How-to manual for new authors-Intro and Quick tips
This is the start of a PDF manual I'm publishing (with your input) to assist new authors and hopefully discourage such career-ending errors as over-promoting and engaging reviewers. It is long-winded (as I tend to be :)) and VERY rough. Let me know what you think. Should anything be added/deleted/changed?
have just published your first book as an independent author. Whether you have
chosen Amazon KDP, Smashwords, Nook, Barnes and Noble, or any of the many
platforms available for self-publishing, you have finally taken the important
step of putting the book you so much hard work into out for the whole world to
see. After so many hours of writing, rewriting, editing, formatting, choosing
an eye-catching cover, and tearing your hair out because the blurb doesn’t seem
to come out quite right, you get to enjoy your reward: your very own spot on a
publishing platform. And hopefully, lots of sales, readers, and positive
You are now officially
an indie author. Now what?
As an indie, it is
always our dream that our book will take off like a rocket and readers will
download it like crazy and leave lots of awesome reviews, which of course will
lead to a movie deal. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Very few books,
independently or traditionally published, become overnight bestsellers. Those
books that do earn a spot on the coveted bestsellers list generally have a lot
of marketing, good timing, and luck behind them. So, what as an indie can we do
to increase our chances of success?
These are some tips
brought to you by real indie authors who have “been there, done that, bought the
T-shirt.” We published our first books with high hopes, only to find out that the
publishing part was only the beginning. When we didn’t get instant sales, we
became discouraged and even wondered if here was something wrong with the book.
Then sales start to pick up, a few reviews come in, and things start to look
up. Then, BAM, you get slammed with your first one-star review. How do you deal
with a critical review?
This guide is to help
you navigate the fun and exciting but often frustrating world of indie
publishing. These are real tips brought to you by real authors who have taken
off, crashed back down to Earth, received good and bad reviews, made mistakes
along the way but learned from them, and are now willing to pass their wisdom onto
you. This guide is brought to by Author Promo Co-op and #indiebooksbeseen. If you
need us, we can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google Plus. We
also have blog pages if you wish to follow them. Once again congratulations and
Many of these will be
explained in more detail in the coming chapters, but here are some quick and
easy tips to remember.
1.Don’t over-promote on social media-This
is one of the two most common fatal mistakes that indie authors make. It will
get you attention, but not the kind that you want. In this guide, we will
explore various social media platforms, and the smartest ways to use each one.
It’s tempting at first to join every Facebook group we can find and plaster our
books, tweet our books every five minutes, talk ONLY about or books, and blog
about your books five times a day. I’m not saying don’t use social media at
all. If used the right way, it can work for you. What’s wrong with overposting?
First, it doesn’t work. Readers don’t
join authors’ groups, so you’re trying to sell your book to other authors who
are in turn trying to sell to you. In truth, it’s a lot of work for nothing.
Second, you’re annoying your friends/followers with constant updates. You’re flooding
their notifications feeds, interrupting the flow of conversation in authors’
groups, and making your regular friends wonder where the “old” you went. Third,
by focusing on yourself, you’re ignoring your reads, fans, and colleagues.
Finally, all that time you spend anxiously updating is time taken away from
networking, socializing with fans, and writing. There are alternatives to “book
pimping” that we’ll get to shortly.
2.Cross-promotion works better than
self-promotion-When groups of writers, together with
their readers, team up to support you, you’ll get more sales and more positive
attention than when you plaster the Internet until you turn blue. See, when someone
else promotes you with a blog post, a retweet, a Facebook mention, or a
recommendation on Goodreads, that establishes credibility in readers’ eyes. But
in order to make cross-promotion work, you have to give at least as much as you
take. People aren’t going to be so willing to promote you if they don’t even
get a thank-you. Promote other authors you like. Even if they don’t do the same
for you, it’s good karma and it does get noticed. The best technique is when groups
of authors and/or readers agree to promote each other. This is what’s called a “street
team.” Cross-promotion means that you have to establish good relationships with
others and you have to do your part.
3.Common courtesy takes you a long
wants to work with someone when their efforts get ignored or they feel unappreciated?
If someone does you the kindness of a retweet, a post share, a blog mention, etc.
don’t forget to thank him/her. Even better, return the favor. When
participating in group discussions, be on your best behavior. Sarcasm,
demeaning comments, and passive-aggressive behavior will get on everyone’s
nerves. The same goes for ignoring people who are trying to talk to you. You don’t
have to get into an at-length discussion with everyone, but at least
acknowledge their presence. Be respectful of others, even when you don’t agree
with them. As they say, “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” Rudeness
disguised as ‘honesty’ is still rudeness. When in group situations, follow the rules
of the group. Nothing irritates other members more than someone who ignores the
posted rules, especially when they do it repeatedly. And don’t overuse
4.Other indies are your colleagues,
not your competitors-Refusing to work with them because they
aren’t ‘readers’ will cause you to miss out. Other authors are often very happy
to promote you. They may also have helpful tips and if nothing else, a
sympathetic ear. Besides, authors are readers, too, and just as likely to be looking
for a cool new read as a regular reader. The indie world is not a contest to
see who can make the most sales or get the highest ranking. Sales and rankings
vary, so the person who is #1 today may hold an “average” spot tomorrow. Think
of the other authors you know as members of your team, not a competitor that
you have to squash on your way to the top.
is the second “ultimate sin” that can give you a bad reputation. NEVER publicly
engage with a reviewer. When you publish your work, a bad review is almost
inevitable. Face it: not everyone is going to like your work. The worst thing
you can do is to argue with the reviewer via public comment. Don’t respond
publicly to any review in any way. Even thanking every reviewer, as harmless as
it might seem, can come across the wrong way. The best comment is no comment.
Instead, pay attention to the review. If it’s nonsense, ignore it. If there’s
anything you can learn from it, take it If it’s a positive review, celebrate
it. But leave the reviewer alone.
6.Choose groups on Facebook,
Goodreads, and other social media that welcome you.
Leave the ones that don’t.- You do
want to establish an online presence, but be selective. There are some groups that
you’ll look forward to going into because the atmosphere is so positive and
inviting, you know that your input will always be welcome, and you can say what’s
on your mind without fear of being put down. There are also some groups that
are so toxic that no productive conversation ever takes place. Most are a happy
medium where you’re just “there.” Choose 2-3 groups on your preferred social
media platforms where you feel like an active member, and leave the rest
behind. You can always change groups if your situation changes or if the group
no longer works for you. There’s no reason to join every single group. You’ll
never be able to keep up with that many discussions, and you’ll just receive
constant updates. If you haven’t been an active member in more than six months,
leave the group. If you are constantly being put down by other members or a
group is not helpful to you, it’s not worth your time. You don’t have to pick a
group right away, but start exploring your options. There is no “best” group,
so I’m not going to recommend any here. The “best” groups are the ones where
YOU feel the most welcome and are most active. On this same note, while you do
need some web presence, you don’t have to follow every blog or sign up for every social media platform. Once
again, tailor your membership and participation to your personal preferences,
your comfort level, and your time commitment.
7.Take your time to build a true fan
Fads in reading come and go, but some things never go out of style: giving
readers something worth reading and something to look forward to, proper
editing and formatting, relevant content, an engaging plotline, and overall
professionalism. The reason Stephen King’s books become automatic bestsellers
is because he has fan base in the millions established over more than forty
years. Each reader gained is a victory. Take baby steps. And give your readers
promise for the future; let them know what you’re working on (with a tentative
release date). Treat them with respect. Don’t snub them. You’re establishing a professional
relationship so you want to take the time to keep your customer satisfied so
they’ll come back for more.
authors are often your biggest allies. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise- While it’s true that you don’t want to market
to others authors, you do want to make the most of your professional
connections. Don’t think of interacting with other readers as a waste of time
(as I’ve heard many a writer say) because it’s not “marketing to readers.”
Which brings me to the next point:
we do want to “market to readers” do keep in mind that readers don’t come in
neat little groups to market to. Consider everyone, including fellow authors, a
potential fan, and act accordingly. This means a professional, courteous online presence at all
times. This means don’t overpost, don’t treat others rudely, and don’t involve
yourself in Internet fights. Things like that make people not want to buy your
book. Little things like a “thank you” or a shared post go a long way.
10.Appreciate each review-Celebrate
the positive ones. See if there is anything you can learn from the negative
ones. Ignore the nonsensical ones. Remember, NEVER ENGAGE. Take all reviews in
stride; don’t let the positive reviews go to your head or the negative ones get
you down. Never pressure any reader for a review (even an “honest” review,
which reviewers will interpret as code for a positive review). If you are
getting a lot of negative reviews, consider that your work may have not been
ready for publication. Fix it and republish. Yes, troll reviews happen. They
suck, and as hard as they are to swallow, pretend you don’t see them. Never
email Amazon (or other platforms) to request that any review be removed (yours
or another writer’s), even if it is unjustified or even if you “know” the review
is fake. This is part of what’s causing our current problems with
Amazon-authors who go crying to Mama Amazon every time their feelings get hurt
or every time they want to tattle on someone who’s not obeying. This is a good
situation where the ‘stop snitching’ rule would apply perfectly. The review
system IS flawed and unfair, but guess what? It’s always going to be. Dishonest
reviewers will always find a way to get around any system, and the honest
reviewers are the ones that suffer.
11.Don’t spend so much time on
promotion and in writer’s events and discussions that you have no time left for
writing.-While networking and creating an online presence is
essential, remember that your most important job is to work on your next book. The
most successful authors are the ones who regularly publish quality material. Don’t
get stuck in the mode of having just one book that you continuously try to
pitch. Your readers want something fresh. And publishing a new book may help renew interest in the old
12.Have fun.If you’re not enjoying yourself, there’s
no point-That downer review you got today? You’ll laugh about it later.
Have sense of humor about things and enjoy the company of your fans and
colleagues. If the process is not fun for you, do something else.