Welcome back ladies and gents,
children of all ages!
Today’s Main Attraction:
Three Tips For Indie Authors
I’ve never queried agents, never formatted an ebook for Kindle, never outlined a story so I’m approaching this topic from a book blogger’s perspective — from a reader’s perspective. As I was thinking about what tips I could give, a few thoughts came to mind, mostly springing from my background as a photographer and from having to promote my own business. I am by no means an expert, it’s just stuff I’ve picked up along the way and my own personal preferences. So hang on tight kids, ’cause here we go…
1. Image is EVERYTHING.
You may have the best story in the world. You may have just written the next great American novel. You may have have written the most amazing plot line since sliced bread, but if you do not package your literary baby like it’s the next best thing, no one may ever know. I hate to say it, because I’m sure that authors hope that their book will stand out on the pure strength of their writing, but sadly that’s not the case. Readers DO judge books by their covers and today’s traditionally published YA market is setting the bar for readers’ expectations pretty high.
With covers featuring models that look like they should be centerfolds for fashion magazines, Indie authors have a lot to compete against and typically a lot less resources to work with. I understand having to work within a tight budget, but if there’s one thing that’s worth saving your pennies for, it’s a fantastic cover that reflects the sheer awesomeness of your story within. You’ve poured yourself into your story — time, emotions, blood, sweat and probably a few tears — why not give your book the billboard, the amazing first impression, the leg-up it deserves?
A lot of people seem to advocate the DIY route, which can turn out fine, but if you don’t have a lot of design experience, please consider hiring or trading services with a professional designer/photographer. Make sure you check out their portfolio and references before hiring. I know it’ll be somewhat of a hit to your wallet. But trust me, in the long run, hiring someone with an eye for design, style and proficiency who will create a beautiful cover will be money well spent when your book is pitted against all the other Indies in the Kindle store.
2. Develop a strong web presence
This second tip goes somewhat hand in hand with the first. Again, image is everything. Having a strong web presence doesn’t just mean answering emails, updating your blog and camping out on your twitter feed 24/7 (looks around guiltily). I’m also referring to your actual website/blog — the design, the layout and the branding. Some things to consider…
Do you have a dedicated author site with a distinctive URL?
Is your site straightforward, uncluttered and easy to navigate?
Do you regularly update it with new content?
Is it easy on the eyes or an eyesore?
Is there consistency between the tone/cover of your books and your web design?
Consider your own experiences tooling around on the world wide web. Say you’re searching for a doggie groomer, a bed & breakfast or a hair salon. What is your response when you come across a website with tacky fonts and backgrounds that’s confusing to navigate and looks like it possibly may have been created in 1993? I don’t know about you, but typically I’m clicking “X” and moving on to the next link on the list. Again, image is everything. Your website design reflects YOU and your books, and whether it’s subconscious or conscious, it’s making a statement to your reader about your standards of quality. What is your current site saying?
Most Indie authors opt for the blog route, which is fine, there are some great looking blogs out there that do the trick — they are well-styled, user-friendly, gorgeous….and usually, free. Free is key to a lot of Indie authors since they are typically backing their writing ventures with their own personal finances and the words “web designer” conjure up a lot of dollar signs that just aren’t there. However, with the myriad of website templates and paid, premium blog themes, there are many cost-effective options for the frugal author to consider. For under a hundred bucks, in fact, an author can create a sophisticated, eye-catching site that requires little to no knowledge of web design. There are options, you just have to know where to look.
You might be wondering why it’s even important to have an author site. Creating your website may have been more of an afterthought when you released your book. But consider this, you are responsible for ALL of your own promotion, in lieu of a marketing department, you have a website. Your website, in addition to a presence on social media sites, is your promotional center and your publicist. It’s your place to post updates, teasers, giveaways, news, and that exciting new WIP you’ve got rolling around in your head. It’s the place where readers can come to learn more about you and connect with you about your stories — the world’s easy-access window into your imagination.
So websites. If you don’t have one, consider getting one. If you have one, perhaps reevaluate its design and effectiveness.
3. Network, network, network
Networking is essential for success as an Indie author. Most do it through Twitter, writing forums and communities, Goodreads, etc. BUT how do you connect with book bloggers? Book bloggers serve as reviewers and are the biggest source of word of mouth for Indie books. We talk about your books, try to generate interest in our favorite Indies, inform our followers of upcoming Indie releases, participate in blog tours, etc. Book bloggers are another extremely important tool in your marketing arsenal, and if you aren’t effectively networking with bloggers who read Indie, then this should become a priority.
One way to do this is to participate in some of the book blogger memes. I participate in Teaser Tuesdays and “Waiting on” Wednesdays, and I’ve found that it’s a great way for me as a blogger to connect weekly with other book lovers, to see what others are reading and discover a few cool new reads to add to my TBR pile. In the last couple weeks I’ve noticed a few authors taking part in the memes….and that’s genius — bringing book bloggers to your blog and exposing them to your book. So consider joining in some memes. They do take a lot of effort sometimes, and I know many of you would rather spend your time writing, but picking one meme a week and commenting on 10 new-to-you blogs may go a long way in spreading the word about your book. Just a thought!
So that’s all I have for you today. Visit my fellow blog carnies for their awesome tips and tricks of the trade!
- Fisher Amelie (Author of The Understorey)
- Allie Burke (Author of The Enchanters series)
- Heather Cashman (Author of Perception)
- Courtney Cole (Author of The Bloodstone Saga, Princess & Guardian)
- Rachel Coles (Author of Diary of a Duct Tape Zombie and other stories)
- Laura Elliott (Author of Winnemucca)
- Wren Emerson (Author of I Wish…)
- T. R. Graves (Author of The Warrior series)
- P.J. Hoover (Author of Solstice)
- Amy Maurer Jones (Author of The Soul Quest Trilogy)
- Alicia McCalla (Author of the upcoming debut novel Breaking Free)
- Tiffany King (Author of Meant To Be and its soon-to-be-released sequel Forgotten Souls)
- Patti Larsen (Author of the short story, Henry and the newly released Run)
- Michelle Leighton (Author of the Blood Like Poison series, The Reaping, Wiccan, Caterpillar, and the upcoming Madly series)
- Cheri Schmidt (Author of the Fateful series and Fair Maiden)
- Dani Snell (You are here. Book Blogger)
- Cidney Swanson (Author of Rippler)
- Cyndi Tefft (Author of Between)
- Nicole Williams (Author of Eternal Eden and the much anticipated sequel, Fallen Eden)