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8 Actions to Take if Your Book Isn’t Selling

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

Authors often spend years writing their books and preparing for their release. So, after all the hard work, it can be disappointing to sell fewer copies than expected. Fortunately, you can take steps to sell more copies, even if it's been months or years since its publication. In this post, I share eight actions to take if your book isn’t selling, which include:

8 Actions to take if your book isn’t selling

If your book isn’t selling as well as you hoped, here are eight actions you can take to increase sales:

1. Consider your messaging

To sell your book, it’s crucial that you ensure your messaging is consistent. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is my book about?

  • What can readers get from reading it?

Once you’ve answered these questions, ensure that all promotional activity and content for the book includes these answers. Whether on the back of your book, in your ad copy, in social media posts, or in newsletters, highlight how your book can provide value to readers. For example, an author of a book advising professionals over 50 struggling to find a job can promote their book by giving helpful talks on the topic and sharing standout quotes from the text. Consider viewing yourself as a guide to your readers, offering them practical advice in an entertaining way.

2. Build an email list

Building an author email list is a great way to increase book sales, as subscribers are more likely to purchase your book. You can use this outlet to allow readers to get to know the human behind the author. This connection gives subscribers a sense that they know you and are more likely to want to support you by purchasing your book.

You can send promotional material to your email list as well. You might use a lead magnet, which is a free item or service that you can give to people for subscribing to your email list. Some examples of lead magnets include free chapter downloads, exclusive access to an author talk, or a quiz. If you’re unsure how to build an email list, check out the following link for a step-by-step guide.

3. Utilize social media

When promoting your book, it’s important to use social media platforms that make the most sense for you and your readers. Consider where your readers spend most of their time and try to build a presence within that network. Note that most social media algorithms reward active users with free exposure, so it’s vital that you regularly share content, like posts, and comment on others’ posts. Here are some ways you can use popular social media platforms to promote your book:

  • Instagram: If you target readers on Instagram, you might use Instagram Reels to discuss your book or share more information about your experiences.

  • Facebook: You might join a Facebook Group to communicate with an existing community that’s similar to your target audience. Joining a group can be effective if you’re an active member and not simply promoting your work.

  • LinkedIn: If you’re promoting a business book, consider using LinkedIn. You might write a motivational post or connect with other professionals in your field.

  • TikTok: If you want to find new readers, consider jumping into TikTok and creating relevant and engaging videos for your target audience.

If you want to learn more about what to post on social media to market your book, take a look at the following link.

4. Connect with your network

When promoting your book, it’s important to utilize the networks you have access to. The term network has a pretty broad meaning here. When you hear the word network, you might immediately think of big networking events or that lengthy contact list on your phone. While that’s what a network is for some authors, it can look different for others. It might consist of colleagues, business partners, writers groups, readers, social media followers, college friends, book club members, you name it.

Regardless of your network, know that it consists of individuals who are likely invested in you (as an author or a friend) and might be happy to help you promote your book. Don’t be shy about asking them to share a link to purchase your book. You can make it easier for them by sending shareable graphics and suggested captions. You might even consider providing notable connections with free copies to give away to their followers.

5. Reevaluate your book cover

If you’re a self-publishing author, you might reevaluate your book cover. Consider the times you’ve picked up a book to look at it simply because it had a captivating cover. If you’re unsure about the quality of your book cover, peruse books with a similar audience to see how yours compares. If you find it isn’t as intriguing as many other covers or think it’s a misrepresentation of the book, changing it might be in your best interest.

6. Reconsider your book description

Another action you can take that may lead to increased book sales is reconsidering your book description. This description is the one that online retailers list when they sell your book. When you revisit your description, ensure it explains what your book is about and what your readers can gain from reading it. If it doesn’t, rewrite it.

When writing a description, don’t bury your messaging in long, detailed prose. Leave that for the book. Instead, show readers exactly what they want to know about your book without clicking to see more. It’s also valuable to include keywords in your description. Keywords are the words you use to indicate the content of your book. For example, if your book is about overcoming trauma, your keywords might be overcoming trauma.

7. Garner more reviews

Another action you can take to increase book sales is to garner more reviews. Think about the times you’ve been on the fence about buying a book and ultimately purchased it because you read a glowing review. Many readers might have a similar experience when considering your book. Therefore, it can be well worth the effort of contacting reviewers and offering them free copies in exchange for an honest review.

8. Invest in advertising

Even if you don’t have a huge budget to market your book, it might be worthwhile to invest in advertising. If you’re a new author with a small platform, ads can be crucial in getting your book in front of potential readers. But it’s essential that you know how to set them up and which platforms to use. It's good to test different ad images and ad headlines to see which resonates the most with your audience. Once you discover which ad types are leading to the most sales, continue using them.

Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.

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