Sunday, January 10, 2016

My Two Cents for Indie Authors

As someone who self-published her first book twenty years ago, I’ve seen a lot of changes in indie publishing. Last year, I conducted several presentations and workshops, where the same types of questions cropped up from writers interested in self-publishing. “How much does it cost? Will I make any money?” and so on. Needless to say, there’s plenty of advice everywhere, and I’ve given my share in the past. But I still see big mistakes being made.

First, let me refer to some terrific tips for indie authors by KristenPainter, who discusses the importance of staying focused, being willing to accept advice, and remaining patient, among other things. These are difficult, but necessary goals for any writer.

One of the questions I’ve also been asked is “Do I really need to promote?”. The answer is yes, but not as much as one would think, especially if you’ve only released one title. I recently read some great advice from well-known New York literary agent Donald Maass. Although his book, The Breakout Novelist, addresses writers who intend to be traditionally published, the advice applies to indie writers. He says to spend less time promoting one’s first book and more time writing the second and third. Writing an original, action-packed story that you’re passionate about is the best promotion you can do in the long run.

I want to share a couple of things that I’ve noticed while reviewing books. Please spend the money to hire a decent editor and cover designer. I’m still reading too many great premises that are ruined because of poor editing. None of us can spot every single error in our work, and I’m not just talking about typos, but inconsistencies, lack of logic and subplots that simply don’t work. We all need help with this stuff.

Here’s another tip. Too many indie author are brooding about Amazon rankings or why Kindle Unlimited readers aren’t reading past the first page of an author’s book. Is this the best way to spend your time? Are the numbers even accurate? A recent article in WritersWeekly presents a strong argument that Amazon’s sales numbers aren’t reliable. There are so many forums and groups on social networking sites with mixed messages and information that it’s so easy to become distracted, confused, and even depressed. The best fix is to keep writing, find a great critique group (or start your own), then polish that manuscript to the best of your ability. It’s exciting to read an author whose work improves with every novel. Why shouldn’t it be yours?


Kristina Stanley said...

Excellent advice. Especially about writing your second and third book. That's where the fun is anyway.

Debra Purdy Kong said...

Thanks for your comment, Kristina. There's so much more advice I could say, but that would make for a very long post :)