Reasons a Kindle Book Might not Sell
Poor sales on Kindle store can be disheartening for any writer. The conclusion may be drawn the book isn’t good enough, the plot is flat, the characters are clichéd or the writing style is poor (such writing issues are covered on my sister site). Although these elements are essential to a book’s chance of success, it does happen that a great novel can remain unnoticed on the epublishing platforms for all manner of reasons which might be as follows.
The Cover Design of the Book is Bland
The book cover may fail to convey the quality, style, genre or feel of the novel. The cover image might be bland, dull or blend too much into what’s out there. Some potential readers make snap judgments on how good a book is likely to be by its cover image. It is the first visual element of your book on the webpage and if it fails to grab the attention of the reader or smacks of amateurishness, the reader is likely to move on.
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Blurb and Synopsis for the Book is Boring or Tame
If your book cover passes the test, the reader will scroll down and appraise the synopsis. I like to begin with a tagline on what the book is about. A tagline is a hook consisting of no more than 25 words. A hook is often used on movie posters to draw potential movie-goers. An example of a tagline is (for Alien) ‘In space, no one can hear you scream.’ In my novel the Shuttered Room, I used the tagline: ‘Little do they know their captive holds a deadly secret.’
Follow the tagline with a story synopsis, an outline of the novel. The synopsis is really the blurb or the text found at the back of any novel. Break the synopsis down into short paragraphs. Tighten it, make it as compelling as possible. Pose a mystery, a question, a hook. Don’t make the synopsis too short or too long. I have seen synopses one line long; I have also seen those that ramble on in huge paragraphed blocks. Getting it right requires time; I have dedicated a separate article to writing a great story synopsis.
The First Three Chapters of Your Novel Does not Grab the Reader
Remember Amazon’s Kindle store and Smashwords enables the reader to read the first part of your book online, so the first several pages (and especially the first page) are crucial. Make sure the opener is as thrilling/creepy/original/mysterious/curious as possible. Of course, no typos are allowed. I have written a separate article on writing a great story opener.
Is Your Book Tagged on the Amazon Book Store?
Take a look at books in your genre on Amazon and you will notice that they have been tagged by customers to make them easily found. These tags, which are short phrases or words, can be found halfway down the page screen. If your book has not been tagged add some of your own that you think will help other customers find your book. My novel, the Shuttered Room, a story about abduction, contains the tags, Kindle thriller, kidnapping, female main character, psychological suspense etc.
Your Novel Hasn’t got a Category
When you upload your book onto the Kindle Store or Smashwords, don’t forget to give it a category. This is not the same as the tags just mentioned, but the store’s own categorizing system. You can give your book up to 2 categories. Try looking for a subcategory that contains fewer books. In this way, your book will have less competition and is more likely to find its way into the top 100 bestsellers of that category.
Your Novel is Hard to Find
Use every resource available to promote your books and make it easier to find. Write an author bio to promote yourself and put it onto Amazon Central. This is an Amazon webpage for authors to write about themselves and provide links to their books. You can also join the ‘search inside’ feature.
There are lots of websites for promoting your books out there, including Shelfari, Goodreads and Librarything. Sign into each and make sure your book is included. You can edit your book’s details on Shelfari, the biggest bookclub in the world. Read my article on the best websites for authors for more details. Remember, you can upload your book onto Smashwords, which will ship your book to other outlets, namely as Barnes and Noble, Apple, Sony and Kobo.
Tell others about your book without spamming. Use Twitter, Facebook and seek support from fellow indie writers on Kindle forums and Kindleboards. A wealth of information can be found there. Ask honest opinions from fellow writers on how you can make your book more enticing to customers or point out issues, but expect a favour in return.
Have You Got An Author Blog?
Start your own writer blog or website to tell others about yourself and your books. Create links back to your blog for those who wish to find out more about your books. Use keywords to make your site easily found. Using keywords effectively can be found on a separate article in this blog.
Using Amazon Associates to Sell Your Book
By joining Amazon as an affiliate, you can create your own ebookstore and put your books on there. Create affiliate links to your books on Amazon from your blog and earn not only royalties, but also affiliate fees if someone buys your book. Use keywords to name your bookstore to make it easier to find on the internet and create links back to it. More about how to use keywords effectively can be found on a separate article on this blog.
Is the Price of Your Novel Too High?
Keep an eye on the pricing of your ebook. It should be considerably cheaper than a typical paperback. I price my kindle novels at around £1 each, but you can go down to 70p (around $1.40). Amazon enables you to offer your book for free on special promotion days (available only on Amazon Select programme.) Free days often results in hundreds of downloads from readers, increasing the chances of reviews and/or recommendations. Opt for Amazon Select with care, as once you opt in, you cannot sell your book digitally anywhere else, including Smashwords. Pricing your book is explored more in-depth on a separate article.
Beating the Competition on Amazon’s Kindle Store
I have found from experience that book sales are seasonal. Sales around Christmas often peak, and lulls occur intermittently throughout the year. This is to be expected. But when one considers there are around 1 million kindle books out there, small wonder there is ferocious competition. Perseverance is the only way forward. Keep writing. More writing means more books (without compromising on quality) and more books mean more chances of discovery, a fan-base and sales.
Helpful Articles for Indie Writers
How to price your book
Publishing your book on Createspace
How do design your own book cover
How to write a great story synopsis