How To Deal When You Experience Low Book Sales

How To Deal When You Experience Low Book Sales

Today, we’re taking a look at the numbers again—I finally got my Q3 sales report—that’s for the months of July, August and September.

(As we’ve discussed before in this column, it’s pretty typical for sales reports to be delayed like this.)

To be honest, my numbers are pretty terrible this quarter. I’m really embarrassed by them, to the point where I considered not even providing specific numbers in this post.

But that is not what we agreed to here, and it would not be in line with the frank, no-holds-barred look at publishing for the debut author that I promised you.

So here goes. Please have mercy on me.

Over the three months of Q3, I sold 40 copies of my novel.

low book sales

Thank you, Buffy. My thoughts exactly.

What the heck happened?

These months were decidedly my most sluggish ones.

In July, I had no promotion activities planned, as I was still naïve enough to think I could make a go of sales from online outreach alone.

Nope. Don’t do that.

I was also still in the throes of drafting the novella that I am now giving away for free to build my email list, so I did not even have the strongest weapon in my online arsenal yet.

Goodness, July feels like a lifetime ago—I can’t believe I was so inactive for an entire month. It’s been a sharp learning curve this year!

In August, I at least got myself to the Writer’s Digest Conference, but that offered little in the way of sales opportunities.

Thankfully, by September I had wised up quite a bit. I organized a panel of writers for my local comic con, and was able to negotiate free vendor tables for all the participating writers in trade.

So I got some extra book sales out of it, and a lot of new email subscribers.

I also met some great authors, which let to more opportunities in later months.

Also at the end of September, I finally released my free novella to create a sales funnel for my email list. Since then, I’ve had 205 novella downloads and 321 new email subscribers.

On top of a pretty measly sales effort on my part, I had completely lost the momentum from my launch at this point, and my publisher was not offering me any marketing support at this stage.

What now?

Because of the delay in these reports, I am happy to be able to say that I have learned a lot in time since the months reflected in this report.

A few other good things have happened that have helped improve my situation, too, like winning a big award.

All the same, this quarterly report was a real kick in the pants to keep working at getting better.

Events have been serving me well, and I have a number lined up for 2017, but there are only so many places I can be.

For long-term growth, I need a stronger online sales funnel.

So I’ve got some big plans in the works to reach some goals. Among them:

  • Identify and reach out to top Amazon reviewers to get my reviews to 50+
  • Start a street team that can extend my reach
  • Give a deals website a try, such as eReader News
  • Experiment with my new subscriber email automation to improve book purchases
  • Write more books (two more in 2017, to be exact)

Book sales ebb and flow

Book sales are not something that chug along at a steady, predictable pace.

They come with ebbs and flows that are inevitable to the sales cycle. When you hit the ebbs, hang in there.

These ebbs are also a great time to reassess. There is a lot you can do to building momentum and keep sales from getting too sad.

My best advice on this is to watch what other authors are doing, and experiment constantly to see what gains traction. Then, just look ahead to that next sales report or performance assessment.

How do you prevent book sales from dropping?

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  • John Hennessy says:

    I think my last quarter tends to be the strongest, but I am always working on a new release so this obviously helps sales. This year I am concentrating more on marketing, and building my mailing list. I wish you well!

    • Emily Wenstrom says:

      Good luck John! Always having a new release in the queue likely makes a world of difference. Hoping to get a release or two out this year myself!

  • jose says:

    Great work you are doing over there

  • Michelle monet says:

    Thanks for your post.

    I got over 50 reviews for my first book, but honestly I dropped the ball on doing any marketing for my second and third book. I am completely open to how to market my books, but, at this point I am moving on to writing songs. I have let my book marketing ‘strategies’? stay on the back burner until I figure out how to do it.

    I realize too that I love the act of creating far more than marketing. ha.

    • Emily Wenstrom says:

      You’re not alone in that – the writing is the whole point of all this, after all 🙂

      Good luck with the songs, that sounds like fun!

  • Shannon L. Buck says:

    This is great for new writers to hear; that someone else didn’t know exactly what to do every step of the way and had to learn. It can be a struggle, getting ebook sales, but if we just hang in there it does get better. Thanks for posting, and I’m sure you’ll sell many more copies of your book.

    • Emily Wenstrom says:

      Thanks, Shannon! Already, simply by going out and trying different things, I have learned a lot about what works since the time period of this report, so while I hate to see low numbers, I feel optimistic.

  • Alan Place says:

    If I’d had 40 sales in a quarter, I would be over the moon. I haven’t had those figures in almost three years.
    I had some relative success with my sci-fi series—the-hit-series.html, but my other short stories fell by the wayside


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