Indie Writing: Lessons Learnt So Far
It has been just over six months since I launched my first e-book (gasp! already?) and during that time I have learnt a lot of invaluable marketing lessons in what feels like a very short time. If you thought clicking publish was the end of the saga, think again! Be prepared for many hours of promoting your work and even more hours of self-doubt when it feels like all your hard work might go unnoticed in the large sea of published work out there. I thought I should share some tips I’ve learnt with anyone who comes across this site (only online marketing tips, sorry). As I always say, every little helps.
- Nobody knows who you are yet so stop hitting refresh on your sales screen and wondering why the figures are not going up. Get the word out there by creating an online presence or a following in your local area.
- Goodreads/Twitter/Facebook are your best friends. So are all other social networking sites where you can publicise your work (e.g. Kindleboards, Mobileread, Librarything, Shelfari…though I tend not to use them so much). Don’t forget to engage in other forms of activities on these sites (e.g. commenting on topics not related to your book) as heavy marketing alone will be sniffed out and frowned upon.
- Giveaways will generate reviews but you must remember to curtail your expectations. There are people who just want free stuff and people who will actually review your work. Patience is key to prevent enraged hysteria at the fact that your 1000 giveaways have yielded 5 reviews. Also don’t expect to get reviews within one day or your giveaway, a few weeks to a few months is normal waiting time.
- Use your friends. People are more generous than we give them credit for. Twitter, BBM, Facebook postings from one friend will reach hundreds of other people you don’t know. As unbelievable as I thought it was, I made a few sales from friends putting up display pictures of my book on their BBM.
- Your masterpiece might not be your bestseller. Accept this and you won’t feel so bad when that book you spent five years slaving over doesn’t do as well as the one you spent six months on. One of my books is outselling the others at a ratio of 7 to 1 and it is certainly not the one I thought would be doing so well.
- Don’t under price your work but be aware that most people will expect to pay less for an indie writer’s work…at least initially. Once you pick up a following, you can bump up prices on your future books.
- Know your market. For example YA books will (unfortunately or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) mostly be popular with young females. Don’t wonder why, just do your research and use it to your advantage when targeting readers.
- Many online book reviewers/bloggers will not accept self-published work for review as they are swamped with requests from publishers, agents and us lowly writers. Accept this and find the ones who will. There are many ways to find reviewers who will accept your work but this involves reading a lot of review policies on A LOT of book blogs. Reviewers can be found via book forums, on book vendor sites by looking at people who review other books and through links on other book blog pages. I’ve recently discovered BookBlogs, a great resource for finding book bloggers.
- Reviewers are your other new best friends so don’t make them mad by constantly pestering them or insulting them when you don’t get a good review (I haven’t had this yet but I’ve read horror stories of people behaving really badly when they get unfavourable reviews). You have put your work out into the world, subjective views are inevitable. Revel in the good, learn from the constructive criticism and if you don’t think you can handle bad reviews, don’t read them! If you ever feel the need to respond to a review, always be polite. The same reviewer might love your second book.
- Accept invitations to give interviews, write guest blogs or feature excerpts on sites of book bloggers. Even if you can’t get a review, this is still fantastic exposure.
- And finally DON’T GIVE UP! It might seem like there is no point in going on, especially if you get lukewarm receptions to your work, but think of all the bestselling books out there – hundreds of thousands of people dislike them as much as hundreds of thousands of people love them. If you are a good writer, the only difference between those books and yours is that you are still unknown. It is your responsibility to change that.
Good luck everyone and keep writing good stuff.