2024 Prep Crash Course – “Products” Module #2_ Analyzing Your Unsuccessful Products
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We started off our look at “Projects” (one of the modules in this crash course) with a happy exercise: an analytical look at what contributed to the success of your most successful products.

That’s to take the sting out of this week’s second of four entries on a 2023 look back on “Products”. This time, we rip the custom-printed-on-a-Cricut band-aid off our year and look at the products that we not successful.

First, it always helps to take a breath and remember what you have accomplished. Any attempt is a good attempt, and many unsuccessful attempts can yield invaluable insight for the next round of better products. You’re making progress no matter what.

For authors and publishers of low- to no-content and medium-content books, such as sketchbooks, diaries, journals, calendars, activity books, and workbooks, understanding why certain products underperformed in the past year is critical.

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Identifying Underperforming Products

One of the first steps in understanding underperformance is recognizing which products in your catalog did not meet sales expectations. Careful assessment and comparison of sales data against projections will reveal the underperforming candidates. For low- to no-content and medium-content books, this analysis typically involves examining sales volume, revenue, customer reviews, and other performance metrics.

Market Saturation

One prevalent factor contributing to underperformance is market saturation. As more authors and publishers enter the market, competition intensifies, making it harder to gain visibility and attract buyers. To determine if market saturation is affecting your products, look for signs such as a crowded marketplace, numerous similar offerings, and stagnant sales figures.

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Pricing Strategies

Pricing is a critical aspect of any product’s success. For low- to no-content and medium-content books, competitive pricing is key. Effective pricing strategies consider factors like production costs, the perceived value of the content, and the prices of similar products in the market. However, underpricing or overpricing can be detrimental to sales.

Pricing Data Analysis

To identify pricing issues, delve into pricing data. Are your products priced significantly higher or lower than similar offerings? Analyze the relationship between pricing and sales performance. Identify instances where pricing may have discouraged buyers or given the impression of inferior quality.

We have written extensively about KDP costs and pricing, here is one of our most useful entries.

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Marketing Efforts

Effective marketing plays a pivotal role in the success of any product, including low- to no-content and medium-content books. Marketing strategies encompass various activities, such as product descriptions, cover designs, keywords, Amazon Advertising, and social media promotion. The effectiveness of these efforts can significantly impact sales.

Marketing Data Analysis

To uncover issues with marketing, examine the data related to your promotional activities. Are certain product listings consistently receiving fewer clicks or views? Are customers not engaging with your product descriptions? Analyze whether specific marketing efforts, such as keyword choices or advertising campaigns, have yielded the expected results.


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Customer Feedback and Reviews

Customer feedback and reviews are invaluable tools for understanding the root causes of underperformance. Negative feedback often contains constructive insights that highlight issues with content, design, or functionality. Engage with customers, address their concerns, and use their input to enhance future products.

Competitor Analysis

Understanding what your successful competitors are doing differently can shed light on your own shortcomings. Conduct a competitive analysis to identify the strengths and weaknesses of comparable products in the market. This can reveal gaps in your product offerings, allowing you to better align with market expectations.

The BookBolt Competition Tracker is the most robust and reliable tool to help you develop a thorough competitive analysis. Read a step-by-step guide here.

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Painting The Data Picture

Once parsed from the raw data, patterns of information appear that give you a clearer picture of why a particular product underperformed. Once those patterns are understood by you, your next steps also become clear – but some steps will be harder than others, as it may bring up emotional attachments to unsuccessful products. Steel yourself for hard decisions about personal favorites that drag your endeavor down.

The flip side of the above is ignoring the data and going with your gut.

I’m not at all advising that you ignore ALL the data, but don’t let the loud cheerleader in your head be shouted down by numbers. If you truly believe in a product and it failed in 2023, by all means, re-launch it in 2024. It is critical to understand that the same data that showed the product failing is also showing how to make it work. Repeat the same tactics at your peril.


The journey of self-publishing through KDP is not always a straightforward path to success. For authors and publishers of low- to no-content and medium-content books, understanding why certain products underperformed is an opportunity for growth and improvement. By identifying the root causes, such as market saturation, pricing issues, and ineffective marketing, you can take decisive steps toward prevention and success.

Market diversification, pricing adjustments, and marketing optimization are powerful strategies for improving your future performance.

Underperformance is not a roadblock; it’s a stepping stone towards refining your approach and achieving your publishing goals.

The journey of self-publishing is marked by challenges, but it is through these challenges that you can discover your path to success.

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