The Truth about Book Sales

Here is a saying that is true and accurate:

Books do not sell themselves!

Here is another saying that you can hang your hat on:

Selling is hard work!

That’s right. Selling anything is hard work. Selling books is no exception. And actually, just running a small business is hard work.

The NFIB (National Federation of Independent Businesses) estimates that over the lifetime of a business, 39% are profitable, 30% break even, and 30% lose money, with 1% falling in the “unable to determine” category. The NFIB also reports that most new businesses are very small with more than two-thirds starting in the owner’s home. Sounds like most start-up publishing businesses.

So, to get back to my original statement, books do not sell themselves. I know this from personal experience.

A few years ago, the publisher of one of my books went out of business. When that happened, the rights to the book reverted to me. I had never put much effort into marketing this book, neither had the publisher. As a result, the book had never sold very well.

Not wanting to put the book out-of-print, I converted the book to a PDF ebook and placed it for sale on my publishing house’s website. Then, it promptly fell off my radar.

Over the past year, I have done nothing—I repeat, nothing—to market this book. Guess what? I have not sold a single copy of that ebook. Not one.

Yes, it is only for sale on one website, making it hard to stumble across, but the real reason it is not selling is because I am not selling it. Books do not sell themselves.

I can’t tell you how often I hear from discouraged self-published authors that their books are not selling. Most of the time, these authors are doing very little to market and promote their books. It really is a no brainier: No pain, no gain.

If you want to sell books, get out there and work your fanny to exhaustion. That’s the only way your book will sell.