indie book sales

The Reasons Your Indie Book Isn’t Selling and What to Do About It

Since selling your already self-published book is probably the hardest thing you’ll try to do after changing your own car oil, I’ve complied some ‘low hanging fruit’ type ideas to get you started.

If your book has been published through XLibris, Balboa Press, iUnivers, AuthorHouse, etcetera, then the raw cost to you of buying in your book may also be a barrier to making any profits. I heard that a regular trade paperback would be $12 each to buy in!

Thin Records Could be the Problem

If you used a ‘publishing package’ at a big group, then you might have no idea what your book record contains—and thus how poorly it may be filled out. Alas, it may also be an ISBN registered in a foreign land.

Once you confirm that booksellers here can access your book title information via Nielsen BookScan, the book industry database, you need to see what that listing entails.

Metadata on the title record is normally filled out on MyIdentifiers.com.au, by the publisher. Nielsen say that extending the basic information is also key to sales.

Basic metadata includes essentials:  the title, author, editor, publisher, ISBN, price, format, language, and rights information (e.g. worldwide exclusive rights).

Enhanced metadata includes additional information:  an author bio, cover design jpeg, blurb, tagline/excerpt, endorsements, and hyperlink to your website. BISAC – know the ideal subject classification as well. There is a list that is linked to both MyIdentifiers and to IngramSpark title setup.

Another form of thin records is under-utilising Amazon Author tools. Once signed up with Amazon Author Central (for Australia or US), you can access the back end and:

  • Fill out your author bio
  • Claim all books already published (wherever that may have been)
  • Put in your blog feed
  • On book page, once logged in, fill out ‘endorsements’ and ‘about the author’ in your book page’s appropriate sections.

Also grab a widget code for advertising your book on your author blog sidebar. This is easier if you are an Amazon Associates member.

For an enhanced ‘book previewer’, you can also buy one made for you from Nielsen or through MyIdentifiers. Nielsen offer Book2Look, for $110 for two books (i.e. AUD55 each), though you’ll be the one setting each up.

Here is my Abundance Book page, where I just placed a Goodreads review onto the Amazon sales page.

Encouraging Library Orders

Don’t assume that your self-publishing supplier has an affiliation with all library suppliers in Australia. Their international ISBN may not connect to our library distribution network.

On publication, send ‘new title information’ to these library suppliers, and ensure you put WHERE the best to get bulk orders from–and who is your Print on Demand host:

James Bennett (have own form)  datacollection@bennett.com.au

Peter Pal Library Supplier  enquiries@peterpal.com.au

ALS Library Services:  newtitles@alslib.com.au  1300 136 490

PLEASE DO NOT ABUSE THIS EMAIL LIST. These people get hundreds of new titles, so if nice enough to reply, do not ask them unrelated questions. Thanks to all our library supplier people, who work hard.

Do Book Buyers even know your indie title is available to order?

Have you filled out the “TITLE AVAILABLE” section on both your POD and in MyIdentifiers accounts? If it still says “title forthcoming”, has not got the tick of distribution, or is outdated in some way, doh! Simple things like this can prevent book sales.

Another problem which occurred to me after a conversation with an author taken in by an Author Solutions brand was: if their ISBN is in the USA, how do you even know it is available to order in Australia (or whatever country you are in)?  How do you change the Price that is charged for libraries? Can library suppliers access the Bookscan/TitlePage details accurately, or will they likely ignore anything not originating from an Australian ISBN?

All questions that self-publishing support package supplier will try to avoid answering.

Try an Indie Book Distributor Still in Business

The book distribution industry has been shaken up lately, with upwardly changes to their costs, so some went out of business. Bye, Dennis Jones & Assoc.

To secure a distributor, your book must be of bookstore quality. Poor covers, illegible spines, calligraphy fonts, and strange blurb copy… lets the DIY author down every time. The book must not be too ‘way out’, too micro niche, and furthermore, books must be returnable.

Brumby SunState Books (Queensland) – also work with POD printers

Woodslane Distribution (NSW) – publisher too, with special focus on outdoors, computing, health, military. Will be fussy.

John Reed Books – if ASA member only.

Get Some Book Reviews

There are hundreds of writing magazines, websites or digital zines just in Australia, so write to the ones you seem to have an affinity with. A list is on Australian Writer’s Marketplace.

Good Reading magazine only allow vetted reader reviews. Try advertising. 

The Goodreads forums often have solo bloggers who review various types of books. Try making friends with them. (Fill out author profile as well).

Here is a sample of Book Review sites:

Tasmanian Times Book Reviews

Australian Book Review

WQ at QWC: Member of Queensland Writers Centre? Pitch an article to their quarterly mag. Once known, there is a chance for Queensland Writers Life interviews

Well, there’s lots of ways to get off the backlists and get your indie book sales finally happening! Best to do it straightaway if your book has just come out.

—Message me at Contact for a quick question—

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