Sales Figures and Advertising

I just had the sales figures for Honeymoon Heist and to say that they are not good is stretching understatement to the limit. Not that I'm not grateful to both the people who bought it, but after all the effort and time I put into that book - and especially the work I did in promoting it - it's easy to feel disappointed and discouraged.

My first book sold 2,000 copies which made it a bestseller for an LDS book, but that was ten years ago. What has changed? Is my writing getting worse? Should I hang up my keyboard and take up gardening instead?

The internet was still relatively new in 2001, so Haven was widely promoted the old-fashioned way, with posters, an advert in the Deseret Book and Seagull Book catalogues, a radio advert and bookmarks. I even did a "virtual" book signing where a friend sat in a bookstore in Utah sticking stickers with my signature on in copies of my book presented to her buy buyers.

Promoting a book is often prohibitively expensive for the publishers. Those end-of-shelf racks which showcase a particular new release are paid-for placements, and it's the publishers who pay for them. Likewise it costs money to have a book featured in a catalogue, and publishers work on narrow margins. So Honeymoon Heist isn't in the Deseret Book catalogue and has never been advertised. Sales of this book rely on shoppers picking it up in a store and being intrigued by the back cover blurb, or perhaps having read a reivew or hearing a recommendation from a friend. Buyers are no longer "primed" by having my book placed before them in a catalogue, on a poster or on a bookstore display.

But there are other reasons why sales may be dropping not just for me, but for my fellow authors. The global recession has meant that people have less money to spend on books, and since a book is one product you can't take back to the shop if you don't like it, it's something of a risky investment when money is tight and TV entertainment is free.

The LDS market is also growing - which I welcome - but it means that today's LDS woman looking for a fiction novel has the choice of maybe a hundred rather than just ten or so. There are a limited number of buyers, so with a larger number of books available, those readers are spread thinly.

What all this means is that if I want sales to rival those of my first two books, I have to put in more work, write better books that people will talk about, and do my own publicity as much as I possibly can. Which is, after all, what this blog is all about.

Comments

  1. I think, having read and thoroughly enjoyed Honeymoon Heist, your publishers are missing a market too. I am not a LDS, although I am a Christian, and I found the LDS references in the book to be a fun way of finding out more and recognising and celebrating the similarities we have. I think there is a market to be had in educating the wider Church in this particular much malined and misunderstood branch of the family. Perhaps if your book, and those of other LDS authors, were available in other Christian and non-Christian bookshops there would be an interested market there. A good story, is a good story after all and that's the first thing I look for.

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  2. Anna, I'm sorry about the disappointing royalties. It's very frustrating to work that hard and then be disappointed with sales figures.

    I'm looking forward to reading Honeymoon Heist--it's sitting on my Kindle right now and is next on my to-read list.

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  3. Blen, unforutnately Christian bookshops are not generally amenable to LDS books (except in the "cults" section) but my books are for sale in Wal-Mart and Costco, so available to the public at large. Stephanie, good news in that apparently the figures I was given were wrong! I had an email yesterday saying that not all bookstores report sales on that software, and the actual sales figures were much better. Phew!

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  4. And ebooks are really booming out there. Is your book available electronically?

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  5. Hi Donna, yes, my book is available on Kindle and the figures I have been given don't include ebook sales, so that could all help too. I know of at least two people who have bought it on Kindle! AND the royalties are higher on ebook sales, so we might even be able to eat out on my royalties cheque! (McDonald's here we come!)

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