You should never give up on your book...at least not right away. Not until you've given it as many makeovers as you can dream up. But before I get into that, I should probably start at the beginning.
Look, I get it. Your book is your baby. You've poured countless hours into crafting the plot and characters. You've created a unique story that you're sure people will just go ape for. But what if they don't? What if your precious tome just sinks like a stone? What if you can count all the people who have bought your book on one hand?
It happens. I've been there-far too much. And faced with that kind of lukewarm response, it's easy to get discouraged. But just because your book hasn't gotten any love doesn't mean you should give up on it.
Faced with lackluster sales, you have a number of options. You can go right back to writing on book two, then when that is complete, put book one permafree and hope the freebie will spur sales of your second book. (an option I recommend, by the way).
But that option doesn't address book number one. That's the head in the sand approach. While writing a second book in your series is always a good option, it's also one that requires a significant time investment. And while you're writing book two, book one can still be making you money as long as you give it a little makeover.
What kind of makeover?
There's four main things you can do for a book that's lagging in sales.
1. Change the title
2. Change the cover
3. Change the blurb
4. Change the books categories
I know these seem very simple, but that's because they are. Just because they're simple changes though doesn't mean they're not effective. Sometimes a cover change can make all the difference. I've seen some indie books cycle through as many as five covers before they hit on one that works. But each new cover gives your story a chance to attract a different set of eyes.
The key is to make sure your cover looks as professional as ever. You need a striking cover that conveys your books genre and appeals to your target market. And although writing is your specialty, your cover is the last thing you should ever skimp on.
With your title, you want to do one of two things. Either A. Convey exactly and indisputably what the book is about, or B. Try to intrigue them with a mysterious concept hoping they'll want to know more.
As for the blurb, make sure you sufficiently tease the reader. You have to hook a potential buyer on your concept. Make them wonder what happens next. Make them desperate to click that buy button. How do you do this? With a sense of urgency. Appeal to the readers emotions.
The final change is not as direct as it seems. Changing categories can be as simple as going to your book dashboard and popping two new categories in for your books. Sometimes that works. You have to remember, a lot of book buyers only shop in their genre. Sci fi readers sometimes will only look at other sci fi books. Same with fantasy or romance, or what have you. So if you put your book in an entirely new category, you may catch the eyeballs you've been missing. For an idea about potential category changes, check out my previous post about niche categories.
*Note: I'm not advocating putting your book in a category it doesn't belong ever. It's just that most books have a varied enough subject matter that they can fit into more than just the two categories that Amazon allows you to have.
The second option with categories is more akin to rebooting your book. If a tale is universal enough, it can be adapted into multiple genres with a little rewriting.
But no matter what, you should consider rebooting your book if you change the title, cover, blurb, or categories. For one, you're trying to sell a new book. Secondly, if your book was largely ignored, no one will there's no one to take offense with you starting over. Even more importantly, rebooting your book resets the clock on the hot new release book. So if you're going to undertake a makeover, you can take your book off sale if you wish, change the title, cover, blurb, and categories, then hit publish as a completely new book and get a fresh thirty days to try and prove itself. Who knows, a little tweaking just may work.
What if none of that works though?
I know you don't want to hear this, but some books just never take off. I know from experience. I spent the first two years of my self pubbing career writing humor books--twenty of them. And none of them took off. It was demoralizing. So what did I do? I found a new genre. I started over from scratch. New pen name. New genre (romance, if you're interested in knowing). New start.
Then something amazing happened--I started making money. People that weren't closely related to me were buying my books--and lots of them.
It was amazing. The lesson? Sometimes a change in genre can make all the difference. Sometimes it is ok to give up on your books, as long as you never give up on yourself. After all, my writing skills didn't get any better. I just started writing in a more popular genre. And it made all the difference.