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My Best Tips for New Indie Authors

5 January 2016

From author Kristen Painter:

I’ve been blessed to have a tremendous first year of dedicated self-publishing, but I also know what it’s like to have not-so-great years. I started self-publishing in 2010, but because of my traditional publishing career, I never fully committed myself or my writing to it. The time just wasn’t there frankly, which I think is purposeful on the side of traditional publishers. They want you too busy to try out the indie side of things. (Because the indie side has cookies. But I digress.)

For those of you on the hybrid fence, I can tell you being full indie has been life changing. But I suppose that’s a post for another day. ;o)

In the year (14 months, really), that I have been full indie, I’ve learned a lot. And because I like to see everyone do well, I wanted to pass on some of the things I’ve learned that might be helpful to those of you just starting on this journey.

1. Be humble

If you’re coming out of traditional publishing, it’s easy to think you know what you’re doing, but indie publishing is a different venture. In some ways, very different. In others, not so much. You have to be more disciplined, in my opinion, because you’re solely responsible for your own deadlines.

And if you’re starting out in indie, you might think you’ve read everything you need to read, bought all the indie publishing how to books you need to buy and talked to all the people you need to talk to, so much so that you’re sure you know exactly what you need to do.

You don’t.

Whatever your starting point is, you’re still behind the curve. Keeping an open attitude about that is important. Sit at the feet of those who have the kind of career you want to have and soak up whatever they’re willing to offer.

Learning the market is a great example of this. What NY thinks is dead could be (and often is) thriving in Indieland.

2. Be teachable

This goes hand in hand with being humble. If someone who’s been at this longer than you offers you some advice, listen. Eagerly. Ask questions. Take notes. Truly consider their words. See how you could put their advice into practice and make it work for you.

If someone with some knowledge tells you that your covers aren’t quite right and takes the time to show you better examples, don’t respond with reasons why your covers are fine. If they want to help you re-write your blurb to make it catchier, see what you can take from that to write the next blurb better on your own.

Accept help when it’s offered. Trust me when I say those people are giving you the gift of their time and energy and in self publishing (and hello, life), those are two things that can be in rare supply.

. . . .

6. Be focused

Distraction is the enemy of success. Being focused means learning to say no to all the things that aren’t going to move you closer to achieving your goals. This sometimes means turning down great stuff like anthologies, box sets, etc.

It’s okay to say no. In fact, it’s important to say no. How else will you protect your writing time? There isn’t an app on earth that’s going to give you more than twenty-four hours a day. Time is finite. And when you start out, you need to be using the time you have to get your books done.

There will be other opportunities. I promise. What matters most when you’re new is building your back list, getting books out there and establishing your series. Publish your first three books, then re-assess. How are they doing? Are fans clamoring for more? Do you have time to write that novella for the charity anthology? If so, go for it. If not, don’t feel bad about turning it down.

Link to the rest at Kristen Painter and thanks to Amanda for the tip.

Here’s a link to Kristen Painter’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

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Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing

4 Comments to “My Best Tips for New Indie Authors”

  1. “Better yet, buy that author’s book, read it, then promote it on whatever social media you use and leave a good review. Yes, I said a good review. If you don’t think the book deserves five stars, then don’t leave a review that’s less than that. (And if you don’t think the book deserves five stars, why are you taking their help in the first place?)”

    Heh, heh. Amazon will likely remove that 5-star review.

    Maybe I’m weird, but I don’t give 5 stars to every book I like or even love. I reserve 5 stars for books that I’m absolutely ga-ga over.

    • Yeah, I have largely stepped away from writing reviews for people I know. I’m not so worried about Amazon’s interference, but rather just not wanting to get further into that circle of back-scratching that such behavior promotes. I’ll still post things to social media and write a blog review, but my “friend reviews” are fewer and further between these days.

    • I reserve five star reviews for books I love absolutely. Most books don’t fit that standard, even though I’ve really liked, and even loved, many other books. I don’t write many reviews these days. I don’t have time, and I don’t like how I feel when I write them. I see too many other authors as friends and acquaintances. I’m happy to recommend a fellow author’s book if I liked it but I have to say no to reviews.

  2. Kristen is one of my heroes…She’s smart and savvy and very successful. More than that she’s willing to share great information. Thanks for your input. As always there are many gems in what you say… 🙂

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