Since I guest posted on David Gaughran’s blog here and here, I’ve been getting mail from other indie authors, asking for some advice regarding getting their own ball rolling, so to speak. A year and a bit ago, I got some excellent advice from indie author, N. Gemini Sasson, which I took, and perhaps I can pay that forward now.
I have some overall suggestions, and then some specific tips. Nothing that’s going to work overnight, I’m afraid … but it’s what I’ve done.
Publishing in general can be overwhelming. I honestly don’t know that indie publishing is any different from traditional publishing in that regard, it’s just that you, individually, have to take care of so many things yourself. Not that traditional publishers have been wonderful in this respect, but at least there’s the illusion that you are more taken care of. I thought so, too, back when I wrote this: (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/?p=493) two years ago. I still think writing the next book is the best thing you can do to promote your work, but there’s a bit more to it than that if you want to go the indie route.
I would say that as a first step, go to David Gaughran’s web page and download, “Let’s Get Digital”. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/ It’s a how-to guide for indie publishing. He has also written a quick primer on self-publishing basics covering the essential steps (editing, covers, formatting, uploading, pricing, marketing) here – http://
David’s blog is only one of many great resources–along with others like Joe Konrath, Kris Rusch, the Passive Guy, and Dean Wesley Smith. When I started, I was ignorant about publishing, but basically took the academic approach: I read everything I could find about how to be an indie author and eventually took the plunge in putting up my first book–The Last Pendragon.
I recommend the Writer’s Cafe at the Kindle boards as an excellent resource, and a way to connect with other indie writers (if you haven’t already joined): http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/board,60.0.html You can introduce yourself here: http://www.kindleboards.com/index.php/board,3.0.html Another, less organized resource because of the format, is Indie Writers Unite (on Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/groups/indiewriters/
When you visit these sites, begin by reading the threads. Believe me, there are a lot of them. Any question you have has probably already been answered, at length, at one time or another. Both groups are full of authors who are wanting their books to get noticed, of course, but there’s lots and lots of good ideas about how to go about doing that. Besides which, writers do read, so some people might pick up your book there. It’s a good way to educate yourself about this new world we’re living in, too. It’s much better actually NOT to promote, but to participate in communities. At the Kindle Boards, the author community is actually a very small part of the Kindle Boards as a whole, and is a great place to connect with readers AS A READER. That all takes time, of course. Lots of nice people out there, though.
Having suggested all that, many established writers recommend that you don’t bother promoting a book until you have three novels to sell. From my own experience, It was the fourth book that launched all my others. And I got lucky by hitting a chord at just the right moment. Dean Wesley Smith http://www.deanwesleysmith.com/ talks about this specifically.
Then there’s blogging. Look! You’re reading my blog! But a blog is very time consuming. At a minimum, you need to have a static web page with links to your books for sale, so that people who stumble upon your site can go straight to where they can buy your books.
My blog is really about dark age and medieval Wales and I mostly try NOT to write about writing. Plenty of other people do that and they are a lot funnier than I am 🙂 I began this blog in November 2009, with no books to promote. I just started writing 3 times a week about my research behind the books nobody had yet read. It took about 9 months for Google searches to really find me. Now, I get 300-500 hits a day, with an increasing number coming for my books, which is very exciting. If you want to have a functioning blog, choose something you know a lot about and blog about that. People will find you because of your content. Book sales will come after.
I would also consider a professional cover ($150-$250, with stock art), if you have not already contracted for one. It took me a year of indie publishing to realize that the difference between what I could produce, and what a professional could produce, was the difference between night and day (see http://flipcitybooks.com/ for my cover artist).
I also work at least 50 hours a week at this, between writing and blogging and participating in online communities. I’m a full time mom, and we homeschool, but I’m on the computer the rest of the time. I wrote at least part time for five years before I made any money at all. Just something to keep in mind in terms of how much of your life you want to devote to this. If your time is limited or you’re not that attached to your computer, I recommend focusing on writing every day and producing more work. Perhaps choose one promotion avenue and ignore the rest. If you mean to make a career of writing, then writing another novel is the best way to promote the first one.
With that in mind, today is the release of my ninth novel, Crossroads in Time, the third book in the After Cilmeri series!
Anna has made a place for herself in thirteenth century Wales as a wife, mother, and healer. David has taken more of the kingdom’s rule on his shoulders, even as his relationship with Lili has caused friction with his father, King Llywelyn. The King wants his son to seek a political marriage that will benefit his country—and possibly place the crown of England on David’s head.
England and Wales have shared a border and an uneasy peace for three long years.
And that peace is about to be broken …
It should arrive by May 1 in paperback and at all other venues. Meanwhile for Nook/Apple/Sony users, it can be downloaded in epub format at Smashwords.