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Advice to new writers

The following was my response to a discouraged new author whose book had not sold well.

Been there! Done that! Every author goes through a period of discouragement and self-examination. Don’t let it derail you. You have barely started on your journey to writing success.

I wrote my first book with zero plans to publish it. If not for the encouragement of a dear friend, I would not have done so. I wrote for my personal amusement.

That said, When I saw it on Amazon and saw a steady trickle of sales, I became motivated to write a sequel. Still waiting on that trickle for it. But I followed with another sequel, two non-fiction books, and a new series set in the same universe. All have sold enough to keep me interested but fallen far short of the Harry Potter tier of success.

Here are some things I have learned from my experiences:

-1- Amazon will not sell your book, no matter how good it is; you must do that. Set aside an advertising budget and run Amazon and Facebook ads. Don’t spend a lot of money, but set aside a small budget and spend it regularly.

-2- Build a platform. Create a newsletter, build a mailing list and promote yourself. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

-3- The blurb matters. I mean REALLY matters! This is a skill you can learn, and there are various free YouTube videos on the topic, but unless you have experience in marketing, hire someone to write a professional blurb for your first book. If you apply yourself, perhaps by the time your second book comes out, you can write your own. But for a first outing, hire a professional. It will cost you a hundred bucks and is worth it.

-4- You have to promote the book. You need to be posting frequently on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

-5- The cover matters. It must clearly communicate the genre. No matter how “pretty” the artwork is, if a prospective reader looks at the cover and doesn’t immediately know what the genre is, they are unlikely to buy.

-6- Pay attention to your Amazon landing page and Author Central. They are crucial to sales.

-7- Write more books! You want to pull readers forward into your next book.

-8- Price matters. You absolutely MUST price your book consistent with other books in your genre. Potential buyers searching for their next read will skip anything not in the expected price range, either too high or too low. Unless you are truly famous, readers will not pay a premium no matter how good they think the book is.

-9- Reviews matter! I have nothing to offer here. Paying for reviews absolutely does not work; But you absolutely need reviews, and I mean more than a few. This is, IMHO, the hardest part. Paid review sites such as Netgalley are available; I have used them with poor success. I have given away dozens of books while begging for reviews. Only about one-in-ten who promise a review will deliver. But you need reviews! That said, I have no solution to offer. I have tried Netgalley and other such sites; I have tried giving away copies, begging and cajoling, and more. You must find what works for you. Good luck with that. If you figure out something that works, let me know.

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