No Sales or Lackluster Sales: It Isn’t the Reader, It’s the Book…Really

Original image courtesy of Juhan Sonin via Flickr Creative commons.

No sales or lackluster sales. It isn’t the reader’s fault. It’s the book. Really. This is tough to hear. I know.

It’s a writer’s worst nightmare. You researched, you wrote, you finished, and then published your book. You wait for the sales and….

*crickets*

This is something that can happen to any kind of author, traditionally or nontraditionally published.

We think we have a hit on our hands only to later be checking our work for a pulse. What happened? Why did everything go sideways? Where are the SALES?

Sales & The Market

sales, book sales, publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing, Amazon, Kristen Lamb
Remaindered titles.

In the not so distant past, there was only one way to get published and that was traditional publishing. Though many authors cheered when they were finally able to cast off the chains of New York, let’s at least respect that agents and editors might have known a thing or three about the book business and how to generate book sales.

Writers would often get vexed at the stack of rejection letters, believing they couldn’t actually write well.

This was not always the case. Sometimes the writing was perfectly fine, or even really good. Great even.

Alas, agents made their living off books they knew would sell, which meant they just didn’t have the bandwidth left over to take on pro bono work. Yes, the book might have been lovely, but they were agents, not charities. They couldn’t gamble on a well-written book in an untested genre or for an unvetted audience.

Agents had to find the book they knew publishers would BUY based on metrics of what had already sold well in the past.

Not a perfect way of doing business, but better than guessing and paying a blind oracle to throw chicken bones.

***This is largely still how things work, though publishing is in so much flux that agents are doing things differently these days because the paradigm has changed so drastically.

Sales kept the lights on.

Agents predicted market changes and trends. They looked at what was already out, what was slated to be released, what was already selling, what wasn’t, what was saturated, etc. Then, they used that data to maneuver their authors around the sales minefield.

Still do to the best of their abilities.

This is where it can get tricky for writers. Yes, write what you love. We shouldn’t write for the market…but we have to write for the market.

*bangs head on wall*

Sometimes a book might not be selling simply because there are too many titles that are too similar. Readers maybe don’t want yet another tired vampire retread.

If you are traditionally published, this could still happen. Agents are making an educated guess and sometimes they miss the mark.

***As a caveat though. A hedge fund bought Barnes & Noble in June, Dean Koontz defected to the Amazon-powered Thomas Mercer in July, and Penguin just sold last month. So, legacy publishing is in a righteous hurt locker at the present. They don’t have the luxury of missing many sales marks any more.

For the self-published folks? If your book is good, just leave it alone and keep writing. The great part about the digital paradigm is the book can remain there indefinitely and when the trends change? So could the sales numbers.

Sales & The Product

I hate saying this, but sometimes it’s the book. Obviously this is more the case with indie and self-published books. The problem is that the market has just been inundated with amateur writing. I go into this in more detail in Five Mistakes Killing Self-Published Writers, but here are the Spark Notes.

Bad Writing

No one wants to hear they are not ready. Worse still? No one wants to hear the words, ‘You’re just not a good writer.’ Too many newbies want to skip the un-fun training and go right to the title, ‘Author.

Sadly, the slush pile has been handed off to readers. I rarely do edits because I’ve grown weary of arguing with ‘writers’ who can’t even punctuate. Their books aren’t selling and they hire me to tell them why.

I explain WHY, then they send me long emails how I am mean and horrible because I won’t tell them it’s the reader’s fault for not seeing their hidden genius or that it’s a failure in the marketing plan.

I’m a bad person because I expect them to tell a STORY, not camp on self-indulgent tripe that only entertains THEM at the expense of the audience. So if expecting writers to know how to do the very BASIC of their job is mean?

I’ll own that.

If I want writers to actually reach for something other than reheated, microwaved tropes served so many times they’re no longer fit for human consumption?

Then yes, I am a vile and horrid person.

This is the ADULT TABLE. Those who want to play Literary Barbies and Literary G.I. Joe aren’t allowed a seat here until they grow up. And that doesn’t—in my book—make me ‘mean.’

It makes me a professional.

Moving on…

Bad (No) Editing

Our story might be the best thing since pumpkin spice lattes, but if it is so rife with errors it won’t sell? Shame, shame. Additionally, editing is not simply looking for typos. That is line-editing or proofreading.

A good developmental editor (or content editor) will be able to help you shape the overall flow of the novel. But they cost a lot (good ones do, anyway).

This is why it’s a good idea to read a lot and take classes and LEARN the craft. It will save a lot of time and cash in the long run.

When I edit, I can tell writers if they are starting the book in the correct place. Are there scenes that need to be cut because they are bogging down the momentum? Are there redundant characters? Am I spotting any plot holes? Is the ending a knockout? A fizzle? Or a WTH?

Great editing can take a book from meh to magnificent.

Bad Cover

There really is no excuse for a bad cover these days. Technology has come a long way, and many experts offer fabulous covers at affordable prices. I would love to say people don’t judge a book by its cover, but that is untrue.

Of course we do.

One thing many new writers don’t appreciate is that when you hire an expert, you’re gaining a lot more than that one skill. Yes, a graphic artist knows how to use Photshop (or whatever) but they also have a knowledge of what sells. 

sales, book sales, publishing, self-publishing, indie publishing, Amazon, Kristen Lamb

For instance, I’ve seen authors post images of their new book cover and cringed. The cover itself was lovely, but we have to remember how we are selling.

That book isn’t going to be on a shelf where a potential reader is seeing a full-sized version. Likely it will be on Amazon and that beautiful full-sized image, when shrunk to thumbnail size looks like a Rorschach ink blob.

Do you see a butterfly?

No, I see Satan eating kale chips.

If a writer tells me they can’t afford to hire an expert, my response is they cannot afford not to.

Boring Title

This goes along with a bad cover. New writers are notorious for titles that we have to read the book to ‘get’ the title. NO. The title is the hook and we will move on to other writers who don’t make us think so hard.

The Sales Platform

Discoverability is a nightmare. There is a lot of noise and part of our job description now entails branding. This is all writers.

I recently had a distraught writer contact me. The author was recently dropped by a well-known agent because the book simply wasn’t selling. Yet, I could tell with a quick google search what a big part of the problem was.

The author didn’t have platform/brand capable of driving sales. Simply puttering around on Facebook isn’t enough. That isn’t a brand.

My first royalty check would have covered dinner if no one super-sized anything. Why? My book came out before my platform could drive sales. Once my platform improved? My sales skyrocketed.

What does it say in front of every big author’s name? Best Selling Author. Not Best Writing Author.

The writing alone is not enough. Frankly, it never was. Before 2006, writers had a 93% failure rate. Most first books sold less than a thousand copies (even traditionally published books). Only one out of ten published authors ever saw a second book in print. Most were dropped.

In the old days, we just had no control over the brand and the platform. Now, we do. And authors want to complain that it is too hard. Yes, it is hard and there are many reasons this profession is not for everyone.

Less Marketing/More Writing

AHHHHHHHHH!

Traditional marketing does not sell books. Never has. For more on why, check out Why Traditional Marketing Doesn’t Sell Books. I have had to unfollow writers on Facebook who do nothing but promote one book over and over and over.

They tweet non-stop about their book, and dedicate their blogs to selling books (and that is NEVER the direct objective of a blog). ‘Authors’ deluge us with newsletters we never signed up for and can’t figure out how to escape.

Thing is, we don’t care about you or your book.

***To be fair, you don’t care about me or mine, either 🙂 .

We didn’t want to see that crap in our feed, we sure aren’t going to subscribe to a blog/newsletter that is nothing but self-promotion. NO ONE wants that junk in their feed, their inbox, their mailbox, on their cell phone or ANYWHERE unless they specifically ASKED for it.

Writers often become the equivalent of that sales clerk in the department store who ambushes us with perfume in the face.

Truth Bomb

The odds of breaking out with our first book are about the same as being hijacked by a terrorist after we’ve been hit by lightning while holding a winning lottery ticket.

Truth is, Fifty Shade of Grey, in my POV, did a lot of damage to our industry because it gave a very false illusion that one could get rich quick. Now we have been inundated with tourists and insta-preneurs hunting to make a quick buck because ‘writing is easy.’

Sure.

Whether one likes E.L. James’ writing or not, I have to admit that the gal did a crap ton of hard work.

E.L. James leveraged her fan fiction following that she’d built up with a lot of time, work and sweat equity.

Because when NY finally made a deal? Fifty Shades went BOOM. But what far too many bystanders DID NOT see was the YEARS of work BEFORE the boom. E.L. James brought that fan fiction platform to the table and THEY were the X Factor that made Fifty Shades into a cultural phenom.

That preexisting fanbase had the sheer population numbers to push those books from fringe to mainstream, something NO ad campaign can do…ever. It cannot be BOUGHT, only BUILT.

Most writers are not going to break out with one book. Or even two. An author might never break out, but the odds certainly improve the more titles we have (well-written as in there is an actual STORY).

This was always true. It’s why you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a James Patterson title.

Marketing and building a platform/brand are two completely different activities. But writers believe they are the same. They aren’t.

If you want to promote and market without a platform, I suggest piling money on the floor and setting it on fire. Same end result and you can get to the self-loathing and binge drinking far faster that way.

There are no shortcuts.

Obviously there are many many other factors to why a book might not be selling, but these are the top offenders. Good news is most of this, we can do something about. In fact, I have classes addressing most of these issues (listed below).

What are your thoughts?

I LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!

What are your thoughts on the modern day book world? It’s all a bit weird now. B&N sold. Penguin gone. NYC in limbo. Amazon taking over. Small bookstores coming back (cool). RWA imploding (scary).

In the meantime, it all goes back to what I have preached since the get-go. Learn how to write AMAZING stories and cultivate an audience. I teach all how to do that and those classes are all on sale right now.

Training

If you really want to deep-dive how to write these incredible genres that are HOT, HOT, HOT, please check out the ON DEMAND CLASSES by #1 best-selling author Maria Grace that you can enjoy from the comfort of HOME.

Beam me UP!

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Use Thrill10 for $10 off

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Or Get them ALL for ONE LOW PRICE

Twilight Zone Special: All THREE Classes $99 (that’s over TEN hours of training). Makes it $33 a class for those who can’t math 😉 .

I’ve also extended the holiday sales on all classes listed below to January 15th. Get them before they’re deleted.

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of JANUARY, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages (5K words) of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or fewer). 

***I will announce December’s winner once I feel better. I’m recovering from bronchial pneumonia.

In the meantime, PLEASE treat yourself to a class! We have a TON of classes that we will be deleting or putting into cold storage come mid-January (I’m extending the sales to January 15th since I haven’t been around to tell you about them during the holidays).

These will no longer be available after January 15th, so STOCK UP while you can.

NEW Year, New YOU! ROAR into the TWENTIES!

ON DEMAND Sales!

HIGHLY RECOMMEND–> On Demand: How to Write Deep POV

By #1 Best Selling Author Maria Grace! Normally $55 now $30

ON DEMAND Dark Arts: New Year’s SPECIAL Building Your Villain

Usually $55 and until January 15th is only $30.

Three hours of psychopaths, sociopaths, narcissists, pathology and how that applies to writing.

It is like the Behavioral Analysis Unit for Authors. Tres FUN! Villains are some of the most enduring characters in literature. Why not add your own legends to the list?

I’m also offering:

The Art of Character NEW YEAR’S SPECIAL: Writing Characters for a SERIES ON DEMAND

Normally $65 and NOW only $40.

FOUR hours of training on characters on how to develop characters that that can go the distance.

Bring on the Binge: How to Plot and Write a Series (ON DEMAND). 

Normally $65 and NOW only $40. Pairs PERFECTLY with The Art of Character for Series.

ON DEMAND! New Year’s Sale! Story Master: From Dream to DONE

Usually $55, now ONLY $30.

This class is to train you how to plot whether you’re a plotter, a pantser or a mix of both. It’s also a crash course in creating dimensional characters.

On Demand: Beyond Bulletproof Barbie

Usually $55 and now only $25.

This is a THREE-HOUR class on guns, knives, weapons, fighting, law enforcement (from local cops to international espionage) and more. Everything you need to build a bad@$$—male OR female—and get the details CORRECT.

Spilling the New Year’s Tea: On Demand Blogging for Authors

Usually $75 and now only $40.

Get prepped and ready for the new year, new you, new blog.

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Popular On Demand Classes

Need some help with platform and branding?

Branding: WHEN YOUR NAME ALONE Can Sell (ON DEMAND)

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For the complete list, go to the OnDemand Section.

***I will add more classes, especially from Maria Grace, in the coming days, as I recover.

 .

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  1. Wow, love the direct, no-holds-bar advice here!

    1. Yes, I look forward to my career in writing greeting cards 😀 . Or not…. Great to meet you!

  2. ouch ouch ouch you hurt me in my hurts! Because, doggonit, you are RIGHT. I’ve been ask to Beta read half baked stories with mediocre grammar, and a weak plot line, and then have to duck when I tell them what I think. Now I help the few people who thank me for eviscerating their precious scene (he did what?)
    May we all be fortunate enough to have a friend who loves us enough to be honest

  3. My niece Anna was an Editor for TOR/Forge a number of years ago (Piers Anthony was one of them). She got me hooked on slushing for her. I think that in the two years I did it I reviewed 30 or 40 different titles by new authors… I only cleared 5 of them for her to take a second look at.

    1. Far too much stuff makes me want to day drink, which wouldn’t be too bad if those responsible for the writing were open to correction and learning. What vexes me is they double down on how the readers are to blame and how they need to market MORE. Yep. Sure. That’s the problem *face palm*

  4. ‘crap ton’ — wow, that brought back memories of a gal pal I lost a decade ago — what a great laugh gift you gave me!

    This is a post that takes an ice cold washcloth, plasters it onto your face, and then mooshes it around in all the crevices, even ears… Forwarding to many author clients who wax ecstatic about marketing and such, but have no (or no plans for) website, Twit account, podcasts, videos, fan fiction options, etc. I’m amazed that so many new authors still clutch that dream of someone else doing their marketing, setting up book signings in quaint shops, giving little talks in those same shops, adverts all glossy and mouth-watering — and again, someone else is doing all this for them. I call this the JB Fletcher syndrome…

    Is it weird to you that you’re still having to set the record straight on publishing and the author’s contemporary role in same?

    And I love that you point out that brand/platform and marketing are two separate things. I also love that you point again and again (over the years) that platforms are build through hard work, usually driven by the author’s passion, and can consist of all kinds of efforts! I have one wonderful author client who has become involved in Toastmasters and regularly attends WWII B-29 events, mingling with Vets and families there who provide new insights into that historic time — which is when her historical fiction books are set. And this is part of her platform. And she’s developed a large fan base pursuing her contacts in the Air Force, history buffs, and pilots. Newsletters, blog, and website anchor that following.

    Get better soon, woman…. I just beat what you’re fighting… there comes a day when you want more than soup!

    • Logan Keys on January 10, 2020 at 2:48 pm
    • Reply

    I started reading this when I first began. It helped me then and it helps me now 🙂 I don’t know you but feel like an old friend haha. An old blunt friend lol

    1. Thanks. You guys keep ME going. It’s why I love it when y’all comment. There are days I wonder what I am doing and why I even bother…then I get comments like yours and have my answer ((HUGS)).

    • Esther Gayoba on January 10, 2020 at 3:00 pm
    • Reply

    As always you say it like it is.

  5. Great blog. Even though I know what the problem is, I struggle with the fix. I would love to take your branding class. I see the class is closed. Will you schedule another? Thanks, Gerri

    1. Oops. Let me open it. That’s an error.

    2. I also dropped the price, too. Thanks for the catch!

    • Christine E. Robinson on January 10, 2020 at 3:31 pm
    • Reply

    Great advice Kristen. I’m a newbie, working through my manuscript with a line- editor. Thank god I decided on an editor. Paying the bucks to really learn how to write. I missed a lot writing the first draft. Maybe, in the end, it’ll make it. I have a platform and I’m not afraid of the work to get it there. Your posts keep me going. ?? Christine

  6. I hope you’re recovering, Kristen. Being sick, sucks. I wanted to let you know that I took your ‘Bring On the Binge’ class and found it very helpful. (I took notes and everything!) While I save for your Branding class, I’ve been listening to James Scott Bell’s ‘How To Write Best Selling Fiction’. One of my goals for my authorly (is that even a word?) advancement this year is to take all the classes I can afford. Learn as much as I can. Read the best blogs, which is why I am HERE, of course! And put everything I learn into practise.

    1. Thanks so much! I am thrilled to be of help and thanks for the comments. Very much appreciated.

  7. Or maybe I want to take Tick Tock (How To Plot A Mystery suspense Series)…dang…so many intriguing-sounding classes!

    1. Get them while they are on sale 🙂 . Tick Tock isn’t up for On Demand yet. I will put that up in a couple weeks so take some of the others while they are so low.

  8. I enjoyed reading “Why Traditional Marketing Doesn’t Work with Books.” You made some good points.

  9. I have a tiny little issue with being pigeon-holed into categories. I’m currently a “historical romance” author who happens to love science, especially anything Space oriented. It even snuck into my first book. After the RWA thing, I came to the conclusion, I’m a relationship novelist.

  10. I’d concur on getting one of Kristen’s courses or two or all. I checked out the Beyond Bulletproof Barbie course over my Christmas break to get more information on various crime agencies and how they operate (a couple of my characters are FBI special agents, and I always worry that I’m getting special agents and their jobs confused with regular agents, even after reading the job descriptions on the actual government website) and ended up with far more relevant information about maintaining the essential elements of a crime thriller than what I’d expected going into it. It wasn’t just about the agencies, as that was a small part of the course, but how certain weapons actually work, about how a protagonist might defend her- (or him)self believably using household items, ideas for creating atypical heroes, and so on.

    I also took 5,550 words of notes and am glad I did. I’ve read a lot of books on a number of crafting topics, watched a few trainings here or there, and I gotta say that Kristen’s a great instructor. It’s one thing to read about how certain jobs, weapons, or people types work. It’s another to have these things clarified. She’s quite thorough, even if she doesn’t actually get into the differences between agents and special agents (I *think* the former is an office drone and the latter is the one we see in movies, just to clarify, but I’m still a little uncertain).

    Also, gotta give Kristen props to all of her props. She comes prepared to teach, perhaps to the point that it’s scary. I’d get another one of these courses when time and budget permits. Definitely worth the investment.

    1. LOL. Yes, our house is NOT the one you want to break into for sure. According to a quick google search, “…an agent is a federal law enforcement officer with arrest authority but who does not conduct major criminal investigations or who may conduct investigations but does not have arrest authority. Special Agents are distinctly able to do both.” Sorry I didn’t cover that. I think that might have been all I DIDN’T cover. I really enjoyed teaching that class so I am thrilled you got a lot out of it!

      REALLY appreciate such a glowing shout-out!

  11. “For the self-published folks? If your book is good, just leave it alone and keep writing.”
    (mops brow) Thanks! Next one should be out in March.

    I’m taking a blog sabbatical just at the moment – after seven years of on-average-twice-weekly posts, the well is running a little dry. Time to sit, think, look back at the good stuff in the archives, look forward to what the future might look like, and let that well refill.

  12. Of course, it’s a catch-22. You might have written something amazing but it isn’t selling for an unknown reason- yet if it isn’t selling, it might be the writing (the brain spins). There IS no true litmus test for this. One person’s art is another person’s trash. As for the big publishers making sure good things got printed, may I just say: any book published by Snookie, Shades of Grey, Twilight Saga…. all pretty horrible in my opinion but then again to another person they’re gold.

    1. You have to write what is true to you.

  13. It really is a a very tricky business.

    My first novel – the Life Assistance Agency – was published by Urbane and did very well. it was in shops and I was even chosen for WHSmith Fresh Talent, then I published the 2nd one, which I think is better, And…

    Well, it hasn’t done very well. And it is soul destroying. What is the pointing writing a great line if no one is going to read it. I have a regular blog about writing, which is to keep things positive, but it is a very hard business. Please do feel free to visit: The recent blog is about inspiration from HG Wells

    https://lifeassistanceagency.com/2020/01/02/life-is-too-short-for-plastic-coat-hangers-a-new-year-blog-for-2020/

    1. Thing is, they will eventually if it is well written. You just have to put out enough bread crumbs (more work, mosre social presence and engagement). And if it IS well-written, when they find you? They will INHALE you and love you and never let you go because there IS so much garbage out there. Just keep writing and stay strong.

      I blogged for a year and a half to the ether then BOOM! People found me. I went viral. My audience connected with me and there ya go. It’s just persisting and continuing to improve in the face of being alone and feeling it might always be the case.

  14. Oh, and thanks for the blog Kirsten. A very good read. And well written ! Happy new year.

  15. Thank you for telling the truth in every single post, Kristen. It’s refreshing to hear and see. I was recently the head judge of a writing contest for an online group of which I’m also a member. When the results came out and the non-winning writers got their feedback, one person complained that the judges pointed out the typos and grammar errors in their story. This person was venting about how hard it is to write with a learning disability and how the judges should have somehow ignored the errors. I was kind of annoyed with that, but when I read your posts it’s like a soothing balm to my writer’s/editor’s soul. 🙂

  16. Kudos. As usual, you are spot on.

    I judge writing contests every year for American Christian Fiction Writers and have decided to forgo doing full manuscripts because they are so bad. It takes too much of my time with all the spelling errors (most of which could easily be fixed by spellcheck), the head-hopping (I know Nora Roberts does it, and when you have a gabillion fans, you can too), and plots that are either so boring or convoluted you can’t make heads or tales out of them. And don’t get me started on the fact that every Christian is a good guy and every none-believer is evil. MAKES ME WANT TO PULL MY HAIR OUT!!!!

    If you want to make it as an author, then treat your writing like a business – hire only the best to edit and for your covers, take courses to keep up to date and to learn. If not, then just leave it on your computer and get out of the way of those of us who actually are doing it the right way.

    HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT NEW YEAR, KRISTEN, AND KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

  17. What a clever, clever post. I am not a writer other than my little blog, but I am a dedicated reader and as a teacher of Advanced Writing at my university, I am always appreciative of good advice for my students who are and who wish to write. Thank you for your help.

  18. Thank you always provide a wonderful takeaway for me to ponder. This time is marketing and platform building are not the same. It maybe a fine line in the adjustment of my thinking but it is significant.

    1. Platform is the audience you create, the relationships you build that will endure a lifetime. Marketing is short-term, it’s the message that you send to that audience that dissolves and fades.

  19. Thanks for being a truth teller.

  20. Am reading this on my Iphone (via gmail app). At least two links in main body of article are broken).

    1. I will check them. Thank you for the heads up!

  21. Great info! I’m trying to learn everything I can about writing while I try to write my first novel. I always read your posts!

    • Barbara F Lynch on January 13, 2020 at 10:30 am
    • Reply

    “This is the adult table”… Perfect!

  22. Every newbie writer begins in a state of non-existence: no one but they knows they exist. Overnight successes are acts of persistence and moving through other states above the first one until, one by one reader at a time, catch on to not only your existence bus also your work. On the other hand, an Oscar-winning screenwriter once advised me years ago, “If the work is good enough, perfect enough, and you keep at it, it will find a home!” Encouraging words to a newbie like me (then). And totally in line with your advice, Kristen.

    • Roger Nay on January 14, 2020 at 10:09 am
    • Reply

    Great article Kristen. Like many writers and wannabe writers I’ve participated in peer critique groups online and in person. At best the benefits are minimal unless you’re connected with special group willing to offer fair but tough criticism. Most of us are far to polite to offer much more than; hey invincible flying ninjas great idea, maybe break up some of those forty word sentences. Tough, honest critiques are better left to Kristen and other established professionals.

    Last year my goals included: establishing a writing routine, read more books and articles on writing, and read more fiction. I can check off each, although I failed on total word count.

    Goal for 2020: Seek a professional critique, get my feeling hurt, shake it off and improve.

    1. When I get back from being out of town I will be offering my Write Stuff Special. It’s your first 20 pages for a low price and i do a really detailed critique so stay tuned 😉 .

        • Roger Nay on January 14, 2020 at 5:35 pm
        • Reply

        I’ll stay tuned.

  23. I’ve been following your blog for a couple of years now, because your advice, and tips are so decisive, and full of humor. But this post has me curious. I’ve read it many times before, but I still don’t understand what exactly is a platform. Could you please explain it to me, (excuse me for being so dim), but I just don’t understand. I’ve written and self- published two books now on Amazon, sales are not going as well as I hoped. Thanks for any advice you can give me, and thanks for all your past words of wisdom for all us dim writers.

    1. How about I do a blog on it? 🙂

    • Raymond Walker on January 16, 2020 at 12:20 pm
    • Reply

    I enjoyed the article and believe that you are right; sometimes it is the book. One of mine I expected to sell, did not and I was dumbfounded until a couple of years ago when I decided to reread it on a whim and realised that there is nothing wrong with the book other than it is terribly dull.
    I did wish to make a point however, occasionally books just have their time. One of my traditionally published books hardly sold at all upon release and I suspect that of the few copies that were sold many were bought by my mother who gave a copy to everyone she knew and many that she did not.
    Three years or so later, the book miraculously started selling. I had no idea why nor did my publisher who had to hurriedly reprint to cope with demand. It turned out that a fellow by the name of Paul Hoffman had just published a bestseller called “The left Hand Of God” and so many had likened it to my earlier novel that it started selling. Alas, he had the bestseller I did not but it ended up doing well for me. Just a stroke of luck perhaps.

  24. Thank you for your insights.

  25. First off, self-publishing was the FIRST publishing–it’s ALWAYS been there.

    Second, if “No sales=bad book” then all manuscripts are “bad”–no matter how many revisions or how many people say it’s wonderful. ALL books have been “zero sale” books at some time in their lives, unless you’re such a big name you can pre-sell thousands of copies just on a half-baked concept. (And there have been a lot of bad books that sold thousands of copies that way.)

    It goes along with my pet peeve of people who feel they should only leave a review if they liked to book–they’re saying all “new releases” (and by “new release,” I mean books that don’t have a lot of copies out for people TO review) are automatically the worst thing to ever see print until proven otherwise. Such a system makes anything less that a five-star a bad book, when there are several good books in the 3-4 star range, and even a 2-star book can have buy-worthy qualities. At the other end of the scale, a truly stand-out book is lost in the numbers, because people are so afraid to give less than 5-star reviews for a book that doesn’t have any outstanding flaws, they haven’t reserved space in their ratings for what is truly exceptional.

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  7. […] (I’m not the first person to point out that if a book isn’t selling, the problem is likely to be the book. For example, see this excellent post from Kristen Lamb: It Isn’t the Reader, It’s the Book … Re….) […]

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