One of my primary reasons for starting this blog was to share my journey as an Indie writer with you. If you are an Indie writer, I hope you will find this information to be useful. Today marks my three month anniversary – three months ago today my novel, Life is But a Dream, was first published as an eBook on Kindle. Since then, it has been released as an eBook for Nook and as a paperback available through Amazon. I also just relased my second novel, Broken Resolutions. It has been a wild ride and here is what I have learned so far:
10. Kindleboards is a great source of information and support. If you are an Indie writer and you have not discovered Kindleboards yet, quit reading this article and Google it immediately. It is a free forum where writers (and readers) can discuss books, Kindles, etc. The “Writer’s Café” is a spot within the forum for writers to post questions, encourage each other, and rant about the writing life. I have found it to be an absolutely wonderful source of information and encouragement. Initially, I joined the forum just to promote my book. I figured if readers were there, then I wanted to be there too. But as time went on, I found the camaraderie in the Writer’s Café to be so addictive that I seldom venture outside of that venue to the reader’s boards. When Life is But a Dream broke the 10,000 ranking for books sold in the Kindle store, I went to the boards and announced it. Not long afterward, when it was in the top 2000 of all books sold in the Kindle store, I went to Kindleboards again. There is always someone there ready to give you a “Woo Hoo!” or a virtual pat on the back. And the best part is they are fellow writers (many in the top 100!) who understand the struggles and joy of writing. They instruct, inspire, and encourage me.
9. Indie Writers Unite is a great place to hang out with other writers. Okay, I have to admit it. I am not a big Facebook fan. I use it. I understand the importance of it. And I love looking at all of the photos my kids post on it. But I have never been a big fan. That is, until writer Cheryl Bradshaw started a Facebook group called Indie Writers Unite. Imagine a coffeehouse full of writers talking about writing and how to promote our latest novel or advice on a cover. Imagine a virtual group hug every time you walk in the door. I love this group and find that I now stop in daily for a quick cup of coffee.
8. Formatting is not fun. I publish my books as eBooks on Kindle and Amazon, and I also publish my books as paperbacks through CreateSpace. Which means every time I am ready to publish, I need to convert my word document into three different formats, and all of them have their own quirks. The first time I submitted a novel to Kindle, it had additional indent spaces at the beginning of every paragraph. It was easy enough to fix – after a few hours of research. Formatting for three different venues is not fun.
7. Multiple people need to proofread your work. I am convinced that if you write a book you are also the person least likely to catch typos in that same book. I have edited and rewritten books and articles for other people, but when it comes to my own work, it is impossible for me to catch all of the typos. For you see, I already know what it is supposed to say, so I sometimes see that – even when it isn’t there. Ask a few of your friends to read your manuscript before you begin uploading it for publication. It will save you some headaches.
6. Create great covers. As a writer, I think I often overlook the importance of visual appeal to readers. After all, the words are the most important thing, right? Right! But if the cover of your book is not appealing, you will never get anyone to see the words contained within. If you are not good at graphic design, find someone who is and hire them. Once you have a cover, go to Kindleboards and post it in the Writer’s Café and ask for feedback. The writers there are also readers and often have wonderful suggestions. Although I really like the cover of my first novel, Life is But a Dream, I LOVE the cover of my second novel, Broken Resolutions. I believe that is because I spent more time thinking about what kind of cover would best represent that novel.
5. Create great descriptions. You have just written an entire novel. You would think it would be easy to come up with a simple description for that novel, right? Wrong. As a novelist, I like using lots of words – just the opposite of a good description. While I didn’t realize it at the time, my first description for Life is But a Dream was about four times the ideal length. I cut it in half. And, eventually, cut it in half again until I had a description that was compelling. For Broken Resolutions, I created a short description right out of the gate. Live and learn. Look at other descriptions, and think of your description as a mini-ad for your book – not your chance to tell the reader what your book is about.
4. Promoting is necessary. I guess all writers are different, but this writer cringed at the idea of my own website, blog, and using social media to promote my books. There is just something so…uncomfortable about all of that shameless promotion. But as I began to get emails from “fans” (okay – still not used to that!) and other writers, I realized that promotion is necessary, but it is up to me to decide what to promote. I have decided to use those outlets to not only promote my work, but more importantly (for me), to encourage other writers. I never anticipated this, but from the first email I received from another writer, I realized this is even more important to me than selling the books. Of course, it would be great if the books continue to sell, but it is much more exciting for me to hear from someone who tells me that I have inspired them to write. So, that is what I choose to promote – encouragement to other writers.
3. Be Nice. We Indie Authors are all in the same boat. It takes so little to encourage one another. We really are not in competition with one another. There are enough readers for everyone. We might not have the huge budgets of traditional publishers, but we have one resource they do not – each other. Why not use that to our advantage and encourage and instruct one another? If one Indie writer succeeds, we all do. And vice versus.
2. We are in the middle of a revolution. The world of publishing will never be the same. In the history of the written word, there is absolutely no better time to be a writer. Do a quick Google search on Independent Authors or Indie Writers or eBooks or anything to do with the phenomenon known as Independent Publishing and you will be amazed at the results. The combination of the proliferation of eBooks and writers who are willing to take their fate into their own hands is similar to the Gold Rush of the 1800s. Only now we don’t have to pack up and move. And instead of a pick axe, all you need is a computer. (Note – see my article for Independent Publisher Magazine – Independent Publishing: The Wild Wild West!)
1. I really am a writer. For years I dreamed of being a writer. Even though I had written numerous articles and had even ghost written two non-fiction books, I still didn’t really feel like a writer. And I knew that I never would until one of my books was in the hands of a reader. Well, now my books are not only in reader’s hands, they are also on their Kindles and Nooks. I am a writer. I make my living writing words. I wish I could explain how that feels. If you are a writer (especially one who has struggled to be published), maybe you know exactly how I feel. If you are not a writer, I will pull out my weapons – the writer’s vocabulary – and try to explain it to you. It is…way cool.