Should Indie Authors Pay for Promotional Services?

Lacy Hydrangea - Guenette photo

Everything I’ve experienced over the last two years has convinced me that Linda Gillard’s thoughts on how indie authors should self-promote is the best advice on the topic anywhere out in cyberspace.

Linda is featured today on The Alliance of Independent Author’s website. Please check out what she has to say.

What really stands out for me about Linda’s post is her focus on readers over sales. She is determined to win readers, one by one.

Over the weekend, Bruce and I attended a social event – a picnic with interesting people, stunning views and great food. Among this group were at least a half dozen people who had read my books, loved them and told me how much they were looking forward to the next in the series. I thanked one woman for her kind words and she said, “No, thank you. You’ve given us hours and hours of enjoyment.” Wow! You can imagine how those words made me feel.

If I took a poll among a number of struggling indie authors, asking the question – what would you rather do, interact with readers or check out your sale stats – the answer would be overwhelmingly for interacting with readers. It’s a no-brainer. One activity makes us feel good about being writers and the other makes us feel, most days, like failures.

I know I don’t speak for everyone. There are indie authors out there who chuckle gleefully every time they check their stats as the Amazon graphs peak up and up and the money rolls in. But I’m not as naïve as I was when I started out on the path of self-publishing. I fell for the claim that all I needed to do was shell out the money for the latest how-to book and I would see similar sales. The whole indie author advice industry is costly and most people dishing out the secrets to success have a stake in the dollars we might spend.

Then, along comes an author like Ms. Gillard who has been at the self-publishing game for years and she says don’t spend money on expensive promotions. Be in this for the long haul. Cultivate your readership. Give those readers a reason for sticking with you. Keep them interested in your books and yourself.

I’ve wasted money going down the wrong paths on this self-publishing journey. I’ve squandered more than a few opportunities to be with readers and do the type of promotion that matters. And I’ve allowed a lot of useless social media activities to eat up my writing time.

Older and wiser and turning over a new leaf – though I must be honest, here – this isn’t the first time I’ve heard Ms. Gillard’s advice or written about it. Third time’s the charm.

Get back to basics.

I’m writing the next book. Yippee for me! 65,000 words in, I’m dealing with a few first draft issues but going strong.

I have my stash of quality postcards, bookmarks and business cards – now all I have to do is remember to take them along with me and give them out.

I’ll keep this blog going because the writing I do here is a means of interacting with readers as well as creating a valuable dialogue among other writers – who, by the way, are also readers. 

Port McNeill Harbour - Guenette photo

Let’s get a dialogue going on this topic. What do you think of Ms. Gillard’s advice? What have you learned along the way about how to self-promote? What would you do differently now that you are older and wiser?