Why don't our books sell on the Kindle Store?





Let’s explore some reasons together.

1.  The book is a piece of crap.

Okay, I know this is heresy.  Before you stop reading and drop a comment below about how I’m full of it, give me a chance.  Every writer worth his or her salt believes in his work. If you don’t believe in your writing, do us all a favor and quit putting words on paper.

But just because we believe in what we are doing doesn’t mean we are good at it. We may suck.

I still haven’t made it out of the heresy corner yet, but I am working on it. It may be that the work is well-conceived, but poorly executed. Maybe the piece is well-conceived, well-executed, but poorly edited.  Maybe all of the things I have mentioned are in good order and the cover stinks.

The reason we have an immediate negative reaction to this sort of blog is because most writers, myself included, start from the default belief that our writing doesn’t stack up well against other people’s writing.  Maybe this is because we use the great writers of the last fifty years as the persons to whom we compare ourselves. Maybe it is because name-brand authors make a full-time occupation of bemoaning the terrible quality of independent authors’ work.  Maybe it is because we had to mow the grass when we were kids.  I don’t know, I’m just making an observation.

But before we blame the Amazon gods for low sales, we should take a hard look at our output and see how good it really is, or isn’t.

2.  The book is the same old same old.

Just like everyone else, I watch the bestseller lists to see what is hot and what isn’t.  The only conclusion I can draw from this practice is that no one knows in advance what sort of book is going to break out and become a hit.  Hindsight’s twenty twenty, foresight is a bitch.

But the point is that copycat work is like cold oatmeal.  Just because it worked for Stephanie Meyer doesn’t mean it will work for you.

None of us will write something completely new and original . Someone, somewhere has already written a book a lot like the one we have in progress right now.  Unless we bring a unique slant to it, one that springs from the well of our own hearts, we will look like cheap imitations of the real thing.

3.  We don’t have a lot of money to spend on book promotion.

How many independent writers do you know who are rolling in the dough?  That’s what I thought.

4.  No one has ever heard of us.

Unless you are a celebrity or a serial killer, you can forget exposure on the major news outlets and the talk show circuit.  These outlets focus on stories that are already newsworthy in their estimations.  Unknown authors of unknown books don’t fall into this category.

5.  The fates haven’t smiled on us yet.

Go figure on that one.

6.  We gave up before we made it.

I guess ninety-five percent of writers will fall into this group before it’s all said and done.  This is what the big boys are counting on, the calculus that plays right into their strategy.  Freeze them out, starve them out, trash talk them, ignore them, that’s their approach.  Unfortunately, it is a good strategy.  How many of us can afford to hang on not knowing if we will ever have a payday?


If we look back through the list, we can see that there are only a few of these factors we have any control over.

The long and short of it is that we must keep writing, keep working at our craft, keep exploring alternative ways to get the word out about our work, keep helping our fellow writers.

We are the insurgency.  The deck will always be stacked against us.

So, what else is new?

(Please visit Stephen Woodfin’s Amazon Author Page.)




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  • David L Atkinson

    Anything positive Stephen? And I read the whole blog!

    • David, It wan’t intended as a downer. I guess it was just a strong dose of reality about the current state of things. For me, the bottom line is that we as writers just have to realize that the path to success is a hard one that will require our best efforts for a long time. Thanks for the comment.

  • Caleb Pirtle

    This is an insightful look at the reasons why books aren’t selling on Kindle. Before digital publishing opened the door to all authors, these were the valid reasons why books never got published in the first place. Then, we had thousands of writers frustrated because no publisher wanted them. Now we have thousands of published writers frustrated because no one buys their books. In reality, nothing has changed.

  • Christina Carson

    It doesn’t take me up or down.It does satisfy my love of reality. It’s like anything worth doing. you must constantly look at it over and over because one of those times, something truly new will hit you.

  • Stephen,

    I think your point #6 makes a lot of sense. It is all about numbers.

  • Not a downer, Stephen, but a harsh dose of reality. Well done! It’s needed sometime (but not too often!) The one I like best is the one about the smiling fates – they all seem to be frowning these days, the damn ladies! The upshot is one and one only: we have to keep at it like Sysiphus and his proverbial stone, push it up and it comes down, up and down, up and down. Oh well, where’s that gin and tonic?

    • Stephen Woodfin

      those fates will turn on you when you least expect it.

  • Very nice. I like that you brought up #1. No one ever wants to talk about that possibility. ;D

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