#Writingbiz: When sales start to slide

In my quest to learn about the business of writing, I’ve come across threads in forums and discussions in Facebook groups on the issue of what to do when book sales slide.

I’m still learning, but I thought I should create a list of suggestions I’ve come across from others who have more experience on the issue.

Why do book sales slide?

The reasons for this are innumerable, so, I won’t even try to tackle it.  I will note that a previously high performing book can start a slide for no reason of the author’s. The mighty ‘Zon (Amazon) may change their algorithms and that can quickly impact how many eyeballs see a book. I don’t need to explain how that impacts sales.

What to do when sales take a nosedive?

There are a myriad of recommendations. Here are a few –

COVER ART: Could your covers do with a refresher? If so, now might be the time. Covers are a key ingredient in spurring sales as they attract a reader to a book. Ask yourself, does your cover sell your book or is it just really pretty? Does it hint at what’s within or is it just really pretty? Does it mimic the other similar books in its category on ‘Zon or is it just really pretty? And if pretty isn’t the problem, ask yourself, is your cover fugly?

If the answer is ‘Yes’ to any of those questions, or even maybe, it is time to have a come to Jesus moment and possibly start from scratch.

METADATA/KEYWORDS: There remains debate as to whether keywords really play a role in making books more visible on ‘Zon. Note, from my research, keywords are crucial for visibility on Google Play but I can’t swear to this as ahem, I’m yet to publish as at the writing of this here tome. If you believe in the power of keywords, then take the time to review yours as they may impact what categories your book is placed in. A slightly less competitive category (do those exist?) might allow your book to breathe in the sun. One author in a group I belong to, mentioned that she included Vampire as a keyword for her book and it shot up the rankings on ‘Zon.

CATEGORIES: Change your categories. You can do it yourself or send a polite message to ‘Zon asking for your book to be placed in specific categories.

As to the efficacy of this tactic, please see the Keywords discussion.

ADVERTISE: If you can afford it, a sale slump could be the time to do a promo push. There are so many avenues to advertise and they vary in price. Take advantage of them as that can put your book in front of new consumers who can become lifelong readers.

REACH OUT TO THE WORLD: Writers can be very antisocial – heads down over typewriters, laptops, tablets, papers etc. When last did you send out a tweet? When last did you say hello to your subscribers/mailing list buddies? When last did you blog? Let those who care about your work know that you care about them. Send subscribers something free. Engage your Facebook friends or fans. Tease your upcoming work. Reach out to the world and you just might find a new or old reader who’s willing to buy a book or two.

PUBLISH SOMETHING NEW: Me thinks this is the MOST IMPORTANT suggestion. A decline in book sales could be the result of your readers being bored because they’ve finished consuming your back matter (published works). It could also be because readers and prospective readers are watching to see if you’re ever going to finish your series. The cure to both ailments is to put out more books either in the same series or in a completely new one.

While the above is not the be all and end all of what can assist with a sales drop, they are things that I plan to consider when this happens to me. Notice I said ‘when’ and not ‘if’ because such declines happen to everyone. Such declines present an opportunity to get creative.

As with all things, your mileage may vary (YMMV), so feel free to treat the tips above like a grain of salt. But, if any of these tips have worked for you, can you share what you did? And if they haven’t or you disagree, let us know so we can all #ReadWriteLearn together.


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