Why don't our books sell on the Kindle Store?
August 7, 2012
Let’s explore some reasons together.
1. The book is a piece of crap.
Okay, I know this is heresy. Before you stop reading and drop a comment below about how I’m full of it, give me a chance. Every writer worth his or her salt believes in his work. If you don’t believe in your writing, do us all a favor and quit putting words on paper.
But just because we believe in what we are doing doesn’t mean we are good at it. We may suck.
I still haven’t made it out of the heresy corner yet, but I am working on it. It may be that the work is well-conceived, but poorly executed. Maybe the piece is well-conceived, well-executed, but poorly edited. Maybe all of the things I have mentioned are in good order and the cover stinks.
The reason we have an immediate negative reaction to this sort of blog is because most writers, myself included, start from the default belief that our writing doesn’t stack up well against other people’s writing. Maybe this is because we use the great writers of the last fifty years as the persons to whom we compare ourselves. Maybe it is because name-brand authors make a full-time occupation of bemoaning the terrible quality of independent authors’ work. Maybe it is because we had to mow the grass when we were kids. I don’t know, I’m just making an observation.
But before we blame the Amazon gods for low sales, we should take a hard look at our output and see how good it really is, or isn’t.
2. The book is the same old same old.
Just like everyone else, I watch the bestseller lists to see what is hot and what isn’t. The only conclusion I can draw from this practice is that no one knows in advance what sort of book is going to break out and become a hit. Hindsight’s twenty twenty, foresight is a bitch.
But the point is that copycat work is like cold oatmeal. Just because it worked for Stephanie Meyer doesn’t mean it will work for you.
None of us will write something completely new and original . Someone, somewhere has already written a book a lot like the one we have in progress right now. Unless we bring a unique slant to it, one that springs from the well of our own hearts, we will look like cheap imitations of the real thing.
3. We don’t have a lot of money to spend on book promotion.
How many independent writers do you know who are rolling in the dough? That’s what I thought.
4. No one has ever heard of us.
Unless you are a celebrity or a serial killer, you can forget exposure on the major news outlets and the talk show circuit. These outlets focus on stories that are already newsworthy in their estimations. Unknown authors of unknown books don’t fall into this category.
5. The fates haven’t smiled on us yet.
Go figure on that one.
6. We gave up before we made it.
I guess ninety-five percent of writers will fall into this group before it’s all said and done. This is what the big boys are counting on, the calculus that plays right into their strategy. Freeze them out, starve them out, trash talk them, ignore them, that’s their approach. Unfortunately, it is a good strategy. How many of us can afford to hang on not knowing if we will ever have a payday?
If we look back through the list, we can see that there are only a few of these factors we have any control over.
The long and short of it is that we must keep writing, keep working at our craft, keep exploring alternative ways to get the word out about our work, keep helping our fellow writers.
We are the insurgency. The deck will always be stacked against us.
So, what else is new?
(Please visit Stephen Woodfin’s Amazon Author Page.)