Invisible books and authors

Mark Coker’s latest book The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success, classifies books into four sales categories:

  1. Invisible books
  2. Slow Boilers
  3. Slow Builders
  4. Breakouts

These terms are fairly self descriptive, so it’s not hard to see that authors ideally want their books to fall into the fourth category, but categories 3 and at a pinch 2 will do. The only category you really want to avoid finding your books in is number 1, and yet that is probably where a lot of books will end up.

As the author of books that are for the most part invisible (I’ve sold a few copies and received some good reviews, all of which I am very grateful for) I’m interested in what makes one book invisible and another a slow boiler, slow builder, or breakout. Is it just the content between the opening and closing pages|pixels of the book? Or is it something else?

I’m mostly invisible as an author. I tell myself I’m busy building the back catalog, that is essential to epublishing success, and that as soon as I have a handful of titles published I’ll spend some serious time on the marketing question (It helps that John Lock’s book on self publishing also suggests this approach). I have only recently started to think about things like Twitter, a Facebook author page, and blogging more often, so expecting my books to be anything other than invisible is unrealistic at best.

Now that I am starting to think about making my books, and by extension myself, more visible, the question is how to go about it? I have some fairly definite ideas about things I don’t want to do (and most of them involve broadcasting Buy my Book! Read my Book! Check out my Book! or variations on that theme) but does that doom me to invisibility or simply mean I have to be as creative with my marketing efforts as I am with my plots and characters?

I think the very best thing I can do – and this brings me full circle – is continue to write the best books I can, making each one better than the one before it, knowing that over time they will accumulate, gathering a review here, a mention on social media there, and hopefully converting readers into fans. I have more to say on this point but will save it for another post and get back to the question at hand, why are some books invisible?

Are they just bad books? Or is it that people don’t know they exist?

To answer this question, I am going to start actively looking for invisible books. Books in the same genres as mine, that have sales ranks in the upper stratosphere and review counts at the opposite end of that depressing scale. I am hopeful that I will find some great books, and when I do I’ll leave reviews and mention them to people who might care, and maybe that will make those books a bit more visible.

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