Thursday, 3 April 2014

What makes a book sell?

Where have you been, I hear some of you cry (to the one's who are throwing your coats over your heads and running for cover, I can only say *big fat raspberries* ;)

I've been typing my socks off of late, been editing for existing and new clients, plotting like a mad woman, shouting at kids and managed to find the time to meet a new bloke. In fact, March has been a pretty eye-opening month for me in more ways than one.

This is not a blowing my own trumpet post, in fact it's more of a "What the chuff just happened?" post, with the question being the title of this blog - What makes a book sell?

I was discussing this very subject with the lovely Sue Brown when I rang her to tell her my sales for the month of March. I know some writers think it's crass to talk about sales, that they're in it for the love of writing, blah, blah. We're all in it for the love of it otherwise we wouldn't be doing it - but when push comes to shove, you're hoping to be paid handsomely for your efforts. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen overnight. It takes time for readers to discover you, to decide whether they like you, to connect with your story and your style in a way that makes them want to see what else you have to offer.

I usually sell anywhere between 400 and 700 books a month and believe me it varies, but March... well March was different. And what made it different? Ironically...  it was Un-Expected - which sold just over 2000 copies on it's own (and that was just at Amazon). I know I re-released Laurel Heights but I wasn't expecting it to be a great seller because most of the people I know and fans of the story had already read it. I was thinking I might sell maybe 400 copies of Un-Expected, so when I totted up the sales daily on my handy spreadsheet, I was shaking my head when the numbers exceeded that.

So I asked Sue why and we thought about it.for a while. Was it a more intense story than my other's? No, not really. Was it better written? No, not really. Was it cheaper than everything else I'd put out? No, definitely not. Had I promoted it more than anything else, or in a different way than usual? Nope. So why on earth did it sell over 2000 copies in ONE month? And how do you make every other book do the same? We were both silent on the phone for quite a while. I could smell burning and hear cogs turning at her end and she got the same from mine.

We did eventually come up with the answer that satisfied both of us.... we haven't got a bloody clue.

What do you think? And I don't mean about Un-Expected, that's just the example I'm using because it's the only one I've sold that many of in that little a time; I mean what do you think makes a book sell, as a writer or a reader? Do you have any idea, because we are completely flummoxed, and would love to get your take on it.


  1. Hmmmm, that's a difficult question. I don't usually buy contemporary romances but I bought and enjoyed your book and am looking forward to the next episode. I suspect I bought it because it's set in the UK, it has some images on the cover behind the models that are a big plus for me because I thought it would feel like home, and it generally sounded like a fun quirky story. I read an excerpt and liked the voice so I hit the clicky button. But that's just me.
    I reckon that you've got fans!

  2. You cow... scraps blog entitled "What makes a book sell."

  3. Uh-oh Lisa you are in trouble for getting your blog question out first...haha Ok now for me the following MUST be met..Cover that catches my attention..,hottie or no hottie..if it's a great cover I am halfway there, excerpt in posts from the author that again ,catches my attention, previous experiences with the authors work, the fact that I am friends with the but not most important. I will tell everyone if I love a book or not. I have both of the books you mentioned in this blog but haven't had time yet to read them..however when I do.... OH I will tell ya what I think..;) So yeah the above is what gets me to buy books and word of mouth from other readers helps too. Hope this helps?