Wednesday, April 11, 2012

You Can't Fix It, If You Don't Know What's Wrong

I've been in discussions recently about promoting and why some books sell, while others don't.
For example: All of us promote, using many of the same methods to some varying degree.

So, why does Book A sell very well, but Book B doesn't, when you, as the author, have used the same methods for both?
If you knew the reasons and you could pinpoint the problems, then you might be able to make corrections in some manner.

So, what's wrong with your book? If you say your book is fine, then what is the reason it does not sell?
I'm not pretending to know the answers, here, but there are ways and means by which to make some difference in your promoting methods.

Is your book in the correct category or genre? I say this because I have two that are not selling, and I firmly believe by switching the genre would make a difference. I'm in the process right now of working on accomplishing this. Both books could be one or another, therefore it will be perfectly honest to make the switch.

Does your book have an enticing cover? Yes, I am a visual person, and if the cover turns me off, I won't go any further. Does the cover portray the plot and characters adequately? This can often be such a personal feeling, that it comes down to you, the author...and what you like.

Do you take advantage of the Promo days on the big Yahoo Group sites to promote your book? By all means, if you don't, you might want to make a chart of the days, and have something at your fingertips to post about the book that's not selling. Get in there with everyone else.

Be creative with your subject line on Group posts. I wish I were as witty as many authors, but at least I try. If your excerpt is a scene consisting of your hero and heroine--and it should-- then write something in your subject line concerning that scene. Instead of: "Sally and Harry fight--from When Harry met Sally." might say, "Who Wins This Fight?" (see, I told you I was not good at this.) Here are a few catchy subjects I've seen today:
~*~Not One, Not Two, but Three!
~*~Writers, Pay Yourself First!
~*~Who Loves Bears?
~*~Has Focus Leaped Out of Your Grasp...Again?

Is your book cover displayed prominently on your blog? I'm guilty here, but I intend to change it.

Are your excerpts too long? Do they have a hook at the end? Here I am, beating my drum again about posting short excerpts. Trust me, it's a scientific fact, a reader on the loops will not read long excerpts. So even if you do have a nice hook at the end, she will not get there.

Is the price too high on your ebook? One of mine that's not selling is priced at $8.95 for the ebook. I can't change it--the publisher made that decision. This is one of my books I will have returned to me in a few months when my contract expires. I have nothing against the publisher. They did everything for my cover I asked for. Still, it's one of those situations that only I can fix when I have control of it once more.

Should you find new sources for promotion for your book? This is not easy, I can vouch for that. After a while, we think...what else is there? Well, the reading public is a fickle group, which means we're jumping here and there, seeking something new, perhaps. I like to see authors try something new and get some attention. Here are a few new sources I've joined recently and believe I see some progress:
~*~FaceBook groups
~*~Study your blog/posts. What kinds of posts get the most attention?
~*~Please, please, visit other blogs--and not only those of your friends--branch out!

Whew! It's a tiring process, I know. But you need not do something every day. In fact, take a break from it all once in a while, and then when you all looks new and exciting.

Best of luck to each and every one of you!
Celia Yeary-Romance...and a little bit 'o Texas


  1. Excellent blog with good advice!
    =D Maria

  2. Interesting...I'll have to check this against my releases and see what improvements I can make.

  3. Very relevant information, Celia. Sometimes a publisher's decision can cripple a good promotion plan. For example, I've read great books that could've done with better covers.

  4. Thanks for this excellent advice, Celia. I'll certainly keep all this in mind.

  5. Celia,
    I think all of this is great advice - especially the categories we place our books in. It's amazing how many can really cross over and cross over well.

    Cover are important because they catch the eye and lure one in to examine more.

    Pricing is important. In a majority of my informal surveys, readers really don't want to pay more than $5.99 for a book and I can tell you a book with a $8.95 price tag would make me think twice about ordering it. It would have to be a book I really wanted.


  6. Hi Celia!
    I wish I could figure it all out, too.
    My question to you is about posting on those Yahoo loops. Do you really think anyone reads them? I see them as a dumping ground and when I feel overwhelmed by too much stuff, I toss it all. Therefore, I never read those digest e-mails that show up multiple times in my e-mail every single day. Sigh. I'm so old school it's pitiful.

    I agree about pricing and covers. Though i love my cover, I don't think it's sexy in the least, so romance readers aren't interested. Also the e-book is high for e-book standards. However, our lovely publisher agreed to lower the price on e-books and that is great.
    Finding the right category is so important. Recently my book finaled in two RWA Chapter published contests in the Strong Romantic Elements category. If I'd entered it in straight mainstream romance it wouldn't have - I know it in my bones.

    Your blogs are always so interesting!

  7. Excellent advice, Celia. Am definitely taking a lot of this to heart! Thanks for sharing!

  8. You gave me a couple of new sources, Celia. Thanks. I need all the help I can find.

  9. This is a saver. Thanks for sharing, Celia.

  10. Delores Goodrick BeggsApril 12, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    Good food for thought and proactive action here. Thanks.

  11. Thanks, Celia. Good info as always. I *am* taking notice!

  12. I'm in the process of changing the categories for one of my books on Amazon. I'm pretty optimistic it will make a difference.
    So much of promoting your book is trial and error.
    You're right in that you can't error, if you don't try. *wink

  13. Great advice, Celia. One other idea I've had given to me is to get your name out there so people recognize it and feel comfortable with you and what you write. If they see a name they recognize, it can pull them toward your book.

  14. Thank you, Maria...I'm so glad you stopped by.

  15. A.R.-there's always something, we, as authors can change and control.It's that control thing that's not easy.

  16. Su--you're so right that a publisher can cripple our efforts in some manner. I have multiple publishers, and trust me...they are not equal.

  17. Andrea--good. I hope something struck a chord and can help.

  18. Steph--I'm glad you agree about the crossing genre lines. I once thought it was either or...but not so. Thanks!

  19. Joanne--you're welcome. We all need to share!

  20. Caroline--don't we all? Thanks.

  21. June-I hoped something helped!

  22. Delores--yes, action. Do something, is my mantra.

  23. Linda--thank you, thank you! Coming from's very nice.

  24. Adelle--I'm glad you found something to change. It't not good when a publisher keeps your hands tied.

  25. Paisley--your advice was better than mine!

  26. Thank you, Celia. It's just part of the picture, but a big part I think. All of your advice was quite wonderful in my humble opinion. :)

  27. Hi Celia-- I wish I knew what helps the sales and what doesn't. But I can tell you that blogging for a month on a tour didn't help a bit even.Yes, putting your book in the right category may make a difference.

  28. I have tried so many things, and watched for how to make improvements, I certainly haven't tried them all. But I've done trailers, and giveaways and blogs and posts and on and on. I've gone to conferences, writer's groups, been in a critique group.

    I have done some speaking engagements.

    heavens I don't have the energy for everything.

    We do need to get beyond just preaching to the choir, trying to get our book out to other authors who are trying just like we are and over inundating ourselves.

    sometimes I almost think there's a bit of a miracle that happens as well, lightening strikes and your book is in the right hands at the right time.

    Tina Pinson

  29. I'm guilty of not updating my website, but I refer people to my blogs instead to make up for it.

    I'm working on the categories angle also.

    Great advice.

    Morgan Mandel

  30. Hi Celia,

    I admire you for trying to figure this out. Publishing is such a tough nut to crack.

    I've often wondered how it would feel to have a book go viral, to have so many people buy it at once that it soars off the charts.

    So far all of other dreams have come true from working hard to be my best. I expect this dream will happen that way to - just keep putting one foot in front of the other, with more confidence and skill.

    Thanks for an intriguing post.


  31. Excellent advice, Celia.
    I've found that Six Sentence Sunday has engendered some interest in my books, as I try to make my 6 sentences contain a teaser that makes readers want to know more. I know I've had some sales as a result of this.
    I agree with you about long excerpts - if they're too long I tend to give up half way through! Not sure what the optimum length is though!

  32. I'm using some of your suggestions already, Celia but haven't ventured into Tweetdom yet...maybe I'll try that soon. Great blog, thanks.

  33. Good insights! Thanks for posting this. It's helped me refocus -- I need to improve the things that ARE under my control before I kvetch about the things that are under someone else's.

  34. Hi Celia, I'm late again. I enjoyed this very informative post and all the comments it has generated. This seems to be a common problem. I don't think anyone has mentioned getting known for one type of writing, as you are known for Texas, in historical, contemporary, and short stories. Another friend writes stories related to the sea but in different genres. I write hodge-podge and that is a flaw, not an asset. Say, maybe I could promote myself as mistress of hodge-podge. Like pick a book and be surprised????

  35. Mona--sometimes I think blog tours might be the least thing to generate sales. I'm not sure about that, but I've heard it too many times. If only we had a crystal ball.

  36. TINA--you made the statement that maybe it takes a bit of a miracle. This really struck me as's hard to explain, but I've had success in a couple of areas that I did not expect, nor can I explain how it happened. While that's not something we can pin our hopes and dreams on, it is something that can happen. Watch for it--and when it does, take advantage of it.
    Thanks for your thoughs.

  37. Morgan--thanks. If we just do one change once in a while, you never know!

  38. Maggie--I think your way is the most common way. Plodding along, one foot in front of the other...on the other hand, sometimes we need to step off the path and do something outrageous. Okay, you think of something outrageous. I don't think my psyche will allow that!

  39. Paula--see? You thought of something unique..and good for you. There aren't a jillion ways we can do that, but opportunities do exist if you just be creative.
    Like you, I thought of something that seemed too make my sales jump--my Dime Novels--I'd post two lines, maybe dialogue, maybe something else, but two lines that went together and made a point. Those get hits--I haven't done it for a while.

  40. Good, Nancy. I think Tweet is good...but not the end all, be all.But it is easy.

  41. Deb--yes, sometimes all we need to to hear someone else say something. We can get in a rut, at least I know I can.

  42. Linda S.--yes! I left that out, and it's one of the good things. You remember about three years ago, an author emailed me out of the blue and told me I should change my blog and website to be All Texas. That was easy.
    Yes, I dub you the Queen of Hodge-Podge!
    Thanks for reminding me of that.

  43. With 44 comments and counting, I can see that this blog interested many us. I've often wondered what to do when one book fails to thrive. I have to agree about the cover attraction--sadly, there is only so much input an author can have. Maybe that's a good thing. Sometimes the author (that would be me) doesn't really have a grasp on what would attract readers.
    another thing you mentioned was the lengths of excerpts. I whole-heartedly agree with you here. If the excerpt drones on past 300 words, my eyes cross and I move on. I like loglines and blurbs less than 50 words as well.
    A great blog, Celia.

  44. Sarah--I remember from the article I wrote titled "The Perfect Except" that our attention span in such a situation is about a minute and a half...max. But I don't blame authors if they insist on posting these Loooooong excepts.
    After all, don't we all love the sounds of our own voice? And the words of our own creation?
    Oh, yes, we're so vain.
    That's why I did the research and wrote the aricle--my eyes glazed over!

  45. Celia, thanks for an incredibly insightful, practical and readable post. You have so many good tips I am not sure where to start - so thanks for numbering them lol! And everyone who commented really added great points and ideas, too. So thanks everyone!:-)

  46. Regina--thank you!I love it when someone I know and respect gets something from what I said. I do thank you for reading and commenting.