The 4 Reasons Your Book Probably Isn’t Selling


It’s a common instinct among indie authors to look for advanced solutions to their book sales problems. There are a lot of places to turn to find these complex methods for increasing your book sales. But you really should consider the basics first when it comes to your books.

In authorpreneurship, like many sports, the fundamentals are extremely important. It’s only after you make sure that your foundation is strong, that you should go out there and try everything under the sun to get more readers. Here are four basic reasons why your books may not be selling nearly as much as they could:

1. Your Niche Is Too Narrow

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There are plenty of success stories out there of books selling extremely well to a very narrow niche. But the success stories may distract from the overwhelming percentage of failures in those hyper-specific book categories. When it comes down to it, it’s much easier to find new readers in genres that have a lot of readers. If your tactics aren’t leading to results, then it may be because your niche is simply too narrow.

One of the easiest ways to determine this is to go to your Amazon Top 100 bestsellers list to check the rankings of books in your genre. A healthy genre likely has relatively strong books all the way down to number 100. If the books towards the bottom of your genre’s bestseller list are ranked 100,000 or above, then it’s possible that your genre may not be able to support your writing career as much as you’d hoped.

2. Your Cover Isn’t Good Enough

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As important as the advice, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” is for not making quick judgments, that doesn’t mean that all your potential readers are following it. Covers are getting better. They’re improving for indies and they’re improving for trad pub authors. That means that a cover you used even two years ago might no longer be up to snuff. It takes money to make money, and spending 20-30 hours to learn Adobe Photoshop, probably isn’t the best use of your time. Instead, you should get a high-quality pre-made cover or you should get a custom cover done for your book.

Before you work with a designer to get your cover right, make sure that you’ve taken the time to look through the top-selling books in your genre. You want your cover to look like a good book in that niche, but you also want it to stand out. That’s not easy to do. But it’s something that successful books have in common.

3. Your Book Needs Work

No author wants to hear that their already-published book needs more work. That doesn’t mean we don’t need to hear that advice every so often. A book’s sample is one of the top reasons that readers choose to make a purchase. If your sample contains grammatical errors, boring prose, or a whole bunch of introductory material, then it’s not very likely people will pull the trigger. You need to captivate your potential readers from the beginning. Even if you just hire a top-notch editor to help you with the first chapter, that effort will be very worth it when it comes to hooking new readers.

Once you’ve gotten people to buy your book, the reviews will start pouring in. This is another time in which a not-ready-for-prime-time book will suffer. Errors or a problematic story/nonfiction book will result in bad reviews. Some “successful” authors have actually unpublished some of their old books. They’ve realized that the strength of their newer work better represents the kind of author they are. As you create stronger books, you may have to go back and do the same.

4. You Aren’t Marketing Enough

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Spending 10 hours a week on Facebook and 20 hours a week on Twitter isn’t necessarily marketing. You need to make sure that your week includes effective marketing practices. Ask yourself how much time you’re devoting to your mailing list or other forms of direct connection with fans. Figure out ways that you can reach out to places where new potential readers are hanging out. Some nonfiction books might require travel to a conference on your niche, while a young adult series might be better served by connecting with a YouTube book review channel. Your books won’t magically market themselves when you spend a lot of time on social media. You need direct forms of communication and outreach to ensure that your book gets out into your new readers’ hands.

Advice That Nobody Wants To Hear

Everybody wants to get to the next level, but just because you’re doing advanced things doesn’t mean that you’re ready for them. Make sure the basics are in place. Even just taking the small steps necessary to solidify your author platform will make a major difference in your next few years of book sales. Don’t look for a hack, or some secret of the ages. Write good books, make them look good, and tell the right people about them. That’s going to make a whole lot fall right into place.

5 Price Points You Should Consider For Your Book


Many authors spend far too much time worrying about the price of their books. While price is important, you don’t need an MBA to determine the best way to get readers to consider your book valuable. There are only five main price points that indie authors tend to consider. In this article, we’ll discuss which books tend to fall into which categories. Here are the five prices indies usually set for their books:


There are two different ways that indie authors set their books to a free price point. The first is to join Amazon’s KDP Select program. When you join Select, you’re able to make your book free for five out of 90 days. During those days, you can purchase ads and other promotions to get as many people to download your book for free as possible. In the past, this method used to be a surefire way to get major sales when your book came of its free promotion. Ever since Amazon changed its algorithm to give less weight to free book downloads, that method has been much less effective.

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The other way to make your book free on Amazon is to make the book free on other platforms like Kobo, Apple, and Google Play. Once you’ve made the book free there, you can email KDP support directly and provide them with the links to show them where the books are free. In most cases, they’ll match the Amazon price down to free as well.

Since Amazon no longer gives as much weight to free books, what’s the point of making your books free? If you write books in a series, having a free first book is one of the best ways to draw attention to the later books in your series. If you are a nonfiction writer, free books on Amazon could serve well as a lead generator in which you link back to your product or to your other books. Whatever kinds of books you write, you should definitely make sure that your free books link back to your email subscription form. Some authors have had major success with thousands of subscribers just from using their free books and links to the sign up form.


$0.99 is the lowest that you can price your book on Amazon. It’s also the lowest price point you’re able to choose aside from free on the other platforms. When self-publishing began on Amazon in 2010, $.99 had a major advantage over traditionally-published books. After all, most e-books from traditional publishers were $4.99 or above. Nowadays, there are so many books at $.99, by both indie authors and traditionally-published ones, that it no longer has the same kind of influence.

That being said, for paying customers, $0.99 has the least resistance to purchase. If you are not interested in free, but you still want to get as many downloads as possible, then $0.99 might be the right price point for you. One important thing to keep in mind, is that anything below $2.99 is going to give you a lower royalty rate on Amazon. Instead of 70%, you’ll only get 35% of each purchase. The one way around this is to use a Kindle Countdown Deal through the KDP Select program. This will allow you to price a book for a short time at $0.99 while you maintain your 70% royalty rate. This is a good way to get a lot more out of email promotions like BookBub or eReaderNewsToday.

Many authors choose to price short stories or very short nonfiction books at this price point. Note that $1.99 was not included as one of the five price points you should consider. For one reason or another, this price point has not been effective for most authors. It’s better to either use $0.99 or $2.99.

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$2.99 has typically been the most popular price point for indies. Up until very recently, this price has allowed self-published authors the ability to price under traditionally-published authors while still picking up the 70% royalty rate. Of late, things have changed a little bit. Traditional publishers are now experimenting with the $2.99 price point for the first book in popular series or for standalones that they are looking to promote. Some pundits have cited this as the major reason that indie authors began to lose some of their sales toward the end of 2014.

Despite this change in the pricing climate, $2.99 remains very popular for indies. Many authors will choose this price point for their novels or shorter nonfiction works. This price point gives them the leeway to move the book down to $0.99 for promotions or to test the book up at higher price points. One of the drawbacks to a book at $2.99 is that some readers may feel as though your book is less valuable than the higher-priced indies or traditionally-published books. When you’re just starting out, that isn’t such a big deal. But as you start to create more and more books, you may want to consider pricing your books higher, particularly if they are later books in a series of novels.


$3.99 has all the benefits of $2.99, but you have a little bit of wiggle room when it comes to testing out what price sells your books the best. Ideally, you want to get that 70% royalty rate as often as you can. Pricing your book at $3.99 allows you to move slightly down or slightly up and maintain that price point. For many indies, $3.99 is the standby for their medium-sized novels or their nonfiction books. You can price your books at this level right out of the gate, or you can decide to only set your books at $3.99 when you’ve gotten a few books posted on Amazon.

$4.99 or Higher

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$4.99 is relatively high for self-published authors, but there are plenty of them who price it here or higher. Amazon’s own publishing imprints tend to price their books at $4.99. If Amazon itself is using this as its main price point for novels in its publishing system, then it might be worth taking another look at this level. Some indies use $4.99 for their very long novels or their longer or more specialized nonfiction books. Pricing at $4.99 or higher could lead to more revenue, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

If you’re just starting out as an author, and you don’t have any other books on Amazon, $4.99 may seem like it’s asking too much of your readers. This is definitely the case if you have zero reviews and you haven’t even filled out your Author Central account yet. You’ll also need to make sure that your book looks like it’s worth $4.99. The page count needs to be high enough so that people feel as though they’re getting a good value. Your cover and your description need to look even more professional than usual. There’s nothing wrong with pricing your book higher, it just means that you have more to live up to.

Work Hard For The Money

Each of the above five price points comes with its benefits and drawbacks. There are indie authors who’ve had success using all of them individually or collectively. There’s no one price point that’s better than all the rest. You’ll need to experiment to make sure that the price points you’ve set are the best for your books. When it comes down to it, the price point you should set for your books is the one that sells the most copies.

6 Ways Video Can Enhance Your Author Platform


A new trend with movie trailer premieres involves actors introducing their latest films. Why do you think movie studios are testing this out? It’s because seeing the actor out of character leads to a more personal connection. They aren’t just stars, they’re real people who are genuinely excited for their upcoming project. In the age of Twitter, even a short video clip from a famous person can feel like the start of a deeper relationship.

This is a trend that indie authors can also take advantage. Readers are used to checking out your words and then moving onto the next book. What if you could add something to that? What if you could make the same connection that these actors are making by enlisting the help of video? With the right equipment, you can share video content with your readers that will make them feel as though they know you better. Richer relationships with your fans will result in more shares, more sales, and more reads of your future books.

Here are six ways to use video to enhance your author platform:

1. Show Your Professionalism

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Ten years ago, you would’ve needed to invest thousands of dollars into the right video equipment for this kind of project. That is no longer the case. While a decent lighting kit and camera will set you back a few hundred bucks, this is an expense that will pay dividends in the future. It can be such a challenge to set yourself apart from other authors. Professional-quality video is a great way to do it.

Convert parts of the content you share with your readers into video. Instead of a simple text auto responder on your email list, you can link to a high-quality video on YouTube. You can add a video to your author page on Amazon. You can even create book trailers in which you discuss each individual book in your catalog on your website. Just using videos in those three instances will put you ahead of 99% of the authors out there. Going beyond that, will cause you to rise even higher.

2. Show Your Personality

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Once you got some good equipment in your corner, you can start taking your video production to new heights. Beyond the simple trailers and getting-to-know-you videos, you can start to show your readers your personality. Video demonstrates and enhances all of the quirks that make you who you are. That might make you feel a little bit self-conscious, but it really is a positive thing.

There are thousands of eccentric personalities on YouTube. Many of the content creators on that site are willing to put themselves out there completely. They’re rewarded with thousands to millions of subscribers. You may be afraid to open yourself up, but many of the people who do find that there are way more people who like them for who they are than they ever thought possible.

There’s no need to hide your personality. Video allows more people to like you for who you are, and the more they like you, the more often they’ll buy your books.

3. More Marketability

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Video opens you up to many different opportunities from a marketing standpoint. They let you tap into multimedia collaborations with other authors, new types of advertisements on Facebook, and courses on platforms like Udemy. Posts with videos on Facebook and Twitter get way more shares and Likes than text alone. Having professional-quality video as a resource, simply makes you more marketable as an author.

4. Stand Out From The Crowd

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How many authors in your genre have you seen in a video? Probably not that many. Do you realize how big of an opportunity that gives you? Whenever you have the chance to stand out amongst all the other authors in your genre, you have to be the one to take it.

Film yourself in videos talking about your genre and your books. Touch on subjects that readers of your genre would love to learn more about. Be the author who has a skill set that distinguishes him or her from the rest of the pack.

5. A Whole New Audience

It would be easy to simply say that YouTube has hundreds of millions of video watchers, but YouTube also has a vibrant reading community. Booktubers are online video book reviewers. A quick search of booktubers on YouTube will reveal that many of these enterprising reviewers have hundreds of thousands of followers. Once again, this opens several different windows of promotion.

You can contact these booktubers and decide to do some kind of video collaboration. You can also start your own booktubing channel and work your way into the community that way. There’s also the method of targeting the viewers of these booktube channels in advertisements and other promotions. Video is the best way to tap into this vibrant audience of readers.

6. Have More Fun

There’s this opinion among a lot of indie authors that marketing is a slog and its a pain to get through every single day. Video gives you an opportunity to add some variety to your author platform. You can film videos about anything you want. Most of those videos can be used for marketing.

It’s not all about optimizing landing pages and getting your books into the right categories. So much of marketing is about doing it in your own creative way. Figure out how to incorporate your own style of video into your platform. You’ll have a lot more fun that way.

The Next Big Step After Podcasts

Here on the Author Marketing Institute, we’ve discussed just how much podcasts are shaping the industry right now, but nothing lasts forever. Given the sheer amount of video content that younger readers consume, video is bound to be the next big step in author promotion. Be on the cutting edge by investing in video today. You may find yourself riding the wave to hundreds of new fans.

4 Ways to Offer Bonus Content to Your Readers


Have you ever enjoyed the movie so much that you bought the DVD just so you could see the behind the scenes action? Millions of moviegoers every year buy the director’s cut of their favorite films. There’s no reason why indie authors can’t do the same thing with their platform and their books.

There’s obviously a big difference between big-budget Hollywood action flicks and your self-publishing career. These million-dollar productions have lots of true fans already established from watching the movie in theaters. As an indie author, you’re going to need to work backwards to establish your true fans by providing this behind-the-scenes content first. Since you don’t have millions of dollars to spend on marketing, you need to expend extra effort to get your readers excited.

Here are four ways that you can offer bonus content to your readers:

1. Share How You Got Started

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When you find out about a new star or someone that interests you, have you ever been tempted to go to Wikipedia to figure out where they came from? Perhaps not, but many readers are nevertheless interested in the backgrounds of the authors they read. You may feel as though you’re just getting started in your indie author career, but to a new reader you’re an incredible person who’s finished one or many books. This warrants you sharing your information with your devoted fans.

Talk about how you became an author. Start with how you came to love writing and how writing has impacted your life thus far. Feel free to pen stories that demonstrate your devotion to the craft. You can even talk about the moment where you knew that writing was the career path for you. This kind of stuff may feel trite to you, but it can be very exciting for readers to find out more about your humble origins.

2. Show Your Greatest Influences

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You know that person who you’re always itching to leave a dedication for at the front of your books? This is the kind of influence to talk about to your readers. Maybe it was a high school English teacher or it was a fellow author who gave you the push you needed to fully take on your career. Discussing how important this person was to your professional and creative development is a great way to honor the people who’ve inspired you. Tell a story about this person, or even consider corresponding with them and asking to publish the emails you two share.

Obviously, not all influences are people who you’ve known personally. Sometimes it’s a book that told you what you needed to hear so that you could press forward. It could’ve been a presentation you listened to amongst hundreds of other prospective writers. This is a story you should tell and it’s the kind of content that will get your readers extremely excited, especially if they someday want to become writers themselves.

3. Spoil the Secret Ingredients

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As we’ve previously talked about on the Author Marketing Institute, we like to think of creativity as more of a replicable system then something that’s made of magic. With that thought process in mind, we think it’s worth exploring the idea of sharing where your ideas and characters came from. For instance, discussing where you got the idea to use a certain setting or theme in your book is almost the exact equivalent of a director’s commentary on a DVD. You want your readers to feel like they’re special, and lifting the curtain will make them feel a unique connection with you.

You can also share with your readers how you actually sit down and get the words on paper. There’s more to share here than you might think. You could talk about your writing process, your writing space, how you edit your books, who designs your covers, and more.

4. Interviews With the Crew

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Speaking of the people involved in your production process, it’s an amazing special bonus for readers when you conduct interviews with the people who made your book possible. Using the Google Plus Hangout tool or Skype, you can film a conversation with your editor, your cover designer, your beta readers, the members of your writers group, or anyone else who was integral to your creative or production process.

Brainstorm as many questions as you can that your current or future fans might be interested in hearing the answers to. If you have a decent-sized list, then you can even ask your readers to come up with their own questions for the interviews. By taking a light tone with these conversations, you can show your fans how much you enjoy being an author.

All The Trimmings

There are countless ways you can give your readers something of yourself that will make them more excited for your future work. It’s really all about taking the time to create the bonus content that will provide them a bridge between the work you’ve already created and the books that you plan to release in the future. Think outside the box to come up with what your readers would love to see. Each fanbase is different, but the best way to maintain a loyal readership is to give your fans not only what they want but also content that will make them stay on board for life.

Part 2 – The Top 30 Websites for Authors to Learn About Self-Publishing


16. Lindsay Buroker’s Blog –


Fantasy author Lindsay Buroker has had great success with several different pen names, and she shares both strategies and sales figures to help authors duplicate her achievements. While there are occasional posts for her readers, most weeks feature helpful tips and tricks to strengthen your author platform.

17. Sterling & Stone –


Sterling & Stone is the new catch-all site for Sean Platt, David Wright, and Johnny B. Truant. Not only can you go to the site to catch their latest episodes of the very-popular Self Publishing Podcast, but you can also read guest posts, watch videos, and learn new authorpreneurial tips. The site’s blog constantly features new content that all self-published authors should take advantage of.

18. Your Writer Platform –


Kimberley Grabas crafts epic posts on marketing and writing. If the site only included the five-part series on email marketing, it would already be well worth it. The fact that it includes multiple other resources and lists like “71 Ways to Promote and Market Your Book” and “39 Things to Remember While Struggling to Build Your Writing Career” make it a densely-packed blog worth reading.

19. Where Writers Win –


From social media to business advice, Shari Stauch and Where Writers Win provide actionable tips that authors can apply to their platforms right away. With hundreds of articles in the back catalogue and an associated top-notch premium service, Where Writers Win is a great place to find new ideas and remember old ones that you just plain forgot.

20. Jane Friedman’s Blog –


Jane Friedman is a publishing guru, and the insight and brilliance of her posts demonstrate that fact over and over again. From her straight talk about the industry to her more conceptual mindset work, this is the kind of site existing authors can use to take their careers to the next level.

21. David Gaughran’s Blog –


David Gaughran is the king of book discoverability. On his site, you’ll see many posts related to his duology, Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible, which are two of the preeminent books on self-publishing. Gaughran also focuses on the evils of author services companies behaving badly, doing his part to ensure new authors don’t fall victim to overpriced scams.

22. Creativindie –


Creativindie contains a great collection of design and social media tips from author and cover designer Derek Murphy. A search through the site will yield book cover templates, tricks of the trade, and much more. Murphy has a keen wit and attitude, which he’s recently displayed in over 100 instructional YouTube videos to complement the site.

23. Training Authors –


Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart have written a collection of great books for indie authors, and many of the seeds for their ideas germinated on their website. The site has several valuable lists for authors to peruse including sites to submit free or discounted books and hashtags to use during holiday book marketing endeavors.

24. Good eReader –


Good eReader gives authors a glance at the technical side of the industry, including the latest on eReaders, apps, and publishing platforms. While the site has riled up indie authors in the past for clickbait-type headlines, it’s one of the best sites for finding future trends that self-published authors can take advantage of.

25. Noorosha –


Nick Stephenson has come on strong in the last year to becoming one of the top business instructors for self-published authors. A successful thriller and non-fiction author himself, Stephenson writes about keyword optimization, email marketing, and reader-focused promotion. On the site, you can sign up for Stephenson’s free Your First 10K Readers video course, which outlines his main points in a neat little package.

26. Rocking Self Publishing –


The Rocking Self Publishing Podcast is a tightly-focused interview show hosted by Simon Whistler. In the last year and a half, Whistler has talked with many of the biggest names in the industry, and his no-nonsense style has led to constant weekly wisdom. Check out Whistler’s recently-added features, including guest posts and author action steps on each episode.

27. Anne R. Allen’s Blog –


Anne R. Allen’s blog is proof that you don’t need daily content to provide incredible value. Allen’s weekly posts tackle publishing from both the traditional and the indie side. There’s a heavy focus on craft and author mindset, two areas that some indies fail to address consistently. That’s what makes Allen’s blog a must read for authors who want to continually improve.

28. Helping Writers Become Authors –


Speaking of craft, K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors is the motherload. Weiland goes deep on everything that makes up into a novel, from characterization to setting and everything else between the pages. There are many series of posts worth looking at, but the recent “Most Common Writing Mistakes” series is already up to 38 entries and counting. See how many mistakes you can correct by reading a few posts or listening to the audio version on Weiland’s podcast.

29. The Self Publishing Roundtable –


The Self Publishing Roundtable has been one of the top podcasts in the biz for over a year, focusing on a barrage of live questions from hosts and readers alike. SPRT’s back catalogue features a number of successful romance authors who’ve used brilliant marketing and strong writing to make a killing. Every single episode is worth a listen for major nuggets of business wisdom. While the show went on a hiatus in late 2014, it’s back with a trio of new hosts and renewed energy.

30. Writership –


Founders Alyssa Archer and Leslie Watts touch on inspiration, industry news, and the nitty-gritty of entrepreneurship on this weekly blog. Archer and Watts have over 125 Pictures & Prompts posts to help you beat writer’s block in a pinch and get your fingers gliding along the keyboard once again. The site also offers editing services and will soon feature a recurring podcast.

And there you have it! Which of these sites are new to you? What sites do you think we should add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.