August, 2017

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6 Ways You Are Destroying Your Chances of Finding Readers


This week, I am pleased to introduce Mr. Laurence O’Bryan from BOOKSGOSOCIAL.COM, I have been learning a lot from Laurence and his team.  This article was previously published on his site in June 2017. Laurence O’Bryan had 3 books published by Harper Collins around the world. Now he helps other authors get discovered at

You’re a writer. You want to find readers. Traditional publishers are paying less and less, and they are taking fewer books these days.

So you decide to self-publish. You think it’s enough to put your book on the internet, that people should buy it, that you’ve done your job.

But have you destroyed your chances of your book finding readers, because of basic mistakes?

Sure, readers are still looking for high-quality stories and help from non fiction books, but these days they use the characteristics of how a book is presented as tells, indicators of the quality of storytelling and writing within.

If you can’t pay attention to these basic tells, they assume it’s unlikely you paid attention to the quality of the writing. And often they are right.

Are you destroying your chances of finding readers with these basic mistakes?

1.  Are you using a home made cover or a cover made by anyone who isn’t a cover designer? Your friend/family member, who is a wonderful artist, is not the person to get to make your cover. They don’t know what is required in your genre for a cover to sell a book. This mistake is often compounded by a refusal to take advice and a stubbornness, despite poor sales, to change a cover. Why do authors become emotionally attached to totally inappropriate covers? What’s that I hear you say, professional covers are too expensive? See our resources at the bottom of this page for how to get covers for less than the price of a dinner for two in a restaurant.

2.  Maybe you haven’t had an editor review your book. You haven’t had a proof reader check it before publication either.  If you get one review on Amazon pointing out basic mistakes in your English, this is almost certainly the kiss of death for your book sales. No, we don’t want to wade through your experimental use of English. We buy books for what we can get from them, a great story, advice, entertainment. You are insulting other self-published writers, and your readers, by not paying, at the very least, for a proof read for your book before you put it on Amazon. We have low cost resources for basic editing listed below.

3.  You priced your ebook too high. Most unknown names need to start with low priced ebooks. Your goal is a high total income, not a high individual sale price. It’s not about what you think a book is worth either. Pricing, in our capitilist system is based on supply and demand, not what the producer thinks their goods are worth. Study the pricing of your competitors, and how new entrants to the market use pricing to secure sales. Start fiction at 99c for an ebook. Move to $2.99 for your ebook after a period. How long that period lasts depends on whether you have another book on the way, other books in the series, and if you have gained some traction in the market yet. Non-fiction can start higher. In all cases look at what authors at a similar point in their career are charging for a similar ebook. Price to market.

4.  Your book description on Amazon is poor. You thought that all that was needed was a few lines, or that a big block of text would do. You spent a long time writing your book, but dashed off your description in a few minutes, without researching how other top selling books in your genre are described, or even noticing things such as layout, use of a hook, introduction of character, location, plot or benefits to the reader, in the case of non-fiction. These are not optional elements to a book description. You need to describe your book in a way that appeals to potential readers. If you want readers, that is. At BooksGoSocial we advise all paid up members on how to change their description to help their book sell. Do all members ask for advice? No, many assume they got this right and even when the advice is a free extra, don’t bother to seek it.

5.  Few reviews on Amazon. Without reviews your book simply will not sell. Don’t look to your family or friends for reviews either. They are not going to go to Amazon and review your book. They don’t read, or they don’t read in your genre, or they hate the fact that you stopped giving them birthday presents. Stop. Seek reviews from readers in your genre. Be patient. This is why publisher send out free advance ebook copies a month before publication to thousands of readers and bloggers. They know it takes time to read a book and that only a few people for every hundred who read a book will review it on Amazon. Again BooksGoSocial has a free service to help with this. In fact we have four free services to help authors get reviews. See below for details.

6.  No interest in learning the basics of marketing. Marketing is not a dirty word. It’s the basic skill that keeps our system moving. If you grew vegetables you’d want to learn how to present them, find buyers, be nice to buyers. Invest in learning the basics. We have a free course on the basics, listed below. Steven King took his books from book store to book store in the 1970’s to find readers. Surely you can invest in yourself too?

Here are the resources mentioned in the post:

1.  For covers see our low-cost selection, and the work we have produced at this Facebook page. You can order a cover at the Store link on the left. They start at $49.

2.  We have an edit report system, which checks for basic mistakes in English. It starts at $29 and is available here. We also have a panel of editors, who will copy edit and give advice on story issues. Email for details. Prices for that start at $250 for a complete novel.

3.  We have a free service that will edit your book description. You have to take a basic membership of our book promotion service to get that. Prices start at $49. Go here to sign up.

4.  We have 4 ways to help you get reviews. All are free. Email for details.

5.  We have a free course on the basics of digital marketing here. It’s less than one hour of your time, but in 5-minute clips that you can watch whenever suits you.

Whatever you decide to do, please remember that much of the responsibility for how your book sells rests with you.

Good luck with your journey. The world needs new writers. Don’t assume we don’t want to read your book, just because you have had poor sales. Fix the above.


How to Find Stores That Will Sell Your Book


Man, I love the idea of my book on the shelves of Wal-Mart and Costco. I love the vision I have of seeing eight copies of my book standing, cover face out, on the top shelf of the reference section in Barnes & Noble. What I don’t love thinking about is this: my book does not belong in any of these stores. I wish it were not so. I wish B&N, Wal-Mart, and Costco would sell my book and that it was the perfect fit for the customers who shop at these places, but it’s not. The type of readers who want a book about the publishing industry (which is what I write about) are more likely shopping online and at conventions.

We all want to sell more books. But before we pitch one more store, I would like us all to take a few moments and ask ourselves some very necessary questions:

1. What kind of places will you pitch your book to?

Are you focusing on bookstores, chains, supermarkets, airport stores, libraries, gift stores, online retailers? Do the types of outlets you’re targeting typically carry your kind of book?

2. Have you considered every store that might sell your book?

Get in the car, let a friend drive, and write down all of the places you see as you ride down the street. Go to malls, strip malls, main streets…Seriously. Write down every store you pass. When you get home, research them online, and weigh their value. Would your book be a good fit for any of them?

3. Do readers of your kind of book shop in stores you want to be in?

Romance novel sales have dropped in bookstores in recent years. More and more sales of this particular genre are moving online. The shelves in bookstores that stretched for miles, filled with romance novels are shorter now that folks can shop in the comfort of their own home. Cookbook sales to the library market on the other hand have exploded! Are the fans of your type of book shopping at the kinds of stores you are targeting?

4. What are your chances of getting into your chosen stores?

Okay. So you have identified the many stores where your book would fit, you have determined that the stores sell books like yours, AND that people shop at those stores looking for books like yours. Nice work! So…can you actually get your book in the stores? It depends upon a few things:

  • Are your books available at the wholesalers where those retailers buy their books?
  • If not, are you willing to sell the books on consignment?
  • Are your books available as discounted and returnable?  (This mostly matters for bookstores.)
  • Are you marketing and creating demand for your book?

5. What can you do to increase your stocking in stores?

When a bookstore agrees to test a book or to place a starting order, you will most likely see an order for one or two books. (What? That’s all? Yup.) They’ll order more if they sell out of those, but upfront, one to two books is all an author will get on a trial run. Take their small buy and be grateful.

If you are more focused on airport stores or major chains, then you will mostly likely get a refusal from the main office. But you can sometimes get your local venue (Costco, airport store, etc.) to agree to let you do an event. If you book a signing or an event that results in many sales, that will be enough to improve your chances of a regional stocking. If your regional stocking does well and makes the company money, then your regional stocking can become a national one. This is a very simplified overview of the process but an accurate one.

Final Thoughts

It is time to stop pushing your book at stores and do your research to find out if your type of readers buy your type of books and from where they purchase them. Drive to your local store and ask them how books in your category are selling. Ask them if your category is a strong one for them. If they say no, get in your car, go to another type of store, and ask them the same thing. Repeat until you run out of stores.

The best thing you can do in ANY case is to work to create demand. It is not enough to get your book into stores, you also have the responsibility to get your book out of them.

# Originally Published at IngramSpark Jan 2017