The Business of Self-Publishing

The Business of Self-Publishing

The Top Reasons Non-fiction Books Do Not Achieve Success

January 13, 2020

Updated February 2, 2023

This list can help you make profitable changes to your book

Why is my non-fiction book not selling more copies? Why is my book a failure? Why do I feel unsuccessful as a self-publisher? The answer is not always as obvious as it might seem at first glance. The results of this survey might help you reassess your book.

What You Will Learn
1. You will learn what steps you can take to fix your book and improve its sales.
2. You will learn how to define success for you and your book.
3. You will learn how and why introspective thinking about your book is essential to its success.

Why is my non-fiction book not selling more copies? Why is my book a failure? Why do I feel unsuccessful as a self-publisher? These common questions can sometimes be challenging to answer. And the answer is not always as simple as it might seem at first glance. But there is hope for you and your book to achieve success.

Take a Hard Look at Yourself and Your Book
If your book is barely making any sales compared to other books in its sales category, you can make several powerful and practical changes to help improve your sales. But they all involve some introspective thinking about your book and will involve some hard work.

The Fix Is Within Reach
The list of reasons given here will help you to re-evaluate your book and everything you are doing to sell it. This list covers the most common reasons a non-fiction book isn’t selling or gaining any traction with an audience.

How Do I Define Success?
We can have a personal definition of financial success, one for personal success, one for business success, etc. And each one will be a bit different. But I believe that most of us writing non-fiction books are trying to achieve two primary, fundamental, overarching, basic goals:

Goal # 1. Financial Return
Some amount of financial return for the hard work we put into creating and publishing our books; and,

Goal # 2. Critical Acclaim
We all want critical acclaim for ourselves and our books from our peers, co-workers, readers, family, customers, clients, etc.

The Top Reasons Non-Fiction Books Do NOT Achieve Success

Reason # 1: No market need: Is there an actual need for the information in your book? Is there a solid audience who can benefit from your book? If not, you will not sell any books.

Reason # 2: Weak solutions/value: What unique insights do you have that can help others find answers to their questions and problems? Standard cookie-cutter solutions won’t help you sell more books.

Reason # 3: Unattractive cover: A cover that looks unprofessional, amateurish, and unthoughtful will turn off book buyers. They will lose respect for you even before they open your book.

Reason # 4: Written for wrong audience: You must understand your audience before writing your book. If you don’t, your text will be confusing, help no one, and sales will suffer.

Reason # 5: Not enough marketing: Marketing is more about reaching out to a particular audience and showing them you have the answers and solutions to their problems. It’s less about the quantity of money that you spend on advertising to an overly broad market.

Reason # 6: Weak social media: At the very least, you need one central place to show your audience you are one of them, you understand them, and you have solutions for them. You only need one or two good outlets to reach your core audience. A website or video channel, for example.

Reason # 7: Weak author platform: Whichever social platform you choose, you must commit to it and make it great. Having too many author platforms and not maintaining them is a total waste of time.

Reason # 8: Confusing title: For non-fiction, your main title must grab them quickly. It’s your subtitle that tells them what your book is all about.

Reason # 9: Not using an editor: Nowadays, it’s not difficult to find a book editor that has some knowledge and expe...