Why People Didn’t Buy Your Book (Hint: It’s not you)
The REAL reason book launching sucks sometimes…
You published a book.
Even went to the effort of launching it into the world (brave soul)
And then the launch sucked, sales were nil, and you were left wondering, “what did I do wrong?”
I’ve got good news for you.
More than the shot of encouragement, I’ve got an actual, brass-tacks exercise you can do right now that will help transform the way people listen when you talk about your book.
Before all that, can we just stop right here and celebrate the massive amount of WORK that went into writing and publishing your book? You did it! You made it! That was amazing! Woo!!
If you have launched a book, then you already know what it feels like to release your writing into the world only to hear cricket sounds. Welcome to the club. Every author knows deep in their bones how that feels.
We know the sensation that accompanies the social media post that gets no engagement, the blog posts that get no comments, and worst of all, the book that doesn’t sell.
It has disillusioned many a writer.
Especially when we first discover that family and friends — the ones you were SURE would read your posts and buy your books — were the exact people who didn’t. Ouch.
There are a lot of different reasons book launches don’t work — stuff like book quality, audience quality, or the way we talk to (or, more accurately, don’t know how to talk to) our audience about our book, or not having an audience at all. Lots of reasons. But one of the big barriers is the disillusionment of a less-than-stellar first launch.
That’s the point of our writing journey where we start wringing our hands, wondering if maybe we aren’t writers after all. Maybe we got it wrong. What if we don’t belong here? What if God didn’t call us to this?
This is the part of the journey where we forget what is so important about our story, or why we set out to write it in the first place.
Remember all those long hours you poured into that project? The endless dead ends you found yourself in, and how you worked hard to get past all that?
Why did you do that?
Put into your mind for a moment, the sound of James Earl Jones in the original animated Lion King Movie. As the spirit of Mufasa, his voice thunders from the clouds above, down to his watching son, Simba who has become disillusioned with life and his place in it. Cue dramatic movie score.
“Simba… You have forgotten who you are,” Mufasa says.
“No I haven’t!” Simba objects.
“You have forgotten me, and so forgotten who you are.”
Imagine you are Simba — the confused, disillusioned writer, who is perhaps seriously considering giving it all up. The voice from beyond represents your book — the great and powerful story you were once so connected to.
Think back — do you remember why you started writing that book?
There was a powerful, bigger-than-you reason. What was it?
WHY did you write your book?
Here’s why this is so important.
Remembering our WHY helps us push through the hard patches. Remembering our WHY also infuses us with joy as we do our work, because we know our work has purpose.
So. Here’s that exercise I promised, to help you discover TWO of your WHYs today — the WHY behind our writing the book, and the WHY behind our choice to publish the book. These can then fuel you forward as you return to your writing life and the book launching and marketing that is, for better or worse, part of it. Ready? Here we go.
#1: Why did you write your book?
Writing a book is not easy. Something motivated you to go through the emotionally demanding, long-term, difficult process of bringing it to this point.
What was it that was so important that you kept going?
Some possible whys:
- Working out a personal issue, trying to understand / process
- Exploring an idea / experimenting
- To grow in skills, character, or faith.
- God gave you a story or dream and you felt compelled to share it
- Legacy for your loved ones, a tribute to lost loved ones
#2: Why did you decide to publish your book?
Some possible WHYs to kickstart your thinking.
- Help others to understand or know or experience something
- Help others to grow or accomplish something
- Scare the crap out of people (thrillers can definitely have this goal)
- Ignite passion, creativity, joy, hope in others
- Foster better relationship with God among others?
- Bring about social change in a particular sector?
Take a moment to consider your reasons for writing the book. Then consider your reasons for publishing the book. These are two very different motivations — one is more about you, the other is more about others. Write down your WHY. Be as specific as possible because what you write down here will be your anchor throughout the process of launching, relaunching, or promoting your book.
This exercise is one we do in my Book Launch Boot Camp, and I’m telling you — as clients have done this exercise in my course, I’ve watched them transform right there in the room! Their faces light up, they smile as they reconnect with that origin story, they sit up straighter, and suddenly they have more energy and hope and joy — not just about the launching of their book, but of the existence of their book. Their passion is reawakened! And man, that stuff is contagious! It’s our fuel to press on, and it’s the sweet nectar that attracts people to our book, to our story, to us.
And then let that fuel your will to go on not only with writing, but talking to others about that writing (aka: marketing).
May your love for your story become contagious that others may also fall in love with your story.
PS. To learn how to launch your book effectively, consider The Book Launch Bootcamp — the very course you just sampled with that exercise. Inside we also discover how to talk about our books, how to gather an audience quickly, and much more. Check out the 8-week course here.