Why Your Books Aren’t Selling Well (Hint: It’s Not Because Of Bad Writing)

If you’re an indie author, you probably know that selling books isn’t easy. Some people get discouraged or think their writing is the reason why they’re not selling well. Online bullies will say it’s because your writing is bad or because you didn’t write in the right genre.

The #1 reason why indie authors don’t sell a lot of books is because of …

Marketing. This is probably the most important element in selling books – no matter their quality. People who haven’t seen or read your book before wouldn’t have any idea of your book’s quality and there’s a chance they haven’t even had the chance to see the book cover. Getting exposure to your books takes a lot of work – you don’t just publish books, post about them on social media, then magically become a best seller. People who sell a lot of books – be they indie authors or traditionally represented authors – have a good marketing plan.

Of course, there’s a few other things that can hold readers back from discovering your book as well. Which are…

Lack of distribution in popular bookstores. Imagine how much easier it would be to get discovered if your books were sitting there at a store like Chapters. A lot of people would buy them out of curiosity alone. If your books aren’t in stores, it’s going to be a lot harder to sell them, because online there are millions and millions of books to sift through, and if you’re not an already established author, your books will be quite hard to find.

Poorly designed book covers. I’m not saying I have the best book covers in the world, but I do my best to choose attractive and/or interesting books so that people will be more likely to be interested. I’d say it’s probably the reason why I’ve sold the copies that I have. If you’re an unknown author and your book covers aren’t that stunning or eye-catching, your chances of getting a sale will be even lower than if you put a little more work into that area. People will often buy books based on the cover looking cool – believe it or not.

You never promote your book. Back to the marketing topic – if your book is never being promoted on social media or you don’t invest in any ads, it’s probably not going to sell more than a couple of copies per year.

Bland story description. Writing a catchy book blurb on Amazon is very important. Say someone saw your book cover and clicked on it to see more, but the description is boring or not very focused. This could cause them to click away and search for another book. Having a story description that draws the reader in can help generate more sales. Particularly as an indie author, these details are important.

Price too high. If you’re not a popular author, setting your price too high can repel potential readers. Hey, it’s your choice what price you want to ask, of course, but if you’d like more people to check out your work, it’s a good idea to ensure it’s reasonable. The sweet spot for e-books is $2.99. It’s not too low to suggest bad quality, but not so high where it’s asking too much of an investment from the reader. Anecdotal evidence aside, studies have shown that the $2.99 price point seems to be best for indie authors – and I’ve noticed this seems to give me more stable sales every month than any other price.

Recap: So, there we have it! The rate at which your books sell has nothing to do with your ability as an author or your story’s quality. It has more to do with the fact you don’t have a marketing team promoting and displaying your books across the world. That makes a big difference in how many sales an author will make.

Personally, as an indie author, I don’t care that much about sales, particularly more recently. If you’d like to see your book reach more readers, you could try promoting it more or investing in some Amazon ads. Contact book bloggers to see if they’ll post about your book or run a blog tour for you. There are things you can do if you want to boost your sales, but it will take some money up front and a lot of focus on marketing.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Never forget that your writing is unique to you – and book sales don’t determine your value as an author. ❤


  1. Exactly! Creatives need to read this, and we must collectively overcome our convenient consumption bias. Let me elaborate on a Phenomenon I see happening in our culture. We order the highest rated, most purchased items from the #1 world seller, Amazon. And the same phenomenon occurs with books, unfortunately. People only look for the #1 best sellers. Bc people want to read what other people are reading. So they can feel less mentally isolated.

    It makes psychological sense. But is horrifying at the same time. People now live in one global village, instead of the small villages our ancestors did. We don’t listen to our own elders. We don’t READ OUR Own WRITERS!😞

    Let’s make an effort to change. I’m not reading anything right now bc I’ve been so busy, but I really want to read one of your books soon!

    • Yes it’s a hard thing to overcome. Like you say people want to read the most popular books, watch the most watched movies, etc. so they’ll feel connected with others. it’s all about marketing, really, and popularity. Yes that’s so true. I’m happy there’s a “buy local” mindset more people are starting to have and it’s really needed in this global world. And thank you so much for wanting to read my books when you have some time. 😉 You’re awesome.

      • I’m sure marketing is very important. I know you have experience with the publishing system. So thanks for sharing your insight with other writers.

        Yeah, totally. I have a feeling we will all be much happier and more informed when we stop listening to the ‘world news’, and tune in locally instead. Metaphorically speaking. I love wordpress for exactly that reason. It’s a form of local! Pseudo-local. If that makes sense

      • Thank you. 🙂
        I try to tune out world news as much as I can though sometimes stuff streams in. Lol that’s so true about WordPress! Supporting other creatives does have a local feel to it. 😉

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