I have never paid for a book ad. To this day I haven’t ever ran a paid ad on Amazon, Goodreads, or other book-ish platforms. All my promoting has been through social media, especially Twitter, Instagram, and WordPress. In fact, without Twitter I would have only made a few sales per year!
I’ve spent more money buying other authors’ books than I’ve made from my own books. A lot of indie authors become a cheerleader for other indie authors once they get into the self-publishing community. I’ve read so many great books by fellow indie authors – including people on WordPress! I’m sure I’ve doubled or tripled how much I’ve spent on books vs. how much I’ve sold from books. No regrets.
I did a lot of research on book marketing techniques then realized you learn as you go. After finishing my first book, I spent about a year researching the publishing industry – both the traditional and the independent sides. It’s helpful to learn the basics and see what a lot of the pros are doing, but at the end of the day you won’t know how your books will do until you publish and promote. What works for one author may not work for you – so it can take some experimenting as you go.
I’ve made a couple of lifelong friends from Twitter’s creative community. I’ve been consistently active on Twitter for over a decade and have befriended some solid people there.
I started out wanting to be represented by a literary agent. Believe it or not, I thought my first novel would be a good fit for the traditional publishing industry. Christian fantasy seemed to be popular at the time, however, every agent who took the time to read my manuscript said it was a hard sell since the market only had room for a few Christian fantasy authors at one time. It was a great experience as I learned how to research agents who represent the genre you write (It helps cut down on form rejections) and it led me into the world of self-publishing. I saw some authors who were making a supplementary income as indies and I was excited to jump in and try it for myself.
I haven’t outlined any of my stories (aside from my first book). Out of the 16 books I’ve published, only the first one was outlined. I was new to writing and didn’t know what I didn’t know, so I outlined my first manuscript to keep me focused. I suggest doing this if you’ve never written a book before or if you struggle to complete stories. After that first writing experience, it’s like a well opened and I couldn’t stop writing. I naturally just started writing as I went – and I like the process of the story revealing itself as I go and get more into it. It ends up surprising me as much as the readers!
I didn’t receive my first book royalty cheque until 4 years after my first publication. I’m sometimes surprised to see some indie authors complain about only having one book sale per month when they first start out (I get it, but we all usually go through this phase when we first start out). When I first started out I made maybe 10 sales my first year (I invested in one book blog tour and a few of my friends and family members bought it). I’m pretty sure there was one year I didn’t even get a sale – it was the year I was traveling Western Canada and I hadn’t published anything. At that time, KDP had a threshhold of $100 before you’d get paid out, so it took me 4 years before I got a royalty payment (Which maybe isn’t bad for an indie author who doesn’t pay for ads or marketing!). It was so cool to receive my first cheque as an author. It felt so official.
I write the best in cafes. There’s a calm type of buzz you get in a café atmosphere. I’ve written many stories while at a coffee shop. It’s a wonderful experience. If you’ve noticed that you can’t really focus when you write at home, try a café next time and maybe it will help.
I never wrote for market. From the start of my author journey to this point in time, I have never researched what’s popular for book genres or what market sells the most. I just figured one thing could be popular when you first start writing, but then the trends could shift by the time your book was done. Also, many best sellers didn’t write for market either, yet an agent saw the uniqueness in their work and knew it could sell. I think if I didn’t write what I really wanted to read, I wouldn’t have been so consistent over 10 years and I definitely wouldn’t have published 16 books.
I rarely get imposter syndrome as an author, yet I wonder if people will think I’m a nutso after reading my books. Maybe that’s what imposter syndrome is! Or maybe it’s that negative inner voice that prevented me from finishing a story when I was younger. Funny enough, my inner little fear is unfounded. Many people have read my books by now and none have thought they were too trippy or weird. While a book of mine may not be everyone’s favourite story, it’s usually an entertaining enough read for them. In some cases, it moves them – and that’s when I know I’ve taken the right path. ❤
Thank you so much for checking out my blog today! If you’re an indie author, do you have any insights or confessions you’d like to share?
I think this was great: “A lot of indie authors become a cheerleader for other indie authors once they get into the self-publishing community. I’ve read so many great books by fellow indie authors – including people on WordPress! I’m sure I’ve doubled or tripled how much I’ve spent on books vs. how much I’ve sold from books. No regrets.” I think I’m heading in that direction too. I’ve discovered that so many indie author write really great books. There’s no need to just read famous authors.
I am not using Twitter, in fact I recently deleted my account. However, I have my blog and Facebook.
You know I’ve noticed that WordPress is actually one of the best ways to find new books. I’ve discovered your awesome book about Leonbergers and your dogs and I’ve found a few other people’s books here, too. ❤️
And yes reading indie books can become abit like an addiction, but it’s so fun. 😂
Thank you Sara, and you are right, that’s how I discovered your books and Jacqui Murray’s and Priscilla’s books and a few more.
That’s awesome. I always love finding authors of books on here. It feels good to help support other bloggers and discover new reads in the process. 🙂
I hope you’re still doing ok with marketing on Twitter. I found that a LOT of my mutuals disappeared after Elon Musk bought it so I’m branching out into Instagram!
I’m sorry to hear that. 😦 I hope Instagram brings you many sales! I lost a few people but very few overall.
Ah that’s good, I’m glad the Twitter exodus didn’t affect you badly. 👍
I have a lot of books here in the house (at least 700 of them are in French!) that I still haven’t read, but I’m interested in reading “The Broken and the Foolish,” first of all because I like westerns (I’ll be writing a two-part female revenge western in a few years, plus my two detective stories, to be self-published in early 2023, have some western themes in them), and second of all because I’m familiar with the Ozarks (I was born in Springfield, Missouri) and have visited Dodge City. You mentioned WordPress as a source of readers. Since you liked one of my comments at beetleypete, I checked out your blog, and then your author page on Amazon (I’ve put your book in my Amazon cart). I won’t try to sell you a book, but you might enjoy checking out my lyrics page on Facebook.
Ooh I love that you’re working on a female driven Western yourself! I hope you like The Broken & The Foolish. I’ll certainly take a look at your book’s list right now. 🙂
I wasn’t able to locate your books, but I loved your lyrics 🙂
Thanks for liking a couple of my lyrics. Very nice of you. I’m an incredibly slow writer. As a writer of Christian stories, you might not appreciate the one “official” book of mine on Amazon: “Pope on the Dole.” It’s a religious satire, but with an emphasis on wacky humor. Although its main focus is on a deposed pope, it actually pokes fun of Southern Baptists, Buddhists, Mormons, Muslims, Jews, Scientologists, UFO cultists, and atheists. (My wife grew up a Catholic; I grew up a Southern Baptist.) Several practicing Catholics got a big kick out of the book, and one of them even begged me for a sequel. Pete Johnson (beetleypete), who is not religious, enjoyed the book, and has mentioned it several times on his blog (he once called it “a cleverly-constructed and amusing story”). Because of the subject matter, though, I’m not recommending it. I’m just informing/warning you… In a few months, I’ll self-publish companion detective novels (his POV / her POV). I spent eight years off and on writing them. I can’t recommend the detective novels either because you might find the explicit adult content offensive. Between now and the two-part female revenge western, I’ll be self-publishing two standalone sci-fi books. Anyway, just enjoy the lyrics…and the limericks on my blog. Don’t bother with the books.
I love this! I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo for so many years but I have trouble actually FINISHING my writing. The reality of being an indie author is nice to see. Also when I was JUST a book blogger I gained so many opportunities from Twitter alone! It blows my mind when my friends shit on Twitter. Like you guys know it’s super powerful for networking… right…?
Yes Twitter is an amazing tool for some good online creative friends and for networking. I’m glad it helped you network for your book blog! It’s nice to know someone else found it really useful for that. 🙂 I appreciate your comment, too. ❤
It’s refreshing to be part of a community that cheers each other on! I appreciate your insights!
Thank you for your comment. I’m glad you find it supportive here.
I’ve also put “The Pup and the Pianist” (paperback) in my Amazon cart along with “The Broken and the Foolish” (paperback).
Thank you so much. 🙂 I really hope you enjoy them. I would love to know what you think.
The books arrived late this afternoon. I’ll read “The Pup and the Pianist” first because it’s shorter. I may not get to it right away, but soon…
Omg that’s so exciting! Thank you so much for your kind help. ❤
It makes me happy knowing you have two print copies of my books! 📖📖
Thanks for sharing your unique path to writing and publishing Sara.
You’re welcome and thank you very much for reading.
Great confessions Sara and all the best in your writing. I like the confessions that you use Social Media to promote your posts, that’s a great strategy👌👌👌🔥
Thank you so much 😊
It’s very interesting that you haven’t paid for any ads. I self-published three (non-fiction) books, and I haven’t either. I figured I won’t get my money back if I did—I could be wrong, of course.
I’m on “Goodreads” and “WordPress,” but I don’t think I got any sales from them. On your recommendation, I’ll try “Twitter” in the near future.
What I don’t understand in this article is: what’s the point of your spending more money buying other author’s books than you earn from your own books? Then you cannot be making a living from your books. I mean, it’s OK in my case because I’m retired, but you seem very young to me—unless writing is just a hobby for you. Can you elaborate please?
Lol I wouldn’t be making a living off my books either way. I enjoy supporting other authors.
Actually, I am more likely to purchase because you are on Good Reads. That is how I found Sara’s books.
OOh that is good to know. I think being on Goodreads is helpful for readers to find you.
Wonderful! Interesting! I learnt something from you.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I know some indie authors are doing a lot better than me. I’m moreso on the lower end of making sales – anywhere from 3-5 sales/month on average. I hope your writing journey had been going well!
Sara, I echo your sentiment about appreciating Indie authors more since I published my five books. A significant part of my reading time is now spent on Indie novels.
That’s so awesome. 😊 It does feel good to support indies.
Great information. As an indie author, it’s easy to feel like you’re going through the process alone. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks so much for reading!😊
Just read your latest post on book sales (couldn’t comment there), and I have to say that it was inspiring. The idea of people wanting to pay for your book 400 times is pretty darn amazing. And if you’ve made it happen 400 times, you can repeat it many more times. Thanks for the inspiration!
Aw thank you so much for the kind words! I really appreciate it! ❤ Also I'm sorry to hear you weren't able to comment on that post. :O I'm glad you were able to leave a comment here. I hope you have a great day.
This is sooo what I needed to read right at this moment! Thank you for sharing your experience.
And thank you! 🙂 I appreciate you reading it. I’m glad you found this helpful.
Thank you for sharing! I’ve been thinking about going the self publishing route.
I’m glad you enjoyed this. Good luck with your indie author journey! 😊❤️
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