No site, not even Amazon, can sell your book!

Faydra D. Fields
By Faydra D. Fields October 3, 2012 16:04

No site, not even Amazon, can sell your book!

Someone on Twitter asked me what the Index is all about and “will it help sell an eBook.”

In two tweets, I pretty much said, “No,” but it took more characters to actually explain what I meant.

Here’s the thing…

No site, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Smashwords or any other site, including the Independent Author Index or any other book promotion site, can sell your book.

What book-buying and/or book promotion sites can do is offer your book to its visitors and hope that the exposure the sites provide will encourage readers to buy your book and give it a try.

However…

Book exposure from book promotion doesn’t sell books either. Online bookstores and book promotion sites create the potential for more books sales. They can’t and shouldn’t guarantee that you will get more book sales. Authors bear more responsibility for selling their books than anyone else involved in the authors’ publishing and promotion processes.

As an author, ask yourself the following questions, and this is especially true when it comes to eBooks by independent authors, many of whom are virtually unknown to a great deal of readers:

    • Do I have a book cover that will catch a reader’s eye and prompt him/her to give my book a second look? 

      You can’t judge a book by its cover sounds good. However, readers judge books−and people−by what they see on the outside, because it’s what they see first. Your book cover can often be your last opportunity to make a first impression on the reader and get him/her to look past the cover.

    • Does my book description actually let the reader know what the book is about, and is it well-written?

      A huge pet peeve of mine is seeing a book description that isn’t a book description at all. What you get is the author or publisher loading up the book description area with endorsements from other readers or an excerpt from the book, and there’s absolutely nothing to give you a nice, little summary on what the book is about in a nutshell.

      Then there are the book descriptions that are poorly written, which have terrible spelling/grammar/punctuation. If your book description isn’t properly written, then it’s usually an indication that your book will suffer from the same kinds of spelling/grammar/punctuation issues as the book description, and readers may shun your work because the written “condition” of the book description leads them to believe the writing inside your book will be just as bad. Speaking of spelling/grammar/punctuation…

    • Did I invest in an editor’s services?

      An awesome story line can be ruined by terrible spelling/grammar/punctuation. Readers may give you an average rating because you have a compelling story, but they’ll ding you almost every time for not having your work edited, and those who are writing reviews are being very explicit in their reviews by making sure to mention that the book suffered from editing issues. No editing or poor editing can drag a 5-star review down to 3 stars very quickly. When some people see 3, they see average, and there are many people out there who aren’t going to give up their money for average. Speaking of money… 

    • Is my book properly priced?

      This is extremely relevant when we talk about eBooks, especially in the time of writing books to their natural length, as Amazon puts it. Put another way, that means writing less than a 60-thousand-or-more-word novel. Many authors are writing long-shorts, not even considered of novella length, and selling them in droves. It’s not uncommon to see an eBook of about 5,000 words being sold at the same price as a novel in eBook format. In the day and age of the free eBook and the $0.99 eBook, many readers are extremely reluctant to pay as much for an eBook as they’d pay for a physical book. Many avid eBook readers are of the mindset that once you take out the need to chop down trees and gas up delivery trucks, as well as alleviate the need to pay rent on “brick and mortar” stores, then you should be passing the savings on to the reader. If your book is considered overpriced, then this will hinder your ability to sell books. Just because you perceive your book to be worth a million bucks, because you’re figuring in all the time and energy you poured into bringing your book to the public, doesn’t mean readers want to feel gouged at Checkout.

    • Am I writing about something people want to read?

      This aspect of book publishing is often the most overlooked in this time of “everyone can be an author with no money down.” Just because you build it doesn’t mean they’ll buy it. People are still looking for quality writing. The fact that so many authors can self-publish doesn’t change that fact. People are more cognizant of wasting their time as well as their money when they see all these books being offered for their reading pleasure, and they’re being very vocal about it in your reviews. They may give you a chance and then slam you with a horrible review because you’ve wasted their time, and they want to make sure no one else is made to suffer through your content. However, your content may not be insufferable. It may just be irrelevant by the time you publish it. Beware of writing about a subject that has lost appeal and that no one has much interest in. If you have nothing new to bring to a discussion that has been hashed and rehashed, then don’t expect your book of the “same old, same old” to reinvigorate interest.

    • Am I helping to spread the word about my book?

      This is something I run across a lot on the Index. Authors will pay to have their work exposed on the Index, and then they never do anything to bring potential buyers to their profiles or book listings. For some reason, they’re under the impression that once they pay the fee, then all the rest of the work is up to the Index or whatever other sites they employ to help them market their book. The operative word in the previous sentence is help. You can’t just dump the marketing responsibilities onto someone else, not even Amazon or Barnes & Noble or even your mom, who’s your biggest fan. If you really want to be able to do that, then you need to make sure you have a huge budget to pay a PR/social media marketing firm to devote one person or a team of people to promoting your book day and night. When you’re self-published, you must, must, must self-promote. Once you appear on this site or that site, let people know you’re there. Ask them to go and check you out. Do this often.

Listing your book for sale on a site, or having your book promoted on a site or by a book promotion service, does not necessarily mean your book will sell because you’re on those sites or using those services.

You may ask yourself, “Why bother with using book promotion sites/services?”

You do it because you believe in your book, and you want people to know it exists, and you want them to give it a try. You use book promotion sites to help you spread the word about your book, and you do your due diligence [investing in editing, pricing the book fairly, etc.] before you use book promotion services to help you get the word out about your book. Most importantly, you need to stay involved in the book promotion process after you make the payment to the site/service.

Remember…

There are other factors involved in selling your books besides paying someone or some service to help you promote your book. Do not overlook these other factors.

More often than not, selling your book begins and ends with you.

Faydra D. Fields
By Faydra D. Fields October 3, 2012 16:04
Write a comment

7 Comments

  1. TOM UFERT October 3, 17:21

    Excellent analysis of today’s publishing/book promotional world! THANK YOU FAYDRA! I think you are right on target.

    Reply to this comment
  2. Mary Ann Bernal October 4, 08:30

    I concur. Excellent post.

    Reply to this comment
  3. Shirley Ford October 4, 09:03

    Great article Faydra. Have just read a ‘how to publish’ ebook, in which the writer re-iterates the need for professional proofreading, in fact the term is repeated over and over again, but the funny thing is, I found so many errors in this book, that I’m not sure whether they were done as a joke or a test for the reader to spot or whether it was a case of ‘do what I say not do what I do!’ I don’t think I will review this particular book.

    Reply to this comment
  4. Kate Papas October 14, 09:57

    Sincere, thus helpful . Up to the point. Congrats Faydra. And thanks for once again!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Russell Bittner October 16, 10:54

    Faydra,

    Sound thought and good advice.

    Keep it up, girl! You do all of us a service.

    Russell

    P. S. The one item I have an issue with (but only because I’ve heard/read so many different opinions on this) is that of pricing. Yes, people will take your book for free. But as I’ve found out time and time again, giving it away doesn’t even necessarily get you a review. I frankly don’t understand what’s to be gained (other than the obvious exposure) by giving one’s work away. Does the rest of the world operate that way? No, I don’t think so. And writers also have to pay rent, buy groceries, feed the time machine.

    RRB

    Reply to this comment
    • Faydra Deon October 16, 11:15

      Free ebooks serve a purpose, but I don’t suggest always writing for nothing. Some authors will offer one ebook for free to get readers to look at their seven other books.

      What I’m suggesting is that people be realistic in their pricing. If your print book is $12.99, I’m one of those consumers who will not pay $12.99 for your ebook, also.

      Authors should look at the price of other books in their genre and word-count range and price their books accordingly.

      Personally, I’d rather have 10 people purchase my ebook at $1.99 as opposed to one person purchasing it at $19.99, but that’s just me. 😀

      Reply to this comment
      • Russell Bittner October 16, 11:33

        Faydra,

        Thanks for the follow-up.

        The highest price I have listed for any of my books (digital versions) is presently $9.99, with one as low as $2.99 (and this last includes both a story nominated for a Pushcart Prize and another published as part of an anthology by St. Martin’s Griffon Press and for which I was paid $600).

        I’ve been publishing for free for the past 12 years with only one objective in mind: to build up my writer’s resume.

        I’m quite aware that there’s a lot of schlock out there by first-time writers who wouldn’t know how to self-edit (at the very least for typos) even if their mistakes were wasps or rattlesnakes about to sting or strike. I’m not “competing” with those writers.

        I’m simply charging what I consider to be a fair price for my work of well over a decade.

        Thanks again, Faydra, for your wise counsel!

        Russell

        Reply to this comment
View comments

Write a comment

Leave a Reply