How to Improve Low Book Sales, Post Xmas

It’s always hard to get book sales via print on demand or independent bookstores anyway; it’s even harder when you cannot do in-person launches. So how can we improve on low book sales after Christmas, in lethargic January?

First of all, down-under we have the advantage of many parents taking a bit longer break over summer holidays — and getting bored. What do people do when they are bored… they read, of course! Or loll about on the pool or at the beach, often reading while sunning.

Trouble is, the Audible, Amazon, and other book reader feeds are chock full of bestselling books–not easy to get any sunshine there!

Unlike Self-Publishing School, I’m not going to bullshit you and say you can make a full-time income from your books, unless of course you are a talented fiction writer who is subsidised by wonderful traditional or even hybrid publishers.

Still, progress is the main aim, so you’ll have to market your book once it is published. This is because Amazon rewards books who bring in more patrons from other places to the page by pushing it into the recommended reads. In addition, more reviews help to push the book listing up the Amazon book page in search results.

Tip 1: Check out your Book’s Listings across all Retailer Sites

When you have checked out these sites, you’ll notice that descriptions may be lacking some appearance qualities. In fact, it may need much more spacing, funky bullets, and sometimes the cover image is missing.

Use this free meta description generator to make better book descriptions., .com,

Goodreads – claim your own book by being an author there (Australian retailer)

Book Depository


Access the early-bird course page by clicking the picture.

Tip 2: Get Reviews via Niche Bloggers

This one means being nice! After being helpful by pointing out something they could add for better monetisation, or rearrange, the blogger is more likely to pay attention. Find book bloggers that review books on your subject matter (or are likely to) and approach them for review. You’ll give each blogger a free ePub or paperback copy in exchange for an honest review. (Usually it’s only on their website but some give Goodreads reviews too).

You might also arrange a virtual blog tour over a week or two pre-launch or post-launch, across multiple blogs. This means more people listing your book review or article.

This is where you write certain length articles at online zines and news sites. If you’re trying to rank better on a particular bookseller, it’s best if your article links point there. But if you are writing for general credibility, then you’d link back to your own site.

First of all, check the Submission Requirements, including if they give you a byline and allow a link in it to the book page.

Tip 4: Run a Reader Giveaway

I have done this before with some level of ease and reward. Ideally, it’s best with a site that lets you collect email addresses – so you can tell them all next time you have written something amazing. The sites to use are StoryOrigin (best value), BookFunnel and Rafflecopter (paid $15 to have it look much better when sharing my book competition link).

You can do reader giveaways on Goodreads ($129 to do) or Amazon.

We explain exactly how to do a free promotion using ‘Select’ on Amazon in Book Creation Success. Or you can also look up the KDP Help menu, to find the basics.

You cannot run a ‘giveaway’ as such for Kindle books, but you may be able to run one for your own paperback book WHILE logged in. Don’t forget–you must log in first, using the username of your KDP account.

Also, you won’t be able to do any special activities for a book published through IngramSpark.

Tip 5: Ramp up Sales Through Seeding

Seeding is one I wasn’t game to try at first, because it involves sending physical books to literary reviewers, magazine editors, and other notables (okay, influencers).

I relented and after enquiring via email for a yes, I sent my book Power Marketing to a noted brand and marketing blogger. After that, I heard crickets. So not a great result… but in other cases, my client did get a request for a book from a Tasmanian newspaper that reviews books.

As they say, no risk, no reward.

That’s all I can think of today to improve low book sales, post-Xmas.

Get in touch with Jennifer Lancaster (Brisbane, Australia) for a personalised marketing mentoring session.

Define the Purpose of Writing your Book for Business

There are several problems with taking your expertise to market. The largest one is not dedicating time to it.  While writing a book or program is unwieldy and time-consuming up front, if you’ve got a big PURPOSE for writing a book for business, boom, motivation problem solved. This could be helping a charity close to your heart or shining the light on a problem that’s been a past source of agony for you.

Problem: One Offer, Low Revenue Base

Independent consultants and coaches need to grow income from more than just services, to diversify some away from their TIME. When someone is sick, their billings stop—and so does their income. Also, it’s really hard to sell the business or spin-off assets left and right with one-to-one services. 

To create more streams of income, you must offer books, audiobooks, an online training course/s, keynotes or group work, presentation, and if you’re game, online memberships or apps. (I don’t recommend creating an app). 

For the base of all this, a visual model is recommended in order for people to understand easily what your system stands for. Sometimes it’s not a visual tool; it could be a set of acronyms that are steps. (Renee Hasseldine says the ideal is 3 to 7 steps for an educate model.) 

A worthy goal is both rewarding spiritually and will eventually repay your time and investment into learning and creating.


Rule 1:  Any products added must make a gross profit of 30% 

Look at your business model and see if you already have a gross profit. Any new product or package you offer must have this profit margin built in. It’s just good business!

Rule 2:  Employ better branding and positioning, make 1-to-1 rare and lucrative, and add bonuses for packages or online programs. 

Laser-focussed branding and positioning will help you attract higher-level people, so you can increase your value. Ensure all your content marketing material is speaking the same message to your niche segments (or one niche).

bonuses for your reader


Rule 3:  Add online systems that solve problems for selected people, rather than working more consulting hours

You can set up a sales system that starts from a low-cost buy (e.g. a book) and offer various up-sell products for more in-depth needs. You can do this with Samcart (link below). 

Group training might be more effective profit-wise than even one-on-one coaching and you can still add the ‘personal touch’. Denise Duffield-Thomas does this very well, with her Money Mastery group events.

more profits from writing

Rule 4:  Break down the steps and make better Intellectual Property

Communicating of your key message — your IP that has the highest value — is often hard for the professional. So much to offer!  Begin by breaking it down into simple steps or a visual model. This can really help to write the book / training program.

Recommended Solutions:

1. Create authority and credibility with a well-produced book and a clear message, thus attracting clients to you.

2. Add to that with an online course and an audiobook

3. Getting some friendly sales but not enough income?  Add to that with a membership site or an up-selling system. Try Samcart Basic to help sell, online. It’s $19US a month instead of the $99 a month mentioned on their website pricing page.  I am not an affiliate.

4. I use Memberpress here for Book Creation Success club, and it’s fantastic. You need to have WordPress first, and it’s an extra cost for developing the course pages or just use the normal WordPress block editor. 


Remembering your Purpose for Writing a Book

Along with this, it’s important to remember your purpose all the way through the process of book publishing. It’s no good spending all your time on your book and nothing on promoting it on your blog, in media interviews, in podcast guest spots, or other ways. Remember the 5 marketing things every day that Jack Canfield & M V Hansen did when promoting Chicken Soup for the Soul.

If you keep in mind the purpose of reaching your audience with your impassioned message… no doubt you will succeed.

What’s the Secret to Making Wealth from Book Publishing?

This is the question I really want to see on Quora and which
I will attempt to answer. But what I really see are questions from a smaller
mindset, like:

  • If I get my book edited, how do I prevent it
    being leaked or stolen? (paranoia)
  • How long does it take to get a book deal?
  • How do I write a book and publish it?

It seems nobody asks the real question: what’s the key to making
wealth from publishing? When, if they started from that place, I think it would
work out better. But why?

We all seem to be conditioned to think of wealth as a grand
place for celebrities who ride around in their fast cars, drink champagne from
super-yachts, and laze by the pool in their mansions.

The truth for most millionaire publishers couldn’t be more
different. Most high net worth individuals become that way by being disciplined,
working on a core activity, and smartly investing their savings (their gap).
Any old fool can spend more than they earn; it takes grit to say “no” or “maybe
later” to yourself when you do have the money to spend.

When we apply this theory to publishing, it still works. Dale Beaumont (Australian) some years ago built a prolific, successful book publishing business by not writing a word. Instead, he and his team compiled interviews from different groups of entrepreneurs or business owners, in a 16-book series: “Secrets of Success Exposed”. 

Each book has the same model of questions but with all different insights. The interviewee tells their stories and the business book publisher masterminds the whole production and marketing system.

Dale had three million-dollar businesses by 30, and now 39, is worth $38 million (while living a balanced lifestyle). He told the Daily Mail UK: “One of those is a publishing company which saw me write and publish 15 books within the space of three years and which helped me to make my first $1 million.” (He also ran 1,260 events for business people and sold business coaching).

So, being prolific and taking massive action without fear lies at the heart of his success. But you can tell from these tips on dealing with rejection, that he has overcome the mental demons we all face, with grace.

How to Be Incrementally More Productive Every Day—and Earn More

Recently I noticed that successful people all seem to get up early and work on personal development. This includes knowing their body’s needs and exercising. I realised that reading the news and gossip online or admiring others was never going to get me anywhere near my own goals.

My goals include: improving my learning materials and making them easier to visually take in. (a business goal).

Creating free classes/webinars to interest 500 new people a year (a marketing goal).

Interesting and signing on 24 new clients a year (a sales goal).

Getting exercise thrice times a week for 30 minutes and stretching (a personal body goal).

To achieve your goals faster, here is a productivity system you could use.

Learn the 1000% Improvement Method

This is ‘incremental improvement’—getting a little better every day—otherwise known as ‘the Kaizen principle’.

Brian Tracy asks: “Is it possible for you to make a 1/10th of 1% improvement in productivity per day?”

(Doing it weekdays, your actions would be 0.5% more improved within a week and 13% in a month).

This translates to you working on a more important task or doing a task slightly better. (Perhaps a new system occasionally as well, I presume).

Your overall output can become amazing, posits Tracy… in fact, 26% more productive in a year.

Your income would likely go up 26% per year too. This building on improvements is called the Momentum Principle.

You start early, set good priorities, and work a little harder. If you do this improvement as a habit, so every year over the course of ten years, the compounding effect means you will be working at around 1,400% better, according to Tracy.  This then would be reflected in the quality of projects you do and the amount of money you earn.

Here is Brian Tracy’s famous 1000% Improvement list but with my own interpretation. Watch the video afterwards, if you like.

1. Spend your First Hour of the Day on Personal Development

I am spending nearly an hour most mornings on personal development, and then I write out some more on my goals. I do a few stretches. Then if it’s a weekday, I move to writing out my task list.

Your Dream Life Starts Here by Kristina Karlsson is a good book for inspiring you to set all your goals both small and large.

It however has a very small font, so bear this in mind.

My audio reading at the moment is:  Booked Solid (Michael Port) and Tamed.

2. Make a Task List

Then I make a Task List of everything I need to do that day, but not too many.

3.  Prioritise that List

Then I look at the tasks and find the most important to move my business or life forward. I put the two most important things an call it A.

(This I learned from Eat That Frog, also by Brian Tracy).

Is Writing a Book that’s Popular Being a Sell-out?

Jack Kerouac, the talented writer
Jack Kerouac

I know it’s common to think of book writing as some kind of artisan thing, a Jack Kerouac at his writing desk, typing away his creative best.

But that just ain’t reality, kid.

In the real world, we must find a rising trend and a unique angle for our book. Not only for it to be looked at in the first place, but because if you don’t, you’re really only writing books for you.

That’s nice, but it doesn’t pay any bills, even the ones for your book.

At the Mercy of Gurus—or In Control of your Online Income?

Our inner psychology tells us to be obedient to authority figures, even when obeying leads to our own downfall. Ignore them, be creative, and find new, high-value markets where you can tap into the new gold rush.

The Power of Authority

Our faith in authority figures leads to our falling into money traps. Studies have shown we are strongly inclined to follow the instructions of someone who looks like an expert. We will even substitute our judgement for those with the symbols of authority. Research into obedience to authority shows that we underestimate the extent to which the appearance of authority will influence us. (Social Psychology, 1999).

While the old scientific tests were mainly done with people in doctor’s coats, this influence also applies to political leaders, financial experts, or any authority figure, even celebrities with no financial standing. Do the gurus of internet marketing also come to mind?

So what can we do about it? How do we detach ourselves from this strong influence and work to our own goals?  One way, that I mentioned in my book How to Control Your Financial Destiny, is to forget the herd’s sentiment and make your own decisions contrary to the crowd.

Contrary investing means you would invest when people are most fearful of investing (and thus get the lower prices), and withdraw and seek other markets when the herd is caught up in buying frenzy.

Contrary marketing would thus mean you are creating some unusual types of content, or using unusual mediums, that enriches the lives of others. I write about niche marketing for authors on here a lot.

How do we Achieve More Residual Income?

What is the economic forecast in your household? Gloom or Boom? While the national economy fluctuates, if you have lost your job or top clients, it’s no good to you whether the stockmarket is rising, or interest rates are up, or any of that stuff! You live in the now of needing more income. Better yet, make it residual income so we don’t have to go through this anguish again.

My own family suffered through a household recession in 2008-09. What helped me was this premise: “every adversity brings with it the seed of an equivalent advantage” (Napoleon Hill). Out of this hard time, my copywriting sprouted wings and then I turned to teaching others how to write a book (or editing them).

The Lure of Residual Income

Illness, job losses, income insecurity: all these make us long for a residual (passive) income. Many of us turn to online sources for the new gold of our time.

But within this ‘making money online’ field, there are many pitfalls for the unwary. I found that psychological principles apply on the Internet just as they do in real life.

Consider this – you have been conditioned to search for GAIN without WORK, quick cash, and easy success. You’ve watched Gary Vee or other internet gurus and how well they’ve done and it seems so easy. This is just a mindset trap.

Seth Godin says on ‘instant success’:

“It still takes ten years to become a success, web or no web.” 

“The irony of the web is that the tactics work really quickly. You friend someone on Facebook and two minutes later, they friend you back. Bang. But the strategy still takes forever…”

Seth Godin

It also spells failure for the thousands of people who see others’ outward signs of success (income, houses, cars), but don’t understand the depth of their powerful drive and action towards their goals.

I’ve banned myself from saying ‘passive income’ because, let’s face it, most good income sources are NOT passive at all and require hours and hours of your precious time up-front. It would be truer to say ‘long-haul income’!

That’s the pessimistic stuff out of the way. If you’ve found a topic that really interests you: that’s the place to start. Whether it’s Feng Shui, colour combining, food specialities, or Writing about Writing, there is a bevy of people hungry for this ‘insider’ information. Just use the keyword search tools, like Ubersuggest, to find the numbers of searches in your country.

Using LinkedIn for Author Publicity

Using a book is a great introduction tool for an expert, therapist, coach or chef! And it is even better when you introduce yourself as an author of a thought leader book, via LinkedIn.  

Once your book is in circulation, you can add ‘author’ to your headline on LinkedIn. I personally recommend you add in the subject keyword too.

How to Create a Publishing Business!

To make a lot of money in book publishing for a niche market, then you will need to understand how to reach people with online publishing too. If you are a known personality, great—build on that, but if you are building a name-brand business or charity, then your brand is your business.

For instance, have you ever heard of a little business called Niche Media?  Well, as an Australian niche magazine publisher, their brands include MacWorld, Marketing magazine, Idea, Inside (interior design), Architectural Review (AR), Mezzanine and Desktop. They have 10 million views on their sites and send 100,000 EDMs a week. They are a large publisher, but most of us start as an indie or micro publisher. What is the difference?

An indie publisher publishes only their own books, whereas a micro publisher might publish a few different authors. For a while, Power of Words was a micro publisher (as a sole proprietor, so with a dose of risk).

Traditional magazines need two things to happen:  good workers (staff/freelance writers) and high-paying advertisers (the money).

But online, you can build your own online publishing business. First, you have your books. Awesome! What a great start. Do they look like they are in a series? It’s something I wish I had done. Certainly, 10 years can be a long time and it’s easier to get every book cover planned designed as a template and write them later.

No Books Yet?

Even if you don’t have your own books yet, you can get started in the book publishing business and add other products to complement. Because you can actually joint venture with other writers to do an anthology.

Or, you could choose to be the publisher of other author’s books in a selected niche. One publisher I found collated books on marine life and shipwrecks and sold them through dive shops.

You could also choose to have a niche online magazine. It’s far too easy to start—it’s the continuing and optimising that’s the hard part.  This can be in WordPress, like ours, or as an Issu digital magazine.

It helps also to have a bit of money aside for sprucing up the design once you have website traffic.

What not to do!

Remember, you don’t spend $3,000 on web development in hopes of getting an audience. You can bootstrap and DIY your way to an audience, then spend some money on brand, helpers, and really great products. This way, you really find out through comments, social media mentions, and enquiries, what your audience wants to know. So turn the comments on!

With only books, your reader feedback will be inside reviews on Amazon and Goodreads that you can’t take off. You won’t be able to respond to many of them. And only a handful of people review books out of their own goodness.

On your own book website, blog or forum, you can respond straight away.

Micro Publisher Tips

There are other ways to make money in the online publishing business:

  • More products, e.g. magazines, designer journals, workbooks and unique products (take a look at Etsy for inspiration)
  • Referrals to awesome affiliate products – these can make a lot of money
  • Sponsored posts  (once you have traffic)

Mostly, you’ll need to intimately know your audience, and so it helps if you are just like them! Moms/mums relate to other mum bloggers, and lady entrepreneurs. There is even an inspiring book all about their successes.

They talk a lot about reaching their audience on the social platform where mostly they hang out, e.g. Pinterest, Instagram.

Here is a (James Schramko) case study of a man who went from just ebooks with affiliates to a recurring membership model, in the area of health.

Being a Whizz at Analysis

You need to understand the Analytics of your site, because it tells you what your visitors like. This means either installing a Google Analytics plugin or going into the full Google Analytics around once a month. 

What do you do when you know what visitors like?  You write more along those lines! Also notice what they type in to find you (the popular keywords).

Get their Email Address

Work on converting your online visitors to either subscribers to email or to buy something. Sometimes it’s better to do the slow burn and get the email address when you blog, rather than turn them off with a full-on advertisement.

It should be the most prominent thing, so a pop-up with a good, visual offer 10-30 seconds in works wonders. SumoMe or OptinMonster do the same things, offering mega numbers of opt-ins. Hello Bar is simple and also free. They all connect with email marketing systems and if not, Zapier usually does the adding of email to database once set up.

You can’t tempt people with boredom, so make sure your offers and your blog or membership site is alive with enthusiasm and free stuff.

online publishersSome Cool Tools for Online Publishers – free keyword research tool by Neil Patel – free research tool, perfect for finding questions for blog posts

MixPanel – user analytics, helps to optimise the lifetime value of customers (relevant for growing publishers)

Outbrain Publisher/Engage – helps to make money from your audience, with professional-level advertising for online publishers. (Far better than Adsense).

tools for book publishers
Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Some Cool Tools for Book Publishers

Adobe InDesign (from $28 pm) has a hidden extra at premium level for nil extra: Adobe Spark (make promo videos with their templates)

Kindlepreneur’s Kindle sales rank calculator – to determine the number of Amazon sales of particular books

Canva is one of Kindlepreneur’s Book Cover Design tricks – all you need to know for bestselling covers. Canva is also useful for Instagram and Pinterest posts, especially book quotes.


Other Helpful Posts at

We talk about book quality here:

Examine your ROI on publishing here:

How to Write a Nonfiction Book Proposal

Before I get into how to write a book proposal, first a little story. When I started writing a very small book back in 2005, I had zero idea of how to mould a book, let alone how to get a publisher to take it on. I got a rejection letter, tout suite.

This ignorance led me to self-publishing on Lulu, mainly in eBook form, which proved too easy.  Enjoying research, I soon wrote another how-to book, Sack Your Financial Planner.  Self-funding, I sold these through a sales page online plus a few sales to interested people.

My longwinded point is, there’s a possibility your first nonfiction book proposal will get a book deal. That chance is about 1 in 1,000… and sliding. That young man got a deal for Eragon first go, but that was fiction and what a talent!

Self-help is such a hunting ground, with fewer sales made traditionally, so most likely as a novice author you have a choice of independent (indie) publishing or hybrid publishing (paying some money towards production and marketing). Read more on the path of hybrid publishing here.

There is another path to publishers and crowdfunding as well, which is based in the US, called Publishizer. Check it out! Get some ideas from this.

The Brass Tacks: Writing a Book Proposal Properly

Even twenty years ago, after doing a writer’s centre workshop on Getting a Book Published, it opened my eyes to what work (and flow) is needed for the research and letter to publishers.

Novice authors believe that manuscript submissions are just about the content of their book, but promoters of your book want to know: how does it help solve a problem in the world? Does its sheer essence gather excitement?

Even if it is not used in traditional publishing applications, a Book Proposal has many benefits. It can help organise your activities. It can highlight a market gap, making it clear what small slot your book will fit into.

This work is also crucial to writing the book cover blurb and extended sales page.

A Non-fiction Book Proposal Template

Keeping you on your toes, a nonfiction book proposal template will help guide much-needed research and book sections. When filled, this document will lay out:

  • competing titles
  • complementary titles (not in category but has similar elements, such as a unique model)
  • relevance of author’s background and writing experience
  • past articles or papers, or mass media you write for
  • number of social media followers
  • speaking and email marketing to your tribe

In addition, Hybrid Publishers, funders and book distributors may want to know:

  • how you will promote this book, both physically and online
  • how many books you will order (get pre-sales)
  • your level of grammatical skill and any outside editing of the book, and
  • if you have constant marketing and activity (or will it be a 2-month push only?)

Do you want a book proposal template?

Since it takes a lot of time to compile book proposal and write all the pieces, it might help if you had a book proposal template all ready to go in Microsoft Word, right? I am putting one into our Book Writing membership.

Every month, we’ll add more ideas–and handy guides–for book writing, self-publishing, and marketing for authors.

Why Online Book Publicity Leads to Sales Success

It’s really important to understand the world of social media and online publicity when releasing a non-fiction book for sales success (and not just fulfillment).  To see how good online book publicity creates general success, look at how are now growing their business.

With a growing army of 267,000 Facebook fans, they’re pushing their whole business by publishing a book: Chapter One. The book gives people an insight into their journey and some personal inspo’. Their sales? Check the link and see for yourself.

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