I’ve been getting some great feedback about ‘The Dark Place‘, and had over 7,500 people download it in 3 days when I ran a recent free promotion, but the day-to-day paid sales haven’t been great. My editors and some professional reviewers really liked it, so what, I wondered, is causing the low sales? So, I decided to do some digging. Here’s what I discovered.

There are several factors that determine if fiction book store perusers will become book purchasers

  1. Reader reviews
  2. Price
  3. Book title
  4. Cover image
  5. Sales description (the ‘blurb’)

Reader reviews are very important but as an author, there’s not much I can do about getting reviews except to keep asking, bribing, or begging people to post them (hint hint!).

With regards to pricing, ebooks are generally priced between $1.99 and 3.99 on stores like Amazon (although we do see a lot of traditional publishers being super greedy and charging more for ebooks than paperbacks, which is insane IMO).

A book title change is very painful – it effectively becomes a new book to the online stores, and to do this causes reader confusion (and as an author you lose all previous ratings and reviews). So that’s a nuclear option I don’t want to even think about right now.

Which left me with the cover and the blurb…

I rewrite the blurb to make it more conventional and ‘salesy’, but I liked my cover. I’d made it myself in Photoshop and it took me many hours to create. People told me it was great, even a well-known cover designer, who said “I’ve definitely got the skills” (boy how my ego loved that one!).

But something wasn’t right – it still wasn’t selling as I felt it should. So, I decided to seek more input from other authors and readers. I shared the image and, instead of asking “Is this a cool cover or what?”, I asked them what genres it made them think of at first glance.

The overriding response was “Horror” (with people adding extra insights like “Creepy” and “Tommyknockers” and “Harlan Coban”. In fact, over 70% of respondents referenced Horror as a genre, whereas only about 20% each included “Historical”, “Suspense” or “Thriller”. Given that ‘The Dark Place’ is a historical suspense thriller, and utterly not a horror story, the message couldn’t be more explicit – time for a new cover. So a new cover it now has (thanks to my designer, David at Cover2book.com). Images below – old on the left (the black and green one), new on the right.

Old cover of Damian Vargas's The Dark Place novel New cover of Damian Vargas's The Dark Place novel


What do you think? Drop me a line if you have any thoughts.