This week, it’s my pleasure to welcome Sally Cronin to the Showcase.
Being an Indie Author
I am celebrating being an author for twenty years having written and submitted my first manuscript to an agent in 1998. My book was well received by seven publishers who all said the book was well written apart from some minor editing issues, but their concerns were about me. I was an unknown writer, 45 years old and they felt that I would be too hard to market. That was a very useful lesson as it was clear that even in the world of mainstream publishing, people buy people first.
It would have been easy to give up at that point and throw the manuscript in a drawer along with dreams of being a published author. The self-publishing industry was in its infancy in the UK. It was however more established in North America, and I found a Canadian company that I paid to have Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lbs published. They also had an online bookstore which was international, so Amazon was far from the first.
I was lucky. The obesity epidemic was only just taking hold and weight loss stories were not as common as they are today. I also included the weight loss programme that I had created to help me lose 150lbs in 18 months, which added to the book’s content. I had been responsible for marketing in my previous careers, and I approached the task of promoting my book in the same way as other products and services. I sent out press releases locally and nationally, also print copies of the book to radio stations both in the UK and in Spain, where I was living at the time, and I held a book launch back in Ireland where I had written the book. I ended up in the local papers, a couple of nationals and women’s magazines which was very gratifying. I also approached local radio stations and that led to a career as a presenter for six years.
Twenty years later and things are very different. Marketing of your book largely happens online and globally, thanks to the Internet, major booksellers such as Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble, and the evolvement of books to digital copies, able to be read on a wide variety of devices.
Clearly, this has opened up the market to millions of books published every year, across a much wider spectrum of genres and sub-genres. As a result it does make it much harder to have your own book noticed and to sell multiple copies. For the reader it has never been so good, but it does mean that being an indie author, comes with a great deal more responsibility than just writing the book. One of the key responsibilities is book marketing, a daunting task, especially for a first book, even more so if in a highly competitive genre.
Here are some tips that you might find useful.
You are competing on a number of levels with other authors when releasing a book amongst thousands of others within the same genre. For example, immediately a reader hits the Fantasy button to view new releases, they will be faced by a page of covers. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but we do. Everything from the imagery, colours, font, title, and use of taglines makes an impact. Do the exercise yourself by pulling up a page of fantasy books and run your eye over them. What stands out for you? What titles catch your eye, what makes you want to open the book and discover what is inside?
That is phase one… but phase two is equally important. On many online bookstores, you can read the first few pages of the digital format. So now open the book and read the text, and consider if it lives up to the hype on the cover.
This is your one selling opportunity and your book has to compete in this world. This means that your text needs to be well-written, edited and formatted for ease of reading. If at this point you are unable to afford a professional editor, then consider using a creative writing tool that helps you edit the text. Then send your draft out to avid readers that you know will be honest with you, who can offer constructive criticism about plot and characters. First drafts are just that…..and are written to be revised.
There are a number of design tools to help you create your own cover, but there are also some talented people out there with stock covers that can be adapted for your own use, with different covers, fonts etc. It can be expensive to have a cover designed to order but if you look hard enough you can buy a great stock cover for £10 to £30.
Twenty years ago there was no Internet, Google, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter or any other social media. Most of your readers will be active on one or more of these online sites and that is where you need to go to find them.
This may seem daunting, especially if you are not currently active on any sites. I do recommend that you focus on two to begin with, Twitter and Facebook. It will seem at first as though you are doing all the following, but within a few weeks of sharing interesting posts and sharing other’s comments and links you will find that you too are being followed.
Blogging is the third platform that I recommend. Not only to share your work but other author’s too, and it is where you will experience the generous nature of the writing community.
There are a great deal of sites devoted to sharing the most effective way to use social media and blogging to promote your books, and my advice is to check those out.
Take advantage of any offers to be interviewed such as here with Richard, or to guest post. It is a great way to connect with others.
Many bloggers offer free book promotion and I would like to extend an invitation to any author reading this who is not currently in my Café and Bookstore to get in touch. https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore-free-author-promotion/
Also you will find my social media links below and if you follow me, I will do all I can to help promote your books.
Finally, being a published author is the most amazing and fulfilling experiences. It you do everything that you can to produce a well-written, edited and designed book, you are an author. Be proud of it.
I have lived a fairly nomadic existence living in eight countries including Sri Lanka, South Africa and the USA before settling back here in Ireland. My work, and a desire to see some of the most beautiful parts of the world in the last forty years, has taken me to many more incredible destinations around Europe and Canada, and across the oceans to New Zealand and Hawaii. All those experiences and the people that I have met, provide a rich source of inspiration for my stories.
After a long and very happy career, I took the step to retrain as a nutritional therapist, a subject that I was very interested in, and to make the time to write my first book. Size Matters was a health and weight loss book based on my own experiences of losing 70kilo. I have written another eleven books since then on health and also fiction including three collections of short stories. I am an indie author and proud to be one. My greatest pleasure comes from those readers who enjoy my take on health, characters and twisted endings… and of course come back for more.
A selection of my books
My links for the blog and social media.
Thanks, Sally for a great post. I hope you all enjoyed it.
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There will not be a Showcase post next week, the feature will return on January 3rd.
Have a great week,