Marketing Indie Books For Dummies

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Last Thursday, I released the first book in my four-part series The Belle Âme Chronicles. Not only did this mark the start of a new series that I am madly in love with (and plan to submit for my graduate school application), but it also marked the end of my previous saga.

My initial two novels were based on a short story series written from late-2002 through mid-2008, known as the “Fab Gang”. Featuring a plethora of characters loosely based on my favourite anime protagonists and antagonists, Fab Gang was a hodge-podge of chaos that only a teenager’s mind could manifest. Still, you can’t write something for so long without giving it a proper ending, and The Banana Avenue Chronicles did just that.

But my high school pennings are in the past. In their place are new, mature books that I am extremely proud of as an adult. Enter: The Belle Âme Chronicles.

I always feel like a rock star when I publish a new book. As I should! And so should you! Be proud of your hard work!

This quartet of murder-mystery thrillers has been my pet project for the past year. The May 17th release of “Down The River” is a testament to my hard work, and I am so thrilled to see the feedback it’s received in just one week!

As an indie publisher, all of the marketing for “Down The River” and the entire The Belle Âme Chronicles series is solely on me. If I keep quiet, my books don’t sell. Indie publishing has a lot of benefits that traditional publishing does not provide, but it also has its weaknesses.

Like a lack of marketing.

Marketing will make or break your book. Literally. I’m 100% serious.

For anyone that is thinking about, in the process of, or already has indie published a book, here are my tips to ensure a successful release and a happy writing career:

  1. Edit, edit, edit! As an indie author, you are in complete control of your manuscript. Whatever you submit as the final manuscript to your publisher is what hits the shelves. While you might see great success like Rich Dad, Poor Dad or The Secret, you may also publish a blunder like My Immortal. Your typos live on in print. Forever. Proofread. Edit multiple drafts. Outsource to a professional editor. And then proofread some more. No matter how good your plot is—and while most readers will forgive occasional typos—a cacophony of spelling errors and grammatical fallacies are the quickest way to lose your audience and ruin your reputation.
  2. Choose a professional cover and title. Many indie authors avoid this advice and play around with Microsoft Paint to create their covers. This is why many indie authors (myself included) wind up rereleasing their books with new covers years later. The old saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” may be polite…but its simply not true. A potential new reader will absolutely judge your book by its cover (and its title) from the time they lay eyes on it. An amateur cover significantly lowers the odds that they will even open your book. Many readers already do not take indie authors seriously. Do not give them another reason to consider you an amateur. Better covers = better sales!
  3. Gear up (quietly) for your release (pre-scheduled). You want the news of your novel to be a pleasant surprise, with a call-to-action to buy your book immediately available. If you have been screaming about your book for months, people are going to tune out your posts. This means they will also tune out your “It’s finally here!” post. Post a teaser once per week for #1LineWed on Twitter. Go at least one week without mentioning your book leading up to its release and then…BAM! Advertise at 10am local time on your release day on ALL of your social media channels. Pre-schedule these using services like Hootsuite to make your life easier. Create a professional advertising graphic to accompany these posts, and have them link directly to your sales page (i.e. The Amazon page).

    Here is my current ad for “Down The River”. You can find templates like these on Google Images, and you can edit them all together with some intermediate-to-advanced Photoshop skills! Don’t have those skills? Commission someone who does 🙂

  4. Collab with other authors and their newsletters. Creative pursuits are unique in that its success directly stems from who you know and who knows you. For this reason, most indie authors are more than happy to promote you as long as you promote them, too. Join online groups like AAYAA and 20BooksTo50K, and befriend other authors in your genre. Start a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly newsletter to send out to your readers. Advertise other authors’ books in your newsletter in exchange for them advertising your book in their newsletters. A little bit goes a long way, and the more places a reader has seen your book’s cover appear, the more likely they are to finally take the plunge and check it out.
  5. Be LOUD! Don’t be obnoxious and post about your new book five times an hour, every hour. That’s how people unfollow/unfriend you. But don’t be afraid to post about your new work of art! Make a day-one announcement on all of our social media, and post “Thank you” to anyone who shares the post. The following day, thank everyone for their support. Purchase a one-week ad campaign to keep your book in the public’s eye for a week, and then do another thank you post after the campaign ends. Remember, the key is getting your book out there, while also keeping the public from being annoyed. Don’t make posts that say “I guess I should share this…” Be confident! “My new book is out, and if you like [genre] books, then you definitely need to check it out today! :D” You’ve got this.

Local bookstores and libraries are also your friends! Reach out to them and let them know that you want to do a book signing. Few will say no, as you are bringing in patrons 😀

Do you consider yourself a writer (whether a novelist, poet, journalist, etc.)? If so, let me know in the comments, and leave a link to where I can check out your work! And don’t be afraid to reach out if you need any help publishing or require any other publishing tools to reach your endgame.

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