It’s been a difficult decision but one that I’ve thought long and hard about. At the end of the year I’ll be withdrawing my two parenting books from Amazon. These are “Kids’ Clubs and Organizations” and “Great Places for Kids’ Parties”. I still have a few print copies in my loft but, apart from that, they’ll cease to exist. There are several reasons for this but, before I go any further, I want to recap on what led me to publish them originally.
My plan was always to publish novels eventually and I had SLUR on the backburner for many years. Prior to publishing Kids’ Clubs, I knew that the independent author market was taking off but didn’t know much about the promotional side of things. I therefore decided to test the market by starting off with something small. This would also give me an opportunity to learn as I went along. However, I underestimated how much work would be involved in the parenting books in terms of the amount of research and promotion.
As a new author I absorbed as much information as I could. Unfortunately not all of the information out there is good but as a newbie you have no way of filtering the good advice from the not so good advice. Somebody on a “Linked in” group advised that it was much easier to market non-fiction than fiction so I decided that I would start with a small non-fiction book. Perhaps the marketing advantage may apply for certain types of non-fiction but it didn’t prove to be the case for the type of non-fiction that I was producing.
I put myself at a disadvantage to start with as my market was limited to UK parents of mainly 1 – 12 year olds. Although this is still a sizeable group, I eventually concluded that parents of children in this age bracket are far too busy with the process of bringing up a family to spare the time to read about all the exciting opportunities that are available for their children.
Both of my parenting books were well received by parenting magazines, mums’ blogs etc. (including a feature on the Netmums website) but very few parents actually bought the books. In fact, my biggest customer was UK libraries.
I had hoped that some of the organisations featured in the second book would help with sales by stocking the book in their gift shops. Had I gained their co-operation it could have made a huge difference as some of these attractions have vast numbers of visitors every day. Unfortunately this didn’t come to fruition, with the exception of one organisation who stocked a small number of books.
I was at a further disadvantage in running Amazon promotions because a lot of the free promotion sites were reluctant to feature the books. I presume it was because they weren’t targeted at the US market.
Input versus Rewards
I have now tried most avenues relating to promotion for these two books and feel that I have taken them about as far as I can. It’s a shame because the bulk of the feedback I have received has been positive. The only negative feedback suggested that the first book would work better as a website because the information could be more readily updated. This is something that I haven’t ruled out for the future but it would be a mammoth task and I would need input from various organisations.
When I produced the books I knew that the information was time sensitive and I therefore intended to update them every couple of years. As the first book has now been on the market for over two years and the special offers in the second book expire at the end of 2014, these factors have prompted me to make a decision. The amount of time that it would take to check all the factual information and make updates just isn’t worthwhile in terms of the potential gains. Therefore, rather than let the content become increasingly outdated I would rather take the books off the market.
Focus on Fiction
Having released my debut novel SLUR three and a half months ago, I know that I want to concentrate on fiction in the future. I already have a short story book planned for release early in the New Year and am currently carrying out the research for my second crime thriller. SLUR is a much more marketable product than the parenting books and, in fact, it has already sold more copies than both parenting books put together.
Another reason that the parenting books don’t quite work with my fiction books is because my novels contain a degree of violence, sexual references and bad language. Marketing these books alongside the parenting books doesn’t sit comfortably with me as the two aren’t really compatible. I could overcome this problem by writing under a different name for each genre but, in view of the other factors referred to above, I still prefer to withdraw the parenting books.
I am looking forward to releasing other fiction titles and getting involved in more promotional activities in the New Year. From all the marketing books and blog posts that I have read I believe that it is easier to sell more books if you have several for sale which fit into the same genre. I therefore feel that having more fiction books on the market should increase my chances of success.
9 thoughts on “Why I’m withdrawing my Parenting Books”
Sorry to hear you’re withdrawing these two books, Diane. They were both very useful. However I fully understand your reasons. Good luck with Slur and your continuing fiction adventure.
Thanks for your feedback Clare. I’m glad you found the books useful. I hope there are a few more parents out there who are benefitting from them but I had real difficulty in getting my message across to parents in general of how useful those sort of books can be. Never mind, lessons learnt and all that. 🙂
Your non-fiction books are great, Diane and as a parent I would use them as a guide/reference frequently. But I understand the time-sensitive issue. Things go out of date very quickly these days, and you may have recommended a great party venue that no longer exists, or a club that may have been fantastic when you published the book, but could have changed management and no longer be great, for instance. The problem with these type of guide-books is that the information needs to be kept up-to-date constantly, you would probably need to do an update maybe once a year, and re-release it, and the work would be immense, with little pay off. If you had loads of time (and who has it, these days?), a website with sponsored adverts (from those clubs you recommend) might be a good idea. But I understand that focussing on writing crime-fiction would work well for you; you would target specific readers who once they like your style, they will be wanting to read more of your books.
I am sure that the decision to withdraw your books wasn’t an easy one, after all they’re your first ‘babies’. Maybe there’s a way to save and re-invest in some of that work somehow.
Good luck with your crime fiction books, I have no doubt that they will be a success 🙂
Thank you for your feedback Martina and for your encouragement. The books include lots of facts and figures too such as prices so the information does go out of date very quickly. I’ve certainly learnt a lot since I started on this process. I think the advantage with fiction is that it doesn’t go out of date so quickly and you can build up a readership over time especially if you add more books.
Like you say, I may be able to use the work that I have done in the future but if I concentrated on setting up a website now I would have to put my fiction writing on hold and that is the area that seems to have the most potential reward at the moment. 🙂
An online version of your parenting books sounds like a good idea Diane. Perhaps doing so in partnership with local councils might work. At least you can concentrate on your Fiction now. I agree with you that having more books out increases your chances of success.
Thanks for your feedback Guy. Although it was a difficult decision to withdraw them, the material might come in useful in the future. Plus, I’ve learnt an awful lot about independent publishing during the last couple of years. 🙂
What a shame for you – but yes, I can see the nightmare of having to keep them updated! As you say, though, all experience is useful, and you’ve learned a lot about the self-pub industry, which I imagine has stood you in good stead! I think the most pertinent remark was the one about the whole thing doing better as a website; it’s sad, but the internet is the ‘go to’ place for information these days, isn’t it. At least you’ll now be freer to do other things!
Thanks for your feedback Terry. Yes, I’ve known for a while that they weren’t working in book form but I wanted to see how the novel did before I made a decision regarding my future direction. I’m encouraged by the fact that my debut novel has been so well received so I think that fiction will bring me more returns in terms of the effort I put in. I haven’t ruled out using the kids’ clubs material for a website in the future though. It’s just that I couldn’t spare the time at the moment. 🙂
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