Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What am I doing wrong?

Paula wonders what she is doing wrong!

Last week Debra wondered whether visiting other people’s blogs does any good (because of so few comments). This week I’m wondering whether any of the promotion we do for our books does any good.

I had high hopes for ‘Irish Inheritance’. I knew it was a good story, and my first review (within two days of its release) confirmed this: “Paula's description of the scenery and charm of the Irish countryside is amazing but most of all, I love the story. What a great plot, characters and setting. Could not put it down. Can't think of a better way to spend a snowy North Carolina winter day, though I would enjoy it in any season.”

In the pre-release period, I posted blogs about the various places in Ireland that feature in the novel (with lots of my photos) and also posting a few excerpts. The reactions seemed to be favourable with people saying they were looking forward to reading this book. They raved too about the cover when I posted it on Facebook in January.

And so it was released on February 3rd.

As I said, I had high hopes. This book has a good cover, and a blurb that has been called ‘intriguing’ several times. It was also priced lower than any of my other books at $2.99 (or £1.84, less than the cost of a cappuccino here in the UK!). I also though the 'Irish' link might prove attractive, since many people have Irish ancestry and/or would love to visit Ireland.

I know from experience that most downloads come in the first couple of weeks, after which they tend to come in much more slowly. The two week period ended yesterday, and to say I am underwhelmed is an understatement!

I have worked hard during the past 5 years, starting out in 2009, two years before my first novel was published, when I didn’t even know if I would ever be accepted by a publisher. Not only in this blog and my personal blog, but visiting other blogs, contributing to the yahoo loops, playing an active role on Facebook, supporting other writers, and buying friends’ books. I’ve interacted with dozens, if not hundreds of people during this time, and of course I value the many friendships I have made.

It seems, however, that very little of this leads to sales. The proof is in the disappointing sales of ‘Irish Inheritance’ since its release.

It's at times like this I start to wonder what is the point of working hard on a book when it’s only going to be read by a few people? What’s the point of spending hours on promotion, only to be disappointed when it has so little effect?

I’ve tried so hard with promotion and marketing. Over the past 3 or 4 years, I’ve done practically everything that is ‘recommended’ to promote my books, but now I am wondering what I’m doing wrong, or what I’ve not done that I should have done (apart from spending a fortune on any 'professional' promotion, because I'm not sure this would really make much difference!).

Maybe sales will pick up sometime, but that doesn't alter the fact that this has been a depressing February so far! Last week I felt like giving up completely - but the stubborn (and optimistic?) streak in me is telling me to keep going. After all, who knows what next week might bring?


  1. Hey Paula!

    I recall you commenting on this on Facebook. I've heard this from more than few. The truth is, nothing but a publisher backed marketing has ever boosted my sales, and even then, as soon as the sale is over, I get a small boost for a month, maybe two, then it's over. I honestly think that's the key...getting the publisher to back you.

    That being said, I don't self publish, so I can't play with things like pricing. I'm traditional all the way. Things I hear are slightly different for self published authors. Though I do know a few who've done all the recommended things there too and didn't see the results and nobody really knows why. I just hope you don't give up. Don't let it make you quit.

  2. The 'tour' of Ireland, before publication, was interesting and readers enjoyed it. But memories are short, lives are busy. Let's have another tour, spark that interest again. :)

  3. You might want to try playing with your timing a bit. I think it might be better to have a blog tour and most of your publicity when the book comes out, so that the people who are interested can immediately click a buy link, rather than thinking it sounds interesting, but having time to forget about it before it comes out. Just a thought.

  4. Joanne, the same has happened with my books when the publisher has reduced the price temporarily. I also had about 80 downloads when my book was offered free for a few days, but this didn't bring about any boost in sales! As you say, no one really seems to know what works and what doesn't!

  5. Thanks, Carol! I'll try some more blog posts about Ireland - especially with St Patrick's Day coming up next month!

  6. Jen, I've done 4 blog visits since the book was released and none of them have had any effect on sales! I have another 5 visits lined up before St Patrick's Day, so I'll see what happens with those!

  7. Paula,

    I've been in your shoes many, many times. I've often bemoaned the time spent on promotion when it seems to yield so few results. I've often thought of giving up writing...but there's always something that brings me back to it. I guess it's the love of creating a story. For me, even if I have few sales, there's something so very satisfying about seeing my name on a book.

    I truly hope you don't give up on your career. I for one would miss your fabulous stories.

    The best sales I've seen have come after the freebie promotion at Amazon which is initiated by my publisher. Flitting from blog to blog doesn't seem to make a difference, that's for sure.

  8. I know we all get disheartened, Debra - but I really did hit the depths at the end of last week. In fact the first draft I wrote for this blog was a very strong rant about there being no point in carrying on. I toned it down a lot before I eventually posted it!
    My best sales are the paperbacks I sell here - they easily beat my Amazon sales!

  9. Please don't give up Paula, 'Irish Inheritance' is a fabulous and is among my four favourite books of all time.
    It must be disheartening but something will happen and it will take off ! I think Jennifer Wilck's idea of a link to buy it, was really good. How often do we see something we like but when we remember we've forgotten the title or even where we saw it ? I have withdrawal symptoms so cannot wait for the follow up ! With St Patrick's Day coming up apparently March is 'the time' for Irish themed books so that's hopeful.

  10. Hi Paula
    Don't be disheartened. I am an avid reader and a writer of romantic suspense and I find always find my next book via a blog. I rarely comment, but please don't think people aren't paying attention.
    I also think timing is critical, sometimes a book just isn't right for that particular moment. How you work out when is the right time I have no idea, but certain things definitely appeal to me at certain times.
    As to other social media, I can't tell you how fed up I am with being bombarded with information about a new book about to be published. As if that's all it takes for a reader to make that buying decision.
    I'm sure your sales will pick up as summer comes hurtling towards us, especially here in the UK when we're likely to be still under several feet of water.

  11. Many thanks, Lyn (because I know it's you behind the Anonymous tag!) - thank you so much! Hope you'll also enjoy the spin-off story about Charley (when I manage to finish it!). I'll try some more advertising as St Patrick's Day approaches - and keep my fingers crossed!

  12. Karen, thanks so much for your encouragement. It's so difficult to know where and when to advertise a book, and you end up trying everything in the hope that something will work!
    Hope you're not under water? The floods have been horrendous in so many places.