AUTHOR (B)LOG: Jan '22
My First Year as an Indie Author: The do's, the Don'ts and the "Oh My God, You Didn'ts"
First of all what's this 'indie author' stuff I keep harping on about? It used to be, if you wanted to be an author, you really had to get a publishing house (preferably a major one!) to take you and your manuscript on. This led to a huge number of would-be-authors falling at the first hurdle. Did you know Harry Potter was rejected by publishers 12 times? Beating that by a mile, JRR Tolkein's The Hobbit was rejected 60 times! Those are crazy numbers of rejections for books that have sold millions as well as film rights... it was pretty daunting stuff for your everyday debut author. Now however self-publishing is much much easier. However, it comes with a whole screed of its own challenges.
When I started this journey, I thought the most difficult thing would be the writing. How wrong I was! The to-do list is endless for authors going it alone. Feeling my way through this list has lead to some great friendships, some awful boo-boos and a shit load of time learning stuff that's NOT WRITING. If you're ever considering the self publishing (independent author / indie author) route then you might be interested in my take!
Firstly on the Craft : just write. Get it down on paper. Endless endless redrafts will come later. GET IT WRITTEN DOWN. I found I couldn't really write properly if I tried to edit as I went; the flow stopped flowing. I looked at a couple of books: Write your novel from the middle and SuperStructure.
Secondly on Covers, Blurbs and Formatting - I tried Fiverr. Personally I wouldn't ever do it again. For any of those options. Saying that I do know of people who have been very happy with who they've used. Ready for an OMG moment? The cover designer I used PLAGIARIZED someone else's work. It was horrendous - I'm still not a hundred percent sure it won't bite me in the ass. Bottom line; make sure you use someone reputable and you get the certificates for any images used. My formatting experience was far better, but I've since realized its something I can do myself using Atticus (or Vellum for mac users). As for blurb writing - make sure the person you use knows allllll about your genre before you ask them to help. It makes a huge difference - what might pull in a Sci-fi fan will most definitely not captivate your paranormal romance reader and vice versa!
Thirdly, Editing: Another 'Oh My Goodness You Didn't?!' Moment
In my wisdom, I decided I didn't really need an editor, I could manage fine with an alpha reader/ beta readers. I couldn't, It was mediocre at best. If you have an 'okay' story, or even a story you think is good, for the love of all things you hold dear - get an editor. I'd go as far as to say get a developmental editor, then a copy/line editor then get it proofread. Just do it! I can't stress it enough. It does make a difference. A big one. ( See the brand shiny new version of Luna Ascending if you don't believe me!)
- Set up a Newsletter. Use something like story origin or book funnel to grow your reader list (write a hook, a novella to give away for free to attract the kind of people who might like your books/ newsletter: like mine - Confronting Fate). Of course you can still sell your novella to people who aren't interested in subscribing!
- Social Media : think about what platforms your readers will use and get set up - for now I mostly concentrate on Instagram, although I have a twitter and facebook account. I'm thinking of venturing into the world of tiktok in the New Year - help!
- Advertising - I'd dabbed here but I really plan on doing a course to learn about amazon and facebook advertising. I'm aware there are many many many scammy courses out there so do your research first! I'm thinking of Mark Dawson's one...
I'd be happy to wax lyrical with any other indie authors or would-be-indie authors. If you have any more specific questions, or just want another opinion then send me an email. For everyone else I hope this gave you a tiny little insight into just how much effort your indie authors put into the books you read.
How can you help as a reader? LEAVE A REVIEW - it costs you nothing and it means the world. We love that people love our books, it makes us want to write more. Also, once an author has over a set number of reviews (25-50) Amazon will start to promote their book. Under this, and you're on your own as an author!