As I had been working really hard since 17, I never wanted to work for money again after I turned fifty and decided to spend my latter half of life doing something more meaningful. Although I didn’t think about it seriously until then, writing has always been in my blood and becoming a fulltime writer was an easy decision. As a result, I decided to open a charity firm and use my writing to finance it.
I started it with my first 6 books at the early 2015. I have spent the entire 2015 mostly promoting my books and tried almost everything that I thought was good for my books. But the results have been meager. I have already added 2 more books on my collection since then and I do a lot of promoting works in a daily basis. But the results have not been changed much since then.
Before I go through the list why my books are not selling well, I want to tally the sales that I have garnered hitherto and as far as I am concerned, I couldn’t be any clearer and honest than this one. I sold a little more than 300 books through my friends, relatives and other connections from my previous job; sold another 300 or so at the Hong Kong book fair; and approximately 4500 books were either bought or free downloaded from 12 different countries within the whole year of 2015. It made a total of a little more than 5000 books at the end and some would say, I should be really happy.
But I am a very passionate man about my works, whatever I do I always want to do it at the best and my expectation is quite high. What’s more, I have already been a successful businessman before and I really didn’t know that bookselling was so damn hard. After thoroughly analyzing my own situation, I came up with the list of why my books are not selling well as I would have liked and genuinely thought that posting here might be helpful for others as well.
1. I am a self-published writer – Being a self-published writer meant I had to do everything by my own and had to swim through the new and unchartered sea alone. I really didn’t know people from the literary world would look down at us almost in an abhorrent and a contemptuous way and tend to perceive us so lowly. Almost nobody wanted to talk with me except those paid ones and if I say I was surprised, it would be one of the greatest understatements of my life. I was shell-shocked. I decided to become a self-published writer by choice, I haven’t contacted one single agent or publisher yet, and I want to remain a self-published writer until the end. It is the sheer joy and excitement of deciding my own fate that thrill me and I won’t trade it for anything else. And experiencing through the process of creating something new, nurturing it and seeing it grow is probably one of the greatest bliss of our life. Thankfully, I don’t have to earn for my family anymore and lucky enough to be able to carry on doing things that I liked the most. I feel blessed.
2. My writing is too serious for many – As I only write on serious global and social issues, many readers found it a bit too serious for their liking and I won’t blame them for it at all. Not everyone reads books for knowledge, some people read books for entertainment as well and my books didn’t fit well. My books turned out to be also not suitable for all, not my cup of tea sort of, and not many had enjoyed the book. My books are mostly for high school and university students, or people who read about world’s affairs and it seemed I still have to work hard finding the right readers.
3. I am not a native English writer – As I am originally from Nepal and living in Hong Kong, I am certainly not a native English writer and that certainly have implications in my way of writing. Although my books are fully edited by a professional native English editor, it seemed there are still some peeves and readers have noticed them. Of course, I am trying my utmost best to avoid them in my future books and I genuinely implore for your kind patience. If I am allowed to give a suggestion, I suggest readers to concentrate on the story of the book. In order to fully grasp the meaning of my books – one must finish reading the whole book.
4. Location, location and location – Ask any successful businessmen and they will bluntly tell you – location is one of the most important factors of a successful business and my situation is no different. Had I been in an English speaking country, such as US, UK, Canada, Australia or any of Western nations, my prospect as a new writer would have been a much better, if not easier. Being amidst the Chinese community like Hong Kong seriously handicapped my prospect as a new writer and the fact that people also tend to read less here didn’t help at all. What’s more, they also read mostly the famous authors. My location also barred me from taking parts on book tour, access to TV/Radio interviews, and visiting author gathering and book clubs.
5. Lack of support from the community – As I come from a poor and humble nation like Nepal, I don’t have any strong supports from my community like other writers from developed nations, and it also hindered on my progresses. My people are either too busy or found no incentive on rallying after me, they also tend to read less, and helping a virtually new and unknown writer is probably the last thing they have in mind. The majority of people in Hong Kong are local Chinese and I carry no significance whatsoever to them. I also have no significant number of expatriate friends who can make big changes, so, I am all by my own. I have hardly known a person from my community who has read one of my books yet.
6. I don’t know any powerful media people – Unlike other writers, I don’t know anyone from the media, a powerful person or community who can help enhance my writing career and those ones whom I have written or contacted for went to deaf ears. Regular appearances on the mainstream media can work as a big booster that can propel a writer’s career to unparalleled height and only a good connection to a powerful media people can open such doors. I had no such luck.
7. No bookshops want to keep my books – I have contacted all the bookshops in Hong Kong including libraries, but no one responded for obvious reason. I even found a distributor and sent him sample books but never heard from him again. Besides, Hong Kong is a very expensive place, space is limited and nobody wants to take risk with books from an unknown author like me. I think the chance of my books being displayed in bookshops here is quite limited and the only option I might have to consider is to open my own bookshop. If it becomes a reality someday, which I genuinely think is not a bad idea I will only keep books from new and self-published authors like me. And that is for sure!
These are the 7 reasons I genuinely think why my books are not selling well. I am not so sure of yours and perhaps it is about time you also have a serious look at your own situation and make changes if necessary. Meantime, I am trying my utmost best and hopefully one day soon I can say I have actually succeeded. All the best!
TIM I GURUNG/AUTHOR AT ISSLCARE – http://www.timigurung.com