The Misery of Book Sales – An IWSG Post

IWSG badgeIt’s that time of the month again. No, not that time of the month, you goon. It’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group time. And believe me, I’m pretty insecure this month. For any particular reason you may ask? Why yes! The reason that I’m feeling especially insecure this month is because of book sales…or rather, the lack of them.

Nowhere to Hide” was my first complete novel, my first self-published book, and is thus far the only published book that I have that is actually for sale. When I was writing it I knew that it wasn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea; when you’re dealing with a subject matter like zombies you’re not going to float everyone’s boat. And I definitely didn’t think that my book was going to be any kind of breakaway hit or anything, because I’m a brand new author and the statistics on something like that happening are astronomical. So, basically, I wasn’t expecting to have a great number of sales.

But I was expecting to have some.

When I first officially announced the publication I had a small rush of sales as interested family and friends happily grabbed a copy. I ordered a box of print copies myself and sold them to those who wanted me to sign it for them, and I managed to sell a few more this way to some coworkers. At the same time there were random sales popping up in Kindle, I can only presume from the kinds of people who like to check out “What’s New”. Over the course of about three months I made approximately $200 profit, which I didn’t think was half bad, all things considered.

And then everything went completely dead.

I encouraged my friends and family to rate and review the book on Amazon or Goodreads in hopes of enticing more readers to buy, but while some did, most didn’t. I really had to scrape and beg for over half a year to work my way up to thirteen reviews (five on Goodreads, five on Amazon Canada, two on Amazon US, and one on Amazon UK) and as near as I can tell none of it really did any good at all. My sales haven’t budged since that first influx in the very beginning. I’ve gone multiple months without selling a single print copy, and my average for e-book sales in the past six months has been approximately two per month. I even permanently reduced the price of the e-book to $0.99, but it doesn’t seem to have mad any difference at all.

On the one hand, I’m happy whenever anyone buys my book. On the other hand, whenever I log into my Kindle dashboard and see that one sale that netted me a whopping $0.35 for the entire month, it gets pretty depressing. I never expected to be successful, and the fact is that I write mostly just because I love it so much, not because I expect to actually make a living from it, but… I guess it’s just a little disheartening. I’ve gotten excellent reviews on the book (and not all of them from relatives, thank you very much), but those reviews just don’t seem to be enticing new readers to check out the book.

The key, of course, is to write more books, because only an exceptionally tiny percentage of writers actually become successful with their first book. Sometimes it’s just really hard to convince oneself of that fact, especially when some of the most popular books out there right now are utter crap and are inexplicably making their authors millionaires.

But I guess I can online whine so much before it all comes back down to, “Buck up, deal with it, and keep writing!” So that’s what I’ll do!

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10 thoughts on “The Misery of Book Sales – An IWSG Post

  1. I’m in exactly the same boat (in fact, you’re doing a bit better than me, sales-wise). My book has been out three months and outside of an initial flurry of sales and a few good reviews, it’s been pretty stagnant. But I think that’s the norm with debut books.

    I was getting all geared up to say something but then you mentioned it yourself. The best marketing is to write more books. I’ve spoken to several established, successful independent authors and the advice is always write more books. One guy said he’s asked how to be successful all the time, and the first thing he does is check the new author’s Amazon page. If they have less than 5 books in the past three years, they’re not going to be successful yet. There are exceptions of course, but in this day and age people want to see writers with a track record. And that just means writing more books.

    • Less than 5 books in three years is bad? Oh man, I’m screwed then. lol My first was almost a year ago now and my second won’t be ready until at least the end of the year. I just can’t write that fast while still working this horrible day job.
      But we press on, I suppose! Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll be able to get three published within three years. @_@

    • This is true, and also unfortunate. I actually consider myself to be a pretty fast writer, but since I have a pretty time-intensive day job I get forcibly slowed down by a considerable amount. @_@ Ah well, slow and steady, right?

  2. What you’re experiencing is a rite of passage. I know that’s a weird thing to say, but honestly, Tracey, 98% of authors experience low sales in the beginning. The trick is to keep publishing. My first book is actually doing pretty good now that I have 3 out there. By pretty good I mean: I can afford reading glasses from the dollar store! Yah. Whining is a good thing. And you’re in the right place. Keep writing, keep blogging, keep reading blogs. Keep the faith. I’m #55 on the IWSG list. Happy IWSG.

    • Thanks for dropping in! I’m totally with you; I definitely realize that this is the most common situation for a newly published author to be in…it just sucks. XD
      I hope someday you’re able to afford the GOOD reading glasses! 😀

  3. My first book should come out soon (crosses fingers), and I’m sort of bracing myself for this. I honestly don’t expect to earn more than $20. Not until I have several books out there.

  4. Not sure if this makes you feel any better, but you’re doing WAY better than me. And I have three books out there 🙂 I think it’s all about ‘the next book’ and advertising/marketing. But keep writing because you love it! That’s the most important thing 🙂

    • Well I can’t say that that makes me feel BETTER, but thanks for sharing the misery! lol I agree a lot of it is advertising and marketing, and it’s unfortunate that doing that stuff is so difficult when you also have to work a day job. @_@ But no worries…I’m not about to stop writing any time soon because I just love it too much!

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