There are almost 400,000 ISBNs issued annually for new titles that are published. Yet statistics have shown that 93% of all these books will sell less than 100 copies. Why? Of course, some people publish a book simply because they always wanted to, and do not intend to sell it. Or they may choose to leave a legacy. But many people write a manuscript and publish it with an expectation of success. In addition to the fact that it is easy to have a manuscript published, I believe most books do not sell more than 100 copies because people write and publish without understanding what it takes to be successful. Here are my Top Ten Reasons Most Books Do Not Sell More Than 100 Copies.
- Writing with the assumption that the content is different from anything ever written on the topic, or that no other book exists on the subject
- Thinking one’s book is for everyone and not defining the target reader or niche.
- Describing a personal experience under difficult circumstances (“Everyone said I should write a book about that.”) and assuming, a) that it applies to other people, and b) that they will be interested
- Publishing without a fresh perspective on the topic, one that target readers will perceive as different, important and relevant
- Expecting a book to sell with no – or limited – marketing support from the author
- Publishing a book without using the services of a professional editor and experienced designers for cover and page layout
- Not understanding the publishing business (distribution, pricing, competition, promotion, finances)
- Selling only through bookstores (bricks and clicks) and not pursuing non-bookstore buyers
- Pricing a book based on page count or competition, and not considering its market value
- Not preparing strategic, practical and objective marketing and financial plans
To paraphrase an age-old question, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” My corollary is, “If a book is published and no one is told that it exists, will it make a sale?”
Brian Jud is the Executive Director of the Association of Publishers for Special Sales (APSS – www.bookapss.org– formerly SPAN). He is also the author of How to Make Real Money Selling Books. Brian offers commission-based sales of books to buyers in non-bookstore markets. Contact Brian at P. O. Box 715, Avon, CT 06001-0715; (860) 675-1344; email@example.com or www.premiumbookcompany.com twitter.com/bookmarketing