I know what I know…and I know what I don’t know.
A few days ago, I and a fellow author sat down with someone who wanted to make a living writing. Our listener was a young aspiring author, soon to graduate with her degree in journalism. After talking and answering her questions about our experiences and the industry as a whole, I realized that without meaning to, I’ve become something of an expert in the realm of indie publishing. The two hours we spent together simply flew by and our captive pupil left with far more information than she ever wanted to know.
I know what I know, but I also know there is so much left to know about how to be successful in this changing industry.
I can, and did speak for hours on the importance of writing that first flawed draft. Don’t stop to edit it. Just write it. Get the story out. There’s plenty of time later to edit and rewrite. I know that it’s the act of writing that makes you a better writer and that your first book is only the beginning of your education. Writing a full-length book teaches you how to craft a story with a clear beginning, middle, and an end. It teaches you pacing and form. It also teaches you that every word on the page isn’t golden or even necessary.
Editing, proofreading, and formating play a huge roll in the success of your book. It’s worth the time and effort to find a support network of readers, editors, and proofreaders that will help you polish your manuscript. It still might make it to publication with an error or two, but that often happens to traditionally published books as well. I know that your cover design and title are crucial in catching the eye of a potential reader. Your indie book must be indistinguishable from other traditionally published works so that the stigma of being an indie author doesn’t have the chance to work against you. Because, let’s face facts, the stigma arose and persists for a reason.
And then, there are the marketing plan choices that must be made. Here’s where I sound like an expert but I realize that I have yet to crack the code to this all-important and mysterious step.
It’s not that I don’t know what to do. I’ve read every article on the web about book marketing. What to do. What not to do. Articles that might be entitled; the five fatal mistakes every new author makes, what you should be doing before you hit the publish button, the importance of author branding and networking, establishing your email list early, the correct marketing strategy for each social media platform, and how do you choose a price for your ebook…along with so many more. The point is, I’m overflowing with information and established methods for reaching readers. And yet, I still don’t know how to rise above the general marketing noise of millions of books flooding the marketplace on a daily bases.
And I know I don’t know.
I blog. I do book reviews for fellow indie authors. I have a social media presence. I share marketing resources with other authors. My books are professional looking and well-edited. I have even managed to garner a few awards. I write in a very popular genre. I give books away and discount my ebooks on occasion. I have a mailing list. I beg for reviews. I have paid for promotions, ads, and joined Facebook groups. The point is, I have followed the advice of all those articles and yet I haven’t hit on that combination of methods to boost my sales into the stratosphere.
I’m not here to complain. I love what I do. I love my author-life. I realize that my books might never be bestsellers. I would like them to be, but that might not be in the cards for me. I love my books and characters. The fact that those that follow my writing love them too is perhaps success enough.
This leads me to the most important advice I gave my young audience..and it didn’t have anything to do with the nuts and bolts of writing or marketing.
And that is…
You have to love what you write because that manuscript will forever be apart of you. You will be talking about that book for years to come. You have to love it because this industry is hard on dreamers. You have to love your work, your story, your book, because others will dismiss it, reject it, and overlook it. You have to love the work because you will read it over and over again during the editing process. No one will read your words more than yourself. No one will talk about your book more than you. You have to have the faith of a true believer.
I love my books and characters. They are forever apart of me. I love what I do though I am not a bestselling author. And, if I ever figure out the secret marketing combination to make me one, I promise to post it here.
Until then, I’ll keep writing.