More Lessons from Indie Publishing

Since this is my birthday week (Wed, FEB 6 is my bday), I decided to share what I've learned in the last year since publishing four books as an indie author.

1) Getting READY to be published definitely took a village.
I couldn't be where I am without my husband, who's supporting us financially, and my critique group partners, who helped whip my books into shape and whipped me when I got out of line (just kidding) and wanted to quit the book because I was sick of editing.

The big lesson here was about the psychology of burn-out. Sometimes for authors, this problem manifests as writer's block, sometimes illness, sometimes disgust for one's own work. Basically, you lose rational perspective. This is when friends/family/critique partners are very important in helping you see more clearly. Listen to them and don't give up!

I burned out hard on An Eye For Danger near the last edit rounds, but my village pushed me through. Including my readers at Wattpad, who with every chapter were sending me emails demanding more more more. So don't underestimate the power of having fans. Whoa, that pulled on my heart strings. I couldn't give up at that point, because I hadn't the heart to let them down.

TIP: A big helper was that I created my book cover early, so that made the book feel like more than words hidden in a file on my computer. Making your book real, via announcements and fans, makes you work much harder to reach the finish line!

2) Having no marketing budget makes you very resourceful.
Granted, my husband is carrying our bills so I can launch my author career. But my marketing budget still had to come of my own sales. So there's the chicken and the egg dilemma. How to make sales so you can advertise to make more sales?

My choice was to enter the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program so I could manipulate exposure of my book via the 5 free days. There are so many sites that will promo your book if it's free on Kindle, that the free advertising was indisputably a leg up. My first run scored 12,000 downloads. Yes, free, but the resulting book reviews by readers and the sales bump for the next week were both worth the sting to my ego.

In a six-week period I used up my free days (2 days, then another 3-day run at the end of Oct) and garnered about $1,100 in resulting sales. AND my second free run was a complete disaster, because Amazon's ranking system failed and I didn't get picked up by the major announcement sites (Pixel of Ink and eReader News Today).

But I'm still proud of all the free blogs and promos I did because I made new connections and found new authors and learned new lessons. Very worthwhile to have to forage that hard for exposure!

TIP: Get a blog or web site going via a free tool, like Blogger or Wordpress. But be clear how much time you have to spend on these and what you want to say. I like to give away information and teach, so a short blog is perfect for my personality and time constraints.

3) Staying flexible matters, but the definition may surprise you.
Editing is critical, especially when you're dyslexic. There is no end to the amount of editing I can do on a book. That's partly my problem: I over edit material. Worse, I introduce new errors due to my dyslexia. So staying fluid about updating my book regularly was important. There are still changes I want to make to the current version, and no one can tell me "no" because I own the process. And the book improves every time I clear up more issues.

And then there is my husband, who is the voice of reason. My goal should be to finish writing book 2, not still fidgeting with book 1, he says. Why does that man have to be right so often?

So... flexibility sometimes means NOT acting on your impulses. Hence, I have edits waiting till my other goals are met for the month. Since I was out of the office nearly four whole months due to family issues and personal illness, let's just say I was VERY behind in reaching goals. Again, staying flexible according to what's important matters. The health of your loved ones (and yourself) is more critical than any book!!!

TIP: Get a life coach, editor or a good friend to talk publishing "goals" with you at least once per quarter. I'm easily distracted, so having someone remind me of my life-centered goals kept me on track. Of course, I can't get everything done. But did I get done the things that make me happiest? YES!

4) Starting early with networking and research gives you an advantage.
Sure, I had a website and a blog site and Twitter account and Facebook page...all those are important to have BEFORE you go to market. But I also joined several writing and marketing groups via Yahoo Groups before I entered the game, and thank God for that! I learned so much from folks who were "several hamburgers ahead of me in this restaurant" so I was able to anticipate and make decisions more quickly.

An important aspect to networking is discovering which book sites, reviewers (I wish I'd paid more attention to these sooner!), and bloggers you want to leverage once your book hits the shelves. Let's just say that when I come out with book 2, I'll definitely put my interview and review requests into the right sites sooner! Like before the book is published!

Another example of learning from others: I've been reading posts from authors who've used BookBub, a service that announces books to a mailing list of dedicated readers. Their experience and sales numbers are impressive. So I saved up $360 and bought my own spot (comes out Feb 21st), because I put my book, An Eye For Danger (, on a $0.99 special for my birthday month. Best part, I could rationalize this to my husband by pointing to the testimonies of other authors.

TIP: Get on Goodreads early. These readers are tough on books, but if you win them over, you get great reviews and they pass on the word. And set up a promo schedule FAR in advance if you want to use eReader News Today or Pixel of Ink or BookBub services. These are the best, but they are booked! So "last minute" promos don't fly well with them, and having them on your side can mean hundreds of dollars in profits! Not having them can mean a flailing promo, which can discourage your future efforts. Nothing ruins a book career faster than discouragement!

I hope these lessons help you move forward in your own publishing journey, whether you go indie or traditional! And remember, life is not a vacuum--we need each other. So pass on what you learn to others :)

Yours truly,
The Editor Devil


  1. Happy Birthday!

    Thanks for sharing your experiences. I Indie published in November and I'm still stumbling with promotion. There's so much out there to explore and learn and if you're not careful it becomes a time suck. I'm in some of the sites you mention, but there are some I haven't heard of. So I'm going to look into those.

    1. Thank you ooodles, Christy!!! I wish you the best on getting traction. Getting reviews is everything, so remember: all it takes is one AVID fan of your book at a time. The sales will follow :)

  2. Hi there,
    Thanks for a great post! I suck at promo, so you've given me some good ideas. My first indie book came out in December and it's just trudging along in sales. I'm thinking of doing Bookbub once I can get a few more reviews.

    Good luck with your sales! At this point, would you ever consider going the traditional route, or are you an indie girl forever (well, until the major offers roll in LOL)?


    1. Hi, Becky! A good thing to understand is the diff between advertising to get sales & marketing/branding/visibility to create impressions. For sales, hit BookBub and ENT. For visibility, do your free promos and spread your book around (that gets reviews, new avid readers). And partner with authors as much as possible for the support to keep you sane! I'd be happy to host a blog from you, by the way!

      As for trad publishing, sure, I'd consider that for appropriate reasons: foreign rights sales, movie deals, things that are out of my reach. Or if I could do a print deal separatetly from my ebooks. That's happening more and more for authors who've established themselves online with great sales/reviews, then get approached by NY. We'll see! Let's hope wide-spread success for both of us this year:)

  3. Well said Christine, from a whipper. And jumping into your conversation with Becky, I'd say that when it comes time to make a movie, (inevitable) an agent is necessary but maybe not the publisher. Not sure. Only sure of the need for better movies.