Six Reasons Your Book Isn’t Selling

“Why isn’t my book selling?”

Compliments of geralt at

Many new authors have this question and there could be many reasons besides content.


If you self-publish, the description you place on Amazon is a brief summary of your book. It can be a teaser from the back cover of your book, or your “elevator pitch,” or spiel where you describe your book in three or four sentences. The description is crucial. It may mean many sales or the death of your book.

BISAC Categories

Perhaps the wrong genre was selected in the BISAC group. Book Industry Standards and Communications (BISAC) categories are used by the book-selling industry to help identify and group books by their subject matter. This also helps place books in the right library categories.

Choosing the BISAC category that best fits your book can be tricky. You can choose from a general list, then drill down to more specifics.

Kindle Direct Publishing suggests: “Choose the most accurate categories based on the subject matter of your book. Avoid choosing one category that’s explicitly fiction and another that’s explicitly non-fiction. For example, if your book is a romance novel set during the U.S. Civil War, choose “Fiction > Romance > Historical.” Do not include “History > US > Civil War.” Instead, “US Civil War” as a keyword.”

Key Words Selection

Keywords and phrases are used for Google search engines and need to be chosen with care.  Keywords can help your title show up on both, Google, Bing, and other search engines.  Did you know keywords can also be phrases that count only as one word? Pick phrases that you think readers are likely to use when either searching for your title. Be specific, not broad in your selection.

Think like a reader. What would you search for? Think in terms of your book’s setting (Midwest America); character types (single mom,  Viet Nam veteran); character roles (strong female lead); plot themes (forgiveness, hope); and story tone (drama, feel-good). Search Amazon for words used for other books in your genre.

Book Cover

How’s your book cover?  Does it convey the book’s contents? Is it inviting and appealing?  Does it reach out and grab the reader? Perhaps a second (or third) edition is in order with a newer, fresher cover?

Do you need help in creating a new one?


How is your book formatted?  If the print is too small, the font too hard to read, or the line spacing too tight, it will cause potential readers to take one look and put your book down. Seek to find a friendly font, such as Georgia or Bookman Old Style at a size 12 or 13. Web-ready font is always a win. Go for a 1.15 or 1.3 spacing between lines for easiest reading. Beige paper instead of white is easier on the eyes for reading.

Need help with formatting your book for self-publication?

How’s Your Marketing?

And the number one reason why books don’t sell?  It may be a simple case of not marketing. Whether you acquire a traditional publisher for your book or if you self-publish, YOU must market it. I asked one author how she did her marketing. She replied that she didn’t; she expected people to find her book on Amazon and love it. With hundred of thousands of new books every day, readers will not find your book unless they know what to look for.

There are many ways to market a book. You must make it discoverable. Use social media, attend book fairs, craft shows, acquire book signings, host a book launch, hand out pens or bookmarks with your book title or author name. Create a book trailer for YouTube; send out a newsletter, or do a self-interview. Contact local radio/TV/newspapers with a press release.

These six areas are easily overlooked by many new authors. Writing a logline or “elevator pitch” is as important as your story. It helps sell the book. Categories and keywords help avid readers locate your book online. Once they find it, keep the appeal with a visually attractive cover. And when they “look inside” for a sneak peek, make sure your formatting is pleasing to the eye.

Look for ways to market in every possible area, and you may be surprised at how well your book will sell!

What are some of the ways you market?  List them in the comments.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.