Not Selling Books? How To Change That Today!

selling books,, What are you doing to sell books?, RachelintheOCBook marketing is a challenge, an art, either the bane of your existence or how you make your living. I try anything and everything to sell my books, and share those experiences here with you; I also love to learn from you all what you’ve tried in your book marketing and selling activities, and love to learn what has worked (and not worked), so I asked my social media author friends this question:

What’s the #1 most successful tactic you use to sell your books? ONE THING.


(Not selling? Then pay attention. No whining allowed.)

My Facebook friends really came through. What follows is a list taken from my wall — to see it in full (with replies), click here (you need to friend me first at Author Rachel Thompson): feel free to pick and choose what you feel is worth trying. You may or may not have tried some of these… I’d love to hear what you feel works best below in comments!

A few things to keep in mind:

  1. This all assumes you have a great book(s) — professionally written, edited, designed and created — to sell. If you don’t, forget it. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that Word doc you edited, formatted, and uploaded yourself will sell. That’s not a book; that’s a book report. [share ]Be professional if you want to be professional. [/share]
  2. It’s also important to keep writing while building your reader base and vice versa — marketing is about building relationships, and the more visible you are on social/blogging, and the more effective you are at building your author platform while you write, the more visible you are when you release your books.
  3. Building relationships is not either/or; we write, we market.

To The Selling! Here we go (in no particular order): 

  • Jeanne Marie Spicuzza: Live readings/performances


  • Author Bridget Blackwood: Facebook Takeovers. Getting to talk to readers about something other than books or just letting them ask you anything seems to be a hit. It also happens to be a blast. I love it


  • Donna Wilson: I blog, I make sure there’s a clear, uncomplicated path to my newsletter. I syndicate a lot. I’ve also developed a proprietary app for phones and tablets.


  • Caddy Rowland: BookBub has allowed me to make a normal income this year so far.


  • Rick Gualtieri: Writing the next book.


  • CeeCee James: Normal participation on Facebook


  • Lavinia Ewashen: Festivals! The one I was in, I sold out my poetry books (which are usually hard to sell) and gave people a deal if they bought my fantasy book with it. Was fantastic. Would love to do more. I want to take a summer off and travel to book festivals. I met an author at a different festival who did that and it was incredibly successful for him.


  • Joe Wilson: I think it’s *going* to be live streaming on Meerkat and Blab.


  • Angela K Roe: I attend craft shows all over the area and I sell extremely well at them.


  • Tony Welch: Seriously though I have befriended a seriously accomplished tv writer and producer who really liked my pilot script idea but it was in a literary format. I am nearly completed with transferring it to the proper format and if she still likes it, she told me she would help me by forwarding it to industry people she knows so … I am hoping a personal connection turns successful for me.


  • M Todd Gallowglas: I sell the most books at live appearances: my storytelling show, tables at comic cons, and panels at conferences.


  • Kate Laity: Netgalley


  • Allison Stitt: Chatting with people on social media platforms about anything BUT my books. I trust that if they find me amusing, and they know I’m a writer, they may look into my books on their own without me shoving them in that direction. I do market occasionally


  • Kenya Cooper: I always host a release party and blog tour the day of the release. I also do signings at bookstores.


  • Robyn Odegaard: Back of room sales at speaking engagements or selling them directly to event organizers to include in the price of admission.


  • Joe Harwell: High traffic events. I always do well at high traffic events. The trick is finding the ones with affordable booth space.


  • Stacey Roberts: Free giveaway in KDP select, Amazon advertising. 11,000 downloads free followed by about 1000 full-price sales.


  • Seumas Gallacher: ….constant TLC with ALL my social networks… developing ‘friendly business’ relationships with as many on there as possible…


  • Woelf Dietrich: It would seem my blog. I don’t do a heck of a lot of marketing, but then I don’t sell a heck of a lot of books.


  • Jason Alexander Greenwood: Twitter.Selling books,, tips for selling more books, RachelintheOC, Rachel Thompson


  • Larry Weiner: I work it all: Facebook giveaways, Tweets beyond my book, Instagram, Pinterest, special interest FB pages related to my genre, clubs, podcasts, consignment deals with local bookstores.


  • Sharon Gerlach: Sometimes I offer the first book in a series for 99 cents or free, and watch the sales go up for the rest of the books in the series.


  • Claude Bouchard: Always working on the next one while being wonderful with folks on social media.


  • Tui Snider: I’d say Twitter, although not directly. I don’t sit there and tweet “buy my book” all day. I go there primarily for camaraderie, but as a happy result, I’ve gotten all sorts of opportunities that lead to book sales (speaking gigs, writing jobs, fans in other times zones, etc) It seems like less of an echo-chamber than Facebook.


  • Alex Nader: I’ve probably sold a dozen books by being a jackass on twitter. Not by sharing links, but talking and joking with people.


  • Rachel Amphlett: I’m learning about Facebook advertising and using this to build my mailing list. I liked blogging, but it took away precious writing time so I’ve parked that for the time being.


  • Joanne Fedler: Early adopter campaign where I give away 200 free copies a month before release and ask for an honest review on Amazon with prizes for the most active early adopters (serious prizes through partnerships eg a free weekend at a top health retreat).


  • Jan Wissmar: I shouldn’t say anything because I think I made $7 last month but it’s really been writing more books – I have people who’ve read all three and are hounding me to write another – if only there were more of them!


  • Erica Lucke Dean: Bookbub ad with a 99 cent sale.


  • Robert Rumble: Radio shows


  • Erin Latimer: I need to figure out how to bookmark this thread. I haven’t sold books yet, since my book doesn’t come out until August 25th of this month, but I had a “3 ebook giveaway” for anyone who signed up for my newsletter and got about 50 new sign-ups, so that worked well.


  • Jenny Needham: We have had a good response from authors taking part in our monthly multi author events with rafflecopter links (a main prize) daily entries and a facebook event with daily giveaways. It seems to cross most of the board with consistent results for authors (from what they are telling us)


  • Robert Pruneda: So far, BookBub has had the biggest impact.


  • Brian Meeks: Massive Data Collection and Analysis has been my key. (‘m not sure that’s a tactic)


  • Joe Brewer: Ditto the bookmark idea. I’m only scratching the surface and there are good ideas here.


  • Ian McAllister: Some careful targeting at niche hotspots. With 1920s Olympic Games and cruise liners themes, it was never going to be a best seller. The most amazing deal was when Cunard offered Simone and I a free cruise in return for lecture talks about the book. OK, I sold and signed a few but hey, a free cruise on the Queen Mary 2.


  • Mary McFarland Audience: Identify and court, even in your sleep.


  • Donna Cook McCain: Because I’m still building my title list (I have one novel out, one novella, and another novel out soon) online marketing techniques don’t make a lot of sense for me. (I can’t offer the first one free, etc). So as I’m working on writing more books


  • Paula Marie Coomer: Positioning myself as a content area expert–which, considering how many years of research goes into each of my books, I am.


  • JC Hannigan: I do A LOT of Facebook takeovers. I run sales and offer giveaways. I post teasers and interact constantly and consistently with my readers. I stay consistent with blogging and sharing things that interest me on Twitter.


  • Ralph Carrieri: Buy them myself. {Editor note: LOL}


  • Lia Mack: So far writing a kick ass guest blog post for you! {Editor note: If you’re interested in guest posting for me, here are my guidelines.}


  • Angela Caldwell: Check out ACX. I’m splitting the sales will the producer and so there was no upfront audiobook cost. I sold more audio books last month than Ebooks.


  • Rachel Thompson: I’m always sharing tips so you can peruse my past blog posts for more. Lately, I’ve been sharing visual quotes that I make using Pablo by Buffer — effective and easy, get a ton of RTs and shares. If I don’t like the pics provided, I download something royalty-free from Unsplash, upload it to Pablo, adjust the size (easy enough if even I can do it), and violá! Instant graphic. Here’s an example from Broken Places, my latest release:

selling books, Other Side of Words from 'Broken Places, by

Thank you to everyone who participated and generously shared what’s working for them. If you have questions, please leave them in the comments below.

Want personalized, customized help with your book campaigns? Click here for my fees and services and client recommendations. With seventeen years of sales and marketing, and seven years in publishing (and five successful books), I can and will help you. 



Pictures courtesy of Unsplash and Rachel Thompson


  1. Jill Cooper on August 22, 2015 at 5:42 pm

    I guess if I had to boil it down to one thing, I’d have to go with “Don’t be afraid to spend money, to make money like any business worth you’re time.”

    Here’s my breakdown. Having lots of books written (13? I’ve lost count), a perm free Bookbub promotion for the first in a series (50K downloads so far, Spent $160 and have made over $2K so far from book 2+3.) and targeted FB ads (which make approx $6 for every $2 I spend)

    • Rachel Thompson on August 23, 2015 at 10:04 pm

      Those are great tips, thank you Jill!

      How do you target your FB ads? Just curious. Thanks 😉

  2. Courtney Killian (@SCourtney94) on August 23, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    Knowing my book will most likely be published by the end of this year, this is really going to help. Thank you, Rachel!

    • Rachel Thompson on August 23, 2015 at 10:05 pm

      you’re quite welcome, Courtney — I’d love to know what you end up using and how it goes for you!

  3. Steve Vernon on August 24, 2015 at 4:02 am

    There are some awfully useful tips here, Jill. I especially found it interesting to see how many folks spoke about making public appearances at high-traffic events. I have attended a horror festival (where I paid for a table) and a paranormal convention (where I received a speaker’s fee for an hour performance of ghost stories and was GIVEN a table for the event) this month so far and moved a very satisfying amount of paperbacks at each of them.

    Results from events like these are HIGHLY relative. I sold about thirty books at the paranormal convention and about the same at the horror festival. Considering that I only had to shell out twenty five dollars for the table at the horror festival I more than made my money back.

    I am booking a table at a local Farmer’s Market a little closer to October and have also purchased table-space in a HUGE local science fiction convention. I am pretty sure that I will move a modest amount of copies at the farmer’s market – but I have a goal of selling 1000 paperbacks at the scifi convention.’

    That’s the plan, anyways. We’ll have to see if I can pull it off.

  4. Laura McHale Holland on August 24, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Lots of good ideas here, Rachel. Thanks!

  5. @LatelaMary on August 24, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Rachel, I have been following you for some time, but today you have given me a nudge, for which I am very grateful. … Thanks. @LatelaMary

  6. staceyrcsm on August 25, 2015 at 4:58 am

    An update on my oxymoronic “Free Sale” – I did two free days along with a $200 Facebook ad (which got 474 engagements – not worth it) and an Amazon ad (which I spent $50 of a $300 budget with 49,000 impressions and 129 clicks) and sent out tweets on the hour for 24 hours. Results – 972 downloads. Since the “free sale” ended 2 days ago, with the Amazon ad still running, I sold 6 copies and got 1 new review so far. My Kindle Abnormalized page count went from 5500 to 6300 in the same 2 days. Not sure what that means. Bottom line – combine free days with tweets and at least an Amazon ad. It works. And if those 972 people get an email from Amazon when my next book comes out, well…. The “free sales” have put my book in the hands of at least 10,500 people to date. That has to be good.

    • Rachel Thompson on August 25, 2015 at 6:51 am

      appreciate the update, Stacey — have you considered doing a newsletter campaign also?

      In addition, I recommend advertising on the free sites using Author Marketing Club or Book Marketing Tools — free to hit them all up but time-consuming OR it’s 14.99 to send out an announcement to about 35-40 free sites — if you want to be on the ‘biggies’ i.e., Freebooksy or Kindle Nation Daily and others, you have to contact and pay them directly — but that can also help.

      I find that FREE days are anything but, LOL, but they do help exposure and ranking immensely.

      • staceyrcsm on August 25, 2015 at 7:57 am

        I definitely agree with you that free days are never free. This is all about investing in the next book(s). I appreciate, as always, all the great tips. I’m going to try these on my next free day. Thank you!

  7. carol hedges (@carolJhedges) on August 25, 2015 at 7:14 am

    I do a lot of social media, as you know ..but recently I have read quite a few posts that say most sales come from people finding your stuff on Amazon…and using the correct ‘tagging’ or Kindle key words is what sells books. Which figures for me, as most of my ebook sales are in the US, yet I don’t interact with many US people on social media. Hmm….

  8. […] Scott Bell shows how to create some buzz for your book, Rachel Thompson has tips from authors on how to increase your sales, and Porter Anderson shows what reader analytics can teach authors and […]

  9. conniecockrell on September 2, 2015 at 6:20 am

    Great post. It’s always good to hear what works for others.

  10. Woelf Dietrich on January 30, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t have the resources for paid marketing, but I blog regularly now and I’m interacting online more. 2016 will be the year in which I discover more ways to engage my audience without directly marketing my books. I want to find the sweet spot where selling my books is incidental to my online activity. Hopefully, then, when I can afford some proper paid marketing, I will have a solid foundation to build on.

    • Rachel Thompson on January 30, 2016 at 4:31 pm

      There’s so, so much you can do to optimize your marketing that’s totally free! I hope you’ve signed up for my 30-day #Free Marketing challenge, Woelf — I’ll be sharing a lot of free ways you can market free. Not every tip will be be free, but there will be options for when you can do some paid paid marketing.

      You’re on your way already! Blogging is a great way to help your Google ranking and utilizing social for interacting with readers is great! Occasional promotion is fine — once you’ve established that fan base, they’ll do the promo for you. good luck!

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