Category: Articles

Book Not Selling? – 8 Possible Reasons Why

Book selling

Why Isn’t My Book Selling?

When your book selling is not as active as you would like it, its time to ask yourself some tough questions particularly if it is an ongoing issue. Nevertheless stunted sales is not limited to newbie authors, many established authors encounter the same challenge from time to time.

Here are a few questions with possible solutions for consideration:

  • Is my book covering a topic that interests many people? Your niche may be too small. Before writing your book, do an online search to determine how many people are interested in your topic. If you and a handful of people on the internet are interested in this topic, for instance, your book sales could possibly flop. To sell substantial quantities you must have a good size market that consists of more than family and friends.
  • Does my book have an effective name? Some well-known authors heeded the advice of their publisher by changing the name of their book to a more catchy but relevant title. The results were immediately beneficial. Using keywords in your title or subtitle when selling books online can also boost traffic to your book.
  • Does my book have a professional cover? Your cover is the first opportunity for readers to take interest in your book. Therefore, if your cover is poorly done, it’s a turn off no matter how great the content is. Ask yourself the question: how does my book look next to a professionally designed book? If it is not good, then upgrade your cover; it can improve your sales potential tremendously.
  • Did I have my book professionally edited? Many people opt to do this themselves hoping to save money. Poor grammar and a few typos are a huge turnoff for most readers. Many will point out your errors quicker than what they loved about your book. If your book is worthy of being published, ensure that it is presented professionally from start to finish.

Here are the last 4 Book Selling Tips

  • Are my illustrations professional? Your illustrator may be the best artist in the family but that doesn’t mean their illustrations are professional. There are illustrators who have various styles and are consistent with the flow of their drawings. Taking the professional route may help the movement of your book if everything else is in order.
  • Am I marketing my book? There is no set it and forget it approach in publishing your book. Books don’t usually sell by themselves, you have to engage in the process for online and brick and mortar sales. This does not mean that you necessarily need a large marketing budget. What it does mean is that you need to be more assertive in using every available free and cost-effective channel in promoting your book.
  • Is my sales category too broad? When posting your book for sale on Amazon, you must select a category to list your book in. As there are millions of books available in some categories, it is helpful to be more specific in your selection. If your genre is cooking, you can say West Indian Cookbook or Bahamian Cooking. The broader the category, the more likely you are to get lost in it, however, if it is too small it may show that there is no interest in that area.

Last but not least!

  • Do I have a good book preview? Most buyers are selective these days with their purchases. This is one reason why you should always have a selection of your book available for people to read. Readers want to see more than the table of contents in their preview, in other words, they want to read substance. If they take the chance and make a blind purchase, you could get a scathing review with a refund request.

Consignment – I’m Not Getting Paid for My Books

Bahamas Book Consignment

Consignment Payments-

Have you not received a payment for the books you placed on consignment?  Your concern may be valid but it should be looked into before drawing conclusions. The first thing you should do is to visit the store in question to take a quick inventory. After all, you have a vested interest in the sale of your books. You can make a call to the vendor, but chances are you won’t be satisfied unless you see the book count for yourself.

Checking inventory should be done fairly regularly to let the vendor see that you are on top of your game.  It also helps to let the sales persons see that you are attentive to your books movements. This may help them to push your books for you if you have the right attitude. It can also minimize those few who have sticky fingers from gifting your book to themselves.

Payment Schedule

Each store has their own policy on this. Before you agree to place your book in the store find out what the terms are. Some merchants pay authors as requested when books are sold. Others pay every two weeks or every quarter.

Why You’re Not Receiving Payment

There are several reasons why you may not be receiving payment for your consigned books. The  most common reasons are:

  • The book is not selling
  • All books of the same title must sell before payment is made
  • The book has been placed in storage
  • Your contact information is out of date
  • They’re waiting for you to ask for payment
  • The books walked out of the store (yep, people steal books)

A local merchant doing inventory mentioned that many authors drop off their books never to return to check on the sales. He had a number of sales registered in his system but the telephone numbers and email addresses were outdated. The worse scenario however was several of the authors had died and their next of kin never collected their checks. Authors, he noted, invested their heart and resources into their books but had abandoned them for years at a time. It was difficult for vendors to care about their books if the author showed little to no interest themselves.

Cut Your Losses

On the other hand, there are the odd, unscrupulous vendors who do sell your books, but you just get the run-around when it comes to receiving payments. When you see this trait it is best to cut your losses and move on, rather than dig a deeper ditch. There is a character glitch there that you probably won’t be able to correct.

A Touchy Subject

A bigger question, but perhaps a sensitive one is, “Are you marketing your book?” A pet peeve of most vendors is authors leaving books without marketing them. Vendors see their shelf space as prime real estate. Real estate that many author’s have taken for granted. Most of them will tell you that they will allow you shelf space but its up to you to drive the customers to your books; they won’t. The upside is some vendors will pay for your books if they see them selling on a regular basis. The downside, if you don’t show an interest in moving your books, they won’t and therefore there will be no consignment payments to be had.

My Book is Selling, Where’s My Amazon Check?

Amazon Check

Is Amazon Withholding My Check?

I hear this quite a bit. Everyone thinks their book is a winner and should be driving in oodles of money, but its not always so. The first thought is, “Is Amazon withholding my check?” Quite often they’re not. I’ve heard quite a few sad theories about how Amazon is getting wealthy off of a particular authors books. They claim the funds are not being passed on to them.

How do they know this? Well, three books were sold five years ago and not one dime ever made it to the author. First of all, there is a ceiling that must be reached for disbursements of checks. Unless the books you sold exceeded the minimum amount after fees, you are in an accruing phase. When you have met the minimum amount, your Amazon check will be sent to you.

Direct deposits are different. If you qualify for these you will not have to accrue a minimum fee. This service however is not available for the Bahamas.

Ask Questions Before Making Accusations

Over the years Amazon has adjusted their policies so it is necessary to see what the current payment considerations are. When setting up your account, it was a requirement to complete a form to indicate your preferred payment method. Check which one you selected as well as where you directed the checks to be mailed. Perhaps your checks are stockpiling at an old address. Or if it was co-authored, the proceeds may have gone to your co-author’s account or address. It is highly recommended that you research with Amazon first, however before drawing conclusions.

There are some countries that allow direct deposit to your bank account but the Bahamas is not one of those countries. If you are in the Bahamas, you qualify for payment by check unless you have a U.S bank account. As an Amazon author, you can easily find out what is selling from what is not, simply by logging into your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. This account provides your book sales report, where and when they were sold, as well as a refund report. You can also track what checks were disbursed with the sales information. That’s a pretty nifty feature.

If you are still not sure about the sales, there is another little feature that allows you to ask questions; it’s called the contact page. Simply drop them a line outlining your concern with a direct question, along with the name of the book, the ASIN and or ISBN number and they generally respond within 24 hours.

No System is Perfect

Of course no system is perfect so if they have made an error with your Amazon check, you’ll be glad you reached out to bring resolution. If they have not made an error and your book is just not selling then that’s another matter you will need to look in to. The bottom line is to ask questions before making conclusions that may be unfounded and easily resolved.

Writing Your Author Bio

Author Bio

The Significance Of Your Author Bio

Your bio as a published author is very important as it communicates to your potential readers who you are. It is essentially your introduction to your books. You will need to consider what it is you want your readers to remember about you when they hear your name or come across your books. Write in a conversational tone, it will help your readers to connect with you.

Guidelines For Writing Your Author Bio

What you write now can make a lasting impression on readers. Consider the points below:

  1. Determine the purpose of the author bio. Ensure your author info highlights your most impressive and relevant qualifications. Do this without boring your readers or coming across as prideful. In spite of your great accomplishments, readers generally connect with people who are humble as opposed to being egotistical. Include links to your book page or where your books are sold online. 
  2. An author bio for the back of the book can be up to 100 words however, when writing for placement on your website or book page, you need to consider at least 300 words to be effective in being optimized for search engines. Most people don’t relish the idea of writing an author bio but you’ve come this far so why not do what is necessary to marketing your books effectively. You will have to prepare different versions of your bio if you are using them for different purposes.
  3. Decide on what points you wish to include in your bio. Chances are you have more information than you really need. In which case you will have to comb through and cut out anything that is unrelated. You need not include your knitting expertise if your book is on programming computers. If you worked in a Fortune 500 company developing software then that would be considered relevant and should be used.

Don't Bore Your Readers

  1. Resist the urge to copy and paste your CV. Leave that for you job interviews—most people are not interested in reading a blow by blow of your education and work experience. Including it will probably cause you to lose a possible reader.
  2. If you have other books list them in a bulleted fashion. Having links embedded in your book name helps to take your prospective readers directly to your sales page.
  3. Most readers want to know about you, especially if they have connected with you through a previous book. Let them know if you are married, how many children you have, hobbies etc. they would love to know that you are a relatable person.
  4. Be sure to reflect your writing style in your author bio, it gives readers a sense of what they will be getting in your books. If you’re humorous it’s okay to add a touch of humor. If you are an academic, then that should be the tone of your bio if you are reaching out to other academics.

Alternative Option For Busy Authors

In many cases writers are very busy and would really just want to pass this task on to someone else. Before you go that route, consider looking into free bio templates for authors. That is one way to get you stirred up and moving forward. Just remember the points noted above before you jump into a one size fits all template that has you scrimping on relevant information.

How To Prepare A Manuscript For Publishing

Inspire publishing

 

Publishing Guidelines

You’ve poured your heart out and have come up with what you believe is a remarkable book. This is a tremendous achievement for writers. Many people write their books without knowing how to prepare a manuscript for publishing. They get creative and have a blast adding a lot of decorative matter to the page which is not helpful to the publisher. In fact, publishers won’t accept the manuscript unless it follows  specific guidelines.

By applying these simple steps, your book publisher can focus on formatting to create a fabulous, professional looking book. Unless the guidelines are followed, publishers will not take on your project. You see, time is valuable and if the cost is to be affordable, you will have to do your part. That way the publisher can remain focused on their particular tasks.

Once you have completed the tasks, there is no need to print your manuscript. Publishers typically accept manuscripts in a digital format. That means you can email the document to the publisher to create your book or submit it on a flash drive.

Easy Ways To Prepare A Manuscript For Publishing

Here is a checklist of a few things you need to do to prepare a manuscript for publishing:

  • Save your manuscript in Micosoft’s .doc or .docx format.
  • Present your manuscript in the standard letter size of 8 ½”x 11”.
  • Page breaks if inserted, should be placed after a chapter only.
  • Do not use the Enter/Return key at the end of each line. Let the text automatically flow from one line to the next.
  • Do not manually insert hyphens to indicate where a word should break.
  • Images cannot be copied and pasted into the manuscript, these should be sent as a separate attachment.
  • Use text between 11pt – 16pt. within tables, charts and textboxes.
  • Font Selection: When setting up your manuscript please use a standard font, such as Times New Roman, Times, or Arial. Bold, italics, underlines, etc. will be maintained when formatted unless not supported by a stylized font.

Simple Steps to Preparing A Manuscript

Additional adjustments that may need to take place in your document are as follows:

  • Click on the Show/Hide icon to show paragraph marks and other hidden symbols.
  • Remove double spaces in document—especially those that were placed at the beginning of your sentence. Leave a single space.
  • Remove all tab spacing.
  • Delete spaces between sentences and paragraphs that have been inserted manually or with your space key.
  • Eliminate all highlighting, special decoration and watermarks.
  • Remove page numbering.
  • Identify where images will go. Make a note on the page: e.g. Fig. 1. Pineapple.
  • Label all images accordingly: Fig. 1. Pineapple. Save images in a folder.
  • Remove photos/images/charts that have been pasted in. These should be treated as images.

When using images in your print book, the quality must be a high resolution of no less than 300 dpi’s. That means you can’t copy and paste random images from the internet. This will not give you a quality image when printed.

Now that you know how to prepare a manuscript for publishing, you ensure that your project is handled efficiently.

Book Blurb For Search Engine Optimization

tablet-2188370_640

Writing Your Blurb For Search Engine Optimization -

When writing your book blurb for search engine optimization have enough of your content to tantalize and draw your readers. Avoid giving a blow-by-blow of your story. In other words, leave out all leanings towards spoilers. Including reviews and testimonials in a blurb for a non-fiction book is acceptable, however, it should not be the sum total of your blurb. By not writing a compelling blurb, many authors as well as book marketers, believe you are hindering your sales. You are essentially not using a great opportunity to share the content of your book in a way that maximizes selling opportunities. If you give too much information, your reader will feel that there is no reason to buy the book.

 
From a book marketers point of view, your blurb should contain specific keywords to compel readers and propel sales. In this electronic age most books are marketed online so they will need an edge to get optimized for search engines. Writing for the brick and mortar bookshelf market is no longer sufficient in the competitive book writing world. Therefore your blurb should also be a dual marketing tool to ensure you place well in searches.
 

Competitive Writing – Making Sure Your Blurb is Read

An unfortunate reality is there is a large number of people writing great optimized copy for poorly written books. These outweigh the people who have excellent books with poorly written blurbs. Authors with great content, need to begin writing a great blurb for search engine optimization. This will get their books recognized in Google, Amazon and other search engines. When that happens, you stand a better chance of having your book considered for purchasing.

 

Writing Your Blurb

Writing your blurb

The Importance Of Compelling Back Cover Matter-

 

Now that you have completed your manuscript, and had your book edited, its time to start writing a blurb.  Your blurb is the most compelling tool you have to draw customers to your book apart from an engaging front cover. The blurb is brief summation of your book that entices the reader to want to read more. Generally speaking, the book blurb is a few paragraphs written to hook the reader and convert them to loyal readers.  

Your blurb should present an outline of the first few chapters. What you leave out when writing your blurb is almost as important as what you put in. You want to entice your readers, not inform them of the entire story line of your novel. With non-fiction books however, having a bulleted list of what readers can expect to receive from the book is a great tool.

Get Creative When Writing Your Blurb

Attempting to capture an entire story-line into a punchy summary is a task many authors  find daunting. Some would try to avoid this task by relying on reviews to take its place. In trying to write a great blurb, avoid giving away too much of your book’s story line. Writing your blurb is a developed skill that needs to be refined. It is worth your while to spend quality time developing this ability.

Allow your creative juices to flow. Don't be afraid of writing and then re-writing your blurb. Maintain the tone that you wrote your manuscript in. If you wrote in a casual, conversational tone, then stay with it. If your tone was a scholarly one, maintain that. The bottom line is knowing your content, knowing your voice, then adding the story line of your blurb. For books that will be available online, or marketed online, the search engine optimization is a key element needed to write an effective blurb.

 

Manuscript Editing – Is Spell Check Good Enough?

Is Manuscript Editing Necessary? 

Is Manuscript Editing Necessary?

A question often asked is whether or not professional manuscript editing is necessary for book publishing. The answer is quite simple—yes! Even the best authors need an editor. For a book to be taken seriously, it should be professionally edited. Your gift may be story telling or you may be brilliant at sharing trade secrets, but if the content is garbled, then you have lessened the impact of your work.

A skilled editor brings professionalism to your project. While it’s good to have family and friends look over the manuscript, they are not looking with the same eagle eyes as a skilled editor. Your editor is not hired to be encouraging or friendly as your family are. Their bottom line is to ensure that you have the best possible manuscript to present for publishing. This sometimes means your feelings may experience a slight pinch, but weigh what was said before throwing the point out. This does not give editors the right to be brutal or unkind.

Teachers And Editors Also Need Editors

Even a writer who may also be an editor or a teacher, should have a second pair of skilled eyes looking at their work. How many times have you corrected and re-corrected your work only to come back later to find you missed a simple word or made a subtle punctuation error. After a while you begin to see what you want to see.

Your Manuscript Editing Is Not Just For Punctuation

As an author you really need someone to take an objective look at your sentence structure. You want to be sure that your message is being relayed in the smoothest manner possible. This way you avoid your readers being bored, or your message being poorly communicated.

Check The Length Of Your Sentences

An editor will check your sentence length and content. Are you too wordy or are your points too abrupt? Is there a more refined way to make your point? Can you substitute some of the big words for words that speak more plainly? Does your manuscript need a more conversational tone to eliminate dryness? Your book should be a smooth reading experience; not one that leaves readers scratching their heads, wondering if they should continue reading it.

Typos Are A Turnoff

Readers leaving book reviews can sometimes be unkind when commenting about book errors. Many times it relates to the typos; other times it’s the quality of the work. In either case, the issues can be readily addressed by a competent editor. No book is ever 100% perfect, but if you can eliminate the lion's share of the errors, you can eliminate unnecessary low reviews as well as dissatisfied customers.

Not All Manuscript Editing Is The Same

A good editor will find out what kind of editing you have in mind. They will also be upfront about the specific types of manuscripts they work with. Not all books are edited the same way. It is not a given that an editor who works primarily on novels will also work well on a scholastic book. Here are several of the services editors offer authors.

  • Copy editing- check and standardize grammar, spelling, punctuation and other mechanics of style. Critical at this level is a thorough check for consistency of style choices, mechanics and facts.
  • Substantive (or structure) editing- focuses on logical organization and flow of content to ensure that your document clear, concise, and easy to read at the sentence, paragraph, and chapter levels.
  • Fact Checking/Reference Checking- focuses on accuracy of facts and/or quotes by reference to original sources used by author and/or from other sources.

So has spell check been your resident editor so far? It's time to upgrade to a more professional editor to give your book the attention it deserves.

Keeping Yourself Motivated To Write

Motivated to Write

How to Keep Yourself Motivated

You may have felt an urge to write and then it fizzles out leaving you wondering if writing is really for you. Most authors need to be motivated to write at some point. That doesn't mean you should have a personal cheer leading squad, motivating you every step of the way. The key is keeping yourself motivated. Because everyone has a unique style and functioning ability, you must determine what works best for you. As an author you need to find the best time to write and if necessary, do it in segments.

8 Tips To Keep Your Motivation Alight

  1. Ensure that you are writing on a subject matter that interests you.
  2. Reflect on why you began the project.
  3. Write within an allotted time.
  4. Set realistic goals for your writing.
  5. Write in places that motivate you.
  6. Avoid writing when you're feeling sluggish after a meal.
  7. Believe in yourself and speak positively about your work.
  8. Take a break from things that drain your motivation.

Writing Road Blocks

The road blocks that keep authors from writing are often influenced by how we feel. People sometimes feel a certain way because of their thoughts. So if your thought life is sending you the wrong message it is probably hijacking your progress. Decide to foster productive thoughts that will keep you on track.

Tools That Help You Stay Motivated to Write

One of the things that can frustrate a writer is not having the proper writing tools on hand. While some people choose to type on their computers, there is still a very large segment of society that still hand writes their manuscripts. If that works for you, embrace your strengths, having your manuscript typed is not a big deal. There are others who are talkers and flow with the gift of gab, the voice recorder is a worthy tool for you. Once you have recorded your book you can have it transcribed for publishing. 

Your smart phone may be your greatest tool to help you write when your motivation is at its peak. This device is great for typing, as well as using its audio recording setting to help you maximize your time away from your computer. Another handy tool is an iPad or any other portable gadget that frees you to write when the time is right. By maximizing your writing opportunities, you will find yourself increasing the time you are motivated to write.

Write Better Books…Not Just Bigger Books

Writing better books for publishing

Focus On Quality, Not Size-

Bigger books are not necessarily better books. A good writer focuses on quality, yet employs their smarts when determining the size of their masterpiece. Many first time authors want to strike gold with their first book. In their minds they see themselves authoring a massive 500 page book. This is a sure way to overwhelm yourself. Begin with moderate size books—something that won’t stress you out or take you ten years to complete. Consider a size the reader won’t gasp and run away from at the thought of reading such a large book. Another consideration is the more pages your book has, the more costly it is to print.

Break It Up To Make A Better Book

If you have a lot of content that is making your book very large, then you can divide it in several parts. Depending on the size and its content, you may have a 3 book series. Many of today’s readers are overwhelmed with the thought of reading large books. In our instant society, most readers want to get the gist of the book quickly and move on to the next. Reading a short book and completing it, gives the reader a sense of accomplishment. There is no hard fast rule to go by, however current trends have best selling authors page count at around 260 pages. That's a tremendous drop from previous years which topped the scales in the high 400 page count,

A Marketing Perspective

Value for money is something readers are always considering. If your large book will sell for $15.00 and is considered high for some, then breaking it down to 3 books at $5.00-$7.00 each will give your readers the opportunity to buy the books individually or together. It will also help to hasten the reading as the size is no longer overwhelming. Now that's smart writing; and out of it you really get a better book...and then some.

How To Get Your Book Published

How to get your book published

There is no single way to get your book published, fortunately, writers have publishing options. A writers dream is to have their manuscript picked up by a traditional publishing house. When this happens they can receive a fabulous book deal or even a movie contract. This is really a dream come true. However, it is not generally the norm, unless you are already a well-known, fabulous writer.

Literary Agents Can Get Your Book Published

There are of course Agents who work on your behalf to get your book in the publishing houses. If you are a new, or  an independent author, that process can be a long and trying road. More often than not, unless you are a well known person, you are not the best consideration. What will help you though, is if you already have a following or the book is a sensational page turner. Barring those general scenarios, your book will probably not go very far with an agent.

Vanity Press Publishing Option

Then there are the large Vanity Presses who often do a great job, but the cost of their service can really climb. In my experience, the add-ons and hosting fees skyrockets the cost, making it difficult to recoup your investment in a timely fashion. For those living outside of the United States, keeping publishing costs low is a huge concern. Having to add import fees to your books and then resell is another factor to consider.

Self-Publishing, How Independent Authors Get Published

The number of self-published authors is rapidly growing. Writers are seeing how easy it is to finally get published. These independent authors often produce consistent quantities of books on a regular basis. They subcontract their formatting, editing, cover design and so forth to others. Some go as far as hiring ghost writers to pen their ideas. This allows them to produce a steady flow of books per month.

So as you can see, there are several ways to get your book published. The good news is you can do so without breaking the bank. By getting started with self-publishing, you position yourself for agents as well as mainstream publishers, and movie producers to see you.

I Want To Write A Book, Where Do I Start?

Ready to format your book?

You May Have What You Need To Write A Book

Many writers, especially bloggers, want to write a book. Quite often the seed of what they want is staring them in the face. We tend to reach for the things that are distant, instead of using what we have in front of us. Chances are, it’s what you’ve been passionate about writing all along. Now it’s a matter of compiling those gazillion articles, poems or short stories etc. Place them in an orderly fashion and determining which ones you wish to use first. As you put your writings together, you may need to tweak them a bit, but that’s the beauty of the computer. You can type, save and delete to your hearts content.

Jot Your Notes Down As You Write A Book 

For folks who do not have articles or materials to rely on, then there is obviously something driving that gut feeling of wanting to write a book. Keep a note pad, or your phone nearby for when your ideas begin to unfold. Write or record them, just don’t let that great thought fall to the ground and die. Don’t be afraid to daydream—that’s a great way to see the content of your book before it hits the pages. As you see it, write it—though by the time you do write, it can develop beyond your initial thoughts as it begins to take on a life of its own. Writing begins with a word, then a sentence and soon you will have a series of paragraphs you can call a chapter. The key is getting started.

Readers Can Make Great Writers

Some writers believe that great writing begins with reading. Reading the kind of book you want to write will help to develop your thinking pattern and writing style. One thing you should take into consideration is what you are writing about. A book that is limited to your viewpoint or knowledge base, is a limited book. Research your subject matter as well as what questions people are asking. My husband, Tellis A. Bethel does a phenomenal job with his historical research. In doing so he presents several scholarly viewpoints in his books.

You won’t agree with everything you read in your research, but it is a great way to address some of the questions your readers may have. If you can write to fill a positive need then you are already one step ahead of the game. Now that you see how easy it is, it’s time for you to write a book.