Make your self-published book
a success with these tips...

3 reasons why your book isn’t selling

Has your book been on sale for a while, but suddenly your sales have taken a dip? Or maybe your sales never really got off the ground in the first place.


Identifying a drop in sales is the first step to getting your book selling again.

There are a few reasons sales can drop, and the good news is, there’s lots you can do:

Reason 1: Natural variations in sales, for reasons outside your control

This will affect all writers, not just you. But if you’re a first time publisher, an inexplicable drop in sales can seem scary.

There are some factors that can affect sales, that you can’t do anything about:

Is Amazon running any promotions? Sometimes Amazon has sales, or promotes specific books. This will have a knock-on-effect for the writers who aren’t included in the promotions.

Is it a heatwave? At certain times of year, like the summer, people are simply less inclined to read. Likewise, in December, everyone’s sales increase due to people buying for Christmas.

Has your book been pushed out of the rankings? When a reader searches using a keyword you’ve attributed to your book, Amazon will rank the books it displays by popularity. If your book has been selling well, it will show higher up in the list. This should mean more sales, as more people will see it.

But if other books are selling better, your book may get pushed down the rankings. Then, the less it sells, the lower down it displays, meaning people are less likely to see it.

So, what can you do? Talk to other authors as much as you can, and see if they have experienced the same dip in sales. If this is the case, then rest assured, your sales are likely to recover to normal levels as these factors disappear.

One thing that can really help keep your book high in the rankings is getting reviews. If you can encourage more reviews, readers are more likely to buy your book over others, which will help to push it back up the rankings. Here’s an article on how to generate book reviews for some ideas.

Reason 2: Something about your book can be physically improved upon

Can you make improvements in the way you’re presenting your book for sale?

The cover. This is the first thing readers will see, and they really will judge your book by its cover. We all do. Does your cover look professional or amateurish? Does it fit with other books in its genre, or stand out for the wrong reasons? Is the title text readable at a small size?

If you can make your cover better, do. It’s conveying everything about your book at a glance, so needs to make the biggest impact possible.

The blurb/back cover text. Does your blurb do a good enough job of exciting and enticing your reader? Ask your friends to read it and get their honest opinion. A blurb that doesn’t grab your reader will make them doubt their decision, and they’ll move on to another book. You want your reader to STOP! Think ‘WOW!’ And buy your book because they simply HAVE TO KNOW what happens next.

The preview shown on Amazon. Most people will click on the ‘look inside’ feature if it’s there. Does the interior of your book look polished and professional? Is the front matter taking up too much space, so readers have to scroll through pages of the boring stuff to actually get to the first chapter of your story?

The more of your story your reader can see, the more likely they are to become hooked, and want to buy your book to get the rest.

In short, make your preview as concise as possible, to show off as much of your story as possible.

Are you marketing and promoting your book to the best effect? What efforts have you made to market your book? Your book, cover, blurb and preview can all be top notch, but if no-one has heard about your book, it won’t sell.

Here’s some advice and more tips on how to promote your book:

How to generate reviews

7 ways to build your audience if you only have 30 minutes a day

How to optimise your Amazon author page

Three ways to get started with Twitter

What to include on your author website

7 strategies to sell more books

Take some time to think about what efforts you’ve made so far, and how successful you’ve been. Make a plan for other action you can take to promote your book.

Do you have good reviews? Even negative comments in reviews can be positive – if it’s constructive criticism then take it on the chin, and use it to improve your writing.

The best way to get great reviews is to do great work. Make your product as good as it can be. If readers pick up on grammatical errors, or critique your layout and typography choices, then take the opportunity to make improvements.

Reason 3: Your expectations are unrealistic

Your idea of success depends on what your goals are in the first place.

Have you made a plan of what you want to achieve with your writing? For some writers this will be earning enough to give up their day job. But for others, it will be getting great reviews from their readers, or seeing their book on display in a bookshop.

Start with realistic goals to measure whether your sales are ‘enough’. For example, first try to earn back the money you have spent publishing your book in the first place.  It’s unlikely you’ll make enough to pay your mortgage with the income from one self-published book.

It’s realistic for a first time author to sell figures in the hundreds. If you’re managing to sell into the thousands, then this is a really good sign the pieces of the jigsaw all fit together – your cover is attracting readers, you blurb is hooking them, the preview looks professional, and people are buying and recommending your book.

Use your first book as a tool to learn how to do it right. Refine all the elements of your book, and its presentation, until you’re selling into the high hundreds/low thousands per year, and have broken even or started to make some money. This is the sign you’ve got it right.

The next stage from here is to write more books. The profits from your first book can help fund your second book. The answer to all of this is keep writing. The more books you publish, the more chance readers and fans will find you.

Have you experienced a dip in sales? What did you do to improve your sales again? Leave your answers in the comments section below.




We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.