I recently attended the NC Writer’s Conference in Greensboro and found myself in a lot of like company for a change — a classroom full of indie writers. What a great relief since just two years ago a writer/lecturer at the same conference informed a class of dotting listeners that “anyone who self-published wasn’t really published.” In her opinion, being a published author meant your book found it’s way to print via an agent and reputable publisher. You know… the old fashioned way.
What planet is she from?
While I found her comment inappropriate and spent precious time and energy afterwards ranting and raving to anyone that would listen, I finally considered her perspective. She was in a traditional publishing contract and had written seven books in seven years. I decided that her head was so deeply buried in the sand that she hadn’t noticed the publishing world changing around her.
This year the conference felt different: it was publisher neutral. Traditional? Awesome! Indie? Cool! As for me, instead of sitting amongst writers who felt themselves at the mercy of select agents and publishers, the writers in this room displayed a sense of ownership, empowerment and were clearly ready to take on the world. The atmosphere alone was intoxicating.
We were all there to hear Scott Nicholson share his experience as both a traditionally published and self-published author. Nicholson would know; he released six mass-market paperbacks via the traditional route before becoming a self-publisher. He has since hit the Amazon Kindle Top 100 list multiple times on global platforms. That’s what indie authors want to hear.
Nicholson’s advice was confirming (print is on the way out) and surprising (I never bother with social media). One aspect of the class that most surprised me: it was essentially ninety minutes of Q&A. When he announced the format to the class, I was doubtful. How could we possible ask questions for an hour and a half? As it turned out, there were varying levels of self-publishing experience in the room and we all had the chance to ask questions and contribute to answers based on our experience.
What’s the key to successful indie publishing? While there is no “one way” to successful self-publishing, there are lots of different ways. What works for one author may not work for another given all the variables. That said, there are lots of considerations for authors wanting to increase visibility and sales. Here are a few:
- Content is king. If you write crap or refuse to invest in an editor, you’re probably not going very far.
- Build a core audience and rely on them for every launch.
- Setting the right price is vital. Most ebooks are between $2.99 – $5.99. Anything higher and you won’t make many trips to the bank to deposit your earnings.
- Spending money to buy ads in a social media service that promotes free books is not a good economic model to follow.
- Unless all of your reviews fall into this category, don’t worry about the negative ones. They often sell more books than the good ones.
- Follow successful indie writers and learn from them. Grab the ideas you like or haven’t yet tried.
For most authors, the word is out: the publishing model has changed. Surprise! Indie authors are published authors too. And, like traditionally published books, there are good indie reads and bad indie reads — we just have to find what strikes our fancy. Besides, who can beat the price of an ebook? Not to mention, ebook = environmentally friendly. Go ahead, hug a tree!
Image found here.