Writing Nonfiction Books? 5 Strategies If You Have No Sales

“I’m writing nonfiction books,” a member of our writing group said. “But for the first time ever, I’ve had zero sales in the past three weeks. Anyone else experiencing this? I contacted Amazon KDP and they said that everything’s fine with my account.”

That triggered a big discussion. Lots of our members are writing nonfiction; several were experiencing slow sales. One author had had no sales too, but she’d only experienced the downturn for two days.

Can you still sell nonfiction books despite the competition?

“The Kindle gold-rush ended in 2015,” one author said.

Another author said that she’d switched to writing fiction. She’s given up on nonfiction completely.

Authors suggested:

  • Today, you need a platform and publicity to make big sales; or
  • You need a fresh, hot topic that few other authors have spotted; or
  • You need to spend big on advertising and promotion.

I’ve no idea whether their thoughts are accurate or not.

Here are some strategies the group’s authors suggested if your nonfiction books’ sales have dropped.

1. Consider keywords: update your book’s meta data today

Discoverability is the biggest challenge for all authors on Amazon, as well as on the other book retailers. If your readers can’t find your nonfiction books, they can’t buy them.

Check each book’s product page, and redo your keywords and description. Start by putting yourself in your readers’ shoes. If you were a reader, looking for the information in your book, what words would you use?

You have seven keywords you can use, as well as 4000 characters (approximately 800 words) which you can use in a book’s description.

In addition to discoverability, remember that once a reader reaches your product page, he needs to feel that your book can help him.

Give a clear description of your book: the challenges it solves, and the benefits to the reader. If you have great reviews, add a snippet of a review to the description.

Once you’ve revised your book’s meta data, you should see an uptick in sales within three or four days. No results? Tweak the meta data again.

2. Update your book: create a new edition

If your book’s been available for a few months or longer, consider creating a new edition. If you have material you’d like to add, go ahead and add it. Happy with the cover image? Change it if you aren’t.

Made substantial additions or changes? Put “2nd edition” on the title page of your book, with the year: “2nd edition, 2019.” Update your meta data as well.

Additionally, remember that updating your nonfiction book is news. Create an online news release, and promote your new edition on social media.

Consider creating a new edition once a year, or once every couple of years, to keep your information current.

3. Contact influencers in your subject matter

The more people who know about your book, the more people can buy it. One of the best ways to promote is to use other people’s audiences.

Contact influencers in your subject matter. If they accept guest posts, offer a post: link to your website in the post.

If you have a following on any of the social media networks, offer to do reciprocal promotions with an influencer in your niche. You promote them, they promote you.

Consider partnering with three or four other authors in your niche, to create a group ebook compilation of short stories or short novels.

Webinars are a great way to promote nonfiction books too. Join with another author to create a webinar on your subject matter.

4. Give away free copies: hint you’d like a review

While “free” is no longer the wonderful promotional strategy it used to be, you can still use it. Give away 200 free copies. You can’t force people to give you a review, but you can ask. (Aim to get copies into the hands of influencers.)

5. Write more on your topic: explore it vertically

Consider your subject matter. Could you write another book, exploring your subject matter more deeply?

Selling nonfiction books: can you piggyback on a trend?

I work in marketing, so I’m aware of cycles. Reader-interest ebbs and flows. You may have no sales for weeks, then suddenly sell a hundred copies.

Try watching for trends, hot topics, and what’s in the news. Look for ways to make your book relevant to today’s hot topic. If you can link to a trend, create a new edition.


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