My inbox has been filling up lately with private messages from other authors seeking advice, knowledge, etc.
First thing you should know, is that I’m not an expert. The second thing you should know is that anyone selling you the secret to publishing success is a snake oil salesman. So stop spending your money on this shit.
The only thing I have that you (those seeking advice from the likes of me) don’t is time and education. I have books published traditionally and all on my own, because I diversified. I chose to. Whether that’s right or wrong, I don’t know, but it’s what I’ve done. I research this industry every single week. I’m always trying to educate myself, so that I’m smarter…but mostly, so it’s not so scary.
Let me tell you, it’s been a bumpy road. I’ve learned a lot. I’ll share everything I know with you. But I can’t say it enough…there’s no secret recipe for success. Some if it is luck, but most of it is making smart decisions and working your ass off.
Covers are so important. Just because you love a cover, it doesn’t mean it’ll sell the book. Case in point, I HATE the covers for my Dirty White Candy series. I mean…I HATE them. I hate posting the books because I have to look at covers that make me want to cry. But it’s done and there’s nothing I can do about it. The publisher has control and I do not.
Sometimes, you just have to deal with things you don’t like. Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you like it…as long as the buyers buy. There are a lot of sites selling pre-made covers. If you self-publish but are not proficient in Photoshop, you can still get a decent cover…or at least one you like.
Keywords are very important. I purchased Kindle Spy to see what keywords work best in my genre. Do you have to purchase Kindle Spy? Not at all. Case in point, I was researching for my erotic paranormal romance and guess what keywords are best sellers? Shifter, Series, Werewolf, and Bear. A little common sense is really all it takes.
How would YOU search for a book in that genre? There you go. Be sure you’re not wasting valuable keyword spaces putting in your book title, your author name, or subtitle. Those will default in the search anyway.
Oh this is where most authors (myself included) are seeking the golden nugget. How do we get ourselves out there so our sales increase and we show up in the top 10/50/100???
After a decade in this business, my opinion is that using your social media platforms to advertise is a bad business decision. That doesn’t mean you can’t post your books, you certainly can (and probably should mention them occasionally.) But FB posts and tweets about books are becoming white noise.
Paid advertising is always a good idea. If you’re budget is super tight, then buy small ads on small sites and grow from there. Take authors up on blog swaps, etc. As sales increase, increase your exposure by purchasing larger ads on larger sites. It will make a difference. At least it has for me.
That’s really it – there’s no secret. Max exposure and a great cover will cause buyers to click. But you need to buy ads where READERS go…not other authors. Keep that in mind. Authors read books but you’re looking for the mass audience…not a subsection.
I know, I know… but WHERE ARE THE READERS? Keep looking. Stay diverse. You’ll find them.
Once you get a fan, keep them. Mention in your books, on your blog…everywhere to get your fans to sign up for your newsletter. Then give them something to stay…deleted scenes, free reads…something. Remember the phrase Value Added Service. They should get something for following your newsletter that the general population does not get.
Finding fans is the hard part. Keeping them is easy if you just tend your flock.
This advice is given over and over again and it’s true. The only way to make real money in this business is to have a bunch of books for people to buy. One book won’t make you rich, not unless you go viral and please don’t hold out for that. There are so many books out there and going viral is like winning the lottery. The odds are against you.
Don’t be a dick
Yes, it’s really that simple. I’ve been a dick. I’ve made mistakes. But I’m not a dick all of the time. And I’m certainly not a dick to my colleagues.
We have a wonderful community. Most authors will support one another. We share your work, give you blog space, beta read, etc. Don’t shit where you eat. It sounds crass but it’s true. Recently an author went on a rampage and drew the wrath of the community. It was ugly. I begged her to take down her post and pray for it all to blow over.
But she didn’t know me…nor did she care. She continued her douchebaggery and now she’s out there…like a raft in the middle of the ocean and without the support of her community.
I get it. We all have bad days. I get PMs from baby authors asking questions all of the time. Sometimes, I ignore them. Sometimes I help. Sometimes, I act like an ass and ask if their google is broken. I’m human. I’ll keep saying it… I make mistakes.
Most importantly, if you act like a dick in public, you’ll turn off your fans. They won’t buy from you ever again and that’ll kill your career.
If you get a bunch of seasoned indies in a room and ask what software they use, the answers will be as diverse as a bag of skittles. So, I’ll tell you what I use.
MS Word for writing.
Photoshop for teasers, covers, and other media.
Calibre to convert Word docs into ePub docs.
Corel VideoStudio for mp4s (video.)
(Not software entirely) An external hard drive for backup and Dropbox for redundancy.
Google Chrome as a web browser…because I like the features.
There are a lot of different software providers out there. I know a lot of authors use Scrivener to write, and they love it. But I’ve used Word for years in both my professional and personal life, so…it’s cozy and familiar.
Really, stay up to date. When Amazon acts like a dick and throws out another platform…at least learn about it. Sometimes, getting in on the ground floor of a new platform can be beneficial. Sometimes, it can GUT YOUR FUCKING INCOME like KU did to me.
But know your stuff. Follow industry professionals/blogs/newsletters, etc. The more you know, the less frightening or stressful this will all be.
Don’t be a dick…no seriously
Touching on this subject once more… I’ve had it happen to me, more than once. Don’t ask for help and not return it. If someone spends hours making you a book cover, don’t take it and run. Do SOMETHING for them. Anything.
Your community is not a rug, so don’t treat it like one.
It’s hard work
I can’t stress this enough. This business is not for the faint of heart. There ARE bullies out there. There are people who will give you a big fat ONE STAR review just to be an ass. People can be rude. Sales will go up and down.
You have to stick with it. You have to keep working, whenever, wherever you can.
Or you don’t. In that case, don’t publish that book. Life will be a lot less complicated if you don’t.