Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.com, in his recent article, Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back from the Doldrums, shared 6 ways to increase book sales.
If you feel your book is under-preforming, Mark's article is a must read. What follows is a summary.
1. Does your book evoke passion in your readers?
One way you can tell if your book evokes passion is through its reviews.
For instance, are the reviews mediocre? If the book receives mostly 5 star reviews that's fabulous! People love your book and they're passionate about it. Also, if you get mostly one star reviews, at least your work has evoked passion in readers--perhaps not the kind you'd like, but still!
Three star reviews can be the worst. Readers didn't feel strongly either way.
That said, beware of clumping the reviews together and focusing on the average score. Look at the distribution. If your reviews are split between 5's and 1's then chances are you've written a great, controversial, book. There's a lot of passion there, don't change a thing!
You need to WOW your reader. It doesn’t matter if you write romance, mystery or non-fiction, if your book doesn’t move the reader to an emotional extreme, your job isn’t done.Bottom line: If folks aren't passionate about your book think about doing a major rewrite. Or, perhaps, take what you've learned, and write a new book.
If your book has no reviews Mark suggests offering the book for free. Perhaps not permanently, just to get folks reading what you've written and hopefully get some reviews.
Why are reviews important? There's no way around it: reviews help sell books. Mark writes:
For the first two years (2008-2009), Boob Tube sold maybe 20 copies. It had only one or two reviews. My wife and I decided to set the price to free for six months. We got 40,000 downloads, a lot of reviews, and even our first fan mail (yay!). Then we set the price to $2.99 and it started selling. Without reviews at the retailers, Goodreads, LibraryThing and elsewhere, few readers will take a chance on you. FREE helps readers take that chance.
2. Does your cover image give the correct impression of your book?
If your reviews are 4 stars or over, congratulations, people feel passionate about your book and they like it. If it isn't selling well think about redoing the cover.
Here's Mark Coker's test for whether you need a new cover image:
1. Take all text off the title so it's just the artwork.
2. Ask yourself:
Does this image/artwork tell the reader: This is the book you're looking for to experience X?
If your book is a romance book then X="the feeling of first love."
If your book is horror then X="horror."
If your book is a thriller then X="edge of your seat suspense."
If your book is non-fiction or how-to then X="knowledge."
If your book is a memoir then X="an inspiring story of personal journey."
I think that's a great test!
Here's another one:
A test to see if your book cover is professional enough
Compare your book cover to "the top-10 sellers in your category or genre."
Does your cover look as good as these? You want your cover to look just as good, preferably better.
3. Is your book priced too high?
The more you charge the less likely it is that a reader is going to take a chance on it, especially if you're an unknown author. Mark writes:
For readers who could afford it, the high price can make the book less desirable when there are alternative books of equal quality at less cost. Last year, when we conducted a comprehensive study of the impact of price on unit downloads and gross sales .... We found books priced at $2.99 earned slightly more than books priced over $10.00, yet enjoyed six times as many unit sales.Another advantage of pricing your book a bit lower is that "if the reader feels they received a great read for the price, they may be more likely to give you a positive review, and positive reviews will lead to more readers."
4. Look at how many sample downloads led to sales.
The Smashwords store has a little-known feature I think is entirely unique in the ebook retailing world: We tell you how many partial samples were downloaded. If you click to your Dashboard, you’ll see a column for book sales and a column for downloads. The download count is a crude metric, but if you understand how it works, you’ll be able to use it as a relatively good tool. This data is only for sales and downloads in the Smashwords store.The higher the percentage the better. 50% would be fabulous.
The download data includes both sample downloads and full book downloads for purchased books. If a customer or sampler downloads in multiple formats (such as epub and mobi), or downloads multiple times, each time will tick the download count higher. To make the data cleaner, subtract your paid sales from the download count. Divide your sales at Smashwords.com by the number of downloads. This will tell you, roughly, what percentage of downloaders actually purchase your book.
When I do the numbers on my priced book, The 10-Minute PR Checklist, I find that approximately 13% of sample downloads lead to sale. That’s pretty good.
5. Are you targeting the right audience?
No one can make everyone happy. Don't even try. If you give your paranormal romance to a person who only reads sci-fi then chances are they'll hate it, no matter how great of a paranormal romance it is.
When you know who your target audience is make sure your "title, book cover, book description, categorization and marketing are all aligned to target that audience with fine-tuned precision. If you send the wrong messages, you’ll fail to attract the right readers. Instead, you’ll attract the wrong reader, and the wrong reader will give you poor reviews."
In short, "Avoid the temptation to target a broader-than-necessary market."
6. Grow a thick skin and never give up!
As Mark Coker writes, it takes bravery to publish. Chances are your book will get brutalized at least once and the reader who did it may not stop at your book, they may start in on you!
We can't improve as writers if we don't know our weaknesses. Learn from the reaction your story gets and do whatever it takes to make it better. As Mark Coker writes:
If you want to be a successful writer, you have to be willing to listen to the judgment of readers. Your readers, through their word of mouth, will determine how many other readers you reach.Mark Coker's article Six Tips to Bring Your Book Back from the Doldrums is filled with practical, easy to follow, advice. I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to increase the sales of a book.
Other articles you might like:- Embrace Rejection: Write More, Write Better, Share Often
- 8 Ways To Channel The Power Of Your Unconscious Into Your Writing
- 4 Ways To Enchant Others
Photo credit: "The art of silence..." by VinothChandar under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.