The difference a year or two makes….
UPDATE: As I write this, it is three years since my first indie ebook went live on Amazon. I expected a learning curve. No one mentioned the curve meandered around a glass, oiled-slicked, mountain. It has been a hectic, frenzied and interesting three years–mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing. Now, I do. Not everything, but enough.
I have learned a few things.
Before entering the universe of epublishing I was acquainted with only one electronic device–my ATM card. I no more had an ebook contract in hand than I learned I was expected to build a webpage, find a host, build a blog, submit my books for review, buy advertising, tout my books in blogs, on blogs, write articles, have an account on Goodreads, Shelfari, Facebook and Twitter; sign up to receive e-mail newsletters of dozens of bloggers, visit my sister author’s Facebook pages, hit ‘like’ or ‘follow’, and grab those cute little icons and put them on my Webpage so you know where my book has been, is or will be–kind of like following a digital map. Huh? I have reclaimed the publishing rights to my books and am publishing them myself. Indie authorship is even stickier than going with a online publisher. The lovely end of the business: I don’t share royalties when I’m fortunate to earn them. The other end…I’m accountable and there isn’t any excuse I can tuck into if things don’t go right.
I’m an indie author.
I have control of my books…writing, editing, cover art, price. While under contract, the ebook publisher did not spend five cents to promote my titles. I learned about Alexa, an analytic that rates websites. I have it on my tool bar. I have a newsletter for fans and followers. I formed a group, eNovel Authors at Work. It has fifty members and a better Alexa ranking than the ebook publisher with whom I contracted my books. I can navigate Amazon in Author Central, Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace. And now ACX, Amazon’s audible associate. I can compose blogs, edit, add media, engage in Rafflecopters and produce a newsletter. Early on I was asked in an interview what advice I had for aspiring authors. I replied: “None, because they all self-publish.” But for newbies, here is a heads up: It takes at least a year to learn the basics in our industry. If you listen to the wrong people, you will never get it right.
I learned how to promote my books.
I have also learned there are dishonest people in our indie universe. Yes ma’am. I’ve discovered promoters who deliver and promoters who scam authors. And get this: Authors who scam authors. Yep. Honey, if you don’t learn the ropes, there are authors who will hand you a rope and hang you with it. The most important thing I’ve learned is to think for myself. Everybody you meet on the backside of this industry has an agenda–usually the agenda is to worm it’s way into your wallet. I’ve learned to separate the wheat from the chaff. Invitations land in my mailbox every day full of testimonials about how wonderful a promoter. I’ve learned to check those testimonials by clicking on the author’s name and the title of the author’s book. Yep. Clicked on a title recently written by an author giving kudos to a promoter touted as “an author’s best friend.” Book was published on Amazon eleven years ago. No rating–because it hasn’t sold a single unit. No reviews either–not even a one star. Hoo Boy! That promoter is NOT my kind of friend. If you are stepping into the indie publishing universe or considering signing with an ebook publisher, educate yourself. Start here: Indies Unlimited–read books and articles by Martin Crosbie, David Gaughran and Donna Fasano. All three are successful and each candidly shares how success is achieved.
I learned how to network with other indie authors.
I’ve met some wonderful and talented writers. I have also come across authors with egos that would make even Jung or Sigmund Freud’s mouth hang in awe. I know about social media: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Linkedin, Pinterest and a myriad of others–and that if we allow it, social media will suck the juice out of a rock–not to mention one’s creativity.
I learned how to gather reviews, the bugaboo of every indie author.
This goes into my titles right after THE END:
Thank you for taking the time to read [title]. If you enjoyed it, please consider telling your friends or posting a short review. Word of mouth is an author’s best friend and much appreciated. Thank you. [author name]. Next I run a small promotion on the book FREE or 99¢ and soon reviews get posted. Does it work? Yep. Organic readers have post above 1500 reviews on my titles. Perhaps more,by now.
I am not an interesting person.
I have done interesting things and met interesting people. But none of it rubbed off on me. I did dream that once old, I would be a darling, sweet-faced old lady spending afternoons rocking away on my front porch with a grandchild on my lap. That dream is down the tubes. Houses don’t have front porches, screened doors don’t slam. Kids don’t ride their bicycles around the neighborhood on Christmas Day anymore. Nope. They’re racing up and down the street and across lawns on four wheel all terrain vehicles. My grandchildren are taking dance, voice and music lessons. They spend summers at a beach house. My lap holds NO appeal. Also I’m cranky. I often look like I’m sucking a wasp. So here I am, hiding behind a cyber wall in my golden years creating a new career in the universe of self-publishing. I love it.
Just so you know, I appreciate every single reader and reviewer. You make my writing life a joy and you are hovering in the back of my mind with every word I put on page…All the best to you and yours…Jackie Weger. Take a sec to sign up for Accent on Romance. It will only land in your mailbox when I have something wonderful for you.