What Makes a Good Book Sell?

…an inspiring story well told.


All books start with an idea. But without an imaginative writer to expand the idea to its fullest potential, it will rarely get any further. I’ve been writing since 1995. It wasn’t until 2003 that I decided to write full time. Since I began I’ve only published thirteen books, unlike my fellow writers. Many of them have published dozens of books. Have any of them experienced the pleasure of a book selling in the thousands? No. Most are lucky if they sell ten to twelve copies in a calendar year. Back in 2012 one of mine – Race Against Time struck a chord with readers worldwide, selling over a quarter of a million copies. Notice I did say ‘selling’. Those were the days…

Since then, like everyone else I’m fortunate if I sell a dozen per year. Could it be because I only publish ebooks? For a good while I did wonder whether or not it wasn’t time I shifted to the paperback market as I live in the UK, where ebooks are largely dismissed out of hand in favour of so-called ‘proper’ books.

The problem is not that my books must be poor quality because of the fact that I prefer publishing for the American ebook market. Instead the answer is quite simply that over the last few years, the idea of actually reading a book, never mind the format it is published in, has fallen by the wayside as far as today’s public are concerned! Face it, the new generation don’t like reading anymore!

So how do you get them to re-engage with books? Produce audio versions perhaps? If they won’t read, at least they will listen. Well that’s the hope. Currently as an adjunct to my personal library I also have the audio version of J.R.R.Tolkien’s magical tale The Hobbit on dvd, read by Rob Inglis, and Richard Dee’s Jungle Green:The Balcom Dynasty, Book 2 as an audio file, read by Stephen Bungay, which I’m currently listening to at two chapters per day.

I can loose myself in Rob Inglis’ thoroughly enjoyable reading of The Hobbit. There is a lesson to be learned here. If you have a book worth reading, or in this case – listened to, be extremely careful about your choice. One thing no audio version of a book needs is to be just read out loud. Inglis knows how to keep the listener engaged by letting his emotions loose.

PS – One last point – not every book is necessarily ‘Audio’ friendly. To qualify it needs to flow freely, unencumbered by endless explanation andΒ  detail. Action is fine. Even a dialogue driven story is as well. But the best mix has always been a combination of both of the above, with the merest soupcon of detail to round the story out. You might want to bear that in mind when you choose which book you’ve written for the ‘Audio’ treatment. Not every book gets the reader/ listener’s attention, no matter the genre, or how much time and effort you and your narrator put into it!!!

Finally – Here’s a thought. You won’t contemplate reading an ebook – correct? Then why are you reading this and other blog posts? The only difference between an ebook and this post is that unlike any book, the subject and content change on a regular basis. But it’s still an electronic file, just like an ebook. It kind of blows away your reluctance to read ebooks, don’t you think?

So folks, remember what I said at the top – What makes a good book sell? An inspiring story well told. Not as easy as you would imagine…




8 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Book Sell?

  1. A very thought-provoking post. Narrating a book is as much a skill as writing the thing in the first place. There’s a fine line to be drawn between getting the story across in an interesting way and putting too much of the narrators own emotions into the delivery. At the end of the day, as with reading, the decision on which bit produces which response has to be left to the listener, without undue influence.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How a book sells has mainly to do with your publishers budget for PR. It was important for my agent to negotiate a certain sum spent for my books. The money spent on ads and the connections of the publisher are very important. Then of course lecture tours and media presence – talk shows on TV, interviews etc. Without those, you never get into sales that you are known by the public, being reviewed in the national papers and listed on the list of bestselling books.
    As a professional author, I spent about 60% of my work on media appearance and the rest on writing and running my little company of the people researching for me, agents and people managing my copyrights.
    Most of my books are available in print and e-book but print sells better.
    Thanks for sharing πŸ™ πŸ™
    All the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  3. For youir information I am not a ‘hobby author’ as you put it. My books have always sold, not only here in the UK, but also the US, Japan, India, Germany, South Africa and many other countries. Can you say the same thing?


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