Why isn't my book selling

Why isn't my book selling?

Finally, your book that you've been working on for months, maybe years, is out. And now? Only a few sales ripple in, even after weeks or months. What could be the reason? To find out, allow for self-criticism and criticism from others, and examine your book closely. Is it really good enough or has it missed its target audience? Or can you improve the marketing?

Why isn't my book selling? Possible reasons for the failure

It is not always possible to analyse exactly why a book does not sell. The reasons can be manifold: an unprofessional cover, too little marketing or the wrong target group can be related to why the book is not bought. Maybe the readers just don't find your work or the reading sample is not convincing? Avoid classic mistakes and go in search of clues to bring your book to its readers.


The cover arouses in readers the first impulse to pick up or click on your work. It is the calling card of your book and must be convincing, so that the reader can even take the Blurb and browse through the first few pages.

Problem: Your cover and layout are unprofessional

A book can be as good as it is - if the cover doesn't inspire, it will hardly find readers. Someone who calls up your book in an online shop judges within seconds whether the cover appeals to them and they read through the further information. A blurry, small-scale, or unprofessional image may cause the reader to simply put it down or scroll further in the search results. Also, don't promise anything with the cover that your book doesn't "deliver" on. If there is a picture of the Cologne Cathedral on it, you should refer to it in the text.

Tip: How do you design a good cover?

Be honest with yourself: Did you create the cover in a hurry and without much effort? Would you pick it up if you saw it in a bookstore or online store? Your best bet is to hire a graphic designer to get a professionally designed cover for your book. If that's too expensive for you, you can get help such as cover templates from Self-Publishing Vendors use. Get inspiration from the successful titles in bookstores or online shops - and create your own extraordinary cover with this basis.


Anyone can write - that's one of the prejudices that authors have to contend with. After all, we learn to read and write in elementary school. But there is a difference between mastering grammar and spelling and captivating writing techniques, emotionally charged formulations and authentic protagonists.

Problem: Your book is not well written

Writing a book is hard work. This is also emphasized by successful bestselling authors such as Charlotte Link in the Interview with the Süddeutsche Zeitung. In order to develop a good story, you need an exciting plot, strong Charactersa sophisticated Arc of suspense and meaningful dialogue. Logic gaps or wooden dialogues are not uncommon, especially with debut authors. Nonfiction authors on the other hand, like to get bogged down with a wealth of information crammed with force into one book.

Tip: How to write a good book?

To make sure your book is suitable for publication, have a few test readers from the target audience test read it. You should also look at writing techniques and plot structures before and during writing and revision. There are Writing softwareto help with that. Or maybe you take a course at a Writing School? And before you publish the book, it helps to work with an editor who will review your content intensively.

Brief description and reading sample

If the cover is convincing, readers will open the book and read the first few pages or get an overview from the blurb on the back cover. The short description can be decisive for the purchase decision.

Problem: Your short description and reading sample are not convincing

A vague and meaningless short description or a reading sample that barely goes beyond the table of contents can be the reason why the reader clicks away when browsing in an online shop. Even if the book has aroused interest through an appealing cover, a too short and not meaningful short description can have something to do with why a reader decides against your book.

Tip: How to write a good short description?

Never underestimate the importance of a short description and the right reading sample. They are, together with the book cover and your author vita the figureheads of your book. Take enough time to find and formulate the core of your story. Readers want to know what the book is about and become curious about it. This is not only about the content, but also about the expected style.

Target group

To place your book properly, it is necessary that you know your target audience and how to reach them. This can work via the cover or via marketing on the appropriate channels.

Problem: You missed the target audience.

With your cover, do readers expect a classic historical novel, but your book belongs more on the fantasy shelf? Or your blurb raises expectations that the book doesn't meet? Is it even clear who it's written for? Or maybe you're playing to the wrong channels, where your target audience doesn't even hang out. If you're targeting the wrong audience, it's annoying and disappointing for readers as much as it is for you. The book doesn't meet their expectations and they get bad reviews - even though you wrote your work for completely different readers.

Tip: How do I reach the right target group?

Which audience is interested in your book depends on the genre and the design of the book. Keep your readers in mind when writing and marketing. You should also invest in targeted promotion in the right media and channels. You probably won't meet many readers for travelogues at a fantasy fair, and a mother-and-child group isn't a suitable venue for a reading from your latest book. Thriller. Find out where your target group is and how you can reach them.


A good book is no use if no one knows it's been published. Especially if it is wrongly or unclearly categorized, it can be that your work is lost in the multitude of titles.

Problem: Your book is not found well

Whether you've written a romance novel or a nutrition guide, readers need to find the book when they search for it in an online store, for example. Therefore, it is important to classify the work accordingly. It must be clear from the first glance what the book is about. Avoid general phrases on the cover such as "novel" and instead write "a dramatic love story" or "a Kassel thriller".

Tip: How do I increase the discoverability of my book?

When you first look at your book, the topic must be clear. That's why you should make it unmistakably clear in all texts about your book what it's about: in the short description, in the subtitle, on the book cover and on the back cover. Find precise keywords that describe your book and clearly assign it to a category so customers and booksellers can find it easily. Find a niche where your book fits and is not exposed to countless competing titles.


It's not enough to just write a good book. Whether you've published as a self-publisher or through a publisher, you should be actively promoting your book. marketing operate

Problem: You don't do enough marketing for your book.

With the abundance of book titles on the German book market, it's hard not to get lost in the crowd. There are numerous measures you can take to make your book known. Doing nothing or keeping your marketing to a minimum can lead to no one knowing about your book and no one buying it.

Tip: How do I do targeted marketing?

Whether you're launching a social media campaign, reaching out to local press, or asking book blogs for a review, there are many ways you can get your book talked about. You don't have to be a marketing professional to do this. A marketing plan, for example in Excel, can help you keep track of everything. Make a note of what actions you took and when, so that you don't, for example, contact the local editor twice or forget to send out a newsletter about your new publication. Keywords are enough to structure your advertising professionally.

Genre selection

"Another romance novel." That's what readers might think the first time they see your book. So it's best to think about it before you start writing: Why is your book special?

Problem: Your book is not exceptional enough

A novel like many others. The cover is not meaningful, the short description reads like a thousand others, the reader can not clearly see what makes your book exceptional. Yet that is precisely what would make one curious. How does your idea differ from the many competing titles, or do you perhaps have a writing style that stands out from other books?

Tip: Conduct competitive research

What themes are repeated within your genre? Try to find out - and stand out. For example, if you're writing an IT guide, spice it up with some light-hearted humour. This will set you apart from other soberly written guides in the market. Provide surprise effects, a smile or a moment of shock. Always keep in mind why your book stands out from the crowd and communicate that to the outside world.

Topic selection

A book may not be unusual enough - or have too specific a theme. That can also be a reason why sales are limited.

Problem: The topic is very specific

Especially complex guidebooks and reference books often have specific topics and thus a narrow target group. Therefore, you should ensure that it can be found by placing it in the right category of the online shops. Here, too, you should check whether you use keywords in the book title and the short description that directly define and address your target group.

Tip: Find suitable reviewers

The good news is: the more specific and smaller the target group, the easier it is to find. If you're interested in a particular scientific field, you'll read the relevant journals, themed websites and blogs. Ask for reviews there, rather than pitching your book in major dailies or popular magazines and missing your target audience.


A book must be as cheap as possible - that is one of many Misconceptions about self-publishing. In bookshops in particular, a price that is too low is perhaps the reason why it doesn't sell.

Problem: The pricing is wrong

Booksellers earn more on a book with a higher selling price and are therefore more likely to recommend them than a comparable title with a lower price. They have less interest in a low-priced book. Also, the value of the book is lost when it is dumped. Authors who try to sell their book at the price of a dime novel will be ranked there in quality by the potential reader as well.

Tip: Do not sell below value

Hours of suspense in a mystery novel, heartbreak in a romance novel, or great cooking experiences with a cookbook - that's what you're selling and you should put that value into your selling price. Find out how much comparable books cost or get advice from your self-publishing service provider. Note: booksellers don't like "99 cent" prices anymore, they prefer "smooth" prices.

Sales target

Selling thousands of copies in a short period of time as a debut author - it's usually not that easy. Whether you're satisfied with the sales of your book depends on what you were hoping for.

Problem: Your sales goals are set too high

It often happens that authors start publishing with too high expectations. With over 2.5 million books available in Germany, it is almost impossible to land a bestseller with the first book immediately after publication. After all, readers have to hear about the new release first.

Tip: Be patient and do not give up

Sales figures say nothing about failure or success in the first moment. It often takes a certain amount of time for a book to become known and sell. Good and intensive self-marketing can help, and tredition supports you with marketing measures such as a press release. If things don't go your way right away, don't give up. It takes a lot of luck for your book to be a hit. You can't plan that in advance. So don't get discouraged and start your next book project.


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