7 Tips for Success as an Indie Author

by Jodi Gibson

There’s more to success as an Indie author than simply writing your book and hitting publish. As an indie author, you’re not only the author but the publisher, marketing specialist and bookkeeper. And with all of those roles comes many responsibilities.

With three indie published books under my belt, I’ve travelled the steep and often treacherous learning curve that comes with being an indie author. Here are my top 7 tips to help you get started on the right foot for success as an indie.

1. Figure out your why, and define what success means to you

Before diving in it's important to have a clear understanding of why you want to pursue this path and what success means to you.

Take the time to research and educate yourself about the self-publishing industry. Listen to podcasts, read articles, and connect with other indie authors for valuable insights.

Once you’ve decided it’s the right path for you, you then need to define your own version of success.
Is it about finding readers who appreciate your work? Becoming a bestselling author? Making enough money to write full-time? Or simply sharing your books with the world?

Remember that success looks different for everyone and some factors may be out of your control. For example, you can't guarantee your book will become a bestseller, but you can ensure that you produce the best quality book possible.

Set achievable goals for yourself, starting small and re-evaluate as you progress.

2. Be prepared to run a business

Indie publishing isn’t for everyone. You have to be organised, diligent, resilient, patient, and be good at multi-tasking. You also have to have the skills and resources to run a business, because that’s exactly what you’re doing. Again, research and honing your skills in this area can mean the difference between success and failure.

3. Build your publishing team

As an indie author you will need to build a team around you. Determine which parts of the publishing process you need to outsource. Professionals you may need on your time will include editor/s, proofreader, cover designer, and perhaps a virtual assistant to help with various admin. The goal is to produce a book that is indistinguishable from a traditionally published book, so unless you’re super skilled at all of these things, engaging with professionals will be necessary. Work out what you can do yourself, and then use your budget to guide how best to manage your publishing team.

4. Build your mailing list

Social media is great on many levels, but your most important asset is your mailing list. Research and sign up to a mailing list provider and get a link on your website so you can start promoting and building your list. Be authentic and genuine in your communication and nurture the relationship with those who sign up. They are your future readers and you want them to be your most loyal fans.

5. Nail the 5 key components of your book

  • Story – Your final manuscript must be edited, polished, and presented professionally.
  • Meet genre expectations – Readers expect a certain something when they pick up the book. Does yours deliver on this promise?
  • Cover magic – Does your cover stand out, but fit with your genre? Is it professionally designed? We all judge a book by its cover!
  • A blurb that sells – The back copy of your book your sales pitch. Ensure it’s written in a way that hooks the reader so they can’t not buy your book.
  • Market to your reader – Of course we’d like everyone to buy our book, but marketing to your ideal will ensure your marketing hits the spot. Work out who your ideal reader is and why they’d be interested in your book and focus your marketing on them.

6. Learn, adapt, pivot

Publishing is an ever-changing industry. Keep on top of the changes and trends and monitor what is and isn’t working. It’s important to learn from your mistakes as well as from what other authors are doing.

7. Learn to love the hustle

You’ve got to learn to ride the highs and lows of the industry. You must be willing to market yourself and your books, push past your self-doubt and hustle to get your books in front of reviewers and readers.

To be a successful Indie Author you need to master the three Ps: patience, persistence, and professionalism. Indie publishing is a marathon, not a sprint and it isn’t for the faint hearted. But, if you’re willing to put in the hard work, it can be a very rewarding and successful publication option.

Author bio

Jodi Gibson is an Australian author of feel-good women’s fiction and host of the Ask the Author podcast. Jodi has been published both independently and traditionally and her latest novel, the feel-good Reinventing Emily Brown, is out now.

You can reach to out Jodi at www.jfgibson.com.au or on Instagram or Facebook @jfgibsonwriter.

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