View Full Version : What am I doing wrong?

September 16th, 2013, 07:36 PM
Hi everyone.
First off, this isn't me trying to just sell my book.
I released my first novel on amazon this weekend, but even after advertising with friends and family, I've simply stalled.
I'm curious as to what I'm doing wrong. At what point would people on amazon actually see it?
I figure many of you have done this and might catch something I've missed.
If you see anything that I could change/rewrite/recategorize/etc. I'm wide open to suggestions.

December 7th, 2013, 06:52 PM
Get your name known in the Amazon community. Reviewing other people's work may really help in that regard, exposing your name and, hopefully, your work to others in the process. If you have Facebook then create a page dedicated to your book. Heck, make a website; I suggest Moonfruit. I've not taken the ebook path myself but the latter steps do help in getting your name out there.

December 7th, 2013, 07:25 PM
What am I doing wrong?

Respectfully, the reality is that nobody can possibly answer this with confidence - in fact nobody can answer it much better than "randomly" - without knowing what you're doing. What's your marketing plan for the book, apart from the friends/family you've mentioned?

December 7th, 2013, 07:39 PM
this guy sounds like he might know what he's talking about. maybe. who knows.


December 7th, 2013, 11:48 PM
Some things to look at:

1. Genre. Some sell much better than others.
2. Categories. Make sure it's in the right categories where people who want to read the book will be looking.
3. Cover and title. If they're seriously at odds with the book's subject matter, readers won't find it.
4. Description. If the blurb is poorly written or conflicts with the book's subject matter, readers will skip it.
5. Sample. If it's too short, or not engaging, the readers who got past the cover, title and description won't buy it.

Other than that, not much else you can do unless you have a big following already. Most of the writers I know who've been able to quit their day jobs had 4-6 novels out before they really took off.

December 8th, 2013, 05:18 AM
Self publishing is a hard to field to break into as no one knows you yet. Advertising your book with your friends and family is all good, but you want to get it out to the masses, not just your loved ones. You book may be out there, but that doesn't count for much if people don't know to look for it. You need a plan that involves advertising your and getting it out there publicly beyond your family.

David Gordon Burke
December 9th, 2013, 02:32 PM
There are a thousand things you can do to promote your book. Not that any of them are a sure fire guarantee to sales but.... better to do it than not.
1. Author page at Amazon.
2. List book at Goodreads.
3. Author page at Goodreads.
4. Blog
5. Facebook, twitter etc.
6. Promo vid for your book.
The list goes on and on. And it's only limited by your imagination.

Bottom line, if you are thinking something big is going to happen after one upload to Amazon, think again. The name of the game is to have various titles.

Check out my post 'Redefining Sucks' in this forum. I'm going through the same thing.
Competition is fierce. The cream doesn't rise to the top.

David Gordon Burke

December 9th, 2013, 05:58 PM
Is there any mileage in the suggestion that too many people are throwing poor prose out there, and those that are not already established, but have made a genuine effort, are getting overlooked?

It strikes me that if a significant proportion of those that self-publish are using the same techniques to promote their book, so they're doing little more than treading water in what I imagine is an over-supplied market.

Would it be an idea to publish an excerpt here and, if it is good enough, I am sure there are plenty of centres of influence who can spread the word.

I've used Kobo books, and downloaded many free Ebooks from self-published authors, and only one of them was worth reading - And therein lies the problem (for me) - I don't trust my money on an unknown unless I can see they've already developed a reputation.

- It's a shame, and I am just realising how hard it must be for those authors who choose self publication, or fall just below the standards required for traditional publication.

What about submitting a few short stories to e-zines? - That could establish both reputation and following, and will stand you head and shoulders above those who kneejerk self-publish unedited drivel.

December 9th, 2013, 06:19 PM
What about submitting a few short stories to e-zines? - That could establish both reputation and following, and will stand you head and shoulders above those who kneejerk self-publish unedited drivel.

Yeah. I'm not so sure about random e-zines, but getting short stories published in name magazines or web sites is certainly worth trying as a means of marketing... that potentially puts your name in front of tens of thousands of readers in your genre.

December 9th, 2013, 06:59 PM
Welcome to the forums.

Tried youtube? I don't know the content, but if you can make a fairly interesting (or shareable) video, you might get thrown around a bit. Or using any social media to promote it. Gotta be shameless in the pursuit of those dollars, they won't come to you of their own accord.

December 14th, 2013, 07:19 PM
I haven't read all of the replies so I apologize if I'm repeating everyone else...

1. This is your first weekend selling your book. I don't know what you're expecting, but no one has great sales at this point.
2. You need marketing of some sort to get your name out there. Simply having your book on amazon won't do that for you. There are millions of novels on the site and they're ranked based on sales. Having it up there is a great way to sell if you have a way to get people to your Amazon listing.
3. Make sure your book is as polished as possible. The greatest mistake a lot of first time self-published authors make is that they don't hire a professional editor and cover artist/designer. Yes, these are expensive and you may have to save up for them, but they're worth it in the end. A book that hasn't been edited properly can be spotted a mile away and will hurt sales. A poor cover design can do the same. (note: I'm using my tax return to pay for my editor. I've also considered donating plasma to help pay for such things).
4. Review other books on amazon and other book review sites. That'll sometimes help get your name out there.
5. Send your book out for a review. There are many reviewers that you can find to do this for free (preferred because then it's honest) and if your novel is good then it can help your sales a ton!
6. Have it in an e-book format. Put it out for free for the first few weeks to a month. After you've written a few novels, have one of them free as an e-book permanently. People are always looking for new authors and one of the more common ways is by downloading free e-books. I've seen this with my own eyes.
7. See about putting your novel out through a distributor. This will help it to get into stores but is never a guarantee. Likewise, you may want to use a distributor for the e-book. (I like smashwords and plan on using them when my novel is done with editing for the e-book. Trying to decide what I'll use for the paper book. The key is research.)
8. Start a blog, a website, a facebook, and twitter. Social media is important and if the big boys are using it then we should too. Vblogs are an idea too though I personally don't know much about them.
9. You may want to try doing some book signings at stores in your area (smaller stores are more likely to want an unknown author), write a press release, and see about doing an interview or two on a local radio show. Doing a virtual book tour is good if you have a blog (basically you become a guest blogger for someone and later on return the favor).

Being a self-published author is like having a hundred jobs all landing on your shoulders. You are not in competition with other authors, you are in competition with the publishing houses. Keep that in mind and you'll probably do well.


January 24th, 2014, 07:35 PM
Hi Lanian,

I noticed on your other post in the welcome forums that you said you only released "part" of your novel on Amazon.

"I released the first part of my novel on Amazon this past weekend, and really hoping people enjoy it!"

From what I've read and understand only releasing part of a book is a big no-no in epublishing. People want the whole thing. That could be hindering early sales.

January 24th, 2014, 09:48 PM
Think of a pondwith 1,000,000 goldfish crowded in and swimming around. One of those fish isyour book, and it's not even a big fish, and probably near the bottom of thepond. What are the chances someone will even notice it? Same thing onAmazon, when a book is released by an unknown author. It's one in a million.

Telling familyand friends is a start. Are they telling others? Are they posting reviews? Isit really their 'job' or 'responsibility' to do that?

Others havemade some good suggestions. Draw attention to that goldfish in the pond, set itapart a little. You can't do everything but do some things--and writeanother book. Two goldfish traveling along together--there's a better chance ofbeing noticed.

January 25th, 2014, 12:17 AM
Is the book good enough? You only stand a chance I think, in the self-publishing world, by writing a really great book with a compelling opening so the 'Try me' option turns into a purchase. I know I'm just one punter with his own tastes, but I started losing interest a few paragraphs in. I'm sure others wouldn't feel like that, but that beginning has to really zing, really slap me in the face to get me wanting to try enough to spend a few dollars. Telling a thousand people about it won't do much good if they're not engaged with what they're reading. Hence my original question.

January 25th, 2014, 04:48 AM
I have lot of writer friends on Twitter and Goodreads. These social networks are quiet effective in promoting your work. Join many writers blogs and leave a review about their books and join their conversations. This is how people will get to know you better.

January 25th, 2014, 09:09 AM
Damn, it sends me cold thinking that networking is the way to sell books. I use Twitter, but my followers number in single figures; I don't use any other social media.

IF I write a story of marginal note, I doubt there is anything I could do to make it sell beyond a few hundred copies over its life... I do appreciate that networking may accelerate the word of mouth effect, but perhaps I feel my time would be better spent challenging my creative talent to produce something better. - I can see the lot of the self-publisher is not an easy one, but I remain convinced that a novel of value will be heard and will be well received in due course.

Yesterday, I produced the first novel that I deem is suitable for publication. (From a position of knowledge; I'd thought I was there when I first started writing... Oh dear :apologetic: ) . I've many months of work ahead of me (I mean thousands) spent editing and improving it. Oh I'll leap up and down and beg a few people to read it, but if it does not sell, I'll write another.

What I am trying to say (and very poorly) is that if you accept that your prose is not quite up to standard, you can focus your efforts on writing better stories rather than blaming your sales technique.

January 25th, 2014, 03:28 PM
If a self-published author doesn't or can't put the effort into learning the discipline of marketing where is the book going to go? Plopping a book onto Amazon and crossing one's fingers isn't the way to be successful. I'm not a self-published author, but my background is sales and marketing. The promotion of a product takes time, creativity, motivation and tons of determination. People don't care about your book, there are thousands upon thousands of books from well established authors just waiting to be read. The work has to stand out, you have to stand out and you need to develop a lot of relationships outside of friends and family.

That's not meant to be a discouragement, just a reality check for writers who want to self-publish. I'd suggest focusing on traditional publishing if you don't have the talent, time or interest in marketing a book. That way, you can focus on writing, and as Gavrushka suggests, spend precious time developing those skills.

January 25th, 2014, 03:40 PM
I can see the lot of the self-publisher is not an easy one, but I remain convinced that a novel of value will be heard and will be well received in due course.

It's an old, worn out cliche but if it was easy, everyone would do it. Even a novel that is stellar has to be promoted to generate effective word of mouth to get it to sell. That takes a lot of work because the default position of readers, and especially publishers, is skepticism. Besides, if the work is truly that good, consider traditional publishing to get a team of people behind you to promote it and garner more sales and readers. Google some successful self-publishers like John Grisham (yes he started out by printing 5,000 of his own books and promoting), Amanda Hocking, Barbara Freethy, EL james, and James Redfield.

J Anfinson
January 25th, 2014, 03:48 PM
The effective use of keyword tags also can help immensely, in my experience.

January 25th, 2014, 05:21 PM
I remember a musician rejoicing when, after several months' hard work, he released his first CD. "Whew! I'm glad my work's finally over," he said.

"Are you kidding me?" I asked him. "Your work is only beginning. Nobody knows about all the time you put in. You better market that thing if you wanna make some money."

I don't know why, after seeing and hearing interviews of authors on TV and radio, writers don't try to do the same. Approach your local media—print, radio, TV, and internet. Have book signings at local libraries and coffeeshops. At least do that much for yourself.

January 25th, 2014, 05:39 PM
Just wondering, for you self-publishers--what about getting shorter pieces published in lit mags or journals? Seems to me like it would be a good way to gain exposure, get a publication record to show you're a decent writer. And it's not impossibly difficult; if you look around you can find journals with fairly high acceptance rates. Might be worth a shot, anyway.

January 25th, 2014, 06:28 PM
Just wondering, for you self-publishers--what about getting shorter pieces published in lit mags or journals? Seems to me like it would be a good way to gain exposure, get a publication record to show you're a decent writer. And it's not impossibly difficult; if you look around you can find journals with fairly high acceptance rates. Might be worth a shot, anyway.

I agree, and there is also the option of self-publishing short stories too. - Regardless of where I publish the novel I finished yesterday (weeks and months of editing still to face) I intend to throw one or two sub ten thousand words stories at the public for free. - IF they read and dislike, then at least they won't have to suffer the indignity of a speculative purchase of a novel by me. If they do enjoy my words, well then they may be feel more amenable to purchasing from me.

January 29th, 2014, 09:43 PM
Lots of good suggestions and I have one more - forums in the genre you wrote the book in. For example my daughter loves anime and is extremely active on fanfiction.net where she has developed a following over the past year or so. Because these people have seen and enjoyed her writing style they are more likely to purchase her ebook when she is finally finished. I only wish I had tried that with my books :peaceful: