Why isn’t my non-fiction bookselling more copies? Why is my book a failure? Why don’t I feel successful as a self-publisher? These common questions can sometimes be difficult to answer very quickly. And the answer isn’t always as simple as it might seem at first glance. But there is hope for you and your book to achieve success. Here are 14 reasons your book might not be successful.
What You Will Learn In This Post
1. You’ll learn what steps you can take to fix your book and improve its sales.
2. You’ll learn how to start to define what success means for you and your book.
3. You’ll learn how and why introspective thinking about your book is essential to its success.
Why isn’t my non-fiction bookselling more copies? Why is my book a failure? Why don’t I feel successful as a self-publisher? These common questions can sometimes be difficult to answer very quickly. And the answer isn’t always as simple as it might seem at first glance. But there is hope for you and your book to achieve success.
Take A Hard Look At Yourself And Your Book
If your book isn’t selling any copies or selling very few in comparison to other books in its sales category, there are several powerful changes you can make to help improve your sales. But, they all involve some serious introspective thinking about your book and will involve some hard work on your part.
The Fix Is Within Reach
The list of reasons given here will help you to re-evaluate your book, and everything you are doing to sell it. This list covers the most common reasons a non-fiction book isn’t selling or gaining any traction with an audience.
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How Do I Define Success?
We all have our own way to define success in general. Plus, we can have a personal definition of financial success, and one for personal success, and one for business success, etc. And each one will be a little different. But, I believe that most of us that write non-fiction books are trying to achieve two main, fundamental, overarching, basic goals:
Goal # 1. Financial Return
Some amount of financial return for the hard work we put into creating and publishing our books; and,
Goal # 2. Critical Acclaim
Critical acclaim for ourselves and for our books, from our peers, co-workers, readers, family, customers, clients, etc.
The Top Reasons Non-Fiction Books Do NOT Achieve Success
Reason # 1: No market need: Is there an actual need for the information in your book? Is there an actual audience that can benefit from your book? If not, you will not sell any books.
Reason # 2: Weak solutions/value: What special insights do you have that can help others find real solutions to their questions and problems? Standard cookie-cutter solutions won’t help you sell more books.
Reason # 3: Unattractive cover: A cover that looks unprofessional, amateurish, and unthoughtful, will turn-off book buyers. They will lose respect for you even before they open your book. For most books, and most people, the cover is the one thing that should not be skimped on.
Reason # 4: Written for wrong audience: You must understand who your audience is before you write your book. If you don’t, your book will be confusing to read, help no one in particular, and sales will suffer.
“With some honest assessment of your book, and forcing yourself to make hard decisions about your book, you can fix its poor sales. By doing so, you will be creating a book that can help you achieve your personal and financial goals.” (Tweet)
Reason # 5: Not enough marketing: Marketing is more about reaching out to a very particular audience, and showing them that you have the answers and solutions to their particular problems. It’s less about the quantity of money that you spend on advertising to an overly broad market.
Reason # 6: Weak social media: At the very least, you need one main place where you can show your audience that you are one of them, that you understand them, and that you have solutions for them. You only need one or two good outlets to reach your audience. For example, a blog and a YouTube page; a blog, and a post on Medium.
Reason # 7: Weak author platform: Whichever social platform you choose, you must commit to it, and make it great. Having too many author platforms, and not maintaining them properly, is a total waste of time.
Reason # 8: Confusing title: For non-fiction, your main title must grab them quickly. But it’s your subtitle that really tells them what your book is about.
Reason # 9: Not using an editor: Nowadays it’s not difficult to find a book editor that has some knowledge and experience with the subject matter of your book. You can do it yourself, but do so with great caution.
Reason # 10: Not using a designer: The interior of the book can be very important for many non-fiction books. It’s not uncommon for non-fiction to have pictures, graphs, drawings, quotes, charts, glossary, index, etc. It’s not uncommon for non-fiction book-buyers to consider the interior as important as the cover in their buying decision.
Reason # 11: Wrong cover price: Spend lots of time on Amazon, and at a bookstore, looking at other books that are like yours. Especially looking at recently published books, and books that are actually selling. You’ll start to get a good idea of what your book can realistically sell for.
Reason # 12: Saturated genre: Of course, it depends on the particular genre. Some genres can easily absorb many new books. Some, not so much. A saturated genre means that you will need to be more adept and creative when it comes to how you write your book, design your cover, market your book, and use social media, etc.
Reason # 13: Weak self-promotion: There is nothing wrong, or inappropriate, with self-promotion. Self-promotion simply means that you get attention for yourself in ways that prove to your audience that you are an expert in your particular topic or genre. This can be as simple as writing your blog, or publishing magazine articles, or becoming a guest on a news program.
Reason # 14: Wrong publisher: I’ve never dealt with a traditional publisher. So, all I can say here is that with a lot of research, you should be able to minimize the problems you might encounter. It’s probably a good idea to email other authors that have chosen the same publishers that you are considering, and ask a lot of questions. And then find a good lawyer that has legal experience in the book publishing industry.
How I Gathered The Survey Results
These survey results are based on my discussions with 47 authors who have written and published at least two non-fiction books.
Their answers were based on:
1. Their own personal experiences;
2. Their knowledge of the book publishing industry, and;
3. Their own discussions with other non-fiction authors.
Those 14 reasons show you some of the most common mistakes, missteps, and errors that can slow you down from achieving a financial return and critical acclaim for you and your book. But, with hard work and research, some honest assessment of your own writing and book, and forcing yourself to make some hard decisions about your book, you can fix any of these problems. And, by doing so, you will be well on your way to creating a successful book that can help you achieve your personal and financial goals.
This list should also give you new hope, and a renewed interest, in improving your book and increasing its sales. If you give up now and don’t make the improvements, your book will remain a failure. I’m absolutely certain this isn’t an option for you. You wouldn’t have gotten into self-publishing if it was. If you’re here on my blog reading this, I know that you are just like me – very stubborn, and determined to be successful on many different levels.
Writing, self-publishing, sharing information, teaching others, is not some passing fancy. We were born to do it. We can’t stop doing it, because all of those things are built into us. All the better that we can make money doing it. Now get back to work and fix that book.
Questions For Us To Think About And Discuss
1. Please share some of the fixes that helped you improve your book’s sales.
2. Please share some realistic sales expectations for your book – before and after you posted it on Amazon.
— Joel Friedlander (@JFbookman) September 7, 2020
No market need likely means you aren't telling right audience why they need it: The Top Reasons Non-Fiction Books Do NOT Achieve Success https://t.co/ObU5mbGaus via @jckunzjr #bookmarketing #writingcommunity
— Linda Austin (@moonbridgebooks) January 30, 2020
— Bacon Press Books (@baconpressbooks) January 26, 2020
Hashtags: #selfpublishing #bookmarketing