Why I'm not selling my books

February 21, 2015

February 21, 2015

I’m taking more faltering steps into self-publishing as the real truth behind it all begins to unravel. Until now I have not needed to get too involved because others have done the work for me. But like the proverbial swan gliding around on the surface of the water; the marketing feet are going nineteen to the dozen beneath it all while above the surface all is calm and under control. Writing books and having them published by professionals is fine. Going into self-publishing and having someone else do the work for you is fine too, but when you realise that as a writer you’ll remain invisible unless you promote yourself, then sales will be as rare as hen’s teeth. The faltering steps I mentioned at the beginning of this blog are mine. I am beginning to learn that my books will never sell well — never mind my quality as a writer — unless I start looking in the right places and find those corners where the secrets lie.

I’ve been following Nick Stephenson’s tutorial (I met him in London a couple of weeks ago) and learning some really useful stuff, as well as seeing how little I know. I have also been brought up short by the fact that none of my paperbacks will ever be sold through UK retailers because they are published by CreateSpace, a subsidiary publishing outlet of Amazon. This means I now have to find a British publisher, or a POD imprint company who will have established links to the UK retail outlets. ISBNs are another minefield. I realise now that I need to purchase a block from Nielsen. This also means having to re-publish the three titles I have currently listed with me as publisher. My other four titles are still with Acclaimed Books, but because I am taking them under my name again, I will need to ensure they are available through all outlets world-wide. This doesn’t mean that my books will suddenly appear in the high street book shops; but if ever I get the chance to sell them that way, I have to be prepared.

Keywords and web crawlers are expressions that are now familiar to me. Apart from a vague understanding why keywords were necessary, I could never fully understand what all the fuss was about. After all; wasn’t my ability as a writer supposed to do that for me? And web crawlers? Did I want them wandering all over my stuff? I do now. Why? Because I am grasping the nettle and understanding the game more and more. But after all that, success isn’t guaranteed; I still need to work at it.

I did manage to add another couple of thousand words to my current MS. I’m not whooping for joy because I have finally put pen to paper. I know it’s going to be a difficult road ahead — it always has been — but now it’s going to be even harder. Of course, other things get in the way of my routines etc. Hospital appointments for one thing. Shopping (ugh!). And life in general. I will miss the next meeting of the Chindi (www.chindi-authors.co.uk) writers because I have an eye appointment a couple of hours before the meeting, and I will not be able to drive because of having drops in my eyes. And missing the meeting hurts because I believe I will benefit enormously from being a member of the group. I know: I will also benefit by seeing the eye specialist!

But looking ahead I see plenty of positives. Perhaps at the moment I am trying to run before I have learned to walk; and if I show a little patience, and the effort I put in starts having an effect on my sales, then the positives will more than make up for the difficulties (from a book point of view) I’m experiencing now. Wish me luck!

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I NEVER KNEW I WOULD BE A WRITER.