Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Frustrations of Being Indie

Welcome to the first post of the New Year! I hope your holiday season was fun and fantastic. I hope you got lots of reading done, and have tons more to go!

For the most part, my first year as an independent author has been an amazing ride. I have loved all the positive feedback I've gotten, the book signings, the radio interviews, etc. I've even enjoyed the "tedious" parts like finding a publisher, picking a cover, and all the rest.

Along the way, however, there have been some frustrating parts, as well. The reason I feel compelled to discuss them here, is to let other indies know that we all go through this stuff. I'm sure most others have felt this exact same way.

I'll admit that I was pretty naive about selling a self published book. I had (what I think is) a good novel, with a great cover, and an interesting trailer. In the early stages, I thought that would be enough to move copies. Of course, that wasn't the case. As I researched, I learned about the vast system of guest blogs, social media, etc that has to go in to marketing.

So, I dedicated myself to doing a blog tour for a couple of months surrounding the release of The Check Out. I emailed blog after blog about interviews, and ended up doing about ten or so. I really had fun doing those interviews, and don't regret them at all. I was expecting more of a sales bump than I got through them, however.

Up to the release date, I also sent requests for reviews to everywhere I could find. Many sites were too bogged down to take on any more releases. Other sites didn't really fit with my novel's style. Still others just flat out refused. Out of the 100 or so sites I looked at, I only got 2 reviews. Yep, 2.

Undaunted, I decided the best way to help my book was to sign up with Amazon's KDP Select program. The program offers a number of tools that are supposed to help authors sell units. I got a pretty good spike for the first month or two that the book was out. That was mainly, I believe, friends and family members buying  and promoting it. When those sales slowed, I decided to try a free weekend promotion. Everything I read said that I would really see an increase the week or so afterwards. My book was downloaded over 3, 000 times during that promotion. What kind of results did I get? I sold about 10 the following month.While I was disappointed by the sales figures, I had hoped that I would get a bunch of reviews from the giveaway. I was able to get about 2 reviews. Sure, that's helpful, but extremely disproportionate.

During the Christmas season, I ran a 99 cent special. I had hoped to sell copies to people who were getting or giving Kindles for the holiday. Again, I moved a few units, but nothing like I had hoped.

I don't want to come off sounding bitter about my experiences so far. I'm far from it. I have enjoyed learning the ropes throughout this whole process. My biggest frustration is that most of the information I found about promoting indie books is outdated. Most of it has been published in 2011-2013, but major changes are taking place that render the information useless.

For starters, there are just SO MANY of us out there now. There's too many people doing exactly the same thing. We all have a blog, a website, an author page on every site that promises to help us. We all tweet about our books, encourage people to "like" our Facebook pages, and hand out bookmarks or business cards. We have all read the same "How To's," and it has caused all of those tactics to become white noise.

As an indie author, I am also frustrated by the amount of people out there willing to charge outrageous amounts for services that probably won't help us. Even the sites that charge reasonable fees have mixed results. Honestly, does the average reader go Indie Kindle Come on. Everyone signed up to those places are indie authors, and none of us buy each others' work. We can't afford to! We are all trying to push our own stuff, and have limited resources to accomplish our goals.

I don't often make resolutions for the new year. Why put an arbitrary start date on a good idea? This year, however, I believe I'll give it a shot. I'm going to try to come up with new ways to promote The Check Out that aren't listed on every "How To" site. I'm going to try new avenues, and see how they pan out. Just being able to hold a copy of my own book in my hands makes me feel successful. This year, I'm going to make sure the world knows just how successful I am.


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