Why most authors won’t earn a dime off their writing

Writing a book and becoming a full-time author is a big commitment. It is not “12-works of Hercules” big, but writing and self-publishing a book takes a head-strong and determined authors.

A lot of authors I worked with thought everything was done and dusted the moment they pressed “Publish”.

Sure. They got the word out to their friends and family, sat back and saw sales roll in. But once friends, family and acquaintances bought their book, sales started lagging or dried up entirely.

So what happened?

Why aren’t there any more sales coming in?

Surely, with all the great reviews your family and friends wrote about your book and the slight uplift in Amazon ranking your book received through the sales, people should discover your book and sales should come flying in?


Not really.

In fact. Four to Nine months after publishing, most self-published authors only sell 5 to 10 copies of their book each month. After the ninth month that can drop to 2 to 8 copies.

So why are you not selling any books?

You did not invest in a professional (looking) cover

Investing in a nice cover is paramount when you want to sell your book! And here’s why:

Imagine you have studied 5 long years for your bachelor and your master’s degree. You have always dreamt to become a (fill in the blank). After a long and tedious job hunt, you FINALLY secure an interview with a great company.

Would you turn up to the interview in greasy clothes, with unwashed hair smelling like you slept with a pack of wild dogs after a night drinking moonshine in hobo town?

Surely not.

So why would you present your book in a home made or badly designed cover? You have worked so hard and long on your book. It DESERVES a great presentation!

Presentation is everything.

It will help you land that job. It will help you attract readers.

Have a look at the book covers in your genre or niche. What do they look like? Are there elements like colours or composition that are the same? Take a look at the covers of the top 25 paid bestsellers in your niche. This will be the benchmark for your own book cover.

Now, book covers don’t have to be expensive. On websites like you can find book covers for $14 or less! Most cheap covers are premade. You basically buy the cover, mail your details such as title, author name, tagline and sometimes even blurb to the designer and within 24 to 48 hours you will have your book cover!

It is cheap and easy! So there is literally no excuse for not having a great book cover.

 You did not market your book

A few months before you hit that publish button, you NEED to start marketing your book. You need to start building your social media channels, interact with other authors, interact with readers…

When you launch a book and only then start building your social media platforms, you will not get any momentum.

You will literally be screaming into the void.

This means you need to start marketing your book at least 3 months in advance.

Share excerpts. Count down to your launch date. Try to get some interviews done and make some noise on these social media platforms.

Great social media platforms for authors are twitter and goodreads. There is a flourishing author community on twitter. Most people are very happy to help you oout.

What about Facebook? Is Facebook still a viable social media platform? Yes and no.

Facebook doesn’t like to give pages organic reach anymore. They want you to pay for reach. And although I would recommend running some ads – I am not sure if these ads will pay off!

Gary V always says you should direct 80% of your time to your favourite platforms (twitter in this case) and 20% of your time you should spend planting seeds on other networks. I would highly recommend having a Facebook page and an Instagram profile.

Make sure to interact with people – even though they might never buy your book. Building a community is paramount to create some online buzz the days before you finally publish your book.

You did not reach out to bloggers

Blogger outreach is extremely important when you publish a book. Book reviews, blog tours and interviews can get the word out about your book beyond your personal circle of friends or the community you are building on the social media platforms.

You obviously need to be able to select the right kind of bloggers and influencers.

The last thing you want to do is start mailing every blogger on the bookbloggerslist. Why? Not all of them will be interested in your book. That’s wasted time and effort.

You will also want to have a look at the kinds of books they read and review.

What kinds of books are they? Do they fit your niche or genre?

If not you should refrain from sending an email. If you are not sure it might be interesting to send one anyway.

Some book bloggers ask for physical copies, others are happy with a digital book. Keep in mind though that many of these bloggers spend many hours every week reading, writing and promoting their blogs. That’s a lot of work! So don’t be angry or rude when they ask for a physical copy.

Reaching out to bloggers takes A LOT of time and effort. Don’t be surprised if you spend  50 hours on outreach alone. It is tiring. There’s a lot of rejection. And not everyone will actually review your book.

But it is worth it! Not sure how to reach out to bloggers? Or maybe you don’t have oceans of time to research and email hundreds of individual bloggers? I work closely together with Emma and Luke at The Book Marketing Expert and I can honestly tell you they do an amazing job promoting books, running ads and reaching out to bloggers

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