A few facts, thoughts, assumptions, and lies about selling books.

prepositionErrors

BLOGGING IS DEAD. I’ve been spinning out gold here for years. Maybe I should have spent more time writing books instead because my blog stats are fairly static. This site gets pretty decent traffic when I post, but it’s not growing as I’d hoped. Still glad to do it because it’s a compulsion, but I don’t do it as often and I don’t do it to sell books. I’m here to gain allies, share information and rant when the pressure builds too high.

My book sales come through Amazon promoting me, perhaps the occasional ad, pulse sales and, most important, word of mouth. I experiment with categorization and keywords and KDP Select. I write surprising books with many twists and turns and emotional gut punches. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been teetering on the cusp of success a long time and sometimes that’s lonely and sad. That’s when I stalk around the house naked, overcompensate for my doubt, pour a stiff coffee and start shouting, “Tonight I shall drink from the Chalice of Glory!” 

Solution:

Robert Chazz Chute
Robert Chazz Chute

We all need an author page, but do we really need to blog? Instead, go where it’s easier for consumers of information to consume. Twitter, when used well, is one option and less time-consuming.

Note, too, there are far fewer podcasts than there are blogs. I’m back podcasting after taking a hiatus. My podcast stats not only bounced up nicely with one new episode this past week, but the numbers were pretty steady in my absence. To catch the latest All That Chazz podcast (The Hit Man Edition) click here.

The Oft-repeated Wisdom May be a Lie.

Gird your loins because this is going to get scary. Here’s what we think we all know for sure:

Market your books by writing more books.

Well, yes and no. If you have a hit, your new adoring readers may want to read everything you write and then it finally will pay to have a huge back list. However, it amazes me how many readers are very genre-specific in their tastes. More books doesn’tnecessarily translate to more sales.

I know this goes against everything you’ve read and it goes against what I believed until recently. But, as Tucker Max said on the Self-Publishing Podcastrecently, “Book discovery is broken.”

My Evidence: 

This-Plague-of-Days-OMNIBUS-Large-678x10241. Some authors are making good money writing fairly crappy books, and fairly few. (So much for the “Make-it-great-and-it-will-certainly-sell meme.”) What makes them hot? Genre choice is one major factor, I suspect.

2. It’s surprising how many authors seem to do okay with their first book or two. Or they get featured on podcasts and whatnot despite being relative novices. Is it their marketing machine, their genre of choice or luck? (More about the touchy subject of luck in a moment.)

3. It’s disheartening to find (in my informal and unscientific survey) that there are solid, experienced authors who:

(A) appear to be great at marketing,

(B) have an impressive number of books to sell, and yet,

(C) one of their series is actually selling and just about everything else is not. Read (C) again. Aren’t you glad your girded your loins? I know it’s counterintuitive, but it’s what I’ve been told by authors with a lot of books out there (as in more than thirty).

Some authors are blaming cannibalization from Kindle Unlimited for their recent sales dip. Or is it that the recession still rolls on in too many places? Or is it that readers already have too many free books to read? Can we blame our sales platforms? The narrow availability of Bookbub and the ineffectiveness of non-Bookbub sales tools? As a last resort, I suppose we could blame ourselves, but don’t wallow. I’m here to open the Box of Depression, not stuff you in deeper.

The Lie We All Need to Believe

On a recent publishing podcast, somebody who is making many thousands of dollars a month said something like: “Any author with persistence will make it big.”

Math says that’s not true. We won’t all make it big. Many of us won’t make it at all. Like the stock market, everybody can’t ride high by sheer force of will. If persistence alone were the issue, I’d have fewer writer friends constantly worried about money. I think some of us have to work smarter, but many of us are certainly working very hard. Telling us to bear down even more isn’t really helpful and may be damaging to our health, our relationships and our self-esteem.

Please click the book cover image to read more about Robert Chazz Chute and his novels.

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  • Then it’s too bad that writing is an addiction, isn’t it?

    And keeps spreading.

    At least now far more people make it past the gatekeepers (by doing an end run around them); those are the people who in the past said, “If only I could get a publisher…!”

    And we now have control over many things writers didn’t before: cover, description, marketing, distribution (to a degree) – all those things which authors complained their publishers had dropped the ball on.

    I tried the ‘find an agent’ route with the first novel I finished – and remember the emotional trauma of the process. Was it any good? It had its bits; I’m planning to gut it and re-use the idea when I have time, because I still really like the protagonist and the basic idea. But submitting, writing queries, digging through lists of agents and submission guidelines and books and conference offerings was physically painful – and netted a couple of handwritten, ‘nice’ rejections only.

    It was a mystery set in the world of research physics – for all I know, it may be publishable almost as is in the current world (my mechanics – grammar, spelling, punctuation – have always been competent). Genre sells, as you said.

    I like the possibilities of this world better – SOMEONE will win the lotteries, and people are reading.

    As addictions go, this one is not bad.

  • Caleb Pirtle

    Robert, the more we learn, the less we know, and, when it comes to selling books. it’s difficult to separate fact from fiction, and sometimes I think it’s all fiction.

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