Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What I've Learnt A Year After Publishing My First Book - An Indie Author's Perspective

This time last year I took the brave (and possibly barmy) step in self-publishing Bloodgifted, the first book in my gothic suspense, urban fantasy series, The Dantonville Legacy. I had turned down a publishing contract in favour of going indie. Did I make the right decision? Yes, I believe I did. But saying that, if a good offer came my way, who knows? There's great artistic freedom in being an indie author, but it's also a lot of hard work. I mean, A LOT. You do EVERYTHING - writing (that's the easy bit), publishing, promoting and marketing.
For me it's been a steep learning curve, and and this is what I've learnt:

1. As a writer I don't need to be on every social media site that exists. It only causes burnout. There are only so many hours in the day, and just as many things which demand our attention. You could easily spend all your time interacting and promoting your work on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google Plus, Pinterest, Tumblr … etc. Don't do it. It'll kill you! Choose three that work for you and stick to them. Believe me, it'll save your sanity.

2. Post updates on your website/blog either weekly or fortnightly. Again, unnecessary to do more unless you aim to become a professional blogger. Rather spend your time writing your book. That's what your fans are waiting for. Lure them in by providing snippets of your work - teaser extracts, images of your characters, timelines, genealogies or geographical location(s) of your story.

3. Don't expect to be an overnight success (but if you are, then good luck to you!). It takes time to build up a fan base as readers discover your books, hopefully fall in love with them and beg you for more. On average, most indie, and midlist, authors earn between $24 - $100 in their first quarter. I didn't reach the Amazon royalty threshold until recently. Only now, a year on, my sales are starting to increase.

4. Write, write, write and get that next book published. Ten months after releasing Bloodgifted, I published Book 2 in the series, Bloodpledge. Currently I'm 11,000 words into Book 3, Blood Vault, and hope to release it June next year. Once readers like the first book in a series, they'll want to read the rest. Give them what they want, for one book sale leads to another.

5. Create a great book cover and blurb. Do the research. Go to Amazon's Top 100 Best sellers in your genre and examine their covers. What make them outstanding? Check out their colours, fonts and images. Do they make you want to click that "Buy Now" button? If so, then make your cover more stunning than those. Better still, hire a professional cover designer. It's worth it. And do the same with the blurb. Which book descriptions have you reaching for the buy button? Deconstruct and then construct your own. Learn from the best.

 6. Book a blog tour. There are some excellent book bloggers out there who specialise in reviews only. If you send out ARCs at least two months before your release date, it'll give them plenty of time to read and leave those all-important reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I used Chic Lit PLus and Irresistible Reads, and I wouldn't hesitate to use them again.

So there it is - my first twelve months as a published author, and in that time Bloodgifted has earned 32 reviews, and today was ranked #82 in Gothic Romance on Amazon.
I'm happy :-)


Elizabeth Ellen Carter said...

Great advice Tima! You've done a brilliant job with the Bloodgifted promotion. You other books will be a huge success too!

Tima Maria said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, and I hope you're right. Writing these books has been so much fun, as well as jolly hard work :-)

Stephanie Jandreau said...

You're paving a beautiful path for the women authors who follow in your footsteps. It's inspiring what you've accomplished in this, your first year as a published author... two well received books and an engaging short story... Its impressive to say the least. Give up the momentum and keep writing!

Lorraine Carey said...

Good basic info here Tima. I have read all of your books and admire and look up to you. I value your advice. Thanks for sharing your tips. Yes, they may save my sanity.

Tima Maria said...

That is so kind of you, Stephanie, thank you :-) I hope my little article helps aspiring authors out there. So much has been written about indie authors giving up their day jobs for full time writing, when that only refers to a minority. The rest of us continue to plug away, earning our readership by writing great books and not giving up.

Tima Maria said...

Thank you Lorraine :-) If even one thing I've said helps you in the long run, then it's worth it. Writing is an all-consuming - but wonderfully rewarding - profession. We need to look after ourselves.

Diane said...

Congratulations on your first anniversary, Tima.

Tima Maria said...

Thanks Diane :-) I can hardly believe it's been a year, and what a journey!