#IWSG Where are our precious readers?

This post was written in response to The Insecure Writers Support Group, which posts on the first Wednesday of every month.

IWSG X

In 2013, when I started writing my first novel, my greatest insecurity was that I didn’t know if I would be able to complete it successfully. Could I actually write a novel? Could I publish it independently?

I finished writing my first draft in November 2013, but it wasn’t published until 1st May 2014. In those five months, it was read by beta readers, friends and family, revised and re-edited by me, formatted, and finally edited and proof read by two professional editors, until I was finally satisfied that it was good enough to be published on kindle.

Now, in January 2016, 20 months after All Hallows at Eyre Hall was first published, it’s also available in paperback, and I have 41 reviews on amazon US and 13 on amazon UK, 54 in all, of which only 3 are 1 or 2 star. It’s been in the top 100 bestsellers for Victorian, Historical, Romance, Mystery and Thriller on various occasions. It may not be the best book on the market, but I’m satisfied that I have written a good book. I’ve also written a second book, which was published in August 2015 and is gradually doing well, too, and I’m currently writing book three of The Eyre Hall Trilogy. I have a number of fans and followers. I sell a moderate number of books a month, and lots of pages are being read every day on Kindle Unlimited.

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Luccia Gray is a moderately successful, published author, there’s no doubt about it.

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So what?

Now I have another discouraging insecurity, and I can’t do much about it. Namely, how can I convince people to read my book? 

Let’s face it. The book market is saturated. There are too many good books published compared to the limited demand. There just aren’t enough people to read all the books available.

According to a survey carried out in 2013 by the Huffington Post in 2013,  25% of people read between one and five books a year, 15% read between six and ten books, 20% read between 11 and 50, and only 8% read more than 50 books a year, and the rest, 28% didn’t read a single book all year!

Another study carried out by the The Pew Research Center, states that the average American adult read or listened to 12 books in 2013, which, according to their statistics, means that half of adults read no more than 5 books a year. This trend is similar to previous years.

Readers-on-the-tube-007

Getting your book noticed and persuading readers, who read between 5-12 books a year, to read your book out of the literally millions of books available is a daunting task. I’m overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge.

My own TBR list is ridiculously long. I read over 50 books a year, but it’s still not enough to read all the books I’d like to read and deserve to be read.

So, what can independent authors do to reach these precious readers?

This is what we all do to a greater or lesser degree:

1- Be active on social media regularly.
2- Advertise our books on specialized book advertising sites, such as Books Sends, Ereader News Today, Book Gorilla, etc… or on Amazon, or Goodreads, the list is endless.
3- Give away books, take part in blog tours, NetGalley, Story Cartel, etc. to try to get more reviews.
4- Keep writing more books and promoting.

Why do I have the feeling it will never be enough?

I’m a drop in the ocean, floating with lots of other identical drops.

Books

For now, I’ll get down to finishing book three, Midsummer at Eyre Hall, which is due in April, 2016, and cross my fingers for books one and two.

Does anybody else feel like this? What can we do about it?

33 thoughts on “#IWSG Where are our precious readers?

  1. Everybody. And at least you have a reasonable number of reviews, that means you can try some of the options you mention (places like Bookbub and some promo sites will only accept books that have quite a number of reviews, and of course charge, sometimes a fair bit if you publish in popular categories). Many people swear by having a list of e-mails for people interested in your book and using newsletters to promote. Of course, many of the writers who talk about how to sell more books (and who appear to sell reasonably well by usual standards) are doing courses, seminars, etc, so I guess it’s quite difficult to make a living out of writing books. Joining authors with similar themes or readership and doing cross-promotion, organising promo with others sometimes can result in their readers getting to know you and the word spreading. But I guess coming up with something unique would be the thing, as most people try pretty much the same. Selling in other places? Considering global markets? Audiobooks?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. All good ideas Olga, it is hard work writing a book and even harder selling it. I clocked up 185 books on the Goodreads challenge in 2014 and 192 in 2015, but I read more, some just weren’t on Goodreads and some were just for personal development. Keep doing what you are already doing and more ideas will come.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I liked your analysis of the problem. You’re right — there is a glut of material out there to read thanks to self-publishing; my own TBR list keeps getting longer and longer, my ibook filling up faster and faster, and my piles of books on the floor, higher and higher. And just because you’re a good writer doesn’t mean you’ll be a good promoter. Many of our generation (I’m making an assumption here) were brought up to not brag and have the philosophy that “a good book will speak for itself”. Even dedicated readers often prefer a particular genre and don’t often make it outside their comfort zone. The newsletter is a great idea, and, of course, getting bloggers to review on commercial sites as well as on their own sites. It’s nice to publish independently, but maybe we still need professional pushers to move our work in the right direction toward the right audience.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree that perhaps we need professional ‘pushers’ instead of the traditional agents. Publishing is changing fast, and the traditional publishing style and modus operandi is no longer viable for the vast amount of indie authors. We’re pioneers!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think most of us didn’t realise we’d have to promote & market when we became indie authors! We’re all learning, the old – fashioned way, trial and error mostly😂At least I am:)

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  4. You’re right. A lot of people don’t read all that many books, but there are so many readers out there that it still works out. But as you said, we have to make sure the readers know about us, thus the marketing efforts. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I suppose you’re right, if we multiply every reader by 8 books for example , that means millions of books being read. If we follow the 20/80 principle there are probably 20% if readers reading 80% of books, or 20% of books being read by 80% of readers. I suppose we should be aiming for the 20% who read more widely, the other 80% are probably reading traditional publishers and bestsellers etc. How do we reach them? I’m sure many of them are on social media related to literature and hang out in literary places / circles. Doesn’t sound so hard…

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  5. Thoughtful post, Luccia. In my prior career, I was a marketer in the organic and natural food industry. My employer was in the thick of an oversaturated suburban market. There were simply more grocery store choices than residents to support them all. Yet, each year our store experienced record sales, increased shoppers and double-digit profits. It can be done, especially if you employ all the steps of the marketing cycle, of which promotions is one. You have good tactics for promotions, a strong brand, quality books, and you can continue to identify and build your readership.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s great that you have that marketing background. I’m sure it helps. I’ve never sold anything in my life! I was always a teacher of English. I need to identify ‘the good tactics for promotion’.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Think of your tactics as coming after you identify your audience and where to find them (so they can discover you and your books). Think of it like a teacher — would you set up your lesson plan before or after you knew which grade you were teaching? Your “tactics” would differ if you were teaching 2nd-grade or a high school comp class. Then you evaluate. How is your class responding to your tactics? Do you need to adjust, take a step back to basics or move on to something advanced? The cycle of marketing is ongoing like the cycle of teaching. Hope that helps! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I see Charli has given you some marketing advice, as have others. This self-promotion is different for we teachers who are used to the security of our classrooms and captive audience. I have been asking similar questions about my soon-to-launch website. I too feel as if I will be as insignificant as a drop in the ocean, but it’s my drop and I’ll ride the wave as any other! Hold on tight, and don’t expect it all to happen overnight. I’ll add my voice to the suggestion of audiobook. I’d have it on my list for audio before kindle or paper. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norah 💟 I agree I’m here for the long haul! It’s not a race, it’s a process… I haven’t thought much about audio books because I don’t enjoy them myself, but I need to rethink about it 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  7. My TBR list is absurdly long, too. My TBR pile is threatening to bury me. But onward I go! I shall keep reading. And one of my next books, btw, is your first (hopefully followed quickly by your second…depending on life here). P.S. You say “Luccia Gray is a moderately successful, published author” like it’s a bad thing. It’s really not. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Luccia, thanks for liking my post. I’ve come to visit your blog and stumbled upon this post. I think the main reason that books do not succeed is that they are a) independently or self published or b) are generally not good quality. Since yours is DEFINITELY not a b) I believe the problem is with a). I think there is a general stigma out there about indie or self-pub books. People believe they are bad quality or poor in quality so they tend to avoid them and be wary of picking them up. Advertising for them is also an issue. Indie/self-pub books just don’t have that sort of media reach that books published by publishing companies do, so readers don’t know about them. Plus, readers tend to trust well known publishing companies more than smaller companies. Also, book covers are a major problem. Most self-published books have such poor covers that readers don’t pick them up, even if the content is actually pretty good. Your covers, for example, are one of the best I’ve seen for indie authors but I still believe that your novels deserve better covers. (This was actually what I wanted to mention in my last review of ‘Twelfth Night’ but I had to drastically cut down my review since it was nearly 3 pages long.) Readers do tend to be judgemental when it comes to covers. I have a little saying whenever I go to pick out a book from my local bookstores, “The better and more attractive the cover means the more money spent on the novel’s production. The more money spent, the more likely the publishers believe in their success.”
    This is just my opinion. I’d recommend for every author to go through a big publishing company but I know that they authors usually earn less that way and that they may get rejected. The only thing after that that I could suggest is that they increase their advertising through other companies and try to build a fandom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you fir your encouraging words 🙂
      I absolutely agree with your assessment of the situation. Independent authors have less credibility, although that may be changing. Money is another challenging issue. How much to spend and on what to make it cost effective?
      I’ve stopped trying big publishers/agents. I only sent a few letters in 2014 and got discouraged, so I forgot about them. I may try again when I publish book 3 and my trilogy is complete and I have a reasonable name for myself.
      I think agents/publishers are more interested if you have something to show, but who knows if/when there’ll be a break. By a break I mean that I’ll be able to write and not market etc. too!

      Liked by 1 person

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