Indie publishing is a new frontier. Like all frontiers, it’s both exhilarating and scary. We can go it alone, feeling lonely, making avoidable mistakes. Or we can do it together – helping, promoting and supporting each other.
Publishing my novel has been a learning experience. Among the most important lessons is our need to build a community. A community of author friends brings an enhanced network of readers and writers that only a bestselling author can create on his or her own.
Cross-promotional support is also important. With teamwork, by joining forces, promoting events – and each other – everyone wins. A good example was the 2012 Indie Book Blowout, sponsored by the Indie Book Collective. On Labor Day weekend, over 100 authors lowered their eBook price to 99¢. Authors were featured on a special site created by the IBC and promoted in daily IBC newsletters, all for a ridiculously low fee of $15. Their only responsibility was to promote the event across their own network.
As anticipated, the event was a huge success. On September 2, the day In Leah’s Wake was featured, I sold 600 eBooks, tripling my all-time high. Organized cross-promotion also pushes the participating authors’ books into the “If you liked this, you’ll like this” chain on retailer sites. Exposure on the product page of a popular book can do wonders for sales. Different groups offer various cross-promotions throughout the year; research which might be right for you.
A supportive author community can also help us navigate the indie publishing world. In October 2010, I put In Leah’s Wake on Amazon, did nothing more for five months and sold a few hundred books. My laxity grew partly out of embarrassment – self-promotion felt slimy; mostly, it was because I had no idea what to do. At times, I had questions or needed help and I had nowhere to turn.
As a result, I made a lot of rookie mistakes. I published my paperback on Createspace, for instance, then republished with Lightning Source (the POD publisher/distributor for the big guys like Random House), because I felt they had better distribution. Now I have two paperback versions with different ISBN numbers, which lowers my rankings online as well as on Book Scan, the provider of point-of-sale data on book sales for the publishing industry.
in March 2011 I hired a publicist. If you can afford one, hiring a publicist is a step in the right direction. They will speak for you and can open doors you may not be able to open on your own. Mine was a godsend. She helped me build a solid social networking platform and created my media kit, video trailer, and book club discussion guide. She gave me an Internet presence and arranged two blog tours, which introduced me to lovely blogger friends. Today we have websites, blogs and other resources to help us.
But nothing carries the weight or provides the comfort of a friend who’s been there. Writing is a lonely profession, lonelier still for indie authors, who face a sometimes harsh or hostile environment without the traditional support team of agent, editor, and publicist. To my good fortune, my publicist also became a caring and supportive friend. A writer herself, she understood the emotional rollercoaster we ride. More than once, when I’ve been angry, frustrated or sad, she talked me down from the ledge. This is what supportive writer-friends do. It’s one of many reasons we need them.
Terri Giuliano Long grew up in the company of stories both of her own making and as written by others. Books offer her a zest for life’s highs and comfort in its lows better than anything else can. She’s all-too-happy to share this love with others as a novelist and as a writing instructor at Boston College.
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