I have been an indie author now for around 9 months, and it has been quite an interesting and educational journey thus far. Sales of my first two novels have been strong, and the feedback from readers has been positive.
Writing a story - a good story, one that flows, makes sense and entertains the reader - is only one part of the process. Once you have finished your story, proof-read, edited the content, formatted the layout and are happy with the results, the work is not over - not by a long shot!
Once all of the writing work is finished, you need to design an eye-catching cover (contrary to what you have been taught, people DO judge a book by its cover!), write a back page synopsis that will intrigue readers, publish and then market your book. Then you sit back and wait for readers to discover your work and, hopefully, read it.
Indie authors have to be more than just authors, they also have to market and promote their work, but they should never try and sell their work to readers. Books are not like other consumer products and unless you are writing a non-fiction book that contains information that someone has to have, nobody really needs to read your fictional masterpiece.
This doesn't mean you cannot sell your book, but you cannot sell the book by trying to convince people to buy it. Instead you need to make potential readers aware of your work, provide snippets of your story as a teaser, and get potential readers interested in perhaps reading your story. Think about this: has anyone ever come up to you and talked you into purchasing a book? No, probably not. Instead you are likely to have purchased a book based on the recommendation of a friend, through picking up an interesting looking book at a book store or library or you became aware of a certain book or author as the result of a review you read.
As an indie author, marketing can be done in several ways. Traditional publishing houses have large budgets and can make potential readers aware of new works through national advertising campaigns on TV, radio, internet and print advertising. The average indie author doesn't have that kind of budget, so what can they do to make people aware of their book?
First, take the time to establish an author page on Amazon and create an interesting profile, one which will make potential readers want to investigate your books. Second, set up a website and provide more information about yourself and provide photos of your books and include some teaser pages from each book. Make sure you link the books to where they are being sold on Amazon or other e-tailers such as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, etc.
You should also start a blog, which can be incorporated into your webpage and begin to write posts at regular intervals. Use your blog posts to provide your followers with interesting information, but do not use your blog strictly to flog your books. Your blog should allow readers some insight into your personality, your qualifications and can offer helpful advice on topics with which you are familiar. By creating interesting and appealing blog posts, potential readers will become familiar with your style and may decide to read your books.
There are also a myriad of paid advertising sites, some making outrageous promises that they will make your book a #1 bestseller. Be very cautious where you spend your money on paid advertising - check out author forums, research online reviews of the advertising company and don't be afraid to ask other authors their opinion of what forms of advertising worked well for them. In the end though, you are trying to make your books visible to potential readers so they are aware of your book.
Writing should be a passion, done because you enjoy writing. In reading author forums such as the Amazon community forum, it quickly becomes apparent that a lot of new authors believe that writing and publishing a book is a means to becoming rich. The reality is that most indie authors are lucky to earn $500.00 a year from their book sales; a part-time job would generate a lot more income for you so if you think writing a book is a means to becoming a millionaire, think again.
If you wish to generate some additional income, add paid-click ads on your website. These ads can be placed using Google Adsense and, if you qualify and meet Google's requirements, can generate some additional income for you every time a visitor clicks an advertiser's link.
If you have written a good story, formatted and edited your book, designed a professional looking cover and made people aware of you and your book, you will get sales. The sales may come in slowly or quickly, but they will come. You may never be a New York Times bestseller, but you may just end up entertaining people. In the end, as a story teller, isn't that what we all want?