US writer Richard Lowe Jr has been an indie publisher and author since late 2013, and shares the secrets of his success today with three key takeaway points:
- Treat your writing as a profession, not a hobby
- Get-rich quick schemes offered to authors do not work – only believe those who tell you that writing success requires hard work over a long time
- Learn to promote yourself first, then your books
What is your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
That’s a difficult question to answer, because I’ve had so many achievements as an indie author. I’ve written and published 63 books of my own during that period, completed 12 ghostwritten books, and coached another author through his own book (to be published shortly.) I’ve also written and published several hundred blog articles, plus all the promotional efforts to support all of this.
I’m very proud of what I’ve achieved, and I have quite a bit planned for the next three years.
However, if I had to narrow it down to one achievement, it would be one of my earlier books, Focus on LinkedIn, which reached bestseller status on Amazon. It sold over 6,000 copies in a few days.
I worked hard on this book, making sure that it was well written, professionally edited and proofread, with a great cover and a copywritten Amazon book description.
Once I had the book published, I took out an ad on SlickDeals using a special service that’s no longer available. The book took off and sold almost a thousand copies in a single day. Because of that, it gained number one in all three of its categories and got pretty high up on the list of Kindle bestsellers.
I used that to immediately apply for a Bookbub promotion, which was approved. The promotion took place about a month later, and I sold over 5,000 copies in a three-day period.
The book continues to sell well in Kindle, paperback and audiobook format. One of the reasons is that I have high credibility because I’m a Senior LinkedIn Branding Expert for a firm that specializes in writing and optimizing LinkedIn profiles. I was trained by one of the best, Donna Serdula, so I know the topic inside and out.
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
I worked at Trader Joe’s as the Director of Computer Operations for 20 years. That was a very well-paying job with a lot of perks and prestige. However, working a 9-to-5 job for the man, so to speak, wasn’t my dream.
My dream was set when I was eight years old and read a book by Isaac Asimov.
Before long, I was hunting down everything this man ever wrote, and I decided that he was my model as the perfect author. Part of the reason was he could write about anything – and he did so. And if you look at the books that I’ve written, they’re all over the map. I’ve done fiction, business books, coloring books, even a book on how to be friends with women.
In 2013, I decided it was time to pursue my dream. I’d saved up enough money that I could survive for a few years while starting a new business as a professional writer and author. That’s turned out to be a pretty good decision, although I’m not making anywhere near as much money as I made at Trader Joe’s. I am, however, much happier than I was then.
What has been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
I think the biggest surprise that I had being indie author was the sheer volume of scams and get rich quick schemes that are out there. That took me totally by surprise. For the first couple of years that I was writing, I must’ve bought dozens, maybe even a hundred, of these schemes to produce some kind of book and have it make money very quickly.
Of course, none of the schemes work.
They all seem like they might work, they all appear to make sense, and they probably made the author quite a bit of money, but like most cons they don’t work.
Trying to filter out the valid courses and techniques from the endless stream of garbage attempting to tap into the writing market has turned out to be a major challenge. There are good courses out there, and the way to find them is look for those that promise hard work over a long period of time. If there’s a promise of instant or quick sales or wealth, it’s a scam.
What has been your greatest challenge as an indie author and how have you dealt with it?
This is an easy question, because I think it’s the greatest challenge for most authors. For me, writing the book is easy. Editing, proofreading and formatting is a piece of cake. Since I’m technical, publishing the book isn’t a problem for me, especially after the first time through.
What tripped me up was promotion and marketing. Part of the problem has been the false information from other so-called experts. I’d say over 90% of it, and I’m being generous, is pure garbage or, at best, outdated.
What this means is I’ve had to chart my own course, and figure out what makes my books and my writing services sell.
How do you get and stay in a creative mood?
For me, the best way to stay in a creative mood is to write, write, and then write some more. I virtually never get writers block, and when it does happen, it usually means there is somebody somewhere who has been invalidating my writing skills, I didn’t get enough sleep, or I’ve been staring at the computer screen for way too long.
Usually, I just sit down at the computer and dictate (as I’m doing now) my words, and then go back and edit it later.
How do you remain productive and motivated?
To stay motivated, I keep my eye on the goal and the subgoals. My goal might be to write 20 books in a six-month period. Each of those books would be as subgoal, and then each chapter within each book would be a goal on its own. The idea is to break down a major, almost unapproachable, goal into small chunks that are easy to digest.
It’s much easier to focus on finishing a single chapter in two hours than it is to think about trying to write a whole book, or 20 books, or whatever. You must chop it down to prevent from being overwhelmed.
Another trick that I’ve learned to stay productive and motivated is to attend writing critique groups. In fact, I one run one of my own for science fiction authors in my local area. Hanging out with a dozen other writers, listening to what they’ve written, giving them good critique to make them better writers, and receiving the same in turn does wonders towards keeping me productive.
You see, most of the time I’m staring at a computer screen, or, in my writing consulting business, talking on Skype. These are very introverted activities, and the act of getting out and doing something with other people, such as critiquing the writing of others, helps open the flows.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
I’m beginning to earn a name in the local area as a writer, ghostwriter, and author. It’s a real kick when someone walks up to me, shakes my hand, and tells me they read my book and it made a real impact on their life.
Or, sometimes I’ll receive an email from someone who’s read one of my books and it helped them. I wrote a book on how to be friends with women, and I’ve received numerous emails from women who bought this book, read it, and understood why men were having trouble with them. It’s funny, I wrote the book for men, but my audience seems to be women.
In other words, getting acknowledgment from someone of my efforts is my favorite thing about being an author and publisher.
What are your top tips for other ALLi authors?
Build a great blog, and use it to promote yourself as an author.
Your blog should be the center of your author brand, and everything else should feed to that. This gives you a place to call home on the Internet, and an address where you can be found.
I’ve actually written a book full of tips for indie authors called Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published Author. It’s almost 300 pages long in paperback, and it’s the first of three volumes. The theme of the book is that to be a professional self-published author you need to treat it as a career, and do the work necessary.
Get-rich-quick schemes don’t work, but making the effort continuously over a period of time can do the job.
Learn how to promote and market yourself first, and then your books.
But my number one tip for indie authors would be don’t give up, it’s not a short process. Keep writing, editing, proofreading and publishing.
What’s next for you?
I have several new books in mind in the nonfiction area, and I think I’m going to venture more into fiction. I’ve started a series of short, 10,000 word books each with a very straightforward plot and a single theme. For example, the second in the series is about a criminal who finds a nuclear warhead, armed and on a timer, and must decide what to do with it. I’m working on another that is about an African slave in the 1800s.
Read more about Richard Lowe Jr on his website: www.thewritingking.comTop tips for #selfpub success from indie author @RichardLoweJr Click To Tweet