Why's it so difficult to sell a self-published book? by A. B. Whelan

Today I'm delighted to welcome author A. B. Whelan to my blog as she continues to tour with her acclaimed novel, Fields of Elysium. Not only does the novel have a perfect title; it's got the most gorgeous cover too.

Teenagers in love, strange new worlds (and not just the strangeness and newness of a move to LA), high school problems, parent problems (that dreaded GPS watch), and problems that are seriously out of this world--find my review here.  But how will you find the book on shelves real and virtual so filled with books out there? How does an author sell her book? and do book tours help? Over to you A. B. Whelan... and readers, don't forget to read to the end of this post for the chance of a rafflecopter entry and great prizes.

Why it's so difficult to sell a self-published book?
By A.B.Whelan, author of Fields of Elysium

The answer is very simple: because it’s not popular. People tend to buy or even interact with products that are already popular. Of course there are other elements, such as being poorly written and edited, dotted with typos, meaningless plots, paper-thin characters, etc., however, if a book is popular people will buy it in spite of its flaws. 

Established publishing houses have entire teams of editors, designers, PR personnel, publicists, and a ton of money to make any book look desirable. They have working formulas that have been perfected over the years and tested on the market for decades. On the other hand, if you are a self-published author, you’re most likely a one-man team who write, edit, design, and promote your own work. The good news is that in today's technological revolution there are tons of easily accessible author-platform-building tools available for those who are willing to learn and listen.

What makes a book popular?

Trademark. When Harper Teens publishes a novel, you can be sure it’s a great book. And we believe it is a great book because we trust their editors’ taste and have already sampled their products. Now that's the trademark an upcoming self-pub author doesn't have. We have to gain the reader’s trust. And it’s not easy because readers know if an author publishes her own work, the book hasn’t gone through any kind of filter and most likely the final product is not as good as a well-edited, thoroughly proofread book which professionals worked on for months. Oh, we do try to get our books edited, but no matter how your sister, husband, friend, mother, etc. say that your book is the best book she has ever read, in reality people close to us will never tell you the complete truth.

What can you do to get your manuscript into a better state?

Hire a professional editor. Which is easier said than done, because just for a simple spelling check you have to cough up a thousand bucks. A thorough proofreading, editing and critical appraisal can cost you up to five grand. And your book might never sell more than a couple hundred copies for $2.99. I was lucky to meet a fantastic English professor who is willing to edit my work for the pure fun of it. But one proofreader is not enough. I know self-pub authors who hired multiple proofreaders and they still find phrases or words that should have been changed or parts that do nothing but drag out the story.

So if self-pub authors’ books are not quality enough, why do readers care about them at all?

Because they are cheap or even free, the risk is minimal, yet there is a chance of finding a gem.  Besides, Amazon even allows its customers to return e-books for seven days after purchase. And from time-to-time self-pub authors do emerge from the sea of e-book publishers. Amanda Hockings’ books are very popular despite reviewers’ complaints about the lack of editing. I guess her stories were satisfying enough. And without reader support authors such as Colleen Hoover, Jennifer L. Armentrout, Jessica Sorensen might never have been discovered either. 

Most of us self-pub authors want to produce the best books with the limited tools we can afford. We try to get better, work harder, re-read our manuscript one more time. And after a few successful book launches we can afford to spend more money on polishing our new manuscripts. We always chase time because we don’t have the luxury of writing our books for a year. Readers demand sequels, new novels, otherwise they forget about us and move on to a new series. Some of us try to keep the attention on us with silly Facebook posts and images, or share bits of our life on Twitter, hoping that those readers who liked our first book will stay interested and buy the next one. And unfortunately in the rush to publish (sometimes every 2-3 months), quantity defeats quality.

But if you set the bar high for yourself and you dare to dream big, eventually you will achieve great things. Your book might never be the next Twilight or Hunger Games, but it could always be the first Fields of Elysium. :)

Thank you so much. I feel like I'm always chasing time too, twittering and facebooking, then trying to balance networking, friendship, marketing and actually writing the next book. But quality counts, and I enjoyed reading and reviewing Fields of Elysium.

About the author: A.B.Whelan is a Hungarian born, American writer. She currently lives with her husband and two children in Southern California.

While growing up in a wealthy Eastern European family, she had a chance to travel Europe. Later as an adult, she visited Africa and the Middle East and lived in Ecuador and in Crete.

About the book: How can love mend a heart full of hate?

Small town girl, Molly Bennett, moves to Los Angeles where she becomes an outsider while attending Beverly Hills High School. It seems life cannot be any more dreadful. Then one day after school, something magical happens. On a secluded hike in the Hollywood Hills, Molly chases her disobedient mutt and only friend into a hidden cavern. She stumbles upon a strange glimmering gateway that transports her to Arkana, a planet that is the cradle of an advanced human race. There, teenagers navigate amazing flying vehicles, compete in perilous games for glory, and possess supernatural powers. While Molly tries to wrap her mind around this unbelievable discovery, she meets the alluring and mysterious Victor Sorren. He is a Sentinel Apprentice, whose hatred toward people from Earth is beyond understanding. Yet every time Victor unpredictably saves Molly’s life, his heart draws closer to hers, no matter how much he tries to fight against it. It further complicates things that their growing friendship is strictly forbidden. Earth people are prohibited in Arkana, yet Molly continues to cross through the portal to Arkana to see Victor. Torn between their double lives, they go down a dangerous path, from where there is no return and multiple endings.

Fields of Elysium is a suspenseful, romantic tale full of forbidden secrets, unimaginable danger, deception, and the never-ending fight for true love.

And where to buy your copy:

  foe blog tour giveawaysBlog Tour Giveaway $25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash A gift bag of one signed copy of Fields of Elysium, a scrabble-tile pendant on a necklace, and a fridge magnet Ends 5/15/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced at http://www.iamareader.com/2013/02/fields-of-elysium-blog-tour-book-blast-sign-ups-ya.html as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://www.iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway


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