In January I dived into the Indie Ocean. Oh, my, what a BI-I-I-I-I-G place this is!
I started rowing by publishing two books. Row, row.
In the spring I contracted with Forget-Me-Not Romances, a publishing company run by Cindy Hickey, and published four more.
Row, row, row, row.
The first of October I had a novella published that is to be part of a state flower collection next spring. Row.
This past week I published a three book series. I did them myself, but Cindy designed my covers. Row, row, row.
I am working on another novella. Row.
I have some more stand-alone manuscripts on my hard drive that I plan to rework into a series. Row, row, row.
And that’s how indie publishing works. I’m too far out in the middle of the ocean to turn back, so I just keep rowing.
Things That Have Worked For Me
1. As a former accounting teacher, I treated indie publishing as a business from the beginning. The first concept in accounting is to not mix personal and business funds. With my very first advance money from my Heartsong series, I opened a separate account. I had a little seed money left in it when the line was cut, and I determined that I would operate—sink or swim—on that capital. I keep receipts for everything from computer repairs, paper and ink, to conference expenses and postage. I also keep a record of all revenue, have a sales tax license, and submit a quarterly payment. This information is compiled into a Schedule C at tax time. I have practiced fiscal responsibility and am slowly seeing my efforts rewarded.
2. I had done my homework about manuscript preparation, covers, and formatting—I wrote about it in my last post—and am rowing along with those. I’ve had my covers designed for me—and have had favorable reactions to them.
3. I’ve done series rather than stand-alone books. We’re told by the veterans to do this. Getting people invested in a series builds a following.
|A Christmas Potpourri|
4. The biggest success I’ve had has probably been getting included in some boxed set collections. I’m in a Christmas collection, a contemporary collection that has been at or near the top of the bestseller list for the past several weeks, another contemporary collection, and a historical collection.
I also have sets of my own historical series and contemporary series. KU is good for these because readers buy a batch of stories (inexpensively) and produce a high pages read count. In addition to reaching a wide audience, they help author rankings and build teamwork. I’ve read predictions that this trend might change—but for now I’m in and ready for more.
5. Another thing that has been successful for me is print books. No, they don’t sell on Amazon. But I sell enough print copies locally to pay my up-front expenses. Since I have been asked how I sell them, I’ll try to describe my process .
Because Wal Mart stocked my Heartsong books, had me do book signings, and sold about 200 copies of each of those three books, I have some readers who have told me they want copies any time I have books released.
Last Friday afternoon I received my order of 60 copies each of my new three book series. I immediately went to the library, scheduled book signings, gave them a complimentary set, and sold a set to the head librarian. The next morning I delivered 5 sets to the funeral home (the two co-owners buy copies for themselves and their daughters), 5 sets to Wal Mart (clerks who met me at the store signings and always want them), and two sets to the Dollar Store (clerks with standing orders).
The next day (Sunday) I delivered twelve sets to church members after church on the parking lot. Yesterday I sold three sets at the library. Last night we ate at the local restaurant, and I sold four sets while there, depleting the bag I have started keeping in my car. This morning I sold three sets at the library, then went to the beauty shop and sold three more sets. Then I got groceries and had a lady in the store ask for a set. When I got home, a lady from a neighboring town who had already bought a set called and asked for two more sets for Christmas gifts. I think I have a dozen copies each left. I never planned to become a peddler, but it seems to have evolved into that. Are you getting the idea?
Things That Have Not Worked For Me
I STINK, STINK, STINK at social media and would starve to death if I had to make a living at selling. So lack of promotion skills is the failure that makes me less than an ideal candidate for indie publishing.
I can’t remember to update my web page. I created a Twitter account, but can’t think to tweet, or of anything to tweet about. As for Facebook, I only think to post when I have books out or something major is happening within the family. (I can’t imagine anyone being interested in whether I clipped my toenails or bought groceries this week.)
I set up a newsletter on my web page, but have collected only a few subscribers.
I’ve been approached about a couple of speaking engagements, but they haven’t materialized yet. I don’t solicit them.
I have done some posting to FB groups, but I haven’t seen any significant results from them. I haven’t been consistent, though, so I need to keep trying.
What I've Learned From These Experiences
Paid ads are good!
I’ve copied lists of promo groups from various postings, joined them, and have culled them as I’ve learned which ones suit my needs best. These groups are primarily for free promotion and reviews. If you’re looking for such lists, you might like this link where Sherri Wilson Johnson shares her marketing spreadsheet. It is a list of groups, with membership numbers, and any stipulations for posting. And here is an interactive list of book promo sites.
The paid promo sites tend to require a certain number of reviews before you can purchase an ad. For me it is TOUGH to get those first reviews when the new book is just out—unheard of and unheralded. I’m still working on the ten I need for Bootheel Bride so I can buy an ENT (Ereader News Today) ad. I’ve heard others talk about having difficulty getting accepted, but so far I’ve never been turned down when I’ve applied for an ad.
ENT is the only paid ad site I’ve used, but I assume the process is similar with others. To apply for an ad, simply go to their submission form and provide info and links relevant to the book you want to promote. State your preferred date for a promotion and whether you’re willing to accept alternate dates.
The cost of such an ad varies with the genre and book price. You can view those prices here. The other paid ad site I’ve heard a lot about is Bookbub, but it’s much pricier.
Making the first book of a series free for a particular time can result in sales of the other books, but .99 ads also work. I’m still experimenting with both.
I also have learned to ask questions. The CIA (Christian Indie Authors), a private FB group for Christian indie and hybrid authors to discuss writing, publishing, and marketing, is a valuable resource if you’re considering taking this route.
Suggestions for Staying on Track as an Indie
1. Remember that indie publishing is a marathon. It’s not for the quitter.
2. Treat it like a job, with you as the boss. Go to work every day, and write or edit your daily goal. Set your deadlines and meet them. Only YOU can do it.
3. Keep the quality of your work high. Always strive for improvement.
4. Don’t blame others when things don’t work. The load lands squarely on your shoulders. Do it—or quit.
5. Share information. In traditional publishing, no one talks facts and figures. Indies share what works and what doesn’t for them. And much more.
6. Be flexible. Life happens. For instance, these past several weeks have been very stressful for me because of a personal situation, making it hard to be creative. So I have pushed ahead with editing/publishing tasks and only written when I could relegate the stressful issue to the back of my brain. It doesn’t produce as much word count, but work still gets done.
7. Work, work, work. All the time. Persevere. Don’t lose momentum. Row, row, row!!! Write another book.
I may not be a top best-selling author, but I’m building my business and working my way upward.
I have control.
I make mistakes—correct them—and learn from them.
I’m rowing along, gaining in earnings, and enjoying the ride. I like being in control, having access to information. It’s scary at times—and a lot of hard work and struggles. But the control, freedom, and perpetual earnings possibility outweigh those things.
Row, row, row!!!
The question I’m wrestling with now is about writing in multiple genres. If I publish in another genre, should I use my own name? A pen name? Forget it?
Also, I would appreciate any helpful suggestions you can offer to make social media easier for me.
Give me your thoughts.
As a giveaway, I’m making Bootheel Bride free today. Help yourself. If you enjoy it, a review would be appreciated.
Returning to the Bootheel is Bittersweet for Jessie Stevens.
When she and her brother come back to the home they fled years earlier, they find Gabe Kirby, their neighbor who was kind to Jessie as a girl, guarding the farm.
Successful cotton farmer Gabe remembers Jessie fondly from childhood, but the grown up Jessie takes his breath away. He thought his life would be devoted to helping others and would not include marriage, but now he questions that. Can he convince her--and himself--that they can find happiness together?
Jason Stevens is a Bad Risk for Marriage
Fear of repeating his father's abusive behavior toward his mother has him convinced he will live his life as a bachelor. As a Missouri Highway Patrolman, he certainly doesn't need the complications of fiery Veda, the sister of the man his sister married, stirring up his emotions.
All young widow Veda wants is to start over and run a business of her own, in a location distant from the Kirby family's illegal activities.
Can these two opposites find common ground and happiness together?
Lynn Buchanan is Looking for Her Birth Mother.
After losing her parents and learning she is adopted, Lynn travels to the SE section of Missouri known as the bootheel to search for her mother. When she tangles with handsome Mitch Stratton, her plans and dreams are thrown into a tailspin.
Mitch must focus on keeping his cotton gin operating and providing jobs for his employees. Meeting the newfound sister of his best friend is a complication to his plans—and his heart.
Helen Gray grew up in a small Missouri town and married her pastor. While working alongside her husband in his ministry, she had three children, taught school, directed/accompanied church music programs, and became an amateur ventriloquist. Now retired, with the children gone from the nest, she and her supportive husband still live in their native Missouri Ozarks where he roams the woods, hunts and fishes, and she weaves stories meant to honor God and depict Christian lives and problems as she knows and observes them. Helen thanks God for the time and opportunity to write, and considers it an added blessing if her stories touch others in even a small way.