Over the past months, I’ve received many calls for help from self-publishers who are seeing their ebook sales slump. There are many reasons your sales will rise and then fall, but if you see your sales falling off a cliff, what can you do?
You can start with doing more marketing, yes. However, that’s a slippery slope. You can spend too much on advertising, more than you’re likely to recoup in sales. My advice to “help! my sales are dropping” calls from self-publishers starts with advising them to go back to basics.
Ebook sales: back to basics — check your publishing catalog for holes in your offerings, and publish more
I’m fond of telling my students to write and publish more. You’ll usually get an uptick in sales of all your titles when you release a new title, because of ebook retailers’ new releases lists.
All things being equal, when you release a new title, you should get a rise in sales of many of your ebooks, because your new release is appearing on Kindle Store’s new releases, as well as new release lists on other ebook retailers.
You can’t rely on that solely, of course. You need to check your catalog (the ebooks you’re selling), and look for holes in your offerings. Everyone has HOLES in their offerings. I do, you do… But what do I mean by “holes”?
Holes are nonfiction topics and fiction genres which are selling for you, and which when you fill your catalog’s holes with new ebooks in those areas, will develop many, many more sales for your complete catalog.
For example, let’s say you’re writing fiction. You released a cozy mystery in 2015. While that ebook hasn’t had a breakout success, it’s selling, slowly but surely. That’s a hole. You can see that your title is selling. Boost it, by writing more cozies, and preferably, write a series of cozies.
I made this very suggestion to a student. She found that when she’d written the third ebook in her new series, her sales took off. She’s now selling more in a day, than she previously sold in 90 days.
If you’re writing nonfiction, look for holes in your catalog in the same way. What category is selling for you — even minimally? Check out your titles’ sales ranking, and estimate how much the top earners in a category are selling, by checking their rankings in the complete Kindle Store. You should be able to spot holes in your offerings.
Too many self-publishing authors expect a single title to take off. Please be realistic. Single titles rarely take off, not even for major publishers. Traditional publishers publish many books. Out of the dozens they release in a season, one or two may take off. (And the operative word here is “may”.)
Scan your catalog, spot the holes, and keep writing. And of course, do a little advertising and other marketing.
Let’s look at a couple of tips which will help you to sell more ebooks.
Tip 1: go wide — you’ll sell more (eventually)
If your ebook sales are tanking because you’re Amazon-exclusive, that could be a reason. I’m a fan of KDP Select, because it means that your ebooks are in Kindle Unlimited (KU), which means that they’re free for subscribers. You get paid by pages read.
However, over time, you can watch your sales drop. Your KU freebies are cannibalizing sales, and your pages-read payments aren’t keeping pace.
There’s a solution: go wide. Drag some of your ebooks out of Select. Publish them on other ebook retailers, as well as on Amazon. Be aware that your sales will likely be small for a couple of months on the other ebook retailers. However, within three to six months, those sales may well surpass your Amazon sales.
Tip 2: get better ideas for your fiction and nonfiction
The more popular your topics and genres, the bigger the pool of readers. If you’re writing in areas in which there are few readers, you won’t get the ebook sales you could get if you wrote in more popular areas.
Aim to get better, more salable ideas. Aim for areas of the marketplace in which there are many readers.
Here’s a good article on finding ideas for your fiction. From WRITE A NOVEL: 3 TIPS FOR FINDING BEST-SELLING IDEAS:
READ NONFICTION YOU ENJOY: TRY BIOGRAPHIES (READ ANYTHING YOU ENJOY)
My ideas for novels come from reading nonfiction, especially biographies. That said, I have a couple of authors whose novels I read if I need an idea which strikes a spark. I read a couple of pages — and ideas start flowing.
You CAN increase your ebook sales: stay confident
When your ebook sales drop, you can feel that there’s “something wrong” with you. You can lose confidence in your abilities as an author.
Take heart. Chances are good that when you implement some of the ideas in this post, your sales will take off. Keep writing, and publishing. You can do it. 🙂
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