Anyway, I wanted to blog today about something rattling around my mind: what exactly is it that makes books sell? As more and more books flood onto Amazon (and fewer and fewer onto actual bookshelves), it seems almost every author out there is pushing their masterpiece. And rightfully so -- we all want our work to be read, right? But why do some books flop while others become bestsellers, despite authors' publicity efforts?
I'd argue that any book needs four things:
1. A great concept
2. An easy to read blurb that hooks the reader
3. A cover that immediately signifies the genre (notice I don't say a good cover, because that may be a completely different thing!)
4. A reasonable price point -- particularly important for ebooks.
Without these four things, a book may sell a limited number of copies within the author's immediate circle through efforts like blog tours, Twitter, Facebook, etc, but it's never going to achieve bestseller status because it simply won't catch on with the general public.
Take, for example, my debut novel The Hating Game, which launched back in December with a totally different cover. Not to toot my own horn, but my publisher and I really did believe we had great concept, a good blurb, a fantastic cover and a reasonable price. Through my websplash, I was able to push the novel into the bestseller's list the day of the launch. But slowly, over the next couple weeks, the book dropped lower and lower as people in my immediate circle stopped purchasing -- and the general public didn't start buying. My publisher and I racked our brains, trying to figure out why the novel wasn't catching on. Finally, we changed the cover and within a week, the novel was back in the top 100, where it stayed for the next two months. Even now, five months after its release, it's still in the top 200 on Amazon UK (although now that I've written this, it probably won't be!). And all because we changed the cover.
So, what's my point? Yes, blog tours, Twitter and manically hitting every social media site known to humankind can help make your book visible to your circle of pals. But if your novel lacks a critical element, its success will likely be limited. Write a good book with a killer concept, a great cover and solid blurb -- then cross your fingers, because there's one thing we can't control: luck!