If You Won’t Buy Your Book, Who Will?

The other day I met with a gentleman whose book is not selling. He had published it several months ago and has sold a total of 30 copies to friends and family. He wanted to know why the book wasn’t selling on Amazon.com (the only online site that lists the book) and why it hadn’t been picked up by bookstores. The problem is typical of the first-time author who attempts to do it all himself. After looking at his book and its Amazon listing, here is what I told him.

The Cover: “Your cover is not selling your book,” I said.
“But I love my cover,” replied my author friend. “My daughter designed it. I love the photo and all of the sayings on the cover. It expresses exactly what the book is about.”

The cover photo was small, about half the size of the 6×9 inch book, and there were over a dozen “call outs” (a short quotation from the book designed to call attention to what is inside). I stood his book up on the table next to another book with a larger photo and only two call outs.
“What’s the difference between these covers?” I asked.
“Well, I can see the other book better,” he answered.
“Exactly!” I responded. “And people who are looking at your book online can see other books better than yours, also.”
“But I still like my cover best,” he told me.
“If you were choosing between these two books on Amazon.com, which would you pick?”
“Well …. the other book,” he said slowly.

The Price: My friend was charging $18.95 for his 150-page book in paper form and $11.95 for the e-book version. Most paper books of that length in his genre sell for about $15, and the e-books, particularly by first-time or little known authors, sell for between 99 cents and $3.99.
“How much do you usually pay for the e-books you buy?” I asked.
“I don’t pay over $2.99 for any e-book,” he quickly answered.
“Then why do you expect your readers to pay about four times more?”
“I guess I never thought about it that way,” he responded.

There are other examples I could use here, but I think you get the picture. As an author you are selling a product that is competing with all of the other books in its genre for your potential readers’ attention. If your book is already published and listed on Amazon or other bookstore sites, go to that site and search for your book. What other books come up next to yours? This is your competition. Take an objective look at your book and ask yourself how it stacks up. Is the cover clear and easy to see? Does it look professional? Does it grab the reader’s attention? Is your book priced competitively with the others on the page? Be objective. Would you buy your own book?

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