This is a follow up to the previous post, which covered the Number 1 Reason your e-books are not selling. Here we will discover the three most common causes of ‘exposed’ books not selling.
So, you’ve spread the word about your blog—and, by extension, your e-books. Your Google Analytics numbers are all up, people visit and comment on your site, and you’re getting thousands of impressions and a couple hundred clicks on your AMS ad campaign. Congratulations, the world knows about your e-books.
And yet, you’re still not selling bucket loads of books.
Now what gives?
God knows I am far from the leading expert in the field of e-book sales. But I am sufficiently experienced and self aware to confess that there are three main issues keeping my book sales from increasing to where they should be. Odds are that these same issues apply to many of my fellow struggling writers. (Remember, I am on this journey with you. When I learn something, I share it. I know less than some, more than others. There are plenty of experts who would share possibly wiser advice, but they have a tendency to make things terribly expensive. Here at buckelsbooks we offer the poor man’s perspective, with tips designed to help those who are struggling and cannot yet afford to employ the ‘other guys’ pricey advice.)
The Three Main Reasons Your E-Books are Still not Selling
- Your cover art is not quite up to snuff
- Your e-book lacks reviews
- Your descriptions (ad campaign, ad copy, book description) are kinda lame
Ah, cover art.
This is the biggie that’s been keeping me down. Some of my book covers are better than others, but those ‘others’ could use some work. I thought my W.A.N.D. book cover art was decent. But then I saw it lined up beside similar books in sponsored products lineups, and then I realized it stands out—and not in a good way. It’s not bad, but it lacks the sense of movement and young adult-ism that most other YA fantasy’s present.
The cover art for my Mythcorp series is better. Same goes for my Sprinkle Takes the Cake cover.
But the others need work. What is a poor man to do? Cover artists charge upwards of $500. Quality images from up-market sites like Getty Images and Shutterstock and iStockPhoto will cost you anything between $25 and $200!
That’s just not an option for the poor struggling writer.
You could try Flickr, under its ‘creative commons’ thread for artists. You might be able to convince them to lend you the picture you like in exchange for acknowledgement in your book.
For the really tight budget, for us tightwads, you’re going to have to go about it the long way and work hard to make it look professional.
Download quality images from Google Images. Type in ‘HD’, and then the kind of image you’re looking for. Then download Paint.Net, a free graphics program that allows you to manipulate images and text in numerous ways, and go to town.
You could also use PhotoShop. I’d do a tutorial, but I’m still working on my own cover art (plus my cam is not of the best quality . . . okay, it plain sucks). For now, you might do well to check out tutorials on YouTube. Here’s one.
Point is: if you work hard enough, there are ways to overcome your ‘financial handicap’ and make your work professional-looking. Money makes things easier, but when you’re down on your luck, you are more driven to develop the skills you need.
The hard truth is that no one wants to buy online books that don’t have plenty of reviews. I can’t blame them. Personally, my story is backwards, in that I dove into writing, fully absorbed in that world. Then I learned to publish e-books. But nowhere along the line did I bother marketing them. I’d publish a book, it would get some initial sales, but without the first reviews from friends and family and beta readers, you’re pretty much stuck relying on the kindness of strangers.
No, there are other—free—methods for obtaining those vital first reviews. One such technique is explained in great detail here, by Mark Chesson of Kindlepreneur.
His technique is indeed financially feasible, but very time-consuming. Just remember: there are plenty of ways to get book reviews, and apparently none of them are quick and easy, even though the teachers of these methods might claim otherwise.
You could pay for reviews at shyster-type sites like Fiverr. IndieReader is my personal favorite; you pay a small fee of only $225 for a single review. It takes only five to nine weeks for the review to come in, and there’s no guarantee it will be a positive review. (They kindly offer the option of having you pay another $75 for a rushed review—delivered in only four to six weeks.)
What a deal! (Actually it is, when compared to Kirkus, which charges $425.)
Be a Smart Indie Author
Do yourself a favor and start collecting those reviews before you publish your e-book. (Something I failed to do.) Put it up on Amazon for pre-order. Offer free copies in exchange for honest reviews to family (who don’t share your last name, anyway), friends (who read things other than texts), and beta readers.
Lame Meta Descriptions
Here’s where it gets tricky. People view your descriptions after judging your cover art and (lack of) reviews. When they’re scrolling for books, they see those two things; it’s only after they approve of them that they click and see the description of your book.
It’s ‘do or die’ at this point. Your description better be kicking good, or they’ll just move on to the next thing.
The only advice you need for this step (and this goes for all your descriptions, ad campaigns, etc) is to treat your descriptions as you do your manuscript and query letters.
Don’t just whip off an account of your book and call it a day. Edit and polish that bugger until it shines. Write it and let it simmer for a day or two, and then come back with fresh peepers. You’ll see your mistakes. Read other descriptions to glean ideas on what customers like to see. Get to the point. Cut out extraneous words and characters until that mother flows, smooth and clear, like high-gloss polyurethane.
Here is a link to an excellent Amazon page. Notice the beautiful cover art, numerous starred reviews, and classy book description. That’s how it’s done, folks. (And yes, I’ve read the Fablehaven series and I totally flipping loved it!)
I hope you found something useful here to help in your self-publishing career. If you’ve got some ideas about how win reviews that don’t cost an arm and a leg and don’t involve pulling teeth, let us all know in the comments section below.