Hello there my lovelies! It’s Sunday, and despite an extraordinary week, I’m going to attempt to drop some book knowledge on you! So, today, I’m giving you My Two Cents on Becoming A Successful Indie Author.
First and foremost, I just want to acknowledge that I have yet to publish my debut novel, so I will be the first to admit I am nowhere near an expert on the topic of becoming a “successful” indie author. But it really does depend on what your definition of “success” is. I think most people measure success by how much money someone makes, and depending on how you view it, I haven’t made much money off of my writing yet. (Not nothing, because I haven’t done an update about my “success” on Kindle Vella, but let me just say, I’m making more off of that platform than I ever expected/hoped I would).
But I digress…
What I mean is, in my estimation, “success” isn’t only about how many books you’ve sold. Success can be measured in a myriad of ways, but the biggest measure to me is how close I come to meeting my goals. And since I’ve already done a post about setting attainable goals, you know my opinion about how to become successful in that area. I’m not sure I explicitly said this in that post, but even though I know I’m not an expert on being a “successful indie author,” I do feel really successful for having hit a lot of my writing goals.
But aside from reaching your goals, I’d also say that being prepared, being informed, and being willing to take advice from people who have been/or are currently doing what you want to do, are also great ways to set yourself up for success as an indie author.
Now before you get started, let me warn you, this post is mostly going to be a list of things to do to set yourself up for “success,” without all the answers. But, never fear, I plan to make this post into a series, so if you don’t get everything you need from this one, hang onto your butts, because I hope to create a separate post for each of the steps I list below!
1. Research, Research, Research
The first and probably most important step to becoming a successful indie author is learning how to research and who to listen to. Not only research for your book (though that’s really important) but also research topics related to publishing. Finding reputable sources of people who’ve done what you want to do is a difficult task to achieve because while there is a lot of help available, there is also A LOT of bad information out there. So learning where to find advice and whose advice to listen to is something that can be difficult to work out. BUT Never fear! While I did a blog post on finding resources a while back, it covered a lot about resources for getting published traditionally. So, I’m going to do an updated one in the coming weeks and visit other sources that I didn’t back then!
2. Find your community
I’ve done a few posts surrounding this idea, but one of the most important parts of becoming a successful author is accepting that it is far easier not to try to do it alone. I’m sure you probably could do it alone, but it will be far easier to become successful at it if you don’t. There are thousands of other authors out there that are doing exactly what you are, so it’s important to accept that they aren’t your competition but are actually your community. Accepting help before, during, and after the publishing process will make your life less stressful and will likely make your finished product much better. More to come on that in the post about the writing community, but you get the point. Find your people, and learn to lean on them.
3. Find your audience
This one seems self-explanatory because no matter how you measure success, I think we can all agree that having people read your book is likely high on the list of what makes you a successful indie author. However, what a lot of people get wrong, is waiting until they’ve already released their book to try to find and reach their audience. If you wait until you’ve already published to start trying to market your book, it’s probably not going to go as well as you hope. In my post about building your audience, I’ll discuss proven methods I’ve learned (and am in the process of implementing) for how to build your book audience BEFORE you ever publish. And don’t get it wrong, social media isn’t the only way to build an audience!
4. Build your brand/Market yourself
This step is slightly redundant to the previous, so if you’re thinking that building your brand/marketing yourself will also help you find your audience, you’re one hundred percent correct. But, building your brand isn’t only about making a website, creating a social media presence, and streamlining your logo (though that’s all very important and will be discussed in this post). It also means setting yourself apart from the likely hundreds of other authors who are just like you. Creating a niche and/or finding the group within the book community that you fit into is a HUGE part of both building your brand and finding your audience. Because likely your audience is already out there liking/interacting with other authors. So, finding the right way to make yourself appealing to those existing readers (and not trying to re-invent something that already works) is key.
5. Have a catalog of content
In today’s society, when we think of “content,” most of us probably all think of social media. And while social media is a huge factor in becoming successful, it isn’t the ONLY avenue you should be pursuing. We’ve all seen in recent days how the tide has shifted and one social media platform that is used by billions is quickly becoming obsolete and being replaced by another. So you can’t rely solely on social media content. I got off on a tangent, but you get what I mean. I’m not specifically talking about social media content. Actually, what I’m mostly talking about is a catalog of books, newsletters, blog posts, novellas, and anything else you can think of that readers will want to consume. If my readers are anything like me (which hopefully they are if they like my work), once they find an author they love, they will immediately consume everything that the author has to offer. So if the only thing I have to offer is one book and nothing else on the horizon, I’m likely to lose those readers I worked so hard to get. Making sure you have a plethora of material they can consume, will not only make it easier to find readers but also give them a reason to come back when you release new material. I’ll talk more in-depth about this in my blog post about content, but you get the picture. Write. And when you’re done, write some more. And after that keep on writing. Just keep creating content so that when you’re ready to publish your debut novel, you have more than just that one book on the horizon.
6. Find experts to help you
This is likely to hurt some feelings, and maybe be an unpopular opinion, but this step is where I think a lot of indie authors go wrong. How many of us have heard the old adage, “if you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything?” This is so true when it comes to self-publishing. I think I’m good at a lot of things, but I know my limitations. I’m not an editor, I’m not a cover designer, I’m not an expert at marketing. I’m a writer. And I could probably research and do some (or maybe even all) these things good. But why would I want to subject my book to the misfortune of just being good, when it could potentially be great if I’d accepted some help? I am not an expert in every step of the publishing process. And would I be helping myself become successful by pretending to be, (and likely doing it half-a$$ed)? Now, I know everyone cannot afford to pay someone to do every step, aside from writing. And I’m not suggesting you have to pay someone to do them all. But in my post about experts, I’ll discuss the really important ones to trust the experts with, and the musts that I think you could probably get good enough at yourself.
That’s basically it! Because I know myself, I’m sure I’ll come up with more steps, but I think this is a good start. As I said before, you can look forward to each of these steps becoming its own post (but don’t expect that they’ll necessarily be in order, because, I am me after all). So don’t fret if you didn’t get all the answers today. They’re coming.
Also, if you're a subscriber, look for the July recap newsletter in your inbox next week, and if you're not, you still have time to get into the drawing for the July prize winner (they will also be announced soon)!
In two Sundays we’ll have our next guest blogger series and in August we’re hosting Heather Hudec again (Editor and owner of Simply Spellbound Edits). She’ll give us an informative look at what to expect from your editing services and when you should get them.
That’s it for this week folks! Hope you have a good week!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
Do you have a step you think I should add to the list?
Also, let me know if you have any topics you want me to cover in the upcoming weeks!
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