Thursday, January 31, 2013

10 Things I Learned about being an Independent Author

Becoming an Independent Author was a huge learning experience for me. I've always gone the traditionally published route, having a publisher who took care of book cover images, editing, and Pre Release reviews. However, when I released GOOD INTENTIONS in e-book and print format I had a huge learning curve to maneuver. I was so far behind the eight ball it wasn't even funny. I made mistakes, asked questions, and basically floundered a bit until I got into my groove. However, by then, I'd missed my Pre Release and Release opportunities. I don't want you to make the same mistakes I did. I know I won't. So, here are ten important things I learned about being an Independent Author.

1. You are it. You are author, publisher, promotion and marketing, and distribution. You do it all. Be prepared for a lot of hard work ahead of you. But, the growth and learning experiences are worth it. Many of you will go the expensive route and pay some PR company to do the work for you. All I can say is "Don't Do It!". I got some very sage advice from a NYT best-selling author. What can a PR firm do for you? Will they put you on the best seller's list? If they can't guarantee that, then they aren't worth spending all that money on something you can do for yourself. Save the money. Go to Hawaii. Then, write a book while in Hawaii.

2. Edit. Edit. Edit. I can't say that enough. Edit. If you are going to spend any money on your book, this is the place to do it. Get a professional, I can't stress that enough, PROFESSIONAL to edit your book. Don't pay just anyone. Ask for credentials. Ask for references. Ask. Join a critique group. Do what you can to make sure your book is as error-free as possible. Then check it again.

3. Build your social medial author platform. Have your website, blog, twitter account, Facebook Author Page, and whatever other social media medium you want to add to your author platform ready and working. Blog about your book during Pre Release, Release and Post Release. And remember to blog in between. Have an active blog with interesting content. Build your followers. If you don't know what or how to blog, do a Google search for "Author Blogging Tips".

4. Advanced Reading Copy (ARC). Have one. Get your ARC reviewed before Release. Get reviewers lined up during Pre Release and get the ARC to them. Be prepared to have a properly formatted PDF file for reviewers to read. If you don't know how or are unable to create a PDF file from your book document, ask someone to help you.

5. Promote. Promote. Promote. Promotion will take up the majority of your time. Break up your promotion into three parts. Pre-Release. Release. And Post Release. Let me repeat myself: Promotion will take up the majority of your time. Be prepared. Clear your schedule. Pre-Release promotion will be the most important. You must build up interest in prospective readers. Get reviews. Send out that ARC. (Advanced Reading Copy) The majority of your reviews must come out of your Pre-Release promotion schedule. Release promotion requires you to do your guest posting, Blog Hops, Blog Tours, and Interviews. Schedule these in advance so you can time with your Release. Post Release promotion can consists of more Blog Hops, Blog Tours and Interviews. However, you might not get as many reviews during this time.

6. Promotional Materials. You will need at the minimum: business cards, bookmarks, and brochures. You can either find a reputable and economical printer/designer or you can use VistaPrint or any other online printing company that you've received good feedback about. It's good to have these printed as soon as possible. Usually the printer/designer will need a cover image and headshot to create these. So, make sure your book cover is ready in plenty of time.

7. Blog Hops and Blog Tours. Organizing a Blog Hop takes a lot of your time. Think about it before committing. The best time for a Hop is during Release or Post Release. A Blog Hop is when you organize a group of authors to all post at the same time. Usually, they've all answered a pre-made list of questions. At the end of their post, they will add the URL addresses of each blogger in the Hop. You can have it run from one day to several days. Your choice, if you are organizing the Hop. I suggest you use a spreadsheet to track everyone who submits their blog for review and then have a set criteria for measuring each blog to determine if it meets your Hop's requirements. Blog Tours usually occur when you, the author, guest post on a number of blogs within a span of time. I've seen Tours run from a few days to a week to a month, depending on the number of bloggers willing to participate. Again, use a spreadsheet to track where and when you will be guest posting and the topic you will cover. Usually the blogger will give you a list of questions to answer, or ask for your book promo material, or let you write a small blog post. Mix it up so that you aren't doing the same thing for each blogger. Don't forget to Promote. Promote. Promote.

8. Radio Interviews. Do Them. Don't forget about radio. Get your interviews lined up. Internet radio shows are important too. Find ones that relate well to your book and get on during the release of your book. Google search your "book topic and radio" and follow through on submitting requests for interviews. Again, you may be given a list of questions the interviewer will ask, or it may be completely off the cuff. Be prepared to talk about your book(s), your writing life, your personal life, and anything in between.

9. Are you ready to release? Don't release your book until you are absolutely sure you have all your ducks in a row and you are ready. Your book has been edited to an inch of its life. You have all your Pre Release reviews completed. You have your Blog Hops and Tours, and Interviews scheduled for Release. You've cleared your schedule of anything that might interfere with promotion. Your book cover is completed and looks great. You've put the correct copyright date on your book. You have the correct ISBN for your book. If you are releasing an e-book and print book at the same time, make sure they have separate ISBN's. Do you have business cards, bookmarks, and brochures printed and ready to send and distribute?

10. Write your next book. Make sure you build in time in your schedule to write your next book. It's important to have more work to do. You are only as good as your last book, so keep your readers satisfied with more books for them to look forward to.

I'm sure there are more things people have come up with that are important to remember when publishing as an Independent author. For those of us who are Indie Authors, we've run into every situation possible. Take heed from our advice if you want to go the Independent route.

Be prepared.

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