A little over a year ago I finished writing my first novel, edited and proof-read it (or so I thought!), purchased a photo from one of the photo licencing sites, choose a pre-made cover from Amazon and then published my book. At that point I thought I was done, but boy, was I wrong!
Within a matter of days I realized that I had made a number of mistakes, not the least of which was a poor file upload that ended up with numerous formatting errors and, to my horror, grammatical and spelling errors. I quickly took down my book, reworked it and then republished, but not before others had purchased the e-book.
A week or so later, the print copies I had ordered arrived, and I was again moritifed at the end product. It looked very unprofessional and I hated the book. Rather than just hit the "unpublish" button, I went back and made yet more changes. I corrected more formatting and spelling errors, changed the size of my book, and changed the cover again, but I still used one of the "canned" cover backgrounds from Amazon. This effort was better, but it still wasn't what I thought to be acceptable.
I didn't like the cover and quickly noticed dozens of other authors had used similar backgrounds (although my photo was unique) and to me, this stood out like a sore thumb. I started researching cover designers online and found that the cost involved for hiring a professional was unrealistic; this was, afterall, not something with which I had intended to earn a living doing, so I wasn't about to invest thousands into my cover design.
Never one to give up, I started looking at crowd sourcing sites and found one that I thought might work: DesignCrowd.com. The premise was simple enough, you create an account and post your requirements and then freelance designers place a bid. You can select the designer based on price as well as through reviewing their previous work. Through this service I found the designer which I continue to use today for all of my cover designs.
With a new cover design done, I relaunched my book for a third time, and I saw an immediate jump in sales. At the same time I was finishing my 2nd novel, and this time I got the formatting, proof-reading and cover design done right the first time. The end result was that my 2nd book launch was much smoother, and more professional in appearance than my 1st book.
Still, I wasn't done. I soon discovered that an Indie author has to not only write, but promote. With millions of e-books and print books available through Amazon alone, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd in a VERY crowded marketplace.
I will write about marketing techniques I have tried in a later blog post, some that worked well, and others that simply went nowhere. Suffice to say, being an Indie means you are the author, publisher, marketer and retailer all in one.
As far as getting attention for your book, there are a few key things that you must do:
1) Write a really good story, one that hooks the reader immediately.
2) Ensure the formatting is done correctly. There are numerous online forums that can help you with this task.
3) Do the best proofing of your book that you can. While even large publishers can miss some grammar or spelling errors, if your book is loaded with them, you will annoy and chase away readers.
4) Design a VERY GOOD book cover, one that reflects the story you have written and catches the eye of a potential reader.
5) Write a good preview, one that will catch the interest of a reader and make them want to read more.
6) Create an author profile. You can do this on Amazon, and you can, and should, set up your own website. This is an excellent way to connect with readers while providing information about your work.
If you do all this, and the stars align correctly, you may just sell a few books!