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Why Your Books Are Not Selling

“Why” is the endless question in life, and the endless question of book sales. Why is that book selling and mine isn’t? Why did my first book hit the Times list, but not the second? Why aren’t my sales big enough to get a contract renewal?

We don’t know.

There’s rarely a real reason for why a book doesn’t sell. A book can get the best reviews and bookstore placement, it can get advertising and ship thousands of books and it still doesn’t sell. There are those that get practically no attention, no extra advertising and few reviews and for whatever reason it takes off.

We can blame a flooded market, the cover, or a major news event. We can blame the editor, the publisher, the agent and even ourselves. The possibilities are endless, but in the end we just don’t know and the best thing to do is pull up our bootstraps and write another dang good book.

In most cases we will never really know why one book (50 Shades, Davinci Code, Twilight) hits when others that are just as good, just as compelling or just as well-written don’t.

Publishing, where all things are subjective, isn’t an easy numbers game. Sometimes its luck. Sometimes it’s timing. All the time it’s perseverance.

Category: Blog



  1. This.
    Love this post. So many authors scream into the void about the 50 Shades novels, (and I don’t disagree with them) but so much is out of our hands as writers. The only thing that isn’t? Writing that next great book! 🙂

  2. I’m going to develop a mathematical system for making books sell, then I’m going to write a book about it. I’ll call it…MONEYBOOK. Or maybe BOOKIEBALL. Haven’t worked out all the details yet.

  3. I was excitedly extolling the virtues of a certain book to a certain agent at Bouchercon. The book was by one of her clients, and I thought it was well-written, clever, and a real page-turner. Imagine my shock when she expressed her dismay that it hadn’t sold very well. I couldn’t believe it. I guess the best we can do is keep shouting about the books we love, and maybe people will listen. 🙂

  4. This is a fantastic post. I read so many manuscripts for fellow authors that are mind blowing and yet never see a bookstore shelf let alone mega sales. It can be very perplexing at times.

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