Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Indie Author's Survival Guide

Hello Everyone,

First I want to say a big thanks to Emma Michaels for running such a cool blog. What you’re doing for authors is a great thing. We heart you forever. Big Smile.  

Today I want to talk about the journey of the indie author. Mine is kind of just beginning; but I’m still happy to share a few things I’ve learned along the way. Mind you the presentation of these tips is just the result of my experience. It’s not meant to be an actual recipe for success as an independent author. What is working for me, may not necessarily work for the next person.

“So how’s the book going?”

That’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked. It’s also one of the hardest things to summarize in a simple answer. For an indie author working with a small press, I'd say my sales have been respectable. No, I’m not at the Amanda Hocking or John Locke level, just yet. But I do have a group of fans & readers that are loyal and encouraging. After all, it’s our readers that make us who we are. Oh yeah! And the bloggers. Never forget to mention the bloggers and all of the hard work they do. I’m a part-time blogger so I know how it goes.

In the journey’s early stages, you can measure your road to success on several factors. Or at least, these are some of the indicators I’ve found that many of my indie author friends use to measure the effectiveness of their branding (aka getting your name out there).

1) Traffic increase to your author website:  In the beginning, when I first published (1/2009), I used to pray for one hit per week. Don’t be laughing at me, now. I’d check every day to see if anyone had visited. My twitter account was the same scenario. I think like four followers would trickle in one week at a time. Today, I get almost 5000 hits/month and counting. My twitter popularity rank is at #300,000 versus #30million like the way it was two years ago.

2) Number & quality of members joining your platform:  Platform differs according to your genre and classification. Non-fiction writers tend to be more inclined to measure that success on public image. But fiction writers are a totally different gang. The way you present yourself to your readers varies and there’s no set indicator for what makes up a good platform in fiction. So we’ll go with the basics. I consider my platform to consist of Twitter, facebook, goodreads, my book blog, and my writing groups. In those I actually meet with live bodies and do readings and critiques in person.

3) Number of people adding your book "to-read" on Goodreads: I have to mention how it was for me in the beginning of this journey again. I was practically begging for friends. But now, I get almost 20 requests per week on GR alone. These people are telling me they've heard good things about my works from their friends. It's a bit overwhelming but very flattering. Thanks everyone.

4) Sales:  Yes, I put this indicator at the bottom of the list for a reason. When you're an indie, it's all about marketing your debut novel during that first year. Find a way to keep your book in front of people during the period when you're working on your second and third books. Or even better, if you can start out with 2-3 books then your readers have instant options right away. Others have found success this way and I do believe it works.

I also notice that the more I promote, the more copies get gobbled up. Being that we indie authors/small presses are in a minority group (at the time this article is being written), we have to push harder to get our names out there. Some things that are working for me, might not necessarily work for others. But I'm willing to share tips and help my fellow indie friends out. Participating in blog tours, giveaways, and hops is also another good way to get your books out there before and during your book launch. If you have any more questions about how virtual tours work, I'll be happy to answer them.

5) Fan Clubs.  The last strategy but by no means the least important one. They work…big time. If you have any doubts, then know that a group of die-hard fans started the Twilight group on MySpace. Cassie Clare’s fan club known as Mundie Moms started on twitter before they branched out into their own review site. And the Hush Hush club known as Fallen Archangel friended me on facebook years ago. Now they have people overloading their facebook feed wanting to get in the club. I'm also in the process of putting together a street team. Wish me luck!

These are just a few tips. I didn’t go into reviews and speaking engagements. I’d like to save those for part two of this post since they could take up numerous pages alone. I hope that you find these suggestions helpful in some way. And I wish you much success in all of your literary journeys.

Yours in Prose,
KaSonndra Leigh

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