My views and tips on being a successful Independent author
Tips for Indie Writers By Karen J Mossman
There are many benefits to being an independent author.
* You make all the decisions
* Publish when you want to
* Make instant changes to your book
* Promote as much as you like
* Sell direct
* Keep stats
So benefits all round? Not quite. Writing is the easy and the fun part. Promoting and selling is a lot more difficult and some are better at it than others. The best way to do anything is to join a group of indie authors – they maybe your competition, but they are also your greatest ally.
The group I first joined on Facebook are awesome. They were always supportive, friendly and helpful. That’s why they are known as the #Awesome Awethors, but there are also plenty of others including Authors Professional Co-op.
Sharing is the key to success and I want to share with you what I have learnt, and the ideas I’ve picked up along the way.
* Low Sales
You’ve published a book, you’ve hit the button and it is live. You wait for sales to come in and they don’t. That is precisely what happened to me with my first book. I pressed the button, told my family and friends and sat back and waited. When the initial sales dried up, I didn’t know what to do next.
For a year figures were grim. I reached 1 or 2 sales a month or sometimes a big fat zero. When I spoke to other writers, many said the same. If you don’t promote, you don’t sell. Take your eyes off the ball and sales always drop.
One of the reasons some indie authors appear successful is because they are very good at promoting. They are able to keep a high profile without flooding the market with the same post and the same book all the time.
Creating your book is only the first step. Marketing and promoting is the key to sales as you wouldn’t buy a product yourself, if you hadn’t heard of it.
Writing is the easy part, the fun part, and it is what the writer is good at. To be a self published author, you have to become a book seller too.
Business cards are a great way of telling people who you are and I know of one writer who goes to her local shopping mall and just hands them out to shoppers.
If you are a mystery writer, attend a murder/mystery show, where you can hand out your business card, or go to the cinema and wait for people to come out having watched a film the same genre as your book. Just hand out cards or just leave them in handy places. Many probably won’t get looked at, but if one or two decide to look at your site. You may have found a potential reader.
Try to come up with your own marketing plan, write down in an easy to follow step by step, or even a day by day guide. Listen and watch other writer’s and always be on the lookout for new ideas to add to your list.
When I re-launched a book with a new title, I did a blog tour and also enlisted several bloggers to have me as a guest on their site. I also asked for people to advertise those sites on their own social media account. Potential readers clicked on the links that went with them and bought my book as a result.
I also set up my own Facebook group for the week of the launch. This way I was able to give everyone a different day to post, and co-ordinate the way people blasted it out on their own Social Media sites. All the bloggers and posters just picked off the links each day and re posted. It was quite a hive of activity.
Attend other online book events and get an author slot. This is a great way to get your name noticed. Attend some first and have a look at what goes on.
Building an audience takes time and an author has to be patient and just keep doing it. The alternative is stop promoting and selling, and why would we do that when we love what we do.?
Many authors admit that they don’t write to ‘just’ earn money, they write because they love it. It is very much a two edged sword.
Promoting is none stop. Visit message boards, meet people, post in Facebook and don’t forget other social media sites such as Tumblr and Stumble upon as well as Twitter. No matter how good your book is, you won’t sell it if people don’t know it is there.
Another idea is ask authors, especially those that have a big following, if you can post your book details on their page.
Every Facebook message or tweet or Retweet or blog or book sold gets us that one step closer.
They is no blue print for success, you just have to develop things as you go along and see what works for you.
* Tweet, and ask people to retweet – vary your tweets
* Hand out business cards
* Attend online book events
* Cross promote on other author’s Facebook pages
* Arrange a blog tour
* Mention your book at every occasion
* Make a poster and take your book to a local book store
* Give a copy to the local library
* Keep promoting, don’t stop
I had been bemoaning about small sales for a while and then realised when I re-launched my book, Joanna’s Journey, I had offered signed copies. I sold 25 immediately. That is more sales than I’d had all year. It’s what all Indie authors should also think about doing when they have a new book out.
Having a website and getting people to follow is another good way of getting your work noticed. You can do many things there to bring in the traffic. I have some short stories on mine and if people like them, there is a link where they can buy my books as well.
It’s important to build your brand and there are many well known authors with several books to their name who simply sell because people read their previous books and like them. They write a certain type of book and gain a following. So if all your books are similar in some way, then that is your brand and that’s what gets you noticed.
Do you think you can talk in public? How about going to a residential home for the elderly, or any club or place where people gather. Give them a talk and of course take your books. Tell them about Indie Authors, ask them what they like to read, get them involved. Take goodies with you, book marks, promotion cards, sweets even. One romantic writer always takes Love Hearts, little sweeties with messages of love written on them. She offers them to people. When they take one, she will ask them what they like reading. You could even offer your book as a raffle prize giving back their funds.
One author I know, has a book about cycling, he goes to every bike event he can with it and always sells a few. Could you do that with your book? I have a short story collection called Behind the Music, so any musical event would work for it.
As writers, we are also readers and haven’t we come across a series of books and either read them in order because we liked the first one, or gone back to read the rest? Series are a great way of getting the reader hooked and selling more books. Especially as the author continues builds their brand. I’ve heard that it’s a good formula is to give Book One away as a taster, and then sell the others. Writing for anthologies will get your name noticed and add to your list of books.
* If your book has a theme, find an event
* Get a following, build your brand
* Write a book series, or link your books.
* Look for events where you can have a table
* Do book talks
* Do a blog tour
I review every book I read and I also click the button on Amazon which asks whether the review I’ve just read was helpful or not. Our aim is to get our readers to do the same.
Goodreads is another community or readers and writers. It has its own set of reviews. If you don’t have an author profile, you should get one and list yours books. There are also many groups you can get involved in including review groups. The more you are in, the better your name and your books will be known.
Just before you release your book, try offering ARCs, Advanced Readers Copy. Ask them to read it and leave a review just after it goes live.
You could also offer to read another author’s book and review it in exchange for reading yours. Agree a time line to do this.
Free promotions for a limited time also help. Amazon run them and I recently offered one of my books free for three days. I had almost 300 downloads. I hope out of those to get at least 5 reviews, and indeed have already received some.
Goodreads run giveaways and you can select which countries to offer it in. Readers apply and also add the book to their ‘to read’ file and you can only hope they do get round to it and of course leave that review.
Be aware that Amazon have tightened their reviewing process and if they think a readers knows the author (even if they don’t) they will take the review down. It’s unfair and it causing a storm in the writer’s world.
There are many others places, such a blogs by both writers and readers. Seek them out and offer your book.
* Run an Amazon promotion
* Goodreads Giveaway
* Swap with other writers
* Blog Reviews
* Promote! Promote! Promote
My advice to anyone is to keep writing, keep promoting and sell books as it’s the only way to get your name out there. It takes time and have of confidence in yourself and your work and you will eventually start having regular sales.
Books by Karen J Mossman – Amazon – author.to/KM
Behind the Music
Website – https://karenjmossman.wordpress.com/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/KarenJMossman
Twitter – https://twitter.com/KarenJMoss
Tumblr – http://karenmossman.tumblr.com
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