My first “Talking Indie” column, “Sorry, Your Buddies Won’t Buy Your Book,” was published today at the online magazine Talking Writing. If you haven’t read it, you can check it out HERE. It’s all about getting over the friends and family hump when you first step into the dark and stormy night of marketing in the book world.
Very quickly, I want to add a couple major items that this article implies for anyone looking for nuggets of wisdom on independent publishing in this new frontier.
1. Do Your Homework
There are some incredibly informative blogs and websites out there written by experienced and insightful Indie Authors and book marketing professionals. You really need to spend a few months following these people and digging deep into their archives to learn up on all the issues out there.
You can also find “How-to-Succeed as an Independent Author” books at the Amazon Kindle Store. These guides run through some of the basic tricks of the trade. I may upset a lot of folks with this caution, but I haven’t found one yet that is as good as following the better blogs.
I have a list of about 50 online resources I go to regularly, but some of my favorites are as follows:
Talking Indies (of course!)
Most importantly, ask questions in the comments section of these blogs, and put in your two-cents worth. Also drop in links to other stuff you’ve seen out there and comment on that information. That’s how these great resources figure out what people need to know and what they want to hear.
2. Write a Marketing Plan
This is obvious. If you’re serious about writing, you better understand it’s a business. The first rule of starting a business (after you’ve done your homework) is to figure out how to get people to know who you are and how to buy your product or services. In this post-modern Internet world, it all comes down to branding. Rachel Abbott and Joanna Penn have posted some essential stuff along these lines. Check out the following posts I read early on:
3. Don’t Get Caught Up in the Hype
Selling books is not easy, especially today (and tomorrow). Roughly 350,000 titles hit the stores every year up until 2009 when the ebook boom took off. New titles have more than doubled in the last few years. Some estimates are that we’re looking at as many as a million titles a year (although no one really knows anymore since there are so many Indie outlets and nook distributors popping up everywhere). To be quite honest, if you think you’re going to be the next Amanda Hocking and make millions off of your work, forget it. Is that really what this is about?
The new world of publishing simply makes it possible for you to get your stories out there for readers to buy. It’s no different than the new world of music or computer games. You need to take a long-term approach to your work (5-years minimum) and you need to keep producing. Every major “successful” Indie Author will tell you the best way to sell books is to get another one out there (and then another). It’s sadly very paradoxical. This industry is not for business people. It’s for writers — real writers who understand quality, craft, and storytelling (whether in fiction or non-fiction). You have to be a business person, too, but mostly you gotta be able to sustain that creative drive over and over again.
These are the three biggies to my mind. There are dozens more issues that every author needs to think about. I have a second collection of stories coming out next week (Implosions of America), and then my second novel next spring (Ex:Urbia). There’s a lot more coming after that. So, as I continue to write and work on my brand I will be addressing many of my on-going experiences in the “Talking Indies” column over the years to come. Stay tuned.
And check out all the other great articles, essays, and creative work at Talking Writing regularly. It’s an uncommonly insightful, eclectic, and informative magazine with some of the most committed and talented editors I’ve ever worked with. Sign up at their site for updates, and follow them on Twitter. They publish the main magazine every two months, but add lots of material weekly. It’s not enough to track Indie websites. If you’re a writer, you need to think like one. That’s what Talking Writing is all about.