New authors mistakenly think the hardest part of writing a book is the creation and completion of the manuscript. The manuscript is only the first step of a long journey.
I have been involved in the creation process of books with my wife who has published more than 20 books. As she tells people that she is an author she usually gets comments like "I have considered writing a book. What did you have to do to get it published?" Everyone I have met is genuinely curious because deep down inside everyone thinks they have an interesting story to tell and book they would like to write.
Below are 10 tips for Indie writers to consider when getting ready to publish your book.
Tip #1 - Start a Critique Group
Many authors fail to get feedback from their family, friends or peers on their advanced copy. Plot holes, character development, typos, punctuation, flow of the manuscript and other suggestions are all key pieces of feedback to consider as you finish your book. Even getting feedback on the cover is vital. Sadly, many people judge a book by its cover. Is it hard to receive criticism? Absolutely! But it is vital.
Tip #2 - Hire an Editor
When self publishing your first book if funds are tight, approach an English major. Once you have more money hire a professional. Beware of sharks! Research what the standard rates are. Don't get ripped off. Your critique group may not be able to tell you exactly what they feel about your book because they do not want to hurt your feelings and they are not your editors per se. Hence the reason hiring a professional editor is critical. A true editor will be able to provide valuable insight and recommendations to make your books that much better and more professional.
"If you only do one thing as an Indie author, hire an editor." – All serious authors know this
Tip #3 - People judge books by the cover
Know your genre. Research the top 100 covers in your genre to get an idea what the expectations are. Scrolling is the new way of shopping. Make sure that even as a thumbnail the genre is evident. You have a nano second to transmit your genre. If you are artistic you can create your own cover on Canva Pro. If not, getcovers offers custom covers for $35. Other sites sell premade covers. If you decide to pay an artist to create a cover expect to pay anywhere from $250 to $600 or more. Warning: Make sure your artist understands the covers in your genre. You should notice that many books in your genre have a similar look.
Tip #4 - Do I need an agent?
The short answer is No. In the old paradigm of traditional publishing an agent was a good idea. Having someone knocking on publisher’s doors for you was a way to get your book published. In this new paradigm of Indie publishing, print-on-demand and ebooks an agent is an unnecessary step and an added cost or allocation of sales revenue out of your pocket. There may be a good use case for an agent such as if you are famous. Otherwise it is one less outgoing expense.
Tip #5 - What is your marketing strategy?
Relying on word of mouth, your Facebook friends, twitter or X and other social media platforms will only take you so far in making money. Advertising is key to selling more than a few books a week or month. There are many platforms to choose from, i.e., Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Twitter (X), Google and many others. Probably the first thing to know is who your target audience is, their age ranges, interests, what platform do they primarily use, do they have disposable income to buy your books or would their parents buy it for them, etc.? Depending on what you find out or understand about your audience will determine where you should invest your money to increase your sales. Once you choose which platform on which to advertise you will need to invest for a few months versus just one time. Begin slow. You can advertise on Facebook for as little as $3 a day. I recommend trying an ad for at least a week so that Meta can gather enough data for you to analyze. As you earn money from your books, slowly increase your Facebook ad spend per month. Amazon ads are complicated and time consuming to create and monitor. Auto ads are the best bet if short on time and not too expensive. Amazon ads cost way less than Facebook but are not as effective. Expect to spend $500 or more a month to see results and monitor it in real-time. Consistency is key. If your ad is not getting the results you expect consider tweaking the image, fonts, slogan, animation, colors, etc., to see if your sales pick up. Constantly monitoring and improving your ads will become a regular routine.
Tip #6 - How many books should I print?
Vanity Press will print a run for you. Is it worth it? Are you going to spend time approaching bookstores and libraries to carry your books? They do not market your books whatever they say. Print on demand and eBooks are the new paradigm. No upfront costs. No print runs. Correct mistakes as you notice them or as others bring them to your attention without having to do a new print run. Once you make the updates to your book online the mistakes are gone.
Tip #7 - Is this your first book?
If this is your first book you want to give your readers a link to your website where they can go to learn more about you, what you are working on, more insight into your book characters, etc.? If this is not your first book make sure you reference and have links to your other books so they can easily purchase them with the click of a link. Series are what sell today and make you more money.
Tip #8 - Paperback or eBook?
Why not both? You can have a print and digital edition. Printed copies are usually more expensive, but some people just enjoy and want that paper feel in their hands. Others have transitioned to E-readers such as kindle or nook and love the convenience, portability and protection from the weather.
Tip #9 - What should I charge for my book?
This is a very tough question. You should have a strategy to help you determine the price point. Do you plan to write many books? Do you want to get your name out there with your first book to “hook” the reader into buying your other ones at a more expensive price? Do you plan to offer your book at a low introductory price for a specific time frame and then raise it after? Amazon thinks the ideal price range for eBooks is between $.99 and $2.99. If your strategy is to write a series of books you may want to price your first book cheaper than the subsequent books to make it easy for new readers to “invest” in your book at an inexpensive price entry point. I have noticed that many authors start their first book at $.99 or $1.99 as many readers are willing to “risk” buying it at that price point because they are not really losing anything. Once you have a following of readers then you can start pricing it even higher such as $3.99 to $6.99. Paperback book pricing varies on the number of pages and other factors but unless you are a top seller it is not optimal to sell your book above $12.99 to $15.99 each. Once again it goes back to your strategy.
Tip #10 - Do you have a newsletter?
One of the downsides of selling your book on Amazon is you never know who is purchasing your book. Thus, it is hard to do direct marketing since Amazon and others do not share that information with you. Starting a newsletter on your website and getting people to subscribe to it is a great way to have direct contact with your readers and fanbase. Consider investing in BookFunnel or some other subscription service to assist you in managing your subscribers. Once a member of BookFunnel you can join promotions with groups of other authors in your genre to cross pollinate. Most will require a free reader magnet. This is a novella (20,000 to 30,000 words) that is related to your series. Its purpose is to introduce your writing style, genre and characters to new readers. The hope is they will like it and go to buy your full length books. In order to read the magnet they must enter their email address which BookFunnel captures for you.
What are the ten most common mistakes authors make?
In my next blog I will explain how to avoid some common mistakes authors make.