Each Sunday we interview a super-successful indie author who provides an inspiring role model to self-published writers everywhere. They share the secrets of their success, their working methods and their ambitions – and in answer to our final question, they offer their top tip for other indie authors. Here’s are some of our favourite tips, to provide you with inspiration as we approach the New Year.
Focus on your Writing
“Write your books with the idea that no one will ever read them. This will allow you to take risks, worry less about following trends and conventions, and produce your best work.” Hugh Howey
“Know exactly what it was that made you start writing in the first place. Put it into one sentence and pin it to your wall and never get distracted from that, no matter how much temptation comes your way.” Dan Holloway
“Produce content. I see too many people thinking they’ll get lucky or they can promote themselves into success… Might as well play the lottery. It takes a lot less work and has the same odds. Those who will make a good career out of this are the ones who write a lot, run a solid business and are willing to take risks for the future.” Bob Mayer
“Write the next book! I’ve seen writers waste too much time planning Facebook parties and agonizing over price points and free giveaways. All of that is important, but the best thing you can do for yourself and your growing fan base is to write the next book. It’s much easier to sell the third, fourth, fifth, sixth book, then the first or second… You have to prepare for the long haul… You’re going to be selling your books for years, so spend time making them really good, and the readership will grow!” Barbara Freethy
Make Your Book the Best It Can Be
“Publish your books as if billions of people will read them. This will ensure that you edit and format the works to perfection, that you’ll grace them with brilliant covers, and that you’ll promote them with catchy blurbs.” Hugh Howey
“Be careful not to put a book out into the world until you are sure that it is your very best work and professional in all respects (writing, editing, cover design, formatting, etc.). As with anything, you get only one chance to make a first impression, and every reader deserves a quality product.” Darcie Chan
“As much as it is quick and easy to upload a book nowadays, don’t rush. Make it as good as you can, no matter how long it takes. ” Mel Sherratt
Remember Your Readers
“It’s all about the reader. My mantra when faced with a dilemma is: “Will this make my readers excited and delighted and ready to jump for joy?” If the answer is yes, it’s the right thing to do.” C J Lyons
“Don’t forget your readers. Above all else, don’t forget your readers.” Steena Holmes
“Approach your writing the way you would a job or business. Develop a work ethic, but also put in place a clear strategy for your novel – have a budget for editing and a plan for marketing and social media. Set aside time to look for opportunities to get reviewed and to enter competitions. While a few writers will make it big with only word of mouth, most have to invest time and resources in getting their work in the hands, Nooks and Kindles of readers. The better you structure this effort, the more successful your work is likely to become. Allocate time to write and time to sell and promote.” Ezekel Alan
Keep Good Company
“Surround yourself with other indie authors who are reaching for the same things you are. Always be willing to learn and don’t stop writing.” Steena Holmes
“Talk to other successful indie authors. Find out what worked for them, and what didn’t… It’s impossible for one pair of eyes to take everything in so join with others to keep looking, listening and learning. Then share it. We’ve all been on unique journeys in indie publishing, so we’ve all got our own nuggets of useful information.” Joe Cawley
“Learn the business, share what you learn, and you’ll be fine. There’s a huge learning curve, even for an author who’s been around a while and is familiar with the traditional book world. But there’s no reason to reinvent the wheel. The good news is that indie authors are very generous and helpful. Ask around. We’re a very friendly lot, indie authors. Don’t you think so?” Diane Capri
Be True to Yourself
“Spend some time thinking about what you really want, and be honest about your goals for this book, and also your life as an author. If you just want to write one book, brilliant! Write it and launch it with a few friends but I wouldn’t worry about the business side too much. But if you want to be an author who makes a full-time living from writing, then you need to educate yourself around the publishing, marketing and business side. Professional authors can no longer be just writers, we also need to be entrepreneurs. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be in this business right now, but you have to be sure you want to join us on the journey. If you do, the Alliance of Independent Authors is a fantastic community to join and learn from. ” Joanna Penn
“Go creative! That means thinking long term, working hard in a spirit of experimentation, staying steady and true to yourself through failures and setbacks. Less checking out your stats and reviews and more focus on what you have to offer as a writer, why a reader should give over time and money to your books. This is a wonderful time to be a writer so don’t give up. Try, try hard. Fail. Then as Sam Beckett put it, “Try Again. Fail again. Fail better”. That’s the creative way – for publishing as well as writing.” Orna Ross
Next Sunday novelist Kristen James will be in the spotlight, telling us how she has sold nearly 100,000 books in two and a half years. In the meantime, if you’d like to read in full all our Sunday “How I Do It” interviews from 2013, please click here.
What would be YOUR top tip from 2013? Please do feel free to share it via the Comments section below!