4 Tips From Top Indie Authors

4 Publishing Tips From 3 Top Indie Authors

Indie or self-publishing is the on the rise and has caused authors like James Scott Bell and others to proclaim there's never been a better time to be an author. But, you don't know what you don't know. You need advice from in the trenches. I got you covered :) I spoke with 3 top selling indie authors to get their perspectives: Kait Nolan, Diane Capri, and Jillian Dodd (read more about each of them below). Thanks so much ladies. I had to edit their answers to keep this newsletter from being ridiculously long. Here we go:

What are the top 3 tools available to the Indie or self-pubbed author who wants to be widely read?
Kait: A good cover designer, a good editor, and a solid, non-annoying social media presence.
Diane: If you want to be widely read you need to choose a popular genre. Check Amazon's genre lists. Choose a brand name that is easy to spell, easy to remember, and is instantly recognizable to your audience. Remember, search engines are very literal. The right title along with a powerful/compelling concept does most of the work for you.
Jillian: Being able to directly sell your products through places like Amazon, B&N, ibooks, Kobo, and others is the most important thing, along with print on demand [POD]...Be yourself on social media. You really have to find what will work for you. For me, it was doing a goodreads ad and interacting there, and a combination of blogging, twitter, and pinterest.

What are the top 3 things that the about-to-be self-pubbed or indie author needs to know about today’s market?
This is a long haul game. You are not likely to see instant success with one title. Don’t lose yourself in marketing the one title at the exclusion of writing the next one and continuing to improve your craft. There is no sense in offering anything for free unless you have something else for that to lead to. If you write a series, offering the first for free as a loss leader to draw in readers to the rest of the series can be very effective. If it is the only work you have, you’re better off with a slow build and having actual sales.
Diane: The market is crowded and changing fast. It's not easy to get discovered. You need to get in the game and stay on top of changes as they happen. Join indie writing groups who are focused on creating great books and getting them sold. Pay it forward. Be memorable. Be helpful. Be present. Be positive. Be business-like. Be professional.
Jillian: Don’t try to do everything yourself. I know my strenghts lie in marketing and design, but not in computer type skills. I don’t format my own books or do my own website. Keep writing good books. Consider all revenue streams. Ebooks, paperback, audio. Be on as many book selling platforms as you can [more than Amazon and KDP select].

What are the top 2, in your opinion, advantages and disadvantages to self-pubbing in today’s market?
Kait: Speed. Instead of waiting two years (or sometimes more) to see your work in print, you can finish a book, properly edit it, and begin building an audience. If you’re capable of producing something new (of some length or other) every six months or so, you can build your fanbase more quickly than via traditional publishing with their slow mechanisms. Flexibility. If your book idea does not neatly fit one of publishing’s pigeon holes (think Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander), you now have a venue to find your audience. That said you need to be able to define it yourself. Disadvantages: Print distribution. While POD makes print possible and there are options that get you into Ingrams and the relevant catalogs, you will not receive the kind of print distribution as a self pubbed author that you would as a traditional author (assuming you had a decent print run in the first place). It is a LOT of work. If you’re not prepared to do EVERYTHING, you’re going to be very disappointed in the results. But fair warning, traditional publishing isn’t going to get you out of marketing or social media duties, so I would caution you that it’s going to be a lot of work either way.
Diane: Profitability is much greater for indies than for large publishers and authors published by those organizations — IF — the indies are smart about controlling costs. Limited resources (you have limited money, time, energy, and staff — the big publishers have an abundance of these) means only savvy indies succeed. Disadvantages: It takes money to make money. Reaching readers in a variety of platforms is essential to be widely read and to make a six figure or higher income in this business. This means investment is required so we need to plan to grow from profits, which means tax planning and other fiscal responsibility that creatives are often not prepared to do.
Jillian: When you are self published, you have complete control over everything. From your book’s content, the cover, the blurb, the marketing, and everything else. This is great, but there are days I wish I could just hide in my room and do nothing but write. It’s a great balancing act because getting more great books out there is the number one thing that you need to do.

What are the 3 most important lessons you’ve learned as an indie author – whether they were successes or failures.
Kait: It is better to spend more time on crafting a solid book than to rush to get out because “they” say so (which I’ve learned more from observation than practice, as I write slowly to begin with). Approaching social media with an attitude of helpfulness and service to others will get you much further than a “me me me me, sell sell sell” stance. Social media prowess and a good marketing campaign are no substitute for a well-written, well-edited book.
Diane: Get the word out and build your brand through at least a year's worth of marketing before you launch your book. Once the book is finished, it's very hard to get the book widely read if people don't know about it. I started too late. Build an e-mail list of people interested in your work from the outset; continue adding to the list...Fans buy everything you write as soon as it's available and they love helping you spread the word. Create a strategic launch plan for each book that includes a strategic publishing plan. Especially focus on the frequency of releasing your titles. Have a backlog of work ready to publish once you start publishing. Ideally, a year's worth of writing or more prepared in advance is what I'd recommend. Otherwise, you're always behind the curve on creating new work and getting it out to fans.
Jillian: If you self publish, it means you are in charge of everything to do with the business. You have to treat it like a business. Set goals for yourself in everything you can measure. Dollars earned, books sold, twitter followers, blog hits, etc. Measure it and try to grow it.
Write more. They say that content is king and if you spend too much time on other activities, you won’t write enough. Set limits for yourself.

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Photo of Kait Nolan

Kait Nolan

is stuck in an office all day, sometimes juggling all three of her jobs at once with the skill of a trained bear—sometimes with a similar temperament. After hours, she uses her powers for good, creating escapist fiction. The work of this Mississippi native is packed with action, romance, and the kinds of imaginative paranormal creatures you’d want to sweep you off your feet…or eat your boss. Take a class with Kait.

Photo of Diane Capri

Diane Capri

Bestselling author Diane Capri is a recovering lawyer. She’s a snowbird who divides her time between Florida and Michigan. An active member of Mystery Writers of America, Author’s Guild, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime, she loves to hear from readers and is hard at work on her next novel.
Photo of Jillian Dodd
Jillian's books have been voted Top Ranked Romance Series on Amazon, is a Top #10 Amazon Seller and is in the Top #20 Amazon Best Rated. She's sold over 16,000 copies of her work and made over $100,000 in sales.
Copyright © 2012 Lisa Wilson Communications, All rights reserved.
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