First off, I personally have a little over 500 books published on Amazon at the moment and out of that 500, it’s usually not much more than 100 a month that will sell at least one copy.
Out of that 100, will be a much smaller amount selling multiple copies a month and just a fraction that may be selling hundreds per month.
I was quite lucky in that I think I had my very first sales with notebooks when I had around 12 books live, but this was back in 2019 – when the landscape was quite different.
After just a few months self publishing, I had around 200 published already and had already learnt a lot about what worked well for me and what niches I should probably be going into further.
I don’t recommend publishing a lot of books in a short space of time, because you will often be losing out on quality and that’s something I realised fairly quickly.
Of the books I published that actually started selling, I quickly went in an improved a bunch of books once I got the hang of things.
Take your time over your books and put out something you’re really proud of.
I’d also recommend ordering your own books, or getting author copies, just to double check how they are in reality.
In My Opinion – The 80/20 Rule DOES Apply For Most Low Content Publishers!
I have recently seen some people disagree with this and it’s not a hard fast rule, but in general something like 80% of the income you generate from KDP is going to come from only 20% of your entire book catalogue.
For some people, this may be a lot more – but for a majority of people that I’ve talked to that have had success with low content publishing, it’s a common recurring theme.
That’s why having both a certain level of quantity and quality will typically help you to get results in the long term.
There will be books you produce that do not make sales, this is simply a reality that you have to deal with as a low content publisher.
That said, once you have even a small number of books out there, (let’s say 10) and you’re not seeing any sales at all, you may want to ask yourself some questions.
You may also want to get some feedback from an honest friend, or perhaps someone who already has experience with publishing on line.
Time and time again, when people have asked me personally why they are not making sales – the same key factors keep cropping up again and again.
Much of the time, people think it’s down to not having the right keywords, or choosing the wrong niche.
Niche wise, I think this is a common problem – but the keywords are usually not the first issue, in my experience.
There are TWO main reasons I see time and time again and above all else.
THE TWO MAIN REASONS FOR NO OR LOW SALES:
1. Your Cover Design May Not Be Good Enough, Or Too Generic.
In most cases that I’ve seen, this is usually main culprit.
Here are some common things that can be wrong with a cover…
- The fonts don’t work/they look bad.
- The title doesn’t stand out, due to the cover design being too busy.
- The design itself is poor.
- The images/design/title are not centred on the cover.
- The cover may look OK, but is simply too much like many others out there, (a journal with flowers on for example; but nothing else to make the book unique).
- The design doesn’t match the topic, or seems out of place for the target demographic.
Take a look at your book in comparison to others in the niche that ARE selling well.
Does it fit in well, or does it not really match up to the same quality.
The problem is, we can often be a really poor judge of our own work and therefore, we may need to ask someone else to give their own opinion.
Also, we may be judging our book on ones that were published a couple of years ago or longer.
The thing is, several years ago, there wasn’t much competition and so – some relatively poorly designed books ended up selling well and getting tonnes of reviews.
Because those books do have a lot of reviews, many still continue to sell today. But that means that these days, your design needs to be BETTER than what is already there.
Especially if many of the top books in the niche you’re targeting have many reviews.
2. The Niche You’ve Chosen Is Way Too Competitive.
When you’re just starting out, you may want to go for the more narrow niches initially and get those first sales.
So often, I see people going into a super broad niche and then also creating a generic cover that doesn’t stand out at all and is either bad quality, or just not original.
Which book do you think a prospective customer will choose.…
A brand new book, with zero reviews and an inferior cover….
Or another book whose cover may only be slightly better, but which has several hundred reviews?
If you’re worried about going too narrow niche wise, another option can be to combine more than one niche together.
I’ve done this many times.
For example; the gratitude journal niche is incredibly oversaturated. But there are still gaps in the market if you want to combine that general idea with other niches as well.
You want to have a clear idea of who your customer is as a person.
What is their age, what is their occupation, what styles to they like, what sort of music do they like, what are their hobbies and interests? Do they have any problems, (for example; do they need help with time management, or goal setting?).
Build up a full picture in your mind of your ideal customer and then create something just for them. Do that with multiple characters and you’re able to create completely unique books within the same niche – but with original features.
Additional Reasons That Can Combine With This:
- Not having a specific in mind when you create your book.
Ideally, you want to be creating books for a hypothetical person in your mind – NOT just for a niche.
Imagine what this person is like before you create your book.. What is their age/gender/occupation/hobbies/like and dislikes/problems they may hope to resolve with a book you create.
You can then have different characters in mind in order to generate different styles of book within the same niche.
- Not creating several books in a niche, (just putting out one and moving on.
If you put out several unique books in a niche, you will often find out that one or more starts to sell and others do not.
So, it’s definitely worth creating a few completely unique books in each niche and seeing what works. This is also a way to discover
- Grammar and spelling mistakes.
Something to really be wary of and a common mistake on KDP. Also be wary of directly translating from your own language into English, if this isn’t your first language.
Sometimes quite subtle differences can mean that the meaning behind your text is not going to translate well. It’s best to find a native English speaker to translate your text for you, (don’t just rely on Google translate for example!).
- Going into Niches where the demand and audience just isn’t there.
Micro niches can work if you are looking to create a high volume of books and get the odd sale here and there. I do have books in micro niches and some have sold the odd copy over Q4, for example.
But in general, your efforts are probably better of directed at bigger markets if you want to generate a high volume of sales.
The benefit of micro niches is that you can often create designs fairly quickly and so it can sometimes be worthwhile doing some here and there.
There are cases however, where the audience is just SO small that you may not generate any sales at all.
While I think keywords are, of course, important. I do think that some people do overthink this and believe that choosing the right keywords is the be all and end all in their book being a success.
I genuinely don’t believe this is usually the case and the true reason for the lack of sales is more likely down to the design of the book and the niche targeted.
However, it goes without saying that you do want to try and aim to have a good combination of highly RELEVANT keywords and these should be a mix of low – medium and high competition keywords.
I didn’t have any keyword tools outside of Amazon for over my first year of publishing and I still only use additional tools as a back up on top of research on Amazon, never instead of.
I enjoy using publisher rocket, as it’s a one off price and really simple to use.
While it may have some hit and miss results but it can give you a good idea about the competitiveness of keywords and the size of the audience searching for a keyword, which can be very useful additional info.
Why Do You Think You’re Not Making Sales?
In this post, I’ve outlined some of the main reasons that I feel people do not get those initial sales.
But what do you think?
Let me know in the comments!
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Millicent Elekwachi says
Very encouraging. I am a writer of African Short Reads for children new on kdp. I am seeking to get appropriate niche for my genre of books. Can you help?
Hi there… I’m not really clued up with african short reads. I would say you simply need to look for similar things on amazon and get ideas from the books that are selling well on there. You may find this post helpful also. The best of luck.