yes, this creative life often isn’t the picnic people think. But it sounds like you have a plan, you have the talent and the motivation, so just keep on going! And I know you aren’t that impressed with your numbers, but look at the increase you’ve had already since you started focusing your marketing efforts… A jump from 4 to 28 is not to be sniffed at. Good luck with it all, and the Beasties and I will be here cheering you along from the sidelines!

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      Aw, now that’s an image I’ll carry with me…book cheering Beasties (of course you know Finn will want to be head cheerleader 🙄). The increase may just be the book release so I’ll have to see how this month goes to make a baseline since the real marketing fun begins in January. I definitely know how it is to be smacked with a cold right when you’re in the eye of the creative storm. Hope you start feeling better so you can find all your Beasties new homes for the holidays! Best of luck at the market!

      Like

      • crawcraftsbeasties says:

        Ok, OK, Finn! You can be head cheerleader! I suppose if he’s busy cheering you on, he might not want to get as involved in “helping” you with your marketing endeavours, so this could be a good thing… 🤔 I’m intrigued to see what you have up your sleeve for the new year!
        Thanks for your good wishes too… A service suspension on the Luas (tram) yesterday morning almost had me calling down the wrath of the Twelve on the whole day, but a nice busy final hour definitely put the smile back on my face! 😀

        Like

      • TammieLP says:

        Ah, saved in the final hour…glad to see you’re living your life like it’s a novel! I would avoid calling on the Twelve, you just never know what worse trouble you might end up in with their assistance. Hmmm, kind of like letting Finn help in the kitchen.

        Like

      • crawcraftsbeasties says:

        Hmmm… Is Finn secretly a Greek god in disguise, do you think? Now that you mention it, there are plenty of similarities… 🤔
        By the way, I’ve had a just lovely time these past couple of days binge-reading The Maze to wind down from my crazy market week! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. The Snail of Happiness says:

    This is something very close to home as Mr Snail’s books don’t exactly sell well… in fact my academic tome does better and my publishers (Springer) do nothing to market that other than have it on their web site along with a gazzilion other books. Anyway, Mr Snail spends his time writing not marketing, so sales are dreadful. He’s coming to the end of the draft of his third book and I have suggested that he takes a bit more time over redrafting than with the past two and does not rush to publish by some arbitrary date. I also want him to think carefully about the cover because, after all, that’s what’s right in front of you at the outset. And then I want him to do some serious marketing.
    One of my general feelings is that indie authors often rely on sales to friends and whilst this is great, it’s a rather limited market… you really want strangers to buy your books. In fact I prefer reading a book written by a stranger because they don’t come round your house and ask you awkward questions like ‘did you like it?’

    Liked by 1 person

    • painterwrite says:

      I never rely on friends or family to buy my books (lowers my frustration level to assume they’re not interested), so I’m always wondering who out there is buying them! I think the best advice is to be patient with writing books. It’s so tempting to say “yay it’s done” and hit the publish button, but I want to know I’m putting out something that is just as good as a book put out by a traditional publisher so I can be proud of it and people will want to read more. I can’t say how many indie books I’ve picked up that were just crap and obviously rushed to publish. Will I ever read another book by them? Nope. Time should be devoted more to writing than marketing, but you have to carve out a bit of time to make people aware of what you’ve written unless you’re happy just writing for writing’s sake. Thanks for popping by!

      Liked by 1 person

      • painterwrite says:

        Right now I’m just investing in some up-to-date marketing ebooks and putting some toward new cover art. Moving beyond that I’ll be jumping in and trying some ads starting next year. It’s a very tiny budget right now, but who knows, maybe I’ll be able to increase it one of these days.

        Like

  5. weekesgaehl says:

    40 actually sounds like an impressive number to me! But, ugh, I so hear ya. So so so so so frustrating. Especially when you know you are putting something good and worthwhile out there. I’m impressed with your (nauseating) (just kidding!) Pollyanna attitude though. You’re probably right that nothing is going to change unless you make some changes (unlike me who will just continue gazing out the window hoping for miraculous change to occur without me doing anything). It must feel good to lay out a solid game plan and have tangible goals you can work towards. Perhaps you will inspire me to do the same for 2018. And exciting about opening a business account! I’m looking forward to hearing about improving stats because your writing is awesome and it deserves to reach a wider audience! Keep going!!!

    Like

    • painterwrite says:

      I have spent the past several years hoping for that miraculous change. I honestly don’t know what smacked me on the head recently to make me realize I need to really tackle this like a business instead of just pretending I’m being professional about things, but now that the hammer has done a whack-a-mole on my attitude, I can see I wasn’t really doing my best..or maybe I was trying to do my best but was scattering that Best too thinly over too many places to have an effect. Plus, I’m too stubborn to give up yet! This time next year, it’s going to be 40 books an hour by golly…sorry, that damn Pollyanna hijacked my keyboard for a second.

      Liked by 1 person

      • weekesgaehl says:

        Gosh darn it, 40 books an hour sounds amazing!!! Do some people achieve that?! I’ve made 74 cents so far on streaming platforms… hahaha. I can’t wait until you’re big and famous; I feel good about this.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TammieLP says:

        Now, don’t you go spending that 74 cents all in one place! Yes, somehow it is possible to crack this indie code and make money, lots of money from what I’m learning. Trouble is the code keeps changing and Benedict Cumberbatch refuses to come over and build me an enigma machine to solve it. Jerk. Ooh, and congrats on your album release day!!!

        Liked by 1 person

      • weekesgaehl says:

        I know; I plan on distributing that 74 cents on purchases of multiple different boiled candies from the 1950s. Benedict Cumberbatch is such a lil b*tch (as my hubs, who is the original English Benedict, will attest)–build it, man! And thanks! It’s been very uneventful! I need to borrow Finn to really get the party started.

        Like

      • TammieLP says:

        Be sure to pick up some penny candy to suck on while those candles flicker away. Ah, launch day. Mr Husband always asks what I plan to do for Release Days. Um, throw out a blog post, update my website, and then vacuum up cat hair like any other day. Living the life, I tells ya!

        Liked by 1 person

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