As a self-published author of two books, the last eight months have been a constant learning experience. A lot of it has been the “oh fuck, I should’ve known this before” sorts.
Here are the top 10 things I learnt as a new Indie author, even if some of it might sound absolutely useless to some.
- I did close to ZERO research on promoting the first book. So all the ‘5 ways to sell your book’ articles were gobbled up after my debut book was out in the market. You need to read them up before publishing. Not after.
- Focus on building your social media presence before your first book is out. It’s okay if you are not even sure when it will be published. Just start getting active on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and whatever platform you deem suitable to promote a book.
- I did not have a GoodReads account. It’s where all the readers are. And it is one of the best places online to get people talking about your book. So you know where to be.
- Twitter was a ‘I don’t understand this shit’ territory for me. Despite having an account since 2011, I was never really active there. There is a burgeoning ‘writing community’ on the site, with a lot of supportive members. So get on to Twitter and start tweeting.
- If you are self-publishing via Amazon, do not use their free promotional period on the very first week of the book’s release. First, let all those who you know are willing to pay for your work buy it. And once you think everybody who would have paid for the book has gotten it — go in for the free promotional campaign. Everybody loves free books. Especially total strangers.
- Cross-link as much as you can. If you are active on multiple social media sites, drop all relevant links. For example, if you have a blog where you do book reviews, leave a link to your book at the end too. Along with links to your other social medial profiles. My insta handle is writer_jaiswal and my twitter handle is miss_jaiswal. See what I did there? Moving on to point number seven…
- There is pretty much no point in reaching out to small individual reviewers, unless they are genuinely interested in your book. Go through their reviews, a lot of them have generic template bullshit that could apply to 100+ other books. Nobody is going to buy your book by reading that.
- Get active on the Q-A site Quora and use relevant questions to promote your book. I see a lot of writers doing that and it works in their favour. In fact, some people first get famous by writing answers on Quora and then use that following to promote their book. There are writers out there who have published books by just compiling their Quora answers. Nifty little trick.
- Do not at any point feel bad about having to do all the promotional work all by yourself just because you couldn’t land a deal with a traditional publisher. Even with a traditional publisher to your name, you still have to do the promotions largely by yourself. So it’s still a lot of hard-work. I have seen famous traditionally published writers with less than 5,000 followers on sites like Instagram. While a lot of random unknown people tend to have 10k plus followers. Unless you are JK Rowling level famous, you HAVE TO engage with people online to build a following. Doesn’t matter if the most prestigious publisher in the world printed your debut novel.
- Try and NOT pay for reviews. I have NEVER paid for reviews. While I don’t mind giving my book for free in exchange of a review, I wouldn’t pay anything for it. Promotional pages with more than 100,000+ followers have reached out to me, asking me if I would be interested in having them review my book for an XYZ sum. It’s obviously very tempting to let somebody with a large following do a review for you. But hey, if they are taking money for it, they are probably just interested in the money, not your book. And despite their claims of ‘we will do a honest review’, they are going to be kinder to you, just because you’ve paid them. So you are not going to get a genuine evaluation of your content. And such reviews are just misleading for readers.
Note to readers: This was originally published on Medium.com, where I’ve just started writing. If you are fellow Medium writer, let’s connect – https://medium.com/@writer_jaiswal. I’ll follow back 🙂