Thursday, June 27, 2013

Confession of an Indie Author

I became an Indie author on October 19, 2011, with the release of Whispers of Legend, Part One-Shadows of the Past. The first book in a series of epic fantasy/fantasy romance stories. I've learned a lot since that time.

So after the release, what have I discovered? What does it take to become a successful Indie author? What defines a successful Indie author?

There's wonderful stories of hugely successful Indie authors making a great deal of money with this publishing venture. I know several, a few that I would call acquaintances. Most extremely nice people. But what do these successful Indie authors have in common.

First-      They wrote a great book.
Second- They did research. Don't be under any illusion. To be successful now-a-days as an Indie author, you need to be a business person.
Third-    They know how to build up a fan base. The fan base is so important, especially the email list.
Fourth-  They know how to network
Fifth-     They have an understanding what the reader wants.
Six-       Luck.

It's easy to say. Much harder to accomplish.

It's been my experience that these writers come from all walks of life. I know successful Indie writers that have been lawyers, teachers, housewives... Some have been traditionally published but have found the road to success lay outside that path. There is an advantage to having been published. You know the business. You know what you need to make your book marketable.

When I published my first book with Wild Child Publishing, I hadn't a clue what it entailed. No one told me that you needed to market your own book. I thought that's what my publisher did. Note to self- There is a huge difference between the budget of a small publisher and one of the six big publishers. Although I learned a lot from my publisher and am extremely grateful for them publishing my books, I found that being published with a small publisher tied my hands. Even now, I have a series with Whiskey Creek Press, The Tides of Charleston. They have what I consider one of my best books, Another Night Falls. The sales to Another Night Falls aren't good. I'm just bidding my time until I get the rights back so I can add it to my  Indie list.

Why do I believe it will do better with me than my publisher? Perhaps it's because it's personal to me. Whiskey Creek has hundreds of books. I have eight Indies and the three with Whiskey Creek.

One of the best aspects of being an Indie writer is control. You have control of when you publish, your cover, the price... It is all in your hands. Of course, there are pros and cons to that control. I have also seen the darker side of Indie publishing, mainly trolls. I was ill prepared for troll attacks...but that's for another blog...or book perhaps.

One of the important aspects is networking. I have set up three Facebook pages with over 7000 friends-a few blogs-I have four different Twitter accounts with over 13,000 followers. It is a must to network...but there is a  problem with networking to promote your book—you can get caught in a loop where you network only with other authors. Another con of networking, it is time consuming.

How do you reach out to readers? The easiest way is to sell a lot of books and establish a fan base. Another is to set up an email listing.

Now here's a confession. I know I need to set up an email list. Have been told several times to do so. The problem—I don't know how. I know you can set it up on your blog or website. I have the email notification for those that follow the blog, but I don't think it's the same thing.

Back to how to reach readers. Free samples of your writing. I believe in it. I do it. I have one book that is constantly up in the free rankings while my other two do okay, but don't draw in the readers like Seductive Secrets under my pen name Colleen Connally.

Now onward to promoting. Back when Amazon Select first started, it was easy to find your way into the top of Amazon rankings at least for a little while. During that time you could make good money. Whether you stayed up in the rankings depended on your book and your reviews.

Now I've been told that the best way to promote your book with anywhere near the results you want is BookBub. Book Bub has guidelines that they follow. I would love to have put Shadows of the Past up on Book Bub, but it's too short. Seductive Secrets has been up on Book Bub. Book Bub does make a huge difference in your numbers...at least for now.

That's another thing you learn quickly. The publishing world is changing all the time. Nothing is written in stone. There is an article on ALLI that is informative.

I have been published by small and medium publishers. I am an Indie author. So where do I stand? Would I do it over again? Would I give it up if a tempting offer came my way?

I am thankful for the opportunity that being an Indie author has allowed me. Readers are now reading what I write. Truthfully, I doubt if I would have broken down the barrier without being an Indie. No, I'm not a bestselling author. I'm not sure that is necessary for me to be to be fulfilled as a writer.

I love to create stories and feel like someone out there enjoys them. I love knowing the book I'm writing will soon see the light of day. Writing queries, sending out manuscripts...is demoralizing when you keep getting rejected, no matter if they are 'glowing rejections.'

Would I give up being an Indie author if a tempting offer came my way? The truthful answer- in a heartbeat. The reality- it's not going to happen anytime soon, if ever. That's okay.

What I do enjoy is being able to announce upcoming books. Seductive Lies is on schedule to be released this Fall. I'm hoping to squeeze in a contemporary romantic suspense sometime in the next few months which is tied to my plan to give back (remembering the Boston Marathon Victims). Yes, I'm hoping to have Heir of Witheleghe readied by Christmas. Busy. I like busy—which is why I enjoy being an Indie.

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2 comments:

  1. Good info in here, Jerri. Thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. You're welcome. Hope it helps. Just a few tid-bits.

    ReplyDelete