Go Ahead – Take a Chance on a Self-Published Author

self-publishing-word-cloud-google image

Confession time! Before I self-published my first book, the whole idea of self-publishing was not on my radar. I’d never, to my knowledge, read a self-published novel. If I’d been asked to define self-publishing, the only thing I would have been able to come up with was a negative impression of vanity presses and the writers who used them.

I didn’t possess a Kindle or any other electronic reading device and had no interest in owning such a thing. I read all the time but my book choices were discovered via print media and radio interviews with authors. I combed best seller and award finalist lists and then either ordered my choices via Amazon, dropped into a Chapters store or visited my local library.

Google imageWhen it became obvious that I was serious about publishing a novel, my son alerted me to the whole idea of self-publishing. Exploration into the indie author world were eye-opening. I purchased a Kindle and, for research purposes alone, I began to buy and read self-published authors. I wanted to know how far removed my book was from what others had self-published.

My first few random purchases were scary. If my eyes were opened to the idea of self-publishing, the reality of what I was reading had me gawking. I was suddenly plunged into a world of unfamiliar genres and, horrors upon horrors, books with all manner of problems. One thing came of these reading adventures. I was sure I could and would compete in the self-publishing world.

self-publishing-cartoon - google

Despite my initial misgivings, I haven’t stopped reading self-published books. I currently read three or four self-published books on my Kindle for every traditionally published book. Suffice to say, this has gone beyond research. I enjoy how my reading horizons have been stretched.

I’m convinced that the self-published books out there in 2015 are simply better than the ones that were around in 2012. But a system is necessary to determine what warrants the dedication of a few hours of my reading time and to help bypass anything that is utter drivel. It works most of the time but now and then a sow’s ear does get through. Such is life and the same thing can happen with traditionally published books.

I study the cover and the book’s synopsis. I’m not looking for something worthy of a slick publishing giant but the cover has to have some well-presented, solid elements and the synopsis has to intrigue me. I read a selection of reviews across the ratings from one to five. It isn’t all about the number of glowing reviews. There are times when a one-star review makes me want to read the book. I make use of Amazon’s look inside feature to read the first chapter. I can skim over a few typos or rambling sentences but if the first chapter doesn’t grab me it’s unlikely the rest of the book will either. I jot down the titles of self-published books that are featured on the sites of trusted book review bloggers and put those books through my system.

I’ve been stretched by stories I never would have imagined that I would read. A boxed set by Johnny B. Truant, entitled The Fat Vampire, is a point in fact. These books are hilarious, well written and have great character development – a total lark.

As an indie author, I encourage readers to follow my system, do your homework and do take a chance on a self-published author. E-books are reasonably priced – most often less than the cost of a latte. And doesn’t reading a good book and having a latte go together?

Beachbody-Blog-Pumpkin-Spice-Latte - Google image

Today is Mother’s Day. Many indie authors are moms! Just saying.

“You must understand the whole of life, not just one little part of it. That is why you must read, that is why you must look at the skies, that is why you must sing, and dance, and write poems, and suffer, and understand for all that is life.” (Jiddu Krishnamurti)

Happy Mother's Day - Google images

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?