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Authors' Corner

You published your first novel on Amazon and you have no sales? You started an Amazon Ads campaign, but the ROI of the campaign is very low?

Maybe it's time to improve your book presence on the web!

In the first section of this article we want to answer the question “why are my books not selling on Amazon”. There could be many reasons of this, several of them are very clear for a marketing guy like me, but there could be some hidden reasons. I would like to show you the most important “sales-killing” points to avoid them as first time publisher in the future or if you have been already published your book consider improve these parts.

1. Low quality cover

Pick one book from the following two options!

Both books are in categories “magical realism” and “coming of age”

If you would pick one, which one would you? Left or right?

Well, maybe you preferred the right one, but you would be the minority, since 95% of people would choose the left one over the right, hence the right cover isn't bad! Not at all! But the left one's quality is higher, and this is something only our brain really understands. We couldn't clearly express our arguments besides the left one, maybe the font face, maybe the colors, but most importantly it's simply “better”.

Ok. Now let me show you another cover. No, this isn't the same Alchemist.

Well, as a marketeer I meet with lot of similar low quality covers, and trust me, nobody maybe not even friends would buy this book.

What I can suggest? Hire a professional cover designer! You don't want to save money on cover design, you just want the best cover that holds readers attention!

2. Price

You are a fresh new author and your Kindle book priced at $11.99 on Amazon? Well, most likely your book is overpriced.

Typical fiction book prices for Kindle:

  • $1.99
  • $2.99
  • $4.99

Of course pricing strategy depends on many factors like,

  1. book niche (business or fiction),
  2. length of the book,
  3. is it a fresh new book,
  4. global presence of the book (previous sales, articles),
  5.  marketing dollars spent.

You would like to find the ideal, best fitting price for readers, which is low enough for readers to afford to your book, and has it's royalty potential for you.

3. Low review count, no editorial reviews

This is a typical “sales-killing” factor. A book with zero reviews on Amazon (even under 10 for many people) may result instantly closing the book's tab. The truth is getting reviews is extremely hard job. Even if somebody buys and reads your book most likely he or she won't leave a review. It's an extra effort what people want to avoid.

There are some good solutions like Netgalley, or techniques like “requesting a review” at the end of your book with direct QR code link to your book's Amazon page, but creativity plays an important role here.

Editorial reviews are also important, you can use these for promotional purposes, like on your Amazon's book page (you can enter these in Amazon Author Central). These are very similar to normal reviews, but you can pick them by your hand. In Amazon Author Central there is a section where you can simply copy-paste them and they will appear in a dedicated section on your book's Amazon page.

4. Amazon description or Ad-copy problems

A typical problem, when a reader don't understand or don't care about story. The description should be engaging and give away relevant information from the book:

  • character names
  • dates, places
  • starting set
  • mission
  • opposites

or general background and whys in case of the non-fiction books:

  • Why the author wrote the book (motivation)
  • What I will learn in the book?
  • What problem the book might solve?
  • Important arguments

Beside information, the description should be simple, no fancy formatting required. But use spacing, paragraphs, bullet points, and the necessary formatting tools (bold text). Try to avoid CAPITALIZED LETTERS, which has no marketing value, just harms your book.

5. No past marketing activity

A book without marketing history is a problem in terms of book sales. If you did only one campaign or promotion it will most likely won't have any big effect on your sales. I don't know any marketing activity or $100 marketing package service which will “boost” your sales.

In the real world with marketing, we are always doing the long game. We called this phenomenon “inertia“, people are looking for brands even in case of books. Author names, publishers, series they are all kind of brand names. With marketing we could do only two things:

  1. Boosting impressions and getting visitors
  2. Improving your brand name

Both are important, but in order to get the snowball effect, your brand name should achieve a certain level of history. I call it history because it takes time. Most likely years. This is a bad thing for first time authors, but we are people and we learn new things slowly.

There are many marketing activities:

  • Social media posts about the book
  • “Top book” articles
  • Listing your book on many websites
  • Mentioning the book on social sites like Reddit, Quora
  • Paid promotion on Amazon Ads, Facebook, Instagram

Start somewhere! You can't make big mistakes in the world of marketing, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing.

If you are looking for more marketing ideas check out our new book “The First 100 Days of Your Book“.

6. Your book is in a crowded niche

It could be the case your book is in an extremely crowded non-segmented niche. Let me give you an example: You wrote a book in the poetry genre.

From marketing point of view it is a nightmare to promote poetry books. Mainly, because its a crowded and non-segmented niche. So what is a good niche? Time-travel science fiction or techno-thrillers are also popular genres, but they are great sub categories for a book. Readers know what they will get for their money, which isn't the case in poetry niche.

If there is a huge competition within a niche, your book could be easily missed because of the noise. What are the crowded or oversaturated niches?

  • Poetry
  • Self-help
  • Children's books
  • YA Fantasy
  • Memoirs
  • Success books
  • Romance (generic)
  • Christian books

If your book falls in one of the above category, be sure to have a well-defined sub-category for your book! The better sub-category you find to your book the easier the marketing would be.

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