The indie publishing curve is steep, especially for debut authors. I know, because I’ve been there. I’ve made mistakes and learned from them. Sometimes I’ve even stumbled upon doing the right thing, first time round! But not often. Here are three publishing tips for debut indie authors, that I wish I knew before stepping into the indie publishing world.
Stagger your release promotion
While it’s great to have a huge spike of preorders on day one of your release, what you’re really aiming for is a solid sales streak for a week or two, and then onward from there. You are better to sell fifty copies (or a thousand!) of your book over the space of a week than fifty on release day and then only one or two a day thereafter.
Having consistent sales (even if they are low) over a period of time alerts the Amazon algorithm that your book is popular and not just a ‘flash in the pan’.
This can be achieved by staggering your promotion over the first two weeks. For example, rather than sending out an email to your entire email list on release day, schedule four or five segments over four or five days, and do the same with your social media promotion. Perhaps post to Facebook on day one, then Insta day three and so forth.
As much as you want to shout it from the rooftops on your release day, staggering your promotion will be more beneficial in the long run.
Make sure your cover reflects your genre
We all judge a book by its cover, whether we think we do or not. Usually, this is something that happens subconsciously. You see a cover and your mind already tells you what genre it is by the look of it. A dark shadowy figure holding a gun; crime or thriller. A girl in a cowgirl hat; a rural romance. A couple in a loving embrace; romance. Colourful, quirky cover art; rom-com. A space ship or alien; sci-fi.
When having your cover designed, take note of other (popular) books in your genre and make a list of the most common elements of their covers. And not just the images. Is there a particular font that is regularly used? A common colour theme? A common positioning of the title of the book and author name? All these things are important to take note of.
Also, when you engage a cover designer make sure they are familiar with your genre (and have designed covers for books in your genre). They should already know what works and what doesn’t and will be able to work with you to get the best cover for your book and your genre.
(I did know the importance of this one before I published but I thought it too significant not to share as unfortunately, so many debut indie authors get it wrong!)
Market to the right readers
Although it’s lovely for friends and family to buy your book to help boost your sales and ranking, if they aren’t regular readers of your genre, then you may be doing yourself a disservice by confusing the Amazon algorithms.
For example, your keywords are (should be) telling Amazon that your book is a romance, yet Aunty Betty, Uncle Fred, and your book club friends all regularly purchase sci-fi books. What this does is tells Amazon that your book must be popular with sci-fi readers which obviously isn’t the market you want to target. Soon you’ll find your book appearing in the ‘also boughts’ or ‘recently viewed’ section of sci-fi books, which isn’t where you want it to be.
So as lovely as it is for your family and friends to buy your book, please make sure it is what they like to read. Or at the very least, tell them to hold off purchasing your book for at least the first two to three weeks when your sales are guiding the sensitive algorithm. The same goes for your marketing, make sure you are marketing to readers of your genre, not just everyone who has ever been on social media!
Other things worth mentioning:
- Get your keywords and categories optimised to make sure your metadata is working for you and not against you
- Build your mailing list well before pressing publish
- Know your genre – helps with marketing, keywords, covers… everything!
- Have a killer blurb and make sure your hook is in the first sentence or two of your book description
- Get early reviews prior to release day
- Make sure your book is edited and proofread (should go without saying)