Friday, June 24, 2011

Advice to "Indie" writers

A questioner on an Amazon.Com message board asked the question recently: as an independent, self-published author, how does he promote himself?

Having some time on my hands, I composed what I think was a thoughtful response.
This is really one of the things folks need to think about before moving ahead with publishing anything. I think experts would answer that you've got to "brand" yourself by using the tools of blogging, social networking, and the like.

Ideally, long before you've published, you have a well-established blog, writing regularly about things that interest you. It can be anything: politics, current events, sports, knitting. Anything. It's also important that you participate regularly in other peoples blogs, commenting on their posts and networking that way.

And maybe, you build on that by using twitter, and Facebook, and Goodreads, and the other social networking tools that are out there.

For one example, there's a guy who recently published a book (who also posts to this forum) that ran a fan fiction site for some time, posting his own and other people's fiction, building up a network of friends and social acquaintances that way. Last I checked, his book was still sitting at #2 or #3 in the Space Opera science fiction category.

What he had built for himself (not that he was even necessarily trying) was what folks in traditional publishing call a "platform," a network of folks who might already be interested in purchasing something he's written, and upon which he can build.

So in a nutshell, make sure you think about these things before publishing. Attempts to do such things afterward usually (in my opinion, anyway) come off as looking insincere and desperate. It takes time, often months and years, to build up relationships such that people are interested enough in you to buy your book.

And maybe, you already have a "platform" in place and just need to think creatively about it -- are you active in town politics or in your community or in your schools? Perhaps you already post regularly to other forums, are well known there, and can let people know about your book that way. At any rate, you need to think about how can you parlay those sorts of relationships into something more.

Something else you may want to try is contacting your local community paper. I often read articles and blurbs in them about "local citizen writes book." Can't hurt, right?

Anyhow, I'm not saying you can't do these things afterward. Just saying it will be a slow slog. My two cents. Best of luck!

I'll confess right here and now, the longer I do this, the less I believe any of it. I think more appropriate advice might have been: write a series of private detective novels, keep churning them out. Or maybe vampire romance. That's what people want to read.

Throw some dragons in there for good measure.

People love dragons.

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