How to Create a Book that Sells

Pretty much everyone thinks they would like to write a book. And now that self-publishing is so easy (thank you, Amazon) many people have done just that.

But most self-published authors struggle to sell a hundred books, many far less. And it’s not just that there are millions of books on Amazon waiting to be discovered or that an unknown author needs to find effective ways to promote.

Sad to say, some books don’t sell because they suck.

But don’t worry, you won’t write a terrible book. Not if you do your best to inform or entertain your reader.

You don’t need to write the Great American Novel or the next Booker prize winner to succeed. You only need to aim for that if you dream of prizes rather than riches. And sadly, even if you write a work of literary genius, it might not sell.

So quality alone is not the answer.

Selling more than a hundred or thousand copies is also not a quantity game. Just because you produce more, it doesn’t mean you’ll sell more – unless you are creating the right books to start with. If you are getting it right, however, quantity definitely helps. Readers will line up to get the next one of your books and complain if you take too long to publish.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about the importance of quantity in the low content space (low content meaning notebooks, planners, and journals with minimal content.)

There are courses out there that will tell you that you can’t expect to sell a lot until you have hundreds of books published, as if you’re fishing for sales and books are the bait. This strategy often hinges on testing to find small gaps in the market.

But small gaps just mean tiny revenue and discouragement to me. It’s pretty demotivating creating hundreds of books (and worse, having to upload them one after the other) in the hope that a few hit a gap in the market.

So what’s my strategy?

Call me crazy, but I go looking at areas with high competition where the most voracious readers hang out – high but not so high that major publishers have the market sewn up.

I look at what readers are buying this month. Which genres and themes are gaining in popularity and which ones are fading?

Can I write or create something that stands up against the most popular books?

Do I want to?

If it’s a fiction book I’m going to write, I buy the best sellers and read the reviews, looking at what readers love (and what they hate.) All the clues are there.

Then I try to give the readers what they want. With bells on. If it’s a steamy romance (I made a lot of dollars in this genre), I make it as steamy and romancey as I can with enough steam to make their Kindle blush and the slushiest, sweetest ending ever.

For non-fiction, I try to think of a fresh angle and a title that makes readers want to know what’s between the book covers.

I’ve yet to apply the same “give them what they want” theory to low-content books on Amazon, but a book that could rank in appeal alongside the best sellers in that space is bound to do better than throwing together hundreds of so-so books.

It’s all about creating a book that a particular group of readers want to one-click-buy once they catch sight of it. And then getting your book in front of as many of those readers as you can.

Books don’t sell without promotion in a marketplace as crowded as Amazon, but if the book is not right, no amount of promotion is going to help.

Don’t let all your time, effort, and promotion resources go to waste. Think about your readers before you put finger to keyboard and then write the kind of book they are already tempted to buy.


Jan Small is a homepreneur based in Scotland and she’s been self-publishing for ten years. She’ll be taking part in the summit round table on 19th March and is the author of a workbook all about creating the right business book to enhance your reputation and increase your revenue. You can buy it here from her Simple Happiness Biz site (but it will also be included as part of an amazing bundle on offer during the summit.)