Questions to Ask When Book Sales are Slow

Marketing, Tips

By Jori Hanna

It’s easy to get discouraged when your book isn’t selling as well as you hoped or expected. After all, as an author, you signed up to write books. You likely don’t have a business or marketing degree, and when it comes to the world of book sales, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed and disappointed when there’s so much to learn and so little seems to make a difference.

Don’t despair. Selling books is a totally different animal from writing books. This part of the business is tricky and takes a bit of finesse.

If your book sales aren’t where you’d like them to be, there are a few things you can do.

Start with an Assessment

Marketing is a science. There are things that work and things that don’t. Discovering which tactics will work for you requires a bit of experimentation. You must try out different markets, different methods, and different approaches. If you’re not selling as many books as you’d like, you need to assess what’s working and what isn’t.

These questions will help you narrow down what part of your marketing messaging and efforts is the weak link.

Book Details:

  • When I read the description of my book, does it sound interesting? Do I know what to expect?
  • Do I have enough information? Do I have too much information?

Followers and Online Presence:

  • Do I have an interested group of followers? Have they heard from me recently? How did they respond to what I shared?
  • Would I want to share a similar post with my friends if I saw it on my feed? Would I want to “Like” the post or leave a comment? What would make me want to interact with the content?
  • How often am I talking about my book? How recently have I posted without talking about my book?
  • Am I fun to follow?
  • Is my website inviting? Does my website fit my brand and the tone of my book? What could I add that would invite new visitors? What should I remove to make the experience more enjoyable?
  • Is my content off-putting to members of my target audience? Is there anything I can do to be more inclusive while still being authentic?


  • When was the last time I had an event? What kind of event was it?
  • When was the last time I gave away a copy of my book? What am I doing to reach new readers where they are?
  • How many interviewers have I reached out to recently? If I haven’t landed any interviews, how can I make myself look more interesting on paper? How can I make their job easier?
  • What can I do myself to get the word out similar to these interviewers? What options have I not chased down?


  • Is my ad creative presenting the book well? How can I improve it? What does the image itself say about the book? What are other people in my genre doing?
  • Is my ad copy interesting? Would I click on my own ad or scroll past it? What do the words tell me about the book in question? Am I saying too much? Am I not saying enough?
  • Is my budget set appropriately to bring the results I want? Can I adjust it up or down and get similar or better results? What happens if I try a different type of payment trigger (cost per click versus cost per impression metric)?


  • What resources may be available to me to help me learn this part of the industry?
  • Have I pursued my options for learning? Can I hire someone to help me if something is over my head?
  • How can I decrease my range to increase my impact? Where am I stretched too thin?
  • Have I claimed and utilized everything available to me for free? What pieces might I be able to liven up to increase my impact?

Whatever you do to sell books, your capacity is the limiting factor. Looking objectively at what you’re doing may help you see the areas where you may need to back off or pour in. If something is working, do more of that. If something is draining time and effort and isn’t having an impact, cut it to create time for what does work.

Don’t be afraid to experiment. If you’ve gotten stuck, there is likely a resource out there that can help you, whether by teaching you technical skills or by revealing best practice advice from industry leaders.

We Want to Hear from You

If you have a book ready to be published, we’d love to take a look at your book and see how we may be able to work with you to bring your book to the world. Review our publishing options, and if you think we’d be a good fit for each other, we’d love to review your manuscript.

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