6 Things I Have Learned Being An Indie Author (Pt. 2)

Having Many Social Media Followers Does Not Guarantee Book Sales – I remember the year when my modest Twitter account went from 400 followers to over 2,000 followers. It seemed to boom within a few months. In my excitement, I figured a lot of them would want to buy my newest book when it was published. Indeed, a handful of those followers were interested and bought it. It makes sense to think that the more followers you have, the more books you’ll sell when you promote them. This can be true if most of your followers are book lovers and/or fans of your work, but if they’re following you for other reasons, you’re not likely to sell that much. However, my sales became a lot more steady once my Twitter following grew. It built this sort of momentum where a few new people would see my book link and buy one or two of my books. So, while growing your following helps, it’s important to realize not every one of those people are going to buy one of your books (You’re lucky if 1 in 100 are interested in your books).

If You Make Back The Cost You Put Into Publishing, It’s A Success! – I know this might make some people groan, but honestly, the feeling you get when you’re able to make back the money you put into publishing your book is amazing! I think any artist can relate to this. Making a few hundred dollars on your own work without a marketing and distribution team is no small feat. It also means several people have read your book, which is what really matters to us authors.

Book Blog Tours Are Important – At first glance, book blog tours can seem a bit gawdy or extra. One reason why I recommend investing in a book blog tour is it will connect you with more readers. Book bloggers attract those who love reading; some of them have thousands of subscribers. That’s where you want your books to appear! There’s different packages you can buy for a book blog tour, including book blitzes, book release promos, author interviews, and of course, honest reviews of your book. These do cost money – you’re placing your book on a platform where people love reading and discovering new authors, so I’d say it’s money worth spending. Many authors have told me that this was one of the ways they made back the costs they put into self publishing. It’s worth trying at least once.

It’s All About The Long Haul – With self-publishing, it can take years for your books to gain momentum. Since you are doing all of the promoting yourself, it takes time for people to know your books exist. It also takes time to build a social media audience and on top of that, it will take even more time to build a readership. As I mentioned above, people will follow you for many different reasons, but they may not be interested in buying your book. That’s how it goes. I’ll admit that the first few years of being an indie author, I didn’t make more than 10 sales/year, but I knew it was going to take a while for people to learn about me and take my writing seriously. I now make a few sales per month (My goal is to make 50 sales/month one day and I think I can get there). This consistency has been from previous years of promoting my work and supporting other authors as well. It’s more about attracting real readers than making a living (Please don’t quit your day job when you’ve published your book. Unless you’ve sold like 100,000 copies in the first month, I wouldn’t count on your new release to sell enough to pay for your bills).

Success Isn’t Always Monetary – When I first started writing, I imagined myself becoming a full-time author within ten years. It’s nice to dream – it was that dream which led me to writing so many books and enjoying many whimsical weekends creating stories over the years. When a dream becomes a reality, you usually need to make some adjustments. Mine was realizing that I would probably need to always have a day job alongside my creative hobbies – and that’s okay. People have different definitions of success. For many, financial freedom/stability is success. For others, it’s a mix of different things – sufficient income, having time to enjoy things you love doing, freedom to create, living close to nature, etc. If you’ve published a book and had one person truly enjoy it, that’s a success, too. If someone reviewed your book on Amazon, that’s even more success! Celebrate your small victories and the bigger ones will arrive eventually.

Giving Away *Free* Books Is Helpful Down The Road – There’s an indie book marketing strategy I read about years ago that said giving away *free* copies of your book can help improve its Amazon rating. More downloads = better rating. Some people are against this and that is totally okay. Do not do anything you don’t want to do or don’t believe in. Many business people say to never give a product away for free – the thing is, it’s different with books. Book marketing is its own unique creature. When you give away free e-book copies of your book(s), not only does its rating go up, you are getting more readers. Some of those readers won’t read it, that’s a given, but some will. You may get a review out of that freebie sale which is also beneficial. Ratings are also very helpful in exposing your book to readers searching up stories on Amazon. If it’s in the top 100, it’ll be a lot easier to see than if it’s #50,343. I also noticed that promoting free books will gain the attention of people who wouldn’t have originally checked out your work. They might buy one of your other books if they enjoyed your freebie. Trust me, if you offer a few free book deals, you will like the results if you look at the long term picture.

Thank you so much for reading this post today! I hope it helps someone. ❤ Have a great day!

14 comments

  1. That’s a lot of interesting information. I have to admit that I don’t think I know what a book blog tour is even though I believe I’ve seen them. It’s more than just posting on your own blog, right? I participated in a cover reveal.

  2. I may try an Amazon Book Promotion next year. But I’d rather do it for “Pope on the Dole” than for the upcoming detective novels because Amazon has lowered the price on the wacky satire to where it would be affordable for me to try out the program without losing much money. To be honest, I don’t write to make money, as I have no delusions about making any. I write because I enjoy the process. My reward is seeing a book I’ve written sitting on a shelf alongside a novel by Jack London or Stendhal.

  3. Thanks for all the tips in parts 1 & 2. I’m considering self-publishing other novels after my first book debuts in June. It takes 2 to 3 years to traditionally publish after acceptance, and the author still has to do much of the marketing themselves unless they are repped by one of the big 5 publishers.

    • Wow well congrats on your debut being represented! I didn’t realize it could take so long to release a traditionally published book, but that’s a wonderful start to your author journey. ❤ The exposure will probably help your chances as an indie author, too. I also think it's really cool you'll likely self-publish your next stories. I'm glad you found my posts helpful. 🙂

  4. Good tips! Indeed I’ve learned twitter following doesn’t always equal book sales, especially when most of those followers are also writers trying to boost their following for book sales too. I’ve found that in terms of social media Bookstagram and Booktok seem to get more readers

    • That’s cool book tok and bookstagram work best for your own sales. I don’t know what it is but I’ve done better on Twitter for sales than on bookstagram. 😂 but maybe it’s because I post on Twitter more often.
      Yes that’s true if you have mainly other authors following you it’ll end up being more of a tradesies deal where you read each other’s books. I don’t mind it as I make so few sales anyway, but from a business standpoint connecting with more readers would be best. ❤️

  5. Sound advice here Sara about the 6 things that you learned being an Indie Blogger/Author. I can definitely agree with 2 of the things you stated here, one is that Success isn’t always monetary and that giving away free e-books is a great way to escalate ratings, that is a very great strategy

    Being an Author and willing to release a book can be overwhelming to say the least especially if you are still new and starting with no Marketing collateral and support from social media personnel and people but if it is your dream be bold and do it.

    I am not ready to write a book yet but I am so determined in Blogging here on WordPress and growing my fashion brand, I now sit @177 followers since I started blogging 2 years ago and I am happy with the progress, I want to attain 2000 + followers in the next year

    • Yes that’s true indeed. And you can definitely hit 2,000 followers on your blog. 🙂 For years I had just a few hundred followers here, but when I started blogging more seriously last year, a lot more people followed me & it’s still growing. 🙂 I hope more people can find out about my books this way, too.

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