1. Your books aren’t very good. *ouch*
I know that was painful. But if you have consistently low stars (we all have the occasional “This is the worst bit of ink to ever dribble onto the printed paper.”), it’s an indication that the general consensus is in (gasp) agreement.
Don’t despair though! You have two options: 1. Pull the book and rework it. 2. Pull the book and start your next one.
How do you know which option to choose? That’s fairly simple: if you don’t understand why the book has low stars, your not ready to be published yet. Back up. You should have read at least 5 craft books and written the equivalent of 3 full length novels. I’d also recommend you sign up for David Farland’s Newsletter. I will never be able to quantify how much I have learned from that man. The key here is to never get so attached to a project you can’t let it go.
2. Your covers aren’t good. There’s no excuse here. You can get good covers for not a lot of money (50 bucks). If you’re on a crazy tight budget, start a kickstarter campaign or go simple. A simple cover with text only and a free background is a great place to start. Don’t know where to start or how to look? Check out my pinterest board for amazing artists. You can also check out deviantart.com, but I think Pinterest is better cause it weeds through a lot of the crap.
3. You haven’t written enough books. There’s something magical about the number 5. When you have 5 books out, you suddenly start making money. Nearly every indie author I’ve spoken to has a huge sales spike after 5 books. There’s lots of reasons for this, and I won’t go into all of them here. My advice, get those five books up before you panic about your sales. Throw in a few 99 cent novellas and a bundled series to get to 5 faster.
4. Your not marketing. Now, before you start bawling about how you blog and facebook and tweet, that’s creating brand recognition and selling to an existing audience (but guess what? your fans are only going to buy one of each of your books, so stop hitting them over the head with buying your book every five seconds). That’s only one facet of marketing. What you need to do is expand into new demographics. This is how. And newsflash, it works the best after you have 5 books out.
5. You don’t have any books up for free. Believe me, I struggled with this. I didn’t like the idea of giving something I spent a year and a lot of money on for free. And then I spoke with Cindy Hogan, who explained it to me in a way that clicked. She said that giving a book away for free is basically giving something away to pay for your marketing.
If you give away 10,000 books, not all those people will read the book (ebooks are too easy to hoard). But let’s say 5% actually reads the book. Of those 5%, 2.5% decide to purchase the sequel. That’s still 250 books sold. I’m guessing that’s more than you would have lost in revenue from sales from the first book.
6. (Because I thought of one after this post went live) Write a series. Put the first one free. I don’t know anyone who makes it selling stand alones.
There are, of course, other things that can go wrong (indie authors shouldn’t have any regular ebooks over 4.99), but this covers most of the mistakes I see.