6 Things I Have Learned Being An Indie Author

You Don’t Need To Spend A Fortune On Editors & Cover Designers – I think the biggest lesson I learned was when I published my very first book in 2011. I spent around $1200 on an editor and like every new author, I believed a lot of people were going to buy my FIRST book. Needless to say, I didn’t quite make back the cost of editing (I still haven’t hahaha!). You don’t need to spend quite that much on an editor. I’ve had comparable editors charge less than half that cost. I’ve had my sister design my book covers (I paid her $50 for each one) and those ones have sold more than the pricier ones I paid for. I have also found a great cover designer on The Book Designer website and most of their covers range from $50 to $100. I paid $100 to a formatter for my first novel and it helped me a lot. I was then lucky enough to make friends with someone on Twitter who happens to format books. If you make a few friends online, they can sometimes help with certain aspects of publishing. In turn, I have bought and read all of his books.

You can hire good quality professionals without needing to spend a lot of money. I hired editors for my first few novels, which helped me pay more attention to errors and typos, but my more recent novels were edited by myself. I think they turned out well. Some authors are good at graphic design and they can create their own covers as well. Formatting can also be learned if you have the patience for it. That’s one area I’d rather just hire someone to do it.

You Need To Market Constantly – Maybe this seems like a no-brainer, but if you want to make sales you need to promote your work. How often you market your books is up to you. I knew one had to market their books in order to sell them, but I didn’t originally realize the work you need to put in just to sell a few books. Once you stop promoting your books, your sales will stop. If you want to sell your books, you can’t slack on marketing. Like it or not, you become a small business once you decide to sell your books; advertising them is essential to gaining more readers. Feel free to take breaks, though. I find I like to work in waves – I’ll not do any marketing for a month or so then I’ll spend another month pushing my books through book links, book excerpts, searching out book recommendation posts, etc. I never DM people about my book – I highly recommend never spamming people’s inboxes.

You Might Get Accused Of Having An Alter Ego – Some people might see a disconnect between the person you’re marketing yourself to be and the person you are in real life. I’ve had a few people tell me I had a second identity or an alter ego, or that I’m attention seeking, etc. I’m sorry if it appears that way, but I’m just trying to sell some books, dude. I don’t know how to be anyone but myself. If someone projects some other identity onto me, it’s not my problem.

Other Indie Authors Can Be Your Best Supporters – Connecting with other authors is a good move. Indie authors will often buy and review one another’s books and they can be a great emotional support to you since they’re going through similar things that you are. They’re not our competition – there’s room in the market for everyone.

Indie April! – Don’t forget about this important month in the indie community! This is when authors can promote their books on Twitter when readers ask them to drop their links. It’s a fun way to put yourself out there while supporting other indies if you’ve got a few dollars to spare. I gained a lot of new readers from Indie April especially in 2020 and I will say that my book sales were fairly steady months later. There are also always book recommendation posts all year. I usually take some time to view the poster’s profile to see if my work would be a good fit for them. If they love romance or erotica, my books probably won’t be for them.

$2.99-$4.99 Is The Golden E-Book Price Range For An Indie Author – This has been researched time and time again for indie books. If you’re not a famous author, a book between that price range is usually the most marketable price for an indie book. I’ve experimented with prices in the past, from 99 cents to $5.99 and the sales always drop off when I make my books too cheap or if they go beyond $4.99. I noticed I sold the most e-books at $2.99 whereas if I put the price at $4.99, I make more print book sales! I may experiment with a $3.99 price just to see what happens. If nothing else, it would be an interesting little marketing study.

I hope you enjoyed this post! Stay tuned for more things I’ve learned since I started the indie author journey. Thank you so much for reading today!

(Photo by Andrew Neel: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-in-gray-long-sleeve-shirt-and-gray-pants-sitting-on-bed-using-macbook-4134779/)

28 comments

  1. I used my own photographs for the front and back cover of “Pope on the Dole,” but have hired a Freelancer for my upcoming detective novels, as I need specific artwork for the covers. I do my own editing, and will upload the novels via KDP Services without assistance. I’m hoping to find inexpensive ways to promote the new books. As for social media, I’m only on Facebook, WordPress, and Goodreads (I quit Twitter). Is it worth the expense to advertise on Amazon? By the way, I’ve ordered “The Pup and the Pianist” and “The Broken and the Foolish.” I may not be able to read them right away, but the books will soon be here on a shelf.

  2. Nice! I’m writing a story aka a novella I plan to publish in the future. I’m always anxious and interested to find editors, book cover designers and everything else. This is really good advice. Thank you Sara. And I feel like a lot of times what we post or how we address ourselves online can be very misleading which is sad, yet it happens. The real ones will get it 🙂

    • Yeah I just post my thoughts. My role online is a creator so thats the hat I put on. Those closer to me get to see the deeper versions of me. Projection is normal but alot of people do it a little too much, to the extent where they think you’re thinking stuff you’ve never even thought.
      Good luck with your novella.

  3. Thanks for sharing your experiences. In the coming year, I’ll be starting down this road. Since I’m not that much of a tech person, I’m more likely to hire someone to help with the formatting, etc.

  4. Good things to learn, I’ve often questioned the cost of an editor – I’m not saying they’re not worth it but it’s a hard one to justify.

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