When I plan what to write about here, I sometimes catch myself thinking, “Everybody knows that. I don’t want to beat a dead horse.” But not everybody is in the same place in their career development, and not everybody has read earlier posts, so at the risk of repeating myself, I’m going to mention a few things again.
Get Rich Quick and Easy–NOT!
The decision to bypass traditional publishers and go Indie is sometimes regarded as a quick way to make money. It takes so much less time to get a book in front of a reader with digital publishing than it does going the traditional route, it’s easy to see how beginners might fall into the trap of thinking this. In my experience, however, and in the experience of the Indie authors I know personally, this is not the case. It takes time to build an audience, and unless you already have a following from some other public life or as a traditionally published author, don’t expect to sell hundreds or thousands of books in the first few weeks, or even months. The authors who do well as Indies have multiple books out there. Don’t expect your first book to take off like a rocket. Keep writing.
It also takes a lot of work. See below.
YOUR BOOK NEEDS EDITING
I’ve seen some good books that went though multiple rounds of beta readers so I won’t say categorically that a book must have professional editing to succeed. But good golly, it sure helps. Yes, it will push back your break even point but I think your long term career will benefit because the book will be that much better. Second only to word of mouth, readers say the reputation of the author is what persuades them to buy. Build your reputation by putting out a quality product.
I just finished “Not Magic Enough,” a novella by Valerie Douglas that is meant to be an ambassador for the author’s other romantic fantasy books. The author’s voice is absolutely perfect, but as an ad for her other books this offering is weak because of the poor editing. (Despite that, check it out. Douglas’s voice is beautiful.)
My advice: Don’t rush your finished story out the door. Get a pro editor, or if you can’t afford it, do multiple rounds of beta readers. Even so, typos will still slip though, but consider what your work will look like if you don’t do this. You don’t want readers to miss the forest of your story for the trees of typos.
GET A GOOD COVER
Some authors have the skill to design beautiful and effective covers, or they have a loved one who can do it for them, but most of us don’t. Human’s are visual creatures. We respond to visual cues. We need to use this to sell our work. If we don’t, our competitors will, and they’ll make the sale that could have been ours.
I’d rather be writing than cleaning up Word’s weird style artifacts, but formatting can be done at home. If you decide to do this yourself, make use of the great resources out there to learn how to do it well. Me, I hire it out. There are folks out there charging very reasonable prices for quick, clean work. You do not want a reader to stop reading your story (and leave a bad review) because the font changes every other paragraph, or the question marks are replaced by hieroglyphics.
SO OBVIOUS IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE MENTIONED, BUT I WILL ANYWAY
Write a great story with engaging characters. ‘Nuff said.