Ready to quit writing fiction? Authors who were doing well last year are selling fewer books. I’ve been coaching several authors who were ready to quit, but are now back on track.
Firstly, why are sales slow for some authors, while many authors are doing very well?
- It’s harder to get visibility because more books are published each month; and
- Readers have endless choices in entertainment today, and they’re fickle. Today’s hot genre can fade tomorrow.
BIG tip: when something stops working for you, you need to go back to fundamentals.
Start with your audience, and what your audience wants.
When you’re writing fiction, you’re selling entertainment… who’s your audience?
You’ll find some quick tips on selling your fiction here:
Serial fiction has been popular for a couple of centuries. The big benefit is simple: if readers know and love your story, they want more. (Yes, the pun on Oliver Twist is intended.)
Give them more by writing serials. Then although the market will change, you’ll nevertheless sell.
Serials can be a gold mine, because your readers want to know what happens next.
That said, the operative words are: your readers.
Most veteran authors have long since discovered that if they can’t read a genre with pleasure (no matter how mild that pleasure may be), they can’t write that genre either. Readers can tell if you’re bored.
For example, I could no more write vampire fiction than grow wings and fly. I have a visceral dislike of certain other genres too, so I don’t attempt them.
YOU are an excellent guide to your audience when you’re writing fiction: if you love a genre, you’re in tune with the audience of that genre. Writing becomes easier, and you know the tropes, so you can use them.
Let’s look at some tips which will help you to sell in today’s climate.
1. Advertise and collaborate: you need to be visible
With five million books in the Kindle Store, visibility is more of a challenge than it has ever been. You need to build your audience reader by reader.
Yes, that’s always been the case, but three years ago, you could still get by with rapid releases. That’s much harder today, for a couple of reasons:
- All the “hot” genres have endless books for readers to enjoy — indeed, many of the books are free;
- Burnout. The hamster-on-a-wheel strategy stops working eventually.
How do you get visible? The short answer is: any way you can. You have many, many options. What works for you depends on your personality, and that’s always been the case.
Advertising works. Collaboration with other authors works too. You can join other authors in your genre and collaborate in a bundle, which is our third tip, below.
2. Write short: serials and series sell
Beginning authors always ask: “how long is…”. Years ago, you could answer that question; a commercial novel started at around 50,000 to 60,000 words. If you wrote over 100,000 words, editors baulked — big books are expensive to publish, when you’re paying for paper.
Today, a “book” is as long as you choose. Writing serials and series works for many authors because you’re building your audience with every book. Short books sell — that’s the reason I created Short Reads’ Secrets for you.
3. Do more with what you have: sell bundles and collections
You’re writing, writing, writing… You have a publishing schedule, so you’re always writing on a deadline. It’s rare that any author stops for a moment to look back.
If you’ve been writing fiction for a year or two, you’ve got a back catalogue, so USE it. Bundles sell. Readers love to feel as if they’re getting a bargain.
You can use bundles and collections to increase your income in many ways. Compilations help you to:
- Collaborate with other authors;
- Gain visibility;
- Build your publishing catalogue painlessly; and
- Most importantly, they help you to do more with what you have.
When I’m coaching authors, the first thing I do is look at the author’s published books. Everything you publish is an asset. Look at the list of books you’ve published, and get creative with your assets.
Writing fiction is fun, but it’s a business too
If you’re writing fiction today, you need to get creative and innovative, as all business owners do.
Set aside an hour this weekend, and run some numbers on your business. You need to know what’s selling, and what isn’t. Once you know that, make some plans for the next 90 days. The above tips will help.
When you write in series, you're giving yourself more chances to sell with every novel you write.More info →
Why write serial fiction?
Everyone's busy today. A serial is by its nature, faster to write, and publish, than a novel.
It's a quicker read too, and many readers appreciate this. While a reader may hesitate before committing hours to a novel, he can read an episode of your serial in minutes.More info →