The #1 mistake self-publishing authors make with their book marketing

This isn’t actually a huge deal, but my recent book on book marketing isn’t doing so well (ranking at around 5ok). But that’s embarrassing because books about book marketing should do well, right? I mean, if it’s a good book and they guy knows about book marketing, it should be smoking!

But that’s not true, because, as I point out in the book, success will always depend on the number of people who are searching for what you have. That’s why it’s so much easier to write in a popular market.

If you write something people aren’t looking for, you’ll have to work much harder to reach them, and then you’ll have to convince them to be interested.

What I really needed to do, but didn’t, was check how many people are searching for which keywords (I use KDPRocket for that).

Then I would have known that only 893 are actually searching for “book marketing” on Amazon. Even if I convert 10%, that’s only 89 sales – a couple a day (which, not incidentally, is just about how much I’m selling).

So, how do I sell more books?

Well that’s the problem. I’m already ranking really well for my keywords, and I show up when people are looking for book marketing, and my sales page converts well enough (though it could be better). But I can’t make more people search for what I have to offer. I can’t reach out and educate them on what they should be looking for.

Instead, I have to change my pitch to match what they think they want.

Self-publishing” gets searched for about 2,000 times, so I need to make sure I focus a little more on that keyword and use it in my list of benefits.

If I do a ton of work and effort, I can increase the visibility a bit, and maybe get to 5 or 10 sales a day. Which is worth it, and if I publish 20 similar books, could become a lot of money.

But the easier thing to do, is write books that align with a bigger market before you start writing. I write books about self-publishing or book marketing because they introduce people to my services and businesses, but they don’t make a lot of money – it would usually be better to give the book away for free and reach more people than try to sell 5 or 10 a day.

For non-fiction, I need to consider all aspects of the writer’s process – for example, “writing prompts” has almost 5000 searches a month on Amazon. Which makes sense: a lot more people want to write a novel than have published a novel and want to start marketing it. Also, most authors who want book marketing aren’t really looking for cheap tips on Kindle – they’ll look for a publicist to help them. 

So even though I think it’s a pretty great book, the market I wrote it for is very small.

Instead I can write some books on “writing prompts” that will get more views. “How to write a book” also has about 5K searches. So I should be writing books about things more people are looking for, if I want them to sell better and reach more people with less effort.

But what if you don’t want to?

A lot of authors say it would kill them to write something else, rather than what they want to write. 
That’s fine.

Personally, I wrote a bunch of novels about mermaids, time travel, and lesser-known mythology. Those novels are doing pretty well and earning money, but it’s limited a lot from the fact that I’m not using any of the most popular keywords people are actually searching for. If I added some witches, vampires and werewolves into my book, I could have used those keywords.

I won’t be writing shitty novels to catch fads (vampires have been #1 for a couple decades, they aren’t going anywhere), I’ll just be tailoring my stories to include some familiar characters that readers enjoy most. I love writing, but I understand that I don’t deserve to get paid unless I can satisfy reader’s expectations; it’s a balance between what they want to read about, and what I want to write about. It’s a balance. I can’t give them exactly what they expect or copy other bestsellers, that won’t satisfy them.

I have to hook them with the keywords and then present them with a new (but not entirely new) reading experience.

You can check out the book here, or get it free when you sign up to my list.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me
  • Thanks for sharing such an honest post. It really is about finding that balance. Ultimately, writing what you want to write is going to result in a better product, but you need to understand it might not translate to many sales.

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