Once my book is out there, its up to my readers to decide how they feel about it. All I can do is take everything I have learned and give it the best possible chance of success. Farming is the same thing. I use everything I know to get the best possible harvest, but there are still factors beyond my control.
When I think back to when I published my first book I blush at how much I didn't know. The only thing I had going for me back then was I knew I didn't know a lot and I sought out people who did. I made friends with people who knew so much more than I did. I still can't believe I had the balls to reach out and ask people for help, but I'm glad I did.
When I put out Blood and Loss I made my own cover and I didn't edit it professionally. I didn't have a "platform".
I hadn't even told anyone I was writing a book until it was out. I can't believe I sold any books. It seems impossible that anyone would be attracted to something so amateurish.
The only saving grace was I wasn't the only one and I learned from my mistakes. I thought I would discuss some of my mistakes so you can either learn from them, feel smug that you never committed the atrocities I did, or feel better about the mistakes you made.
MISTAKE #1 I didn't get a professional to edit my book.
I went through it a hundred times. Had others read it and pick things up, but it wasn't nearly good enough. I almost died of embarrassment when I got Blood and Loss back from my editor. The amount of mistakes she corrected made me think I should go back to Middle School and take grammar all over again. Mr. Rackham my grade 7 and 9 english teacher was rolling in his grave. Bottom line in my opinion if you can't afford to get your book edited then it might be a good idea to wait until you can afford it.
MISTAKE #2 I did the cover myself.
While not the biggest mistake I made I am much happier with the covers I have now. Despite what your mother always told you not to do, people do judge a book by its cover. Mine wasn't terrible, but it didn't look professionally done either. Now all three books have beautiful covers. I couldn't be happier with them.
MISTAKE #3 I published then built my platform
I published my book and then I tried to sell it. The savvy smart authors, sell their book and themselves and then they publish. They are ahead of the game. I was just happy back then to have my book out there finally. An indie author has to be a marketer and a writer. It's a lot of work and it never ends. You will always have to promote your stuff. Its part of the game.
I made a lot more than these three mistakes, but those are the ones that hurt me the most early on. Despite all that I did do some really smart things. I've made so many great friends. They have given me advice, helped me promote my books and given me encouragement. I can't say enough about indie authors and readers. I have readers who help me promote my books. People I didn't know before they read my stuff and now they help me get the word out just because they are sweet people. Then there are my fellow indie authors. What other business would you have so many people who would go out of their way to help you. They don't get anything in return except my gratitude.
I'd love to list everyone here, but I'd miss someone one by mistake and feel horrible, but making new friends and getting to know new people is one of the best things about promoting my books. I only hope they feel I have supported them too.
What do I think you need to be successful besides all of the above? Well first take my advice with a grain of salt as I'm not exactly on the NYT bestsellers list, but it does come from observation, research and intuition. So here we go.
1) Write - seems like a big fat duh!, but you'll never have monetary success from one book. You need to keep writing. Write as much as you can. I don't just mean books. I mean anytime you have a chance to write do so. Having a website or a blog is a must. The only way to get better at writing is to write. The only way to communicate and gain a bigger audience is to write.
1a) listen to criticism. Its hard and sometimes painful, but listen to every critique of your work. It doesn't mean you have to take their advice, but if you're open to it, you will improve.
2) Advertise - it really is a must if you want to sell to more than family and a few people who stumble onto your book. I was listening to a podcast and there was a women who worked for KOBO and she said there were 300,000 e-books published last year. Someone coming across your book without advertising is like someone finding your McDonald's cup at the dump. It could happen but.... I've been over 200,000 on amazon sales rankings. Even if you narrow that down by genre how long would it take someone to cycle through all those books ahead of you? So whether you do a free promo or put your book on sale or even just advertise its existence you need to do so. I won't go on about what sites are the best, everyone has their favourites. I will say the sites that allow you to advertise to your specific audience are the best. If you write paranormal fantasy you don't want your advertising in front of WWII buffs. If you write romance you don't want your advertisement to be reaching out to the horror lover. You wouldn't advertise adult diapers at a teen dance. Its a waste of money.
3) Network - I don't just mean with other authors. Being an indie allows us to have a closer relationship with our readers. I have become friends with a lot of mine. Some have helped me sell my books. Other authors help you on social media. Writing rarely pays the big bucks. I find this part of the job rewarding and fun. Its a perk that I enjoy. If you dread being on twitter, hate facebook and you don't even want to talk about google + promoting yourself just got a lot harder. I don't know of being on these pages can really sell a large number of books, it never has for me. I can say you get to sell yourself and when I stop using these sites my sales go to nil.
4) Stick With It - I believe with my whole heart that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You need all these other things, but you also have to stick with it. I sell more books every year. Every time I put out a book or have a promotion more and more of my books are out there. I'm building an audience slowly but surely. Like anything else in life it takes hard work, determination and talent. There are exceptions to all rules, but all the authors I know who are successful have succeeded because they stuck to it and worked hard.
5) Change - Things change all the time. What may have worked last year now won't get you even one sale. So experiment, research and keep up with whatever the new thing is when it comes to promoting. Once it was the freebie, now most think that's not the way to go. You have your countdown deals, blog tours etc etc.
4) Have Fun - If you aren't enjoying the process, you have to ask yourself, why put yourself through all that work. I sometimes get burnt out from all the promotion, but over all I love every part of being an indie author.
May 16th my book comes out. Blood and Reign. I am so excited for everyone to read it. So spread the word if you would be so kind. I forgot about reviews. Love em hate em need em. All equally true. If you have read my books or any other indie author please them them a review. It only takes 20 words on amazon and it really helps with sales