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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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1. Are books selling as a result of these publicity efforts? Yes. Some efforts produced no sales (like my TV appearances), but others have (like reviews). While I have one friend who sold lots of books (hundreds) through local restaurants, and other local, non-bookstore venues, none of mine are selling through the same type of venues.

The good news is, by trying several different tactics, now I'm narrowing down what works for my book and what doesn't. I can concentrate on what works.

2. How many are selling? Well, it would be considered a bust if it were published by a traditional publisher, but I think marketing and economics are very different with a self-published book. I published "Enjoy Your Money" in March and it tends to sell about a book a day on Amazon. But last month, it sold about 60 copies, which netted me about $275 for December, without hardly any promotion at all. So, hopefully, it's slowly picking up steam through word of mouth. I also sell through bulk sales (a CPA and a pastor buying for graduation gifts) and sales when I speak.

3. Concerning time spent, I'm sure that it's a horrible per hour return, as I expected for the first year. This first 8 months, I figured I'd be operating at a financial loss, but hey, most new businesses lose money at first. My hope is that, as word of mouth continues to take hold, it will become profitable without my having to do much publicity. I have another book that was published 15 years ago. I haven't done any publicity on it for the past 14 years, but it continues to sell steadily on Amazon, making it a nice, passive stream of income.

Hope that helps. If you want more specifics, let me know!
Steve, I think book sales are also a typical "long tail" phenomenon. When the book is new it naturally gets more attention, but for most self-publishers, it's the rest of the "tail" i.e. your "1 book a day" on Amazon plus whatever else you move due to your own marketing efforts that eventually adds up.

As an example, the book I published originally in 1986 eventually went on to sell about 10,000 copies. Sounds great, right? Well, it took about 15 years--now that's a long tail. However, sales are sales. One of the reasons you don't want to get discouraged and quit is that if you keep going, one of these days you will publish another book, and the synergy you will enjoy will help the sales of both books, leveraging your efforts.

Forget the big sales numbers, this is the way to make small publishing profitable. But it does require consistent work, a good book, and a lot of patience. I also blogged about this same topic in How I Sold 10,000 Copies of my Self-Published Book if anyone is interested. Check it out, and don't stop marketing!

That's a great post! Thanks for putting it out there. I think one of the greatest things about self-publishing is that I decide when and if my book goes out of print. If word of mouth kicks in or I can keep working those connections, I can keep selling.

I think it's important how you researched different media outlets that might be interested in a book on your topic and contacted them individually (if I was reading you correctly). I think that's precisely what publishers will typically fail to do for authors. I assume publishers want to sent out a mass press release and send the book to a several places (without making initial contacts, without following-up), and then move on to the next book. It's quick and easy and they can say, "We put out the word to 10,000 media outlets!"

But it takes a lot of time to narrow down the movers and shakers in your field - blogs, newsletters, magazines, etc. - find the contact people, e-mail them to ask if they're interested, etc. Doing this a little bit per day for my book, I think it could go on for years. And many of the contacts lead me to other contacts, which lead me to other contacts. It's truly a fascinating process, and you never know when just one contact might strike gold for you.
Thanks Steve,

very honest and valuable feedback. I especially find interesting what you said in point 1 about finding the right venues for marketing. The downside to it though is that unless each book you publish is on a similar topic, it is likely that the lengthy and costly exercise of identifying the right venue has to be redone again.
I guess that is why publishers develop a specific niche.

Thanks for the info!


I generally find that there are exceptions to everything that experts say "you have to do this...." A big-time literary agent told me, "Since your first book was about music, you should continue to build a following on that topic with your next books." And it certainly would have been easier to sell to that same market.

But I felt that was all I wanted to say about the topic. My next book was on personal finance. But I've enjoyed studying how to market this new book. And I've found that by learning how to market this book, I'll be better equipped to market any book to any niche. Sometimes, the easiest road - the one that makes the most sense - can actually become a rut. The more difficult road can be the road to greater wisdom.
I wouldn't disagree with Steve, because it's abundantly clear that each has to find his or her own path.

From a publishing point of view, the second book is so much easier to sell, and helps cross sell the first. This is the whole idea that niche publishing is built on.

But yes, authors are expressive people, and sometimes you just don't know where the next wave of creativity will leave you!
Hey everyone,

Sorry I've been gone for so long. But I now have a new challenge. Let me show you what I mean.

First, I am still trying to keep a buzz going for Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male, my book that came out last August. It is doing well mostly through my local efforts, although there are days when I see my ranking on Amazon drop from the million area down to the thousands. The best ranking I have acheived is 63,000. Don't know if that is good or bad, but I like the sound of it.

Secondly, I just wrapped up rough editing on my second book. Right now it has a working title of Sensitivity 102: Choices. I am sure that when my editor gets a hold of it, it will change. But it follows the main character of my first book on the rest of his journey of self discovery as the first one ended when he was about to turn eighteen.

Thirdly, I just finished getting information for my third book--all about the trials and tribulations of family vacations.

And to add to this, the last review I got for Sensitivity 101 for the Heterosexual Male stated that he thought with a re-write of the "R" rated material down to "PG", a new cover and a new title, that he felt as though it would be a fantastic Young Adult read. SO I've been doing that.

This all leads me to my challenge...I need more time to get this all done. I know no one can help me with that, but I thought I'd share...and vent...and market all at the same time.

Hope you all had a great Holiday season and that all your dreams come true. Love this site and this discussion...looking forward to being more of an active member again, soon?
I think is it understanding what the publisher will do to promote my book. I feel like I'm getting very little advice or support from publisher almost like they don't care if the book sells. They actually sent me an author questionaire which asked me to tell them exactly what to do to promote the book. If it were not for the fact that I am a business and marketing expert, I would have been completely overwhelmed by the 10 page document.

Publishing Industry must sell books, not just publish them.

Melinda Emerson
I agree one hundred percent. I just received a letter telling me if I bought so and so many books, they give three to Stephen King. I responded with the fact they get 92% of my book's price so why aren't they doing it without my purchase.
Melinda, I think you have hit the nail on the head. Markets change, clients change, and we must change. Years ago, there were few (published) authors and some very good publishers interested in finding good authors and selling books. There has been a big change with the advent of the computer, Internet and I might add, growing educational pursuits. OK, here is how I see it. Almost anyone can become a published author and it starts for around fifty dollars with and works on up into the multiple thousands with many companies, according to what the market will bear. The publishing companies have had to adjust and now they make a lot of money selling your books back to you and hoping you will be able to sell your books as well. I have five books in my last series, three of my children have published books and are looking to do more. One of the spouses of one of my children has a bunch of professional books. I have a second five book series in edit. Need I say more? It's a very different game from when I started writing over forty years ago. Now, don't be surprised if the cost charged by these same companies to promote your book cost much more than it did to get the book published in the first place. And, with no guarantee that their marketing will sell your books. Who is taking all the risk here? Who is making the constant profit? I think I will let you answer those questions for yourself. Now, having said all that and keep in mind, the previous statement is only my opinion. I admire anyone willing to go the effort and expense to put a book on the market. We all have something important to say and there will always be someone who really likes what we do. I thrive on the compliments about my books and I get no end of encouragement. Keep up the good work, study and understand the process and you will survive in a field of millions. I wish all who go here, the best of luck, we are in this together.
Thank you for the empathy. I went with a major publisher for credibility. I have it, but I really earned it and an invaluable education too. I am thrilled that my book Become Your Own Boss in 12 Months will be out soon, but everyday I feel behind on the marketing even though I've been building my platform for over a year. Last week, I did have a major biz website offer me a bi-weekly start-up biz column, which is a big deal. I know that I really need to cut myself some slack, but who doesn't want to be a NYT bestseller or sitting on the coach beside Matt Laurer.

A book that really helped me understand the publishing business is Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz.

To all those whose weapon is a pen.
My best to you--

Melinda Emerson
WHEN your book comes out please let me know I want a signed copy of it, or we can barter I have a childrens book and we can barter to it, thanks Linda


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