PressYou’re doing everything you can to promote your book, including blogging, social media, public appearances, signings and even advertising but your books aren’t selling. What can you do? Here are ten tips below:

Write the Best Book Possible

First, make sure you have written the best book possible. If your book is poorly edited, potential buyers will know when they read your excerpts and book blurbs and they’ll stay clear. With so much competition in the book industry today, your book must have the highest level of quality and professionalism. If you wrote a prior book that sold well but your fans are not returning, take a critical look at your writing; it is possible buyers of your first book identified a lot of mistakes and are reluctant to take a second chance on you. While self-published authors receive the brunt of the criticism, small to mid-size publishers may also overlook the importance of good editing.

Research the Genre

Pile of BooksSecond, research your genre. This can be done easily on sites such as Bowker’s Books in Print (check out Self-Publishing in the United States Report). It’s possible the genre you’re writing in has a glut of authors and books that you’re competing against, or even that the genre is fading in popularity. Consider another angle for your book; for example, if you have written a romantic suspense and marketing the suspense aspect isn’t working, switch to the romantic angle and compare the results.

Find Your Audience

If you’re doing everything right but people are not buying, you are not reaching the right audience. You might have a thousand “friends” on Facebook or ten thousand followers on Twitter but if they are not the right target market, all your efforts will fall flat. It’s common for authors to state that “everybody” will like their book—male, female, all ages, all cultures—but that is simply inaccurate. Try this experiment: check out the New York Times Bestseller Lists: how many of those books are you going to rush out and purchase? If you’re skipping over titles that don’t interest you, you’re a prime example of the average reader: they are simply not interested in all topics and all genres.

If you are advertising online, experiment with your keywords and phrases as well as your demographics. The more specifically you can identify your ideal reader, the better your chances are of connecting with them.

You could also be promoting yourself on the wrong channel. For example, suppose you wrote a book about retirement (or a couple in their retirement years) and you’re advertising it on Instagram—which is known to appeal to more millennials. You’re simply in the wrong place. Don’t focus your time, energy and resources on a channel that isn’t working for you.

Shopping CenterPut Yourself in Your Reader’s Shoes

If you put yourself in your reader’s shoes, consider where they are likely to be found: what stores do they shop, in what forums do they hang out, what groups do they belong to? Go where your reader is; don’t expect them to be looking for you.

With physical appearances and signings, consider whether your ideal reader is likely to attend. Look for events that target specific genres; look for stores in which your genre is popular. Think outside the box to venues and groups that meet on a regular basis, such as historical or genealogy groups that might be interested in the backdrop of your book.

This also ties in with listening to your audience—what are they looking for and where are they trying to find it?

What is Your Message?


Consider your message—and every tweet, post, picture, video and blog is a message. Are you constantly begging people to buy your book? Is the focus all about you—for example, asking people to purchase within a certain timeframe so you can improve your online statistics? Other than close family and closer friends, what is the motivation for someone to buy your book simply to help you?

Advertising is all around us. Take a moment and pay attention to it. Everything is oriented toward the consumer. If they buy a certain piece of clothing, car, electronic (or fill in the blank) they will feel like they have improved their existence. What is your book offering them? Escapism? Humor? A puzzle? Reword your message so your ideal reader knows how they will benefit from reading your book.

Where Are You Sending Them?

Buy Now PaypalYou should be providing links so your ideal reader can purchase your book quickly and nearly effortlessly. Books are primarily an impulse purchase so when your book appeals to someone, you need to capitalize on it. If you are sending them to a blog, do you have buttons and images that they can immediately click on and start the purchase process? If you are sending them to your website, are you sending them to a Landing Page for that book? If they’re going to a Home Page and must navigate menus and click numerous times to reach the point of purchase, with each click you are reducing their chances of buying.

Where is Your Book?

Similarly, if you promote something that is not readily available, you could have interested readers but no place to sell them. At a minimum, your book should be available on your website and on at least one online retailer such as amazon. Less than 1% of all books published today are actually stocked in physical book stores—something the average reader doesn’t know. So if you’re sending them to book stores, make sure you tell them to check with Customer Service if they can’t find it on the shelves, or let them know when it will be a special order.

If you are traditionally published, you won’t have any input on the price of your book but if you are self-published, be sure to do your homework so you don’t price yourself out of the market. If you are selling from your website, consider free shipping if the reader spends a particular amount.

If you are promoting locally, consider forging relationships with privately owned book stores and boutiques as well as the big box stores.

What Are Your Competitors Doing?

Look at the New York Times Bestseller List, which is where you want to be, right? Which authors write in the same genre as you? Compare your website to theirs. Follow them on social media. Read their blogs. What are they doing that you’re not doing? How are they promoting differently?

Master the Art of Inbound Marketing

Audience SegmentsInbound Marketing is the process of attracting strangers to your product before they even realize they’re ready to buy, and it includes the process of turning them into customers. Think of it this way: no author wants to be a door-to-door salesman but that’s what a lot have turned into on social media. Instead of knocking on doors and asking someone to buy your product, inbound marketing has them knocking on your door and asking you if they can buy it.

This is done through compelling content: a great, well-designed website, interesting blogs, good interaction on social media, persuasive ad copy, targeting the right people and making it easy to buy.

Don’t Give Up Too Soon

Professional marketers know they must constantly evaluate and adjust their messaging. What works one day may not work the next. Do not expect instant results. Though book buying is most often an impulse buy, it doesn’t necessarily mean the purchase is made instantaneously. Consider your own buying habits: if you discover a book that you believe would appeal to you, what do you do? Write it down on a piece of paper or electronic note for later? Or do you drop everything and buy it right then?

Often a buyer must see the advertised product more than once before they take action. If your book hasn’t found its ideal market within a month or three months or six months, don’t declare it a failure. Look at what you are doing to market it and where you are marketing and adjust, adjust, adjust.

Need help with your marketing? If you’re interested in boosting your sales and achieving success, try our 52 lessons – from identifying your target market to developing your marketing strategy, using social media effectively and much, much more! Click here for all the details.

p.m.terrell is the internationally acclaimed, award-winning author of more than 21 books in several genres. Her first book was published in 1984 and she became a full-time writer in 2002. She has mentored authors for more than 15 years and is the co-founder of The Book ‘Em Foundation and the founder of the Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair. For more information, visit