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Sunday, 6 March 2016
Advice for Indie Authors: How do I get those darn readers?!
First off, let me start by saying I don't know the answer to this question. Hold on, wait a minute! Don't just leave - let me finish first!
I'm like most, if not all, indie authors: we're all in the same boat; stuck in the middle of a bloody big ocean caught in a bit of a storm. We think we know which way to navigate, but in truth whatever way we go it will be an adventure into the unknown.
The first thing we need on this adventure is a good boat, and I think I've got one. The Drought was my first novel published back in September 2011. That was nearly five years ago and since that time it has had more positive reaction than negative. Across the internet on Amazon, Goodreads and book review blogs, it's amassed in excess of 100 reviews and ratings, averaging 4 out of 5 stars.
But despite this relatively modest success, I still find myself lost at sea in choppy waters. A couple of times I've found myself the odd bit of dry land, but more often than not those islands tend to be inhabited by only a few readers at a time. They've been most welcoming and very nice, but they've been far and few between. I'm still looking for my China.
It's the 64 million dollar question for most indie authors. How can I get more people to read my book? We've seen other self-published authors get it right, so why can't we? What is their secret? What are the tricks of the trade they were able to use so effectively to make that jump?
As I am about to embark on the journey of publishing my second novel (The Flood - due for publication end of March 2016), I have frantically been trying to do my homework, and just as I found out five years ago, it's hard bloody work!
This time round I wanted to create some sort of structure; a guideline if you will, that I could follow and measure. So my first port of call was to turn to the internet, that good old faithful friend that's always there when us indie authors get a little bit lonely (not like that, you filthy git!).
I started out by typing advice for indie authors into Google. There were a lot of results (it is Google after all, what was I thinking?) ranging from an article in Publishing Weekly titled Advice for New Indie Authors from Self-Publishing Veterans to a nice piece on The Huffington Post from author and blogger AK Turner offering her Top 5 Marketing Tips for Indie Authors, and lots and lots of other sites who tell you how to market your book and how to get the best use out of social media.
All very good advice, and certainly all worth a good read. But if you are like me (day job, wife, baby, a terrible football team that ruins your weekend every week) it is sometimes incredibly difficult to work out where to start. Plus I am already five years down the line. I have done a lot of this already, including making sure you have a great book cover and spending time on the design process, to creating a social media profile and the pitfalls of getting readers to review your book.
So I tried a different tact - I typed in indie author tools and at top of the search results was a cracking article on Digital Pubbing called 7 Strategies and 110 Tools to Help Indie Authors Find Readers and Reviewers.
Bingo! This was just what I was looking for - a comprehensive guide all in one place for the lazy indie author like myself. It lists advice on promotions and giveaways to crowdsourcing and advertising to interviews and reviews, and so much more! From the outset it looks and feels like an awesome place to start for any indie author.
So I have set myself a challenge. Over the next three months I am going to blog about my experience of using the advice set out in this article. I might not necessarily get around to using every single tool listed as it's a pretty long list, but I will do my utmost to follow Digital Pubbing's words right down to the wire.
Along the way I will also be using this brilliant list Ultimate List of Author-Specific Hashtags as published by Book Marketing Services, and sharing any little tips I might have picked up myself.
I'd love to hear from any/all indie authors and fans of indie publisher along the way. You can keep up to date with how I am getting on by clicking on the label/tag The Indie Author Challenge or by following me on Twitter and Facebook.
It's sink or swim time. Hopefully by this time in three months, I'll be on dry land with thousands of book lovers :)