Being an indie author is a rewarding experience – most days. Every sale brings a moment of joy and if you get multiple sales in a month, you feel like your books are starting to take off. Many indie authors write for the art of it while others want to build a wider audience over time. Along with the joys of being an indie author are some challenges that can arise, especially when it comes to people on the internet who don’t always have the best intentions. Without further ado, here’s some things indie authors should watch out for.
Many people come across vanity publishers when they self-publish. Sometimes they contact us or we sought them out while searching for agents or publishers. Be careful with any press or publisher who claims they are interested in your manuscript yet asks you to pay up front. Some of them are so skilled they will word it something like “After speaking with our panel of editors, we have decided that your book has potential in the industry, but may or may not be successful, so we ask that you pay a small sum to help cover the cost of marketing.” Sometimes the need to be accepted can override a bad gut feeling. A reputable agent or publishing house will never ask you to pay for anything. They will only take a percentage of the royalties your book earns *after* the sales happen. As the creator, it’s you who should be paid.
Direct Messages From Book Promoters/Reviewers
Love it or hate it, influencer culture has taken over a lot of social media. If you’re on Bookstagram and posting photos of your book(s), you may notice a lot of reviewers will DM you or comment on your post asking you to contact them about having your story promoted. The problem with this is they always charge money for their service. I’m not saying it’s a scam, but just be wary of anyone who sends you unsolicited messages about “promoting” your work for a cost. A reputable book reviewer generally doesn’t seek out authors and ask for their money. It is better to search for well-rated book blog tours or book reviewers who have a good reputation. You can even send someone an ARC for no charge at all on either end. Sometimes we want to get reviews for our book, but we shouldn’t feel pressured to pay 20 book reviewers $50 each to have that done. If you’re going to spend money, make sure it’s on a book review service that will give your book a lot of exposure to real readers.
High-Priced Editors and Cover Designers
I’m not saying you should be stingy when it comes to book editing and book cover services, but I’m saying some people in the industry charge a lot when they might not offer services that are any better than average. It’s a good idea to shop around, get a few quotes, look into reviews if needed, etc. Sometimes people in the book industry can get a little aggressive when trying to hook an author to hire them, but remember it’s your book and you’re not obligated to spend more than you’re able to or comfortable with. There are people who charge reasonably for the work they do. Yes, editors and cover designers have a right to charge a price they think is fair for their work and self-published authors also have a right to stick to their budget (as they won’t be making a lot of book sales in the beginning).
This one makes my heart hurt a little because there is a group on this site who, for whatever reason, rate a lot of indie books with a 1 star. Often there isn’t even a review, just a rating – other times it’s a nasty comment. Some indie authors have tried to report chronic 1 star reviewers, but Goodreads hasn’t been interested in helping resolve the issue and has asked authors to “butt out” since it’s a site for readers. There have been instances when well-meaning indie authors have tried to warn others on Twitter or other sites about this aggressive pack of Goodreads trolls (or sometimes just vent about it after a bad experience) and they attack the author online repeatedly in the comments, messages, and in some cases even tracking down their personal information. I’m not sure how or why these people do this, but it’s not worth your peace or time to get involved with them. When you get a 1 star review on Goodreads, it’s best to let it be. People will be nasty on the internet sometimes. Try to take it with a grain of salt and focus on the good reviews. Until Goodreads starts to take this issue seriously, just be mindful this is a thing and it doesn’t affect your value as an author at all.
Indie Publisher Contracts
Some self-published authors want their book represented by a small press. If you get accepted by a legit publisher it can be a wonderful feeling – your book has found a home with a company who will promote it, market it, and help with distribution! However, be very careful about the contract you are signing. Be sure you read the contract carefully, especially when it comes to royalties, payments, author obligations to the publisher, etc. Again, a legit publisher should never ask for an author to pay anything up front.
You wrote that book, edited it, perfected it, and published it because you really believed in it. Now people you know are calling you self-absorbed for marketing your work and the people you thought would buy it haven’t. In fact, it only has 3 reviews and 1 of them is bad. Yikes! Imposter syndrome can sink in at any time when we start to doubt ourselves as artists. And that’s okay. It happens. The main thing to remember is that you created something *you* love so there will be other people who love it as well. You’re also doing this on your own so it’s not like you have an agent and marketer promoting your books for you. Celebrate every sale and be grateful for the reviews you get. Your audience will build slowly over time. Try not to rush the process, but enjoy it. Whether your books become famous or not, your work is worthy. Besides, we all improve with practice, so even if you cringe at your earlier writing, it will mature and get better as time goes on. If anything, it’s those first few books that often show the heart and soul of an author, so as a reader I find those ones are often the best. Just do you and write the best you can at the stage you’re at. You’re just as worthy to be an author as anyone else. ❤
I hope you enjoyed my post today! 🙂 Let me know if you have any other tips for things that indie authors can try to avoid, especially when they are starting out.