June 27, 2012

The Ever Changing Indie World


Welcome back to Indie Talk!

The indie world is in a constant state of flux. Rules and programs at Amazon and Barnes and Noble seem to change with the wind. Should you or should you not jump onto the KDP Select bandwagon? What about Nook First? Should you take out an ad on the Kindle Boards in hopes of your book rocking to the tops of the charts or do a blog tour instead? Or both? Which promo is the best promo? Which ereader is best, the Kindle or Nook? Is Amazon the good guy or the bad guy? Will Barnes and Noble survive or follow Borders to book store heaven?

These are the questions indie writers ask on a daily basis. The best advice I can give you is to do a lot of research before making any big decisions. Read up on and study all the programs and advertising offered at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Join indie writer groups where indies talk shop.



But remember, don't spend TOO MUCH TIME contemplating. Don't waste too much time researching and talking to other indies. Just dive on in and take the plunge. Get your books out there and write the next book. Just as any business venture is a risk, so is indie publishing and just like anything new, there is a lot of trial and error invovled. That's why it is great to join indie groups. You can save a lot of time by talking to others who have gone before you. Listen to them! ESPECIALLY THE SUCCESSFUL AUTHORS! There are a handful of indie writers who I always listen to because they have been an indie longer than I have and they sell a ton of books and have a huge readership. And all of these people say that they don't waste a whole helluva lot of time on promo. They all say the best promo is writing the next book, so that's what I try to do. Sometimes I'm tempted to go do a blog tour or tweet or blab on FB about one of my titles but I resist that urge, click onto documents and open up that current WIP.

With that said, there are some tips I can give you, things I've learned along the way so far on this indie journey.


Cover Art


Find a cover artist you can afford who you've heard good things about from your fellow writers. Look at his or her cover art and negotiate a price. You can get great cover art for less than 50 dollars...even 25 bucks or free if you're working out a trade with another writer who does cover art. If you know Photo Shop, you're one step ahead of the game. Your cover artists should be easy to work with and should be happy to tweak your cover until your 100% satisfied. But don't be an ass to work with either. In other words, don't be one of those unsatisfied writers who is never happy. You hired your cover artist for a reason. You can't do the dang things! Let them do their job! They very often have a much better eye for this type of art. Give them some creative freedom and you'll be pleasantly surprised at what they will design with just a blurb. Remember to use large fonts for your author name. You want your readers to remember who wrote the book.

Promo

Word of mouth is still the best promo...well except for writing that next book. Get your book reviewed...A LOT! There are tons of genre specific review blogs and review sites out there. Request your book to be reviewed and send that baby out! Don't spend too much money on promo. You can promote your book for free by blogging with excerpts and teasers, on Twitter and Facebook. Spend your money on services that will get your book out there like cover art, formatting and editing. Don't be a Promo Ho! It gets super annoying to your fellow writers and even readers. Let the readers be the gatekeepers they were meant to be. If you have a great book, others will buy it because their friends liked it. Write that next book!


Readers


Cherish your readers! And no matter what kind of review you get for any book, thank your readers. If a reader writes you about your book, write them back until you're too huge of an author to handle the fan mail...lol. Seriously. Do it. They deserve it. Have fun contests for your readers on your web site and blog. Readers love contests! Do book signings and author chats even though they aren't worth it financially..they most definitely are worth the connection to your readers! And they're one of the most fun things you can do. Get to know your readers! You'll be glad you did!

Reviews

Reviews are an interesting thing for an indie author, especially when a book really takes off. You're going to get A LOT of reviews and you're going to get the "Rainbow Effect", from 1 stars to 5 stars. Cherish those five stars. They're easy to read. As for the other reviews, read the constructive criticism and listen to your readers. Again, thank your readers for their reviews, good or bad. Vent to your friends and fellow authors when you get crazy reviews that have nothing constructive contained within and make you wonder if the person even read the book. Don't ever and I repeat, DON'T EVER RESPOND TO THOSE REVIEWS, unless it is to thank the reader for reding your book and leaving a review. There are some who will disagree with me on this. I think if a reader writes you an email and has questions about the plot, etc., it is okay to respond but to a review, I say NEVER. Now listen carefully, if you put your work out there, whether you're a painter, a sculptor, a playwrite, a musician, or a writer...whatever, you are GOING TO GET CRAPPY REVIEWS from time to time. Don't believe me? Go to Amazon and find the biggest, most successful author you can think of. Go read their reviews. You will find a mixed bag of reviews. This is part of the business, folks. Put on your big girl panties and deal with it. If you're a new indie author, you need to know this upfront. And by dealing with it, I mean this: 1) You can either read the reviews and shrug and then go back to writing if occassional 1 star reviews do not bother you. And unless you're dead, they probably will bother you, at least until you grow a thicker skin. Or you can, 2) Totally ignore them. Good and bad. That's what I do. In saying that, I mean that I don't go to my book pages at Amazon and Barnes and Noble and look for new reviews. Occasionally someone will tell me they wrote a review or if I go check my book's ranking, I may notice a review that was posted a couple of months before. Now if I get a bad review, I read it and move on. (And I this didn't happen overnight. I had to force myself to NOT go look.) I almost always thank the reader for the review. I've received some strange emails from readers and I also responded to those. Always respond professionally. Thank the reader for the email, try to answer their questions and never get too personal. Keep it about the book or writing. And remember, your indie writing groups are where you can vent about a nutty review or a crazy email, or even on FB if you have a page for just your personal friends, which is separate from your readers. This is something we all go through and something we can laugh about. An occupational hazard. Hey, we could have worse jobs, believe me. At least we aren't plumbers. Those people REALLY deal with crap. We just have to wade through virtual crap from time to time. Get over it and move on.

Authors

The writing world is really very small when it comes to those of us who create books. I've met so many fantastic writers over the years. When I go into a book store, I can browse the aisles and find many, many books from valued friends. What a wonderful feeling that is to know so many talented writers! Cherish your close writer friendships and help one another. Promo each other's new releases, have your friends on your blog, read their books, review their books, go to their book signings and listen to their advice on writing, characterization, the market, editing, formatting, cover art. They are your backbone before you send your book out into the world. Remember, they are readers too and they can help you more than anyone because they understand and many have more experience than you do. Band together and form writer's groups, great blogs, and even great books! Your writer friends may be your second best promo tool! And thank your friends! Cherish them!

I hope I was able to educate you a little bit on indie publishing these past three weeks and I hope you practice some of these tips. I've learned them from great writers who came before me.

Have a great week!
~Alisha

21 comments:

Liese said...

Thanks for sharing! These were great ideas! And I do cherish our friendship as well!

Marian L said...

Great post and educational, Marian

VICKI BATMAN, said...

I cherish our friendship too. And helping my fellow PP gals is a pleasure. Thank you, Alisha, for blogging about this significant topic.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Great post!! Thank you for telling us about being an indie author! I also cherish our friendship!

Alisha said...

Awwww...thank you, Liese, Vicki and Karilyn! I'm so very lucky to be a princess with such wonderful ladies!

Alisha said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marian. :)

Pamela Stone said...

Alisha,

Great post, as usual. Thanks so much for the information on going indie. Very educational.

Alisha said...

Thanks, Pamela! :)

Karen Cote said...

You know I'm avidly watching this conversation, right? LOL. It is valuable information Alisha and you are obviously going the extra mile in delivering it. I want you to know it is appreciated and note-worthy. Thank you for sharing your time.

Linda Steinberg said...

Thanks, Alisha, for doing this series. The indie world is confusing and intimidating and you've done a lot toward demystifying it.

Liz Lipperman said...

Another wonderful blog and an end to a terrific series on indie publishing. Seriously, Alisha, this was so informative. I agree with you 100% on this last blog. If writers think they have a thick skin because of the rejections, wait unit they get that first 1 star review. One reviewer said--Move on. Move on__ I wanted to tell her where to move on to, but then I realized this is her opinion and I'm grateful that she took the time to read my story.

Phyllis said...

Thank you Alicia!

You've been so helpful with this series. I'm learning the ropes and your holding up one end of it with your insights. We are so lucky to have you at PP!

Kathy Ivan said...

These remarkable blog posts have been invaluable with all the information you've shared with us. Helping debunk some of the erroneous information as well as providing us with FACTS, that's what I call helpful all around.

Thanks so much for sharing with us and for being a remarkable PP gal!

Alisha said...

Thanks for your sweet comment, Karen! I'm happy you've enjoyed Indie Talk.

Alisha said...

Move on, Liz? Grrr! Talk about having to put on some REALLY OVER SIZED Granny panties on! These are the times you go make some of that yummy Rattlesnake Pasta and forget about it! BTW, I made some and LOVED it! My husband told me to get all your recipies..lol!

Alisha said...

You are so welcome, Phyllis! I'm so very proud to be a princess! I learn so much from all of you. I'm already looking forward to the next retreat. I could use some plotting help on my current WIP. Normally I'm such a pantster but really I think I'm evolving into more a plotster like Liz. I'm happy you've enjoyed this indie series! Hugs!

Alisha said...

Thanks so much, Kathy! I'm REALLY happy to debunk some of those crazy idie myths out there and provide some TRUE facts about indie publishing. Thank you for all you do for the PP!! You rock!

Kathleen Baldwin said...

I appreciated your advice to not respond to negative reviews. And especially the part about developing a thick skin.

You're so right! Good advice.

Jane Graves gives the same caution.

When we put something up for public display, whether art, music, or a book, we will get reviews - good and bad.
One of my favorite art professors used to say, "Kathleen, you WANT people to respond strongly. Even if it's with strong dislike. The worst thing that can happen is if they walk past your painting and shrug. Apathy is the enemy. Not hate. Apathy means they felt nothing. Art is about evoking an emotion."

No sense getting in a pissing match with a bad reviewer. Instead, pat yourself on the back and say, "Controversy sells."

Kathleen Baldwin said...

Oh, I forgot to say, the professor told me that after we found some grad students defacing one of my sculptures.

In the end,I was the first undergrad to hold a one woman show. so, pooh on them.

Alisha said...

Wow, Kathleen!!! Defacing your sculpture! There are some seriously evil, mean people out there. I love that you were the only one with a show..ha ha! I've had to learn this too. It was John Locke who said if we aren't pissing off our readers, we aren't doing our jobs. Now I do take it as a compliment when I receive highly charged emotional reviews, whether good or bad. Lately I'm getting emails from a reader who feels very strong about an element in my story...so strong that she wants me to change it in the next book...I love that! She is so bothered by this fictional character and his behavaior that she wants me to fix him. I love that! Thanks for your comments!

Alisha said...

Forgot to say how much I adore Jane Graves. She alwyas give such good advice. I've always loved her lectures and her books. A neat lady!