Why “Sell More”? – 2021 Edition

Continuing the series of reviews on my earliest posts, as the industry has changed that much in four years.

And so have I.

This week, I’m looking at the January 19, 2018 post, ‘Why “Sell More”?’.


We all want to sell more.

Even the purest literary snob appreciates selling more than before because that is a sign of growth, that their art is maturing and they are reaching more people and speaking to them.

These days, selling more is completely up to authors, whether they’re publishing in KU, wide, or via traditional publishers.

And in these days of pandemic and lockdowns, job-loss and economic disasters, bringing in more income via your computer, at home, has become critical for some authors.

I’ve also heard from a number of authors and author groups, that sales in general have taken a deep dive since the pandemic arrived.  This goes against all the forecasts that said readers would read even more while stuck at home. 

While stuck at home, people looked for distractions and entertainment, true.  But there are so many different forms of entertainment available, even via the Internet (because even the movies moved over to the Internet), and even more forms being invented every day the pandemic continues, that we indie authors are competing against. 

If you’ve noticed a decline in your sales over the last eighteen months, be assured you’re not alone.  Even I’ve noticed the descent.

But writing more will offset this.  More on this, below.

Selling more is a measure.

  • of growth
  • of acceptance
  • of the size of your audience
  • of your ability to tell an effective tale
  • of your business acumen.

Selling more makes you sell more.

It is also an accolade.  Selling more can get you onto best-seller lists (if you care about those thing).

It will get you higher rankings, which (once the algorithms notice) will help you sell more.

Both of these things are KU mindset items.  Wide authors prefer “bank over rank” (first heard spoken by Erin Wright of the Wide for the Win Facebook Group).

But selling more for wide authors equals more bank. 

How to sell more.

There are a lot of factors that can influence sales.

On this blog, we will sometimes detour into marketing, networking, packaging and all the other good stuff that goes into running an indie business, but for now, I want to talk about the relationship between writing more and selling more.

It’s a direct relationship, you see.

While marketing and promotion can absolutely influence sales, the relationship is indirect, with at least two steps inbetween, if not more.  On any of those steps, the reader could lose interest, get distracted or think twice about buying.  Worse, there could be a missing step (wrong links, no links, automation failures, or simply shitty planning)–and the missing step means that even if your reader wants to buy the book, they won’t, because they can’t get to where it is for sale.

Networking is even more distant to the sales page.

Any form of activity aimed to sell more books is indirect…except for writing more books.

If you have one book out there (we all did, once), then you’re not even spit in the ocean, you’re a molecule.  The chances of being noticed are so close to zero they may as well adjust to zero and be done with it.

Five books…and things start moving.

Fifty books published under your name creates a synergy that propels sales.  Fifty books gives you a type of gravitas that readers absorb.  Subconsciously, they take fifty books as a sign of competence (at least) and trust that you know how to tell a story.

A lot of books means a lot of product pages and a lot more chances a reader will trip over your books.

When you have a lot of books to play with, you can do interesting things with promotions and marketing, using one book to help sell another, bundling and splitting, and more.  Discounting doesn’t hurt as much when all the other books are still at full retail.

You can hook books into series and capture more readers.

Selling more is also a simple mathematical truth:  If you sell one copy a day of one book, you can sell 50 copies a day of 50 books.  90 books gives you 90 sales, at a lousy 1 copy a day.

This is a simplified formula, by the way.  Not all books will sell the same, but enough of them will to use this as a simple example.

Selling 1 book at day when you only have the one book, compared to selling one copy of each title, when you have fifty or more of them, makes having many books very attractive.  If you have over a hundred, as I do, then 1 sale per title starts looking very good indeed.  It’s a living wage.

If you can increase your average sales through indirect means (marketing, promos, advertising, etc), so that you’re selling two copies of that title a day, and you have 100 titles out there, you can consider yourself a roaring success by any measure.

This doesn’t account for the fact that having more books sells more books.  The more you put out there, the more organic sales will tick upwards.  So, if you were only selling one copy per title when you had five books out there, now you have twenty, you’re selling an average of 4 copies per title.

Simply increasing how many books you have for sale sells more books, even if you do nothing else.

With some extra effort, you can increase the average sales per title, which has an impact on your quality of life…which is the next (and the last) definition we will be looking at.

I’ve left the original section in a big chunk, because it all holds, still.  One of the most effective forms of marketing is to write the next book.  No matter how you publish.

I mentioned the decline in sales, above.  A way to combat that is to widen your focus.  If you’ve only indie published via the big five retailers (Amazon, iTunes, Google, Kobo & Barnes & Noble), look farther abroad and widen your publishing footprint.

Look at the smaller retailers, subscription models, selling via your own site, fiction apps.

Work with other authors in your chosen genres to build boxed sets and anthologies, and market them.

Look at branching out into a different genre. 

Look at non-fiction-for-pay.  Pay-for blogs and newsletters.  Articles for the pro markets and sites.

Look at the short fiction pro markets, which are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, these days, as they shift to on-line publication and giving their stories away for free (but you still get paid from their advertising revenue). 

Short stories, novelettes and novellas give you a wealth of marketing options, too.

And you can sell short stories via the five indie retailers, too.  Plus they are snapped up by the fiction apps.

Sell your reprint rights.  Sell foreign language editions. 

If you’ve only published in ebook format, consider audiobook editions and print editions.  In print, if you’ve stayed with trade paperbacks (the typical print-on-demand format), then look at hard covers and large print editions.

Widening your publishing footprint will often require writing more, which this site can help you with.  And it will result in selling more.

Indie authors can pivot on a dime, retool and profit, while traditional publishers take years to react to social, economic and political forces.  Take advantage of that.


I started The Productive Indie Fiction Writer because I’ve written and published over 120 books (under all my pen names) since 1999, and I was constantly asked how I managed to write so much, because I didn’t get to quit my day job until 2015. I’ve learned how to be efficient, and how to steer my career, and I can share that with you.

How-to books are generic, while finding your full potential as an author is highly personal. I can help you find solutions to maximising your productivity and your effectiveness in your career as a fiction author.

If you would like one-on-one personal help in achieving your best, you’ll find options on my Patreon page that you can’t get from reading the blog alone, plus early access and exclusive access to blog posts that don’t appear here. Or chat with me directly on my Discord channel and share your success with other authors.

Choose the option that lets you work the way you prefer.


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