The Transition from Newbie Indie to Complete Author Package

Complete

The newbie indie author typically launches with a humble beginning:

  • One book on the market.
  • First attempt at formatting.
  • Just friend and family support.
  • Could use some editing help.
  • Not sure how to promote the book.
  • Very tentative about any marketing.

The professional indie author has a complete package:

  • Multiple books available.
  • Several customer reviews.
  • Substantial fan base and following.
  • Extensive online platform includes blog, website, and social media.
  • Knows many formatting and publishing tips.
  • A variety of connections provide valuable support.
  • Experienced with several marketing strategies.
  • Shows confidence to setup promotional events.

It’s easy for a newbie author to encounter a professional author and feel overwhelmed.

Yet every author starts out new.

(You can do research and start out wiser, and you can start to build a following before you publish… but no matter what, the author you are on your debut doesn’t compare to the author you are when you become wiser, more knowledgeable, and more experienced.)

Here’s the thing: Every newbie has the opportunity to evolve into a professional author with a complete package.

It’s easy, really; much easier than you think:

  • Time is on your side. Improve a little here and a little there, and over the course of time, you’ll have a complete package. Time also gives you experience. Learn what you can.
  • You need initiative. If you’re negative and tend to convince yourself that this won’t pay off, that won’t be worthwhile, and you’ll never be able to do that, then you’re right: It won’t. There are so many opportunities out there for those who are patient, show initiative, and don’t give up.

Most marketing strategies don’t pay quick dividends.

This doesn’t mean that they’re not worthwhile. Many free and low-cost strategies pay long-term dividends that make them worthwhile.

Here’s the difference:

  • When you spend a couple of years diligently branding your image on a variety of online platforms and in person, you can eventually build a name for yourself. When only do this short-term, you aren’t noticed or are quickly forgotten.
  • When you post content relevant to your target audience for several months, eventually you attract a healthy following as word spreads about your gold mine. Early on, there isn’t as much material and you haven’t been around long enough to get discovered.
  • When you only use one online medium, only people who favor that one online platform can find you. When you have a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., you’re visible to everybody and you also look like a more complete author.
  • When you’ve been posting for a couple of years, you look like an established author who has been around. When your content is relatively new, you’re still struggling to get discovered and build your following.
  • When your blog is new, you have a basic blog with a few posts. Over time, you can have several pages on your website with valuable content geared toward your target audience, and your website evolves as you come across and try out new features.
  • When you’ve interacted with other authors for a couple of years, you learn many useful formatting, publishing, and marketing tips. This helps you improve over time.
  • Researching marketing strategies and trying them out takes time. The more effort you put into this, the more knowledgeable and experienced you become.
  • After a few years, you will have more books out, a larger fan base, a bigger following, more reviews, more connections, more experience, more knowledge, more wisdom… you’re more of an author than you were.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, motivation, initiative, a thick skin, a good support system, and much patience.

You don’t write a whole novel overnight. (I hope!) You don’t do all of your marketing overnight, either.

It’s a choice you can make. Do you want long-term success and to thrive as an author? Or not?

There are many opportunities out there. Grab them.

  • Have you signed up for free exposure through Read Tuesday? You still can.
  • Did you take up Green Embers’ gracious offer for free indie advertising? It’s not too late.
  • Are you contacting bloggers for possible guest posts, interviews, or book reviews? You can’t do it if you don’t try. Check out the Story Reading Ape, for example.
  • Which local bookstores and libraries have you approached? Put together a press release kit, grab a few copies of your book, and give it a shot.
  • Check out complete authors to see what they’re doing, that you aren’t trying. Take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary. Figure out how you can. Don’t expect immediate dividends. Strive for a complete package a couple of years from now. Be patient, work hard, and let time be on your side.

The difference between an author who develops a complete, professional package and one who doesn’t is very often as simple as showing initiative. It’s not really a secret, and it’s easy enough for anyone to do it.

Love books? Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday event just for books (all authors can sign up for free): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Check out the CNN iReport for Read Tuesday. You can help support Read Tuesday by voting on it, commenting, and sharing the iReport on Facebook or Twitter. Click here to see the iReport. Tell your friends and maybe we can get additional national exposure for Read Tuesday. Any help will be much appreciative. Here is another example where a simple thing like initiative can make a huge difference.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

A Look at a Successful Fiction Marketer

Charles Yallowitz

In this post, we will learn valuable marketing and marketability tips by looking at a successful fiction author. In addition to writing a highly marketable book, today’s author is also active with a variety of effective marketing strategies.

Sword and sorcery author Charles Yallowitz has a popular fantasy series called The Legends of Windemere. If you’re a WordPress blogger, you may know Charles, as he is an active and highly supportive blogger in our community. Even if you’re familiar with Charles and his series, hopefully you will still find some helpful tips about marketability and marketing in this post.

Beginning of a Hero

Prodigy of Rainbow Tower

Allure of the Gypsies

 

Let’s begin by taking a close look at the book covers for The Legends of Windemere:

  • The covers look like they are part of the same series. This is an important part of series branding. Once readers become familiar with the series, you want them to instantly recognize the brand when they come across new books in the series. The series name looks exactly the same, even in the same position, in each volume; and so does the name. The title has a cool style, consistent with each volume: Look at the first and last letters.
  • Volume 1, Beginning of a Hero, clearly signifies the genre. This is a vital ingredient of a highly marketable book. A fantastic cover won’t sell a book that lacks marketable content, but can really help a book that has marketable content. It’s a sword and sorcery novel, and there you see the protagonist with a sword on the cover. More than that, the artwork looks like it was done well, and the cover will appeal to the target audience (teenagers who read sword and sorcery fantasy novels).
  • If you have a person on your book cover, an important, but often overlooked, key is the facial expression. You definitely don’t want a blank stare, but even a subtle effect where the expression doesn’t seem to fit the scene can deter sales. The first volume shows a look of intensity on the protagonist’s face.
  • The most important cover is the one on the first book of the series, but the others are very important, too. The first one helps to draw readers into the series, but the subsequent covers can impact whether or not readers continue in the series. Volumes 2 and 3 have dynamic covers. It’s hard to pull off the effect of movement well, but these covers do it. You can see the gypsy dancing in Volume 3.
  • It’s not easy to follow the three color rule (primary 60%, secondary 30%, accent 10%) when drawing people and scenery, yet each of these covers is pretty effective at mainly using only a few colors. Although the color scheme changes from one volume to the next, the style and structure are preserved wonderfully.

Of course, there is more to marketability than just the cover:

  • The blurbs are concise, which works especially well in fiction. You want the blurb to reinforce the cover by revealing the same genre and content (you want the reader thinking, “Yeah, that’s what I was looking for,” and not, “Oops, that’s not what I expected”). You want to give just enough to create interest, and make the reader look inside to find more.
  • I read Volume 1, so I know firsthand that the storyline and characterization are highly marketable. These books are rich in great ideas. A highly marketable book must deliver something that readers will very much enjoy. For sword and sorcery readers, this storyline and these characters are a great fit. This no doubt creates many recommendations and reviews, especially valuable word-of-mouth referrals.
  • A marketable cover (that signifies the genre), a concise blurb (that signifies the same genre), and a variety of reviews help to get readers to Look Inside. These books have all three. The reviews partly reflect the story’s marketability and the author’s marketing skills (for one, the more effective your marketing is, the more readers you will get; for another, personal interactions and showing your humanity may help to elicit reviews, on top of the effect of your story).

I’ve interacted with Charles here at WordPress rather frequently, and I encounter his marketing here and at other sites. I have seen that he is very active with marketing, and utilizes a variety of effective marketing strategies. He clearly works hard at it, and he shows that hard work can pay off:

  • Charles uses his blog quite effectively, which isn’t as easy to do in fiction. One of his keys is variety. His poems are excellent, and they are a short sample that can create interest in his writing; weekly goal posts show that he is organized and provide a feel of a professional author; he does post about his own books, but these are supplemented by much other content; updates on his writing offer something for fans, yet also include questions to help engage his blogging audience; and some posts reveal a touch of his personality, family life, or humanity (you become more than just an author when readers recognize you’re a person, too, and of good character). Any one of these topics by itself would make his blog much less effective; this particular variety works very well for him.
  • If you’ve encountered Charles in the blogging or social media realm, you know that he is highly interactive. It’s amazing how much interaction he provides on his own posts, on other people’s posts, and on multiple sites; and very often his responses are almost immediate. He interacts with all bloggers, big and small. When you’re a tiny fish in a big sea and a big fish takes time to interact with you, it makes you feel special.
  • He is also very active with the Community Storyboard. Several authors make regular contributions to this interesting blog (you should check it out, if you’re not already familiar with it).
  • Charles is amazingly supportive of his fellow authors. It’s a great reputation to have because when he releases a new book or does a cover reveal, many authors whom he has helped are happy to reciprocate. It’s not just a matter of reciprocation: He interacts avidly and shows that he cares, and this helps to build engaging, supportive relationships. Another benefit of building connections is that you can receive valuable tips and marketing advice.
  • Blogging is just one aspect of the much larger marketing picture. Charles feeds his WordPress posts into Twitter and Facebook, and is also active at Facebook. He uses social media effectively, not just posting content, promoting his books, interacting, and building a following there, but also by joining and being an active participant in several Facebook groups (this is a valuable resource). He doesn’t stop with Facebook and Twitter. I’ve also encountered him at Google+, LinkedIn, Goodreads, and Pinterest. He is highly visible and connected this way.
  • Visibility is important. Charles posts regularly to social media and Facebook groups in addition to his blog. He is highly active with this, which helps him brand his image and give him exposure. He appears as a professional author (of course, he is, but some authors who are don’t create the same perception, but appear invisible in the background) by engaging in this activity. Readers are apt to be familiar with his name and covers from seeing them frequently. It’s not just about posting regularly, but also about searching for the right groups so you become visible with your specific target audience.
  • Author interviews and guest blogs are important, too. I’ve seen several guest blogs and author interviews featuring Charles, and I also see these on his site for other authors. As I mentioned previously, he is very supportive of other authors. Take the time to find bloggers that are a good fit for your content, and learn how to interact with them and approach them to make polite and effective requests. These can be very helpful in gaining exposure for your book.
  • Charles runs occasional promotions for his series. If you have a highly marketable series, your main concern is generating exposure among your target audience. You can give the first book of the series away for free periodically in order to get more readers interested in your series. A short-term sale can help to draw readers in. Charles has used some paid advertising sites effectively, including Askdavid.com, Goodkindles, Novelspot, Bookpinning, Indie Author Anonymous, and Indie Author News (click here to learn more). The key is to have a highly marketable book from cover to cover and to gear your promotions toward your specific target audience.
  • Getting onto any of Amazon’s top 100 lists can really help to improve your exposure. Charles shows that creating a highly marketable book and working hard to market your book effectively can help you land your book on these very helpful lists.

Charles uses a touch of humor, and does so effectively. He uses it occasionally in his marketing (I see it on his blog, for example) and also in his novels (he mentioned that his can help with character depth—but, of course, must be done in moderation, and only when it fits the character; some characters shouldn’t show humor).

So I thought it would be fitting to mention a little humor, coming from Charles himself. “I thought I lost my cellphone and went looking for it. I was carrying the house phone, so I decided to call my cellphone to find it. Well, I had my cellphone in my hand and called it anyway.”

Charles will be participating in Read Tuesday, a Black Friday type of event just for books on December 10. All authors are welcome to participate (it’s free).

Check out Charles Yallowitz’s Legends of Windemere series at Amazon:

  1. Beginning of a Hero
  2. Prodigy of Rainbow Tower
  3. Allure of the Gypsies

Connect with Charles Yallowitz:

Love books? Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday event just for books (all authors can sign up for free): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

CNN iReport for Huge Book Sale on Dec. 10

Learn a little about CNN iReport, check out a Read Tuesday article at CNN iReport, and, if you would like to support Read Tuesday, feel free to vote or comment while you’re there.

ReadTuesday

CNN iReport allows anyone to share their news story. You can write your own article and post it there, or check out what others have written. Vote on articles to help CNN decide which stories should be featured on CNN. Leave a comment on any article to start or engage in a lively discussion.

I posted an article about Read Tuesday, a Black Friday type of sales event just for book lovers on December 10, at CNN iReport. You can view it with the following link:

http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1064999

Feel free to vote on it or leave a comment there. If there is ample support from book lovers, perhaps CNN will cover the story. Even if they don’t, other users at CNN iReport may check it out.

Check out the Read Tuesday sample catalog:

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