Author Angst

What if you write a book, or series of books, and everyone who reads them agrees they are great reads, but nobody buys them because no one knows about them? What do you do then?

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We may not have it all together, but together we have it all.

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Obviously the answer(s) to the questions above will depend on why no one knows about them, but I’ve received a couple of suggestions from my friend Jillian Dodd, who has several highly successful novels on the market. I tend to pay a lot of attention to what she has to say about book marketing.

My novella series, Fancy, is historical fiction. The genre itself limits sales. YA and Romance together account for around 60% of all novel sales in the current market. All other genres together split up the remaining 40%.

Historical fiction’s market share is miniscule in comparison with Romance and YA, meaning not many people are even searching for my genre, much less for my books. Jillian, who has read my work and knows the material, suggested that I add YA to my categories. Actually, the closest I can come on Amazon is Teen Historical Fiction. Hopefully that will open up the market for more people to find my work, and I have made that change.

She also suggested that I put my books on Smashwords, Kobo and iTunes. This will not only give me access to new markets, but I can price Volume 1 at zero on Kobo and iTunes to draw in more people to try it. Apparently if it’s free on both of them, Amazon will price match and offer it for free, also.

This latter step wouldn’t make much sense for a free-standing novel. A million free copies wouldn’t make the author a penny. But it does make sense for the first volume in a multi-volume series. If people read the free one and like it, they are much more likely to buy the rest of the series.

This all sounds simple and likely to produce positive results. Unfortunately, my twentieth century brain seems to boggle easily when it comes to twenty-first century technology. Or my computer is infested with demons. Or something.

I managed to get the genre change made for all the Fancy series on Amazon. For some reason, however, I can’t get Barnes & Noble’s website to allow a change or addition to genres. I get a little whirling circle that never goes away and allows me to enter the new genre. Actually, I wonder if it’s Barnes & Noble that’s still stuck in the twentieth century. Seems like nothing ever works very smoothly with them.

When I tried to put Fancy on Smashwords, it wouldn’t accept either my e-pub formatted version or my Word version. After waiting a couple of days, I was able to get it to accept the Word version, and Fancy‘s now up and running on Smashwords. I can’t get it to accept volume 2, though. *Sigh*

Maybe next week I’ll be able to announce that all of this has been done—and that Fancy: Virginia City – Vol 6 is published. It’s almost ready to go and should be on the websites in another day or two. Meanwhile, I feel like I’m walking through molasses or something with everything an author has to do beyond actually writing.

What problems have you encountered in trying to market your books? How have you overcome them? Readers want to know.

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For more information about David N. Walker, click the “About” tab above.

For more information about his books, click on “Books” above.

Contact him at dnwalkertx (at) gmail (dot) com or tweet him at @davidnwalkertx.

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About David N. Walker

David N. Walker is a Christian husband, father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years in the health insurance industry, during which time he traveled much of the United States. He started writing about 20 years ago and has been a member and leader in several writers' groups. Christianity 101: The Simplified Christian Life, the devotional Heaven Sent and the novella series, Fancy, are now available in paperback and in Kindle and Nook formats, as well as through Smashwords and Kobo. See information about both of these by clicking "Books" above.
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19 Responses to Author Angst

  1. Pingback: What book sales teach us | Jaye Em Edgecliff

  2. David – I agree with Catie on feeling your pain. I often feel I belong in the ice age with modern technology. I started out writing Tom’s and my struggles with finding competent care for him in non fiction. I lost track of how many conferences I attended, pitches I gave, non-fiction book proposals I wrote, querries mailed — I rewrote the manuscript seven times. I was told over and over that no one would read our story because I wasn’t a psychiatrist and mental health care couldn’t possibly be as bad as I said it was! After my two part post this past week, I’m moving full speed ahead with my fiction work of, ‘Not the Man I Married.’ I’ve fictionalized parts of the story, changed the names of the characters but the essence of what Tom and I have been through is still there. I still might not get any takers – but now I know others like me are out there and are seeking answers to what we’ve already lived through. It’s been my goal all along to help others understand that with love and prayer, no one has to be a statistic with the dreadful disease of bipolar disorder.

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    • If you don’t get a book deal fairly soon I hope you’ll self publish. It’s so simple these days. I hope you’ll consider self pubbing your non-fiction, too. You never know when a notice about something like that will take off and become viral on Twitter or Facebook.

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  3. Catie Rhodes says:

    David, I don’t have any sage advice. However, I do feel your pain.

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  4. Karlene says:

    David, Marketing is a challenge for sure. I have not purchase your book only because I do not read on Kindle. Which makes me wonder… is this a book that fits electronics? Or are you missing your market because they read paper? I’m not sure. Also… who is your audience? What age? Gender? Why is this historical fiction?… location? Or is Fancy a person in history? Send me these answers and I might have some suggestions. Good luck! The hard part is done: Writing. Now the fun begins: Marketing.

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    • Karlene, all my books are available in paperback as well as electronic media. I think my audience is probably primarily female and of no particular age, although I’m currently changing my aim to Young Adult, mainly because it’s such a huge per cent of book sales. Fancy is definitely fictional. Vol 1 is in northern Alabama. Vol 2 moves around the southeast. Vol 3 is in Louisville, KY. Vol 4 follows the building of the Union Pacific railroad. Vol 5 is primarily back in Alabama. Vol 6 is in Virginia City, NV.

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      • Karlene says:

        Why when I go to Amazon “only” the kindle comes up? I’ve been checking regularly. VERY strange. Can you send me the link? Also… changing your Genre to YA for the sales…. what age is Fancy? Do you know who you are dealing with in YA?

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  5. Barb Estinson says:

    I can’t even imagine trying to navigate the marketing aspect of writing, David. Kudos to you for trying to get into the 21st century in that regard. I guess perseverance is indeed the key … as well as learning the tricks from your friends, as you seem to do. Good luck.

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  6. It’s a tough business, David, but if you love writing then don’t let the issue of sales stop you. Write on!

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  7. I know how you feel, David. It is hard, and can be even more frustrating when you follow the advice of fellow authors doing well…and still nothing happens. All we can do is the best we can and try new things. Sharon’s right, keep persevering. We write because we love it, not for fame and glory. (Fame and fortune would be a bonus…not lying, lol.) My hunch is that you and I write for the same Person. In the end, hearing “well done” is all I need.

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    • I agree, Angela. I write because I want to – no, have to – write. I try to write what will be pleasing to Him. I’m sure I could se more if I were willing to lower that standard, but that’s not something I can do. More sales would be nice – not just for the money, but also for the knowledge I was reaching more people and possibly making some small difference in the quality of their lives.

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  8. The Farris Family says:

    As I read this, I contemplate all the things I’m trying from a marketing standpoint, and in some cases, I think it’s too soon to say what works and what doesn’t. For sure, my FB Pages, which are pretty big, help me sell books. I interact all the time with the people on my pages (Running from Hell with El and Living Happy, among others). Advertising on places like Bookblast, ENR, Pixels of Ink, etc., helps some, depending where I do it. Having a “Street Team” makes me feel not so alone, for sure. Blog tour? Almost a waste of money, except it did result in 100 or more subscribers on my YouTube page.

    The biggest key seems getting lots of titles out there, which is pretty freakin’ hard for literary fiction authors. I am working on that, but not willing to sacrifice quality.

    So what Sharon said above–as far as perseverance? Check. I agree.

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    • I keep hearing more titles help, El, but I’m about to put out my 7th one this weekend. I keep hearing about things others are doing, but a lot of it is just confusing to someone my age. Maybe I’m not supposed to be a big seller.

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      • Karlene says:

        David… where is your faith? I know a man who died. Came back. Doctors said he would not survive. Never flew…but said I am a pilot. And thus it became reality. Read this post. Listen to his interview. Then CHANGE your talk! No more negative for you my friend. Maybe his words will help. http://tinyurl.com/o4zcbvc

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  9. Sharon K. Walker says:

    In real estate, it’s location, location, location. To find an audience for your books, it’s knowledge and perseverance, perseverance, perseverance. Hang tough and best of luck!

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