What sells, what doesn’t; what works, what doesn’t? I’ve been pondering these issues a fair bit, as I’ve had a number of interesting discussions with fiction writers over the past month who are both self-published and traditionally published, and who sell print and/or ebooks. Clearly, many authors are still looking for the most efficient and productive means to sell books, and while technology and ebooks have certainly evened the playing field in terms of visibility and promotion opportunities for authors, the reality is that about 90% of the fiction listings on amazon probably far sell less than a hundred print copies. Some of the reasons for this are poor attempts at promotion, no reviews, a poorly written book, and the fact that amazon carries millions of titles. But what about the author who promotes everyday, garners a few good reviews, and has written a fine book?
I don’t have all the answers, but here’s what I and others have noticed from our experiences. First, if you want to sell print copies of your novel, then a lot of really good reviews from established reviewers can help. The reviewers don’t have to be connected to newspapers. There are some credible, online reviewers. If even one of them likes your book and posts their review on several different blogs, forums, and websites, this can help boost your sales, or so it did for me in both print and electronic formats.
Second, if you want to sell more print copies, I recommend getting out there and meeting book buyers. Arrange bookstore meet and greets, and attend book festivals; even certain craft markets can be good venues. Two events I took part in this fall sold more print copies than they had in three years of selling through amazon. In fact, when I look at my stats over the past five years, the more events I took part in, the more books I sold that year. Not every event resulted in sales, but 75% of them did. On the other hand, social networking does not generate sales 75% of the time for me, although it has helped with ebook sales.
The bottom line is that a good book, word of mouth, and participation are still effective selling tools. As far as print fiction goes, I don’t see technological advances changing the tried and true methods anytime soon.