Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why It's So Difficult to Sell a Self-published Book?

By A.B.Whelan

The answer is very simple: because it’s not popular. People tend to buy or even interact with products that are already popular. Of course there are other elements, such as being poorly written and edited, dotted with typos, meaningless plots, paper-thin characters, etc., however, if a book is popular people will buy it in spite of its flaws. 

Established publishing houses have entire teams of editors, designers, PR personnel, publicists, and a ton of money to make any book look desirable. They have working formulas that have been perfected over the years and tested on the market for decades. On the other hand, if you are a self-published author, you’re most likely a one-man team who write, edit, design, and promote your own work. The good news is that in today's technological revolution there are tons of easily accessible author-platform-building tools available for those who are willing to learn and listen.

What makes a book popular?

Trademark. When Harper Teens publishes a novel, you can be sure it’s a great book. And we believe it is a great book because we trust their editors’ taste and have already sampled their products. Now that's the trademark an upcoming self-pub author doesn't have. We have to gain the reader’s trust. And it’s not easy because readers know if an author publishes her own work, the book hasn’t gone through any kind of filter and most likely the final product is not as good as a well-edited, thoroughly proofread book which professionals worked on for months. Oh, we do try to get our books edited, but no matter how your sister, husband, friend, mother, etc. say that your book is the best book she has ever read, in reality people close to us will never tell you the complete truth.

What can you do to get your manuscript into a better state?

Hire a professional editor. Which is easier said than done, because just for a simple spelling check you have to cough up a thousand bucks. A thorough proofreading, editing and critical appraisal can cost you up to five grand. And your book might never sell more than a couple hundred copies for $2.99. I was lucky to meet a fantastic English professor who is willing to edit my work for the pure fun of it. But one proofreader is not enough. I know self-pub authors who hired multiple proofreaders and they still find phrases or words that should have been changed or parts that do nothing but drag out the story.

So if self-pub authors’ books are not quality enough, why do readers care about them at all?

Because they are cheap or even free, the risk is minimal, yet there is a chance of finding a gem.  Besides, Amazon even allows its customers to return e-books for seven days after purchase. And from time-to-time self-pub authors do emerge from the sea of e-book publishers. Amanda Hockings’ books are very popular despite reviewers’ complaints about the lack of editing. I guess her stories were satisfying enough. And without reader support authors such as Colleen Hoover, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jessica Sorensen might never have been discovered either.

Most of us self-pub authors want to produce the best books with the limited tools we can afford. We try to get better, work harder, re-read our manuscript one more time. And after a few successful book launches we can afford to spend more money on polishing our new manuscripts. We always chase time because we don’t have the luxury of writing our books for a year. Readers demand sequels, new novels, otherwise they forget about us and move on to a new series. Some of us try to keep the attention on us with silly Facebook posts and images, or share bits of our life on Twitter, hoping that those readers who liked our first book will stay interested and buy the next one. And unfortunately in the rush to publish (sometimes every 2-3 months), quantity defeats quality.

But if you set the bar high for yourself and you dare to dream big, eventually you will achieve great things. Your book might never be the next Twilight or Hunger Games, but it could always be the first Fields of Elysium. :o)

Originally posted: Click Here!

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