People want to know what it’s like to be an author. What it takes. How do I stay on track. It’s neither science nor magic, but it does take work.
On Monday, I listed five things to know about being an author. In case you missed that post (or you don’t remember), I’ll recap them.
- Traditional publishing is the slow track to being published
- Publishing with a small press is the fast track to getting work in front of readers
- Traditional publishing success is ninety percent about who you know
- Small press publishing is fifty percent finding the right publisher and fifty percent telling a good story
- Indie publishing requires both entrepreneurial finesse and cash reserves
To discover the ins-and-outs on each of those, read the full post here. Then come back to find out the next five things to know about this author gig.
Success as an indie author is ninety-nine percent connecting with the right audience.
I still haven’t found my tribe. But success can be measured by markers other than copies sold, numbers of social media followers and earnings.
Define success. Make this part of the business plan mentioned above.
Find promotions you can join that help you build your email list. Yes, you need one. Even if you don’t want to mail a regular newsletter, you need a way to let your readers know that a new book is coming, to ask for reviews and to sell copies. (This goes for traditional or indie published authors.)
The project that had me pulling my hair out was one I tackled for the sole reason of having a stand alone romance novel in print. This is the “entrance fee” for dozens of promotions I’ve seen. I couldn’t join them because I didn’t have a print book.
Building my tribe is also why I decided to write in the First Street Church Kindle World. The owner of that world is a marketing powerhouse. She leveraged her thousands of followers for us, and that’s worth signing over full rights to KDP for a few stories.
Some markets take longer to break into.
Young adult fantasy and any form of young adult literature is one such “competitive”market.
This is why I haven’t written any young adult fantasy in two years. I want to. I’m considering polishing up one of my manuscripts and submitting it to a small publisher I’ve been following for several months.
But I have to decide if that’s in the best interest of my business. If I love telling the stories I’m writing and they are connecting with readers, why shouldn’t I keep writing them?
This is where I will praise Melissa Storm. She has a huge reader group that she mails to on a weekly basis. Other authors pay her to be promoted to her group.
I’m getting access to these groups just because I’m writing in her Kindle World. Since my first novella was published there in November 2017, my email list has grown from 39 to 185. Every subsequent title I publish in that world nets me more followers.
And many of these readers are connecting with me so they can review the books. Book reviews are the foundation for online sales.
The author gig requires business and marketing (sense)abilities.
Marketing. The thought makes my skin crawl. My introverted self retreats like a turtle in its shell.
Traditional publishers expect you to market your book by posting on social media, making appearances and having an email list.
You’re nothing but an amoeba in the sea as an indie author. There are plenty of readers. You don’t have to compete for them, but you do need to connect with them.
Ads on Amazon, Goodreads and in reader newsletters give you exposure to readers. Some of them want to chat with you online, and that’s what Facebook is for (as advertising here nets sketchy results compared to ads on sites where readers already visit and are looking for book recommendations).
Hire a marketing firm if you have the budget. I’ve bought several nonfiction books that outline the best practices and with each new book, I try to add another level of marketing.
It’s not my strength. I don’t even like it. But I can do a little and if I invest in the right areas, I’ll get a decent return on my investment,
It will take more than four years to “succeed” in either traditional, indie or hybrid publishing.
I haven’t arrived. I’m not a success, not even by my own flimsy definition.
July is the four-year mark of my author career. I still don’t have my first 1000 followers (what pros say you need to have a successful book launch).
I do have an impressive list of published titles. Check out my Amazon page to see them all.
Most of them don’t have enough reviews so I can join advertisers with huge lists, where indie authors find big sales and garner new followers.
I’m not giving up the dream. I have a plan and I’m working it. I’m learning to network more and refine my brand so it’s identifiable to the readers who are looking for me.
This list could continue. Each of these “lessons”could turn into a blog post. And there are dozens more things to know if you intend to be an author.
Four years ago, I claimed the title of professional writer, but didn’t see myself as an author. After all, an author needs to have a published book. An indie title that sold fewer than 200 copies didn’t count.
But it did count. All it takes to be an author is published work and the guts to own the title.
Author friends, what would you add to this base of knowledge? Reader friends, how do you prefer to connect with the work of an author whose stories you enjoy?