Tag: indie publishing

Indie Marketing

Indie Marketing

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So I’ve been planning and working on this whole indie publishing thing for quite a while, figuring things out, understanding processes, finding tools, working out Amazon and its particular tools and procedures, and so on. At this point, I feel like I’ve got a fair grip on the production side of things. Not that I know nearly enough, but I think I might be on the upslope of the Dunning Kruger bowl.

Believe it or not, however, the production piece is the easy piece. Fundamentally, the step from finished manuscript to e-book and even paperback, in current days, is primarily technical skills. And technical skills that, honestly, aren’t incredibly complicated anymore. That was probably not the case even five or six years ago. But, in that respect, the barrier to entry is actually lower than ever. The tools and experience out there are such that you can teach yourself those technical skills, no matter how tech phobic you might be. Patience and practice. Yes, I’m deliberately leaving out cover design. That’s as much art as tech to that, and finding the right combination of imagery, font, and layout is not necessarily easy; I don’t claim to be good at it, but I do like what I’ve produced so far.

And you thought the hard part was writing the book, but that gets easier the more practice you get, too. Not that it’s ever necessarily easy, and not that it isn’t a massive pain in the ass sometimes, but that’s the piece of things you became a writer for, right?

No, the hard part is the marketing. More importantly, it’s the marketing on a super tight budget. Or, depending on what kind of other commitments you have in life, the marketing on no budget.

There are a tremendous number of theories on marketing for independent authors and artists (and there is actually a crazy amount of talent that there). My research, because that’s the way you have to look at it, research, seems to indicate that there is no one right answer, surprise. You have to find the combination of things that works for you and put your name in front of the people who want to see your work.

For me, I don’t really have much of a budget. I’m actually loath to spend any money that doesn’t somehow contribute to the well-being of my family or its future. My immediate plan involves mostly social media. With, once I’ve had a tiny bit of success with that, adding in some contests and giveaways, and building some engagement tools.

Most of us treat social media like a time sink, something to do when we have nothing to do. It’s also a way keep up on what’s going on in our friends’ lives, engage in political debate, confirm our existing biases, and even discover new things that we might not have run across before.

I’ve got Facebook going, trying not to put too much of my writing and publishing stuff in front of my friends on my personal stream and getting most of it to my author page. I’ve you do things too much on your personal page, I think it seems like you want all of your friends to come and buy your stuff. And that’s not what I want. I do want my friends to know that I have stuff, maybe buy it if they like the look of it. If you’re reading this and we know each other, whether it’s virtually or in real life, and you don’t normally read science fiction or fantasy, honestly, spend your money on stuff you will actually enjoy. Don’t buy something just to support me, buy it because you want to read it. That said, I have plans for several projects over the next couple of years that are not, either strictly speaking or even necessarily at all, science fiction or fantasy. Check back once in a while. If you happen to know someone who reads science fiction and fantasy, who am I to tell you not to start a conversation with, “Hey, I have this friend who writes and publishes…”

At any rate, I think Facebook is sort of my primary tool at the moment. Twitter is in the repertoire as well, but it’s so easy to get lost in Twitter anymore, and if you don’t have a zillion followers to begin with, you’re pretty much not going to make enough noise to get in front of an audience. Still, it’s there, and it may be useful as a place for an audience to find you. I used to love Twitter, once upon a time, and I still feel like it could be a place for good interaction, I just don’t see anymore these days.

Instagram, not that I’m super heavy user of it, and by no means a social media influencer, has mainly been for pictures of me or my pets, sometimes together. My most common hashtag is #lifewithOllie, my “small” St. Bernard, who’s still a giant dog as far as most people are concerned. In between those pet pics, I’m throwing out cover reveal or update every so often. The dog pics get more likes, but the cover reveal works pretty well too, reaching at least the same number of people, and it’s not all the same people I would reach on Facebook or Twitter, so that’s a thing. Whether or not it makes a difference is an excellent question.

Good Reads. I used to really enjoy writing book reviews, but that sort of trailed off a year or so ago so that I didn’t really do one for any of the books I read in 2018, but I am still kind of interested in the reviews other people write about books I’m reading. I certainly need to figure out Good Reads more, because that’s where readers go. But it also seems feel like its set up so that you only market to your friends. I’m not sure that’s necessarily a bad thing on that platform, except that I feel like a large number of my friends on Good Reads are my friends so they can market to me.

But, it’s a good place to get reviews, right? That’s where readers go. It is the same reason to keep an updated Amazon author page, but I’m not sure I’d call either of those platforms social media.

And then there’s my website, but why would you go to my website unless you already want to see what I’m doing or are familiar with my work in some fashion. Still, I try to keep it current, up-to-date, and with the freshened with at least a couple of blog posts each week.

Honestly, the most important part of my marketing strategy right now is to maintain a steady stream of production, releasing new material regularly, and making sure what is currently my relatively small audience is aware of it.

There is more to come, but it has to build. All the marketing in the world won’t help you if you haven’t got any actual content. So I have not yet tried to solicit any book reviews. I have not yet run any contests. I have not yet done any giveaways. I will, just not yet. Like I said, the most important thing for me right now is to produce a fairly steady stream of content.

Keep your eyes open, because I have a detailed plan for everything I’m going to release this year, a rough plan for everything I’m going to release next year, and a very rough plan for the year after that. There’s also a five-year plan and a ten-year plan, but those mostly involve numerical targets, even though I’m pretty sure that if I covered all the novel ideas I currently have and would like to write, I would be good until about my 60th birthday.

I really should sit down and do some analysis on getting the most productivity out of my free writing time.

Be well, everyone.

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More Learning About Indie Publishing

More Learning About Indie Publishing

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So every step along the way, I learn that there’s more to this whole idie publishing gig than most people think there is, or even than I thought.

I did figure out quite a bit early on just reading, and I had my eyes open going in, I hope, that even though I thought I had a grasp on the various steps, I knew there would be more steps I didn’t know about. That continues to be the case, of course. But I’m also finding that some of steps I knew were there are more involved than the initial presentation.

I have released exactly one thing independently so far and that thing has taught me better preparation and planning the next thing, which I am working on for a release before the end of the month. I’ve actually got the year plotted out so that I’m supposed to be releasing one short or long thing (sometimes both) per month every month for the rest of the year.

This first thing, “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, was, because I have been busy learning new things about indie publishing, significantly later than I thought was going to be. I was, originally, hoping to do it in late January. It’s a novelette, so not gigantic, and I had a cover more or less done on time, and the formatting more or less done close to on time and everything else more or less ready not too late. Emphasis on “more or less”. There were plenty of tweaks and adjustments to make, and since I decided to put it the traditional bits of a book, which aren’t always traditional for an ebook, but mostly, into the mix, not all the things in there were making me happy with the formatting. Surprisingly, e-books and paperbacks are two different things. No sarcasm intended. Well, not much.

But, finally, “Thorvald’s Wyrd” went live on the 10th of March and I’m happy with that. I hope to have the next book up in life by the end of March. From there, my intent is to get to the point where I’m working at least two months ahead, meaning a full two calendar months so that everything I’m going to release in June is ready to go by the end of April.

If I can do that, the indie plan for this year will work fairly smoothly to reach my objective of having a reasonable body of work at there for people to sample and read and, hopefully, enjoy.

But, to effectively work two calendar months ahead, I really need to lock down my basic process for self-publishing from finished manuscripts to pressing go.

Now, I don’t expect ever stop learning, and I don’t expect the process to stay stagnant to make things easy for me, but it would be nice to have things worked out properly so I can mostly just tweak the process from book to book for relevant updates and changes to the way things work. Which probably means I should have made an awful lot more notes as I was going through the process for the first time, instead of working out that process and thinking I’ll remember everything. That’s okay, I can do the second time, or the third, and I should at least avoid having to redo certain things several times and make new mistakes instead.

The plan is to figure out the basic process and how it differs from short fiction to long fiction to fanfiction, because it does differ. Maybe not a whole lot between the first and second categories, but they are a whole bunch of steps that I don’t need for that third category, because it’s fanfiction, and I’m not allowed to make money at it.

For our everyone’s gratification, the copyright page for a work fanfiction needs to be very different, surrendering all rights to anything in the story, and stating that his work fanfiction, and all rights remain copyright holder. It may or may not be legally necessary, but it does show intent and understanding on the author’s part that they’re playing in someone else’s sandbox, and without official permission, even if permission is tacitly granted by the existence of a body of fanfic.

For now, I’m supposed to be finishing up the paperback formatting for “Thorvald’s Wyrd”, and I probably should be looking at the final formatting that needs to be done for Skip to my Luu.

And I’ve got lots of drafting and editing to do while I’m at it.

Be well, everyone.

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