If your books aren’t selling, what then?

When I read the latest e-mail News from best-selling author Maria Murnane, I realized that I was not doing enough to market my own work. In fact, I think most authors do not do enough to market his or her work.

Murnane—the author of three chick-lit novels with number four on the way: Perfect on Paper; It’s a Wavery Life; Honey on Your Mind, and Chocolate for Two coming in April—made it official that she had met her sales goal for 2012 and sold more than 100,000 books.

I first heard Murnane at a Saturday morning monthly meeting of the Diablo Branch of the California Writers Club. She was a dynamic guest speaker. After hearing her, it was obvious that she is probably an extrovert, and that helps when it comes to an author promoting his or her work, and the evidence says Murnane is a one person industry.

On her Website/Blog—Maria Murnane.com—she offers book marketing tips for free and for a price.

Because I’m not a dedicated extrovert but more into writing alone in my man-cave, I don’t expect I will be following  in Murnane’s marketing footsteps in the fast lane. Instead, I’ll stick to Blogging and Social Networking. Besides, I’m okay with being a mid-list author with sales of about 12,000 copies, so far.

However, a recent piece—Failure to Launch by Donald Maass—published in the February 2013 issue of Writer’s Digest Magazine supports what Murnane is doing, and if what she is doing doesn’t work for you, Maass offers advice for that too.

Maass says, “You’ll never meet an author who admits to publishing a ‘failed’ novel. You will, though, encounter authors in bars and on blogs who will loudly tell you what’s wrong with the book industry. … If you encounter disappointments in your publishing career, don’t despair. That happens to pretty much every author. This trick is not to simmer but to learn.”

Writer’s Digest also lists the Seven Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors.

In fact, you may want to learn from authors like Maria Murnane. Other authors you may want to learn from are: Hugh Howey; John Locke; Amanda Hocking; J.A. Konrath; Boyd Morrison; Michael J. Sullivan; Michael Prescott; Barbara Freethy; Charles Orlando; James Altucher; Dean Wesley Smith;  Michele Scott/A.K. Alexander; Barry Eisler; Louise Voss and Mark Edwards; Kerry Wilkinson; J. Carson Black; Tanya Wright; Denise Hamilton; Vivian Yang; Laurel Saville, and Elle Lothlorien

If learning from these successful authors doesn’t work, then return to Maass’s advice and learn how to become a more powerful storyteller. Maass says, “While the industry isn’t without blame, the fact is that you can’t change the business. You can only change your writing.”

It seems that Murnane discovered that secret long ago, because her writing has found more than 100,000 readers. The strongest path for promotion is readers spreading the word, and writing that needs improvement does not earn word-of-mouth.

Discover Authors Finding Readers


Lloyd Lofthouse, a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran, is the award winning author of The Concubine Saga.

His latest novel is Running with the Enemy. Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. Ethan Card is a loyal U.S. Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again.

And the woman he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

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7 responses to “If your books aren’t selling, what then?”

  1. It’s a tough world. Everyone’s trying to make a dollar.

    1. Yep. Some want to earn a dollar the honest way. Others just want to steal it anyway they can.

      1. Publishers will often tell authors to stay away from sites that charge a fee to promote your book. Yet amazon,goodreads and other get their cut from an authors hard work. promotion site that do not charge a commission for each book sold is good, although operation a promotional site that draws thousands of visitors daily has cost to absorb, thus charging each author a very small annual fee. many authors sell their books directly from these sites cutting out the commissions charged by publishers and large corporate book sellers. Author work hard to create a novel we all can enjoy, they deserve the bulk of the rewards.

      2. Maybe the publishers should have gone a bit further and explained the difference between hiring a publicist to organize, for instance, a book blog tour where the author’s book is reviewed, and/or the author is interviewed, and/or the author writes a guest post versus the sites that say they will send out a press release e-mail to thousands of targeted reviewers and book readers, which probably end up in SPAM and then are deleted along with the other hundreds of other SPAM that flood in daily that people just don’t have time to filter. I know I don’t have time. Every morning I delete hundreds of SPAM that pour into e-mail and my blogs.

        Each site that charges a fee should be considered with “a pinch of salt” and then take a closer look. Press releases probably have the least return for money followed by paid advertising in any media, which tends to be extremely expensive. So far, the best advertising for my work has been through BookBub—that isn’t cheap—but then they reject the majority of titles submitted to them as they attempt to only offer a diverse choice of quality reads for their followers. BookBub accepted my first book twice and rejected my second one. I may submit it again but I’m going to try some other options first.

        I think an author should focus on building a virtual, branded platform while exploring other options to build name recognition in addition to generating word of mouth for one or more titles. Of course, the first step is to write a story that will appeal to a segment of those who read. The wider the segment, the more readership potential. But even after finishing the rough draft, the manuscript should still be edited by a second pair of trained eyes, a professional with a reputation in the industry for doing a good job.

  2. I like your blog (a nicely professional platform), but took a different lesson from Donald Maass’ “Failure to Launch,” introvert that I am and deep in revision in Book 2 of a series. For me, Maass’ advice is all about the writing of great fiction. Congratulations on your good sales. May your writing continue to go well.

    1. Thank you. I also saw the lesson you mentioned. In fact, I think that was his focus. However, I wanted to add to Maass’s lesson that without marketing and promotion, it would be difficult for readers to find our work. For great fiction to thrive, it needs word of mouth. But if marketing doesn’t work, then back to the drawing board.

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