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Old 03-02-2012, 06:20 PM   #1
davidwfleming
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Lightbulb Secrets of Indie Success

So, I thought I might start a thread for general discussions on indie e-publishing strategies and philosophies. I’ll start:

It seems of late that the secret to success in Indie Publishing is (along with writing a good book, tenacity, and being everywhere on the web) being a jack-of-all-trades.

Most people, however, fall into one of two camps: left-brained or right-brained; logical or creative; task-masters or visionaries. Speaking of my own experiences, it’s easy to dive into this and just lead with one’s strengths. Like many writer’s, I’m a little more right-brained and so I find myself constantly spinning out new strategies, trying new things but I’ve decided lately that I need to be more detail-orientated—more of a disciplined task-master.

I’ve noticed many people on the web just running through their same routines over and over with regard to publicizing their efforts (mostly from an erroneous, broadcaster model…myself included at times). It seems beneficial to vary ones efforts and try out new things while being thorough in one’s efforts. One example is Shelfari. I recently filled out the profiles on all my books on Shelfari and it felt like such a tedious task at the time but I know it will be worth it in the long run.

There has to be some sort of synergistic payoff to employing “dual-brain” strategies i.e. trying things that are a little risky and new and yet doing them with thoroughness, consistency and patience.

These are just some of my overall thoughts to start things off. What secrets, advice, philosophies or tips do other writers or readers have?
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Old 03-04-2012, 11:18 AM   #2
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Judging by the number of views and lack of responses so far, I'd guess that a lot of people are looking for the secrets of indie success, but no one actually has any.

This fits with my observations that, at least at this time, indie success is pretty much a crapshoot. Or, maybe closer to accuracy, a lottery. It could happen to anyone; but it won't happen to many.

I've been selling ebooks online since 2006, myself, and I have yet to see or hear of an idea that all but guarantees indie success. So far most of the things I have seen (interviews in major media outlets, viral videos, public appearances of a unique nature) have worked mainly as a novelty for the first ones who tried it, then quickly lost their potency as more authors tried the same thing. And standard methods of promotion and advertising are pretty much shouted down by the promotional efforts of the major publishers and famous authors.

So it seems that, at the moment, novelty is the best tool for success in the ebook field.

Since I haven't thought of anything sufficiently novel to promote my books, I'm presently relying on what is probably the second-best tool for success: Patience. Continuing along with my efforts, concentrating on providing a quality product, garnering positive reviews, and searching for new places to spread those reviews, is creating a slow-growth business model that may eventually hit a self-perpetuating level and "take off" on its own.

Maybe.
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Old 03-04-2012, 06:21 PM   #3
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Patience is a great secret Another word for patience would be delayed gratification or setting up things that have a payoff in, say, three weeks instead of 72 hours. Or * gulp * even looking out a year or two in advance.

It might sound like I'm being sarcastic but I think this has perhaps been a real stumbling block for me. I was raised to have that midwestern work-ethic so I think whenever I sit down to the computer I should have something to show for it at the end. This can be limiting.

I think that whenever a person is trying to do something new for the first time they must do at least two things: 1. take their time and do it right 2. take a calculated risk or two so that the effort has some level of novelty.
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Old 03-04-2012, 09:30 PM   #4
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OK... here is what I think sets you up for best chances... but keep in mind, I am early in the game here so not proven this out....i could be way wrong

1) Plan to write a series for your debut.. talking at least 5 books.
2) Give book 1 away free, charge low price for rest of series like 2.99 or something.
3) Submit your book(s) to EVERY review site, blog, etc that takes books of your kind. (I still need to do this actually)
4) Get as many friends and family to buy your free book on Amazon as you can, that way it shows up in the "ppl who bought this also bought" lists on Amazon.
5) Make sure each book in the series leaves them wanting the next book.
6) Get yourself a blog site and blog about your book, post links to your blog every where you can
7) Lots of prayer.


I think you need to at least that much to put your self in the position of having a chance. This all assume your writing is worth reading btw...
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Old 03-05-2012, 12:16 AM   #5
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Remember this is a marathon not a sprint
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Old 03-05-2012, 05:59 AM   #6
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Remember this is a marathon not a sprint
A very very long one... but much more enjoyable then real one!
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:23 AM   #7
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4) Get as many friends and family to buy your free book on Amazon as you can, that way it shows up in the "ppl who bought this also bought" lists on Amazon.
That would only work if they were also buying things that your target audience are likely to be looking at. If you're selling hooligan fiction there's no point getting a romance reader to buy it. That's the main reason why the free promos on Amazon don't really work. People will download anything if it's free, so you end up on lots of random non-related lists.

You need a way to find people who are already buying similar titles but not attract random downloaders. The only way I can think to do that would be with something like the Smashwords discount codes, but Amazon doesn't have anything like that.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:52 AM   #8
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OK... here is what I think sets you up for best chances... but keep in mind, I am early in the game here so not proven this out....i could be way wrong
Such a laundry list should always start out with: Write well.

That said, we have examples of writers who have done these things, and it hasn't guaranteed success for them (though, in some cases, due to the one item you omitted).

I would question the value of your recommendation to start with a series, because if the first book isn't received well, there isn't much likelihood of the other books being picked up. I think a better recommendation would be to make sure your first book is as good as it can be as a standalone product... just in case it is destined to stand alone.

At the beginning of your writing (career? hobby? masochistic mania?), you may still be searching for and later refining your genre, your voice, your style. Maybe you can continue your first book with a sequel; or maybe a better idea will come to you in the meantime, or you'll discover that your heart is in another type of book, genre or writing style. Either way, don't force yourself into a corner you might not want to write yourself out of later.
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Old 03-05-2012, 07:54 AM   #9
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Such a laundry list should always start out with: Write well.
hence my comment...

Quote:
This all assume your writing is worth reading btw...
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:19 AM   #10
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Here's an idea:

(I imagine someone else has thought of it before, but if not, I'll take 5%. ;-) (Okay, not really, but I might want in when my book's ready.))

How about putting together an omnibus with other indies working in a similar area? You could charge actual money for it, to avoid the problems of freebies, but make it very good value, to get most of the benefits, and you'd get some cross-promotion. Fans of the other writers would get to see your work, and vice versa.
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Old 03-05-2012, 08:31 AM   #11
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Here's an idea:

(I imagine someone else has thought of it before, but if not, I'll take 5%. ;-) (Okay, not really, but I might want in when my book's ready.))

How about putting together an omnibus with other indies working in a similar area? You could charge actual money for it, to avoid the problems of freebies, but make it very good value, to get most of the benefits, and you'd get some cross-promotion. Fans of the other writers would get to see your work, and vice versa.
Hmm... it seems like a good Google search would provide the same information.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:06 AM   #12
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Here's an idea:

(I imagine someone else has thought of it before, but if not, I'll take 5%. ;-) (Okay, not really, but I might want in when my book's ready.))

How about putting together an omnibus with other indies working in a similar area? You could charge actual money for it, to avoid the problems of freebies, but make it very good value, to get most of the benefits, and you'd get some cross-promotion. Fans of the other writers would get to see your work, and vice versa.
People already do that, but it would need to be free otherwise nobody would even look at it. Another variation would be if all the writers clubbed together and bought a story from a more established writer in their genre to put in it. That way more people would download it, and some of them might even read the other stories.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:11 AM   #13
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Such a laundry list should always start out with: Write well.

That said, we have examples of writers who have done these things, and it hasn't guaranteed success for them (though, in some cases, due to the one item you omitted).

I would question the value of your recommendation to start with a series, because if the first book isn't received well, there isn't much likelihood of the other books being picked up. I think a better recommendation would be to make sure your first book is as good as it can be as a standalone product... just in case it is destined to stand alone.

At the beginning of your writing (career? hobby? masochistic mania?), you may still be searching for and later refining your genre, your voice, your style. Maybe you can continue your first book with a sequel; or maybe a better idea will come to you in the meantime, or you'll discover that your heart is in another type of book, genre or writing style. Either way, don't force yourself into a corner you might not want to write yourself out of later.
I think if what you're selling isn't self-contained you're just ripping people off, or at best expecting them to trust you enough to write the ending. I wrote a lot of setups for sequels, but they didn't really detract from the story and would just be seen as throwaway comments until the sequel came along. But then I stripped most of them out because I realised I had no interest in actually writing those sequels.
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Old 03-05-2012, 09:29 AM   #14
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True, I wouldn't go series on your "breakout projects." I'd go self-contained stories. Probably instead of your five part series, I'd do three different "worlds", and write one full story in each world. The fourth book would be a series of short stories in all your worlds, and the fifth book (and future books ) would be whatever your readers indicated they wanted at that point.

That way, if you get cut off, or if life happens, you're not making people angry by leaving things hanging.

Look at how angry Jordan's fans were that he had the gall to DIE before their books were done. Or how angry GRRM's fans are that he is basically going to every convention on the face of the planet .. and when he sits down to write, he's writing Wild Cards stuff instead of Song of Ice and Fire. Now , those two are famous, so anything that comes out will still get significant sales.. but if you're not famous, the last thing you need to be doing is alienating your readers.
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Old 03-05-2012, 01:26 PM   #15
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Look at how angry Jordan's fans were that he had the gall to DIE before their books were done. Or how angry GRRM's fans are that he is basically going to every convention on the face of the planet .. and when he sits down to write, he's writing Wild Cards stuff instead of Song of Ice and Fire. Now , those two are famous, so anything that comes out will still get significant sales.. but if you're not famous, the last thing you need to be doing is alienating your readers.
Heh... personally, I like GRRM's Wild Cards stories... and at least I'm not dead. But this thread isn't about famous authors, and alienation isn't that much of an issue for newbies and indies; you need fans before you can alienate 'em.
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