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?