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Building Your Indie Author Empire

Congratulations, You’re an Entrepreneur…an Author-Entrepreneur

The indie author’s life isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, it’s for souls who are willing to stay in on Friday nights, utilize their weekends to work when they may have the day off from their day jobs and are willing to wake up an hour earlier or go to bed an hour later than usual on workdays.

Writers are people who communicate best through words penned or typed rather than speaking on the phone, in a crowd, group, or even texting.

Let’s face it: the writers’ life is a high and lonely destiny, as C.S. Lewis stated in the Magicians’ Nephew regarding those who sought certain occupations.

Then there’s the daunting task of finding an audience, which requires more work than uploading a book to Amazon or any aggregate site for that matter and expecting the royalties to trickle in.

Don’t even get me started on the oversaturated book market where a new book is published every three minutes and the average royalties of indie-authors is $500/year tops.

No, I’m not trying to discourage you from going into the writing or indie-author field.

I’m just handing out real-world data.

But, just because these are averages, the norms, etc. doesn’t mean they’re set in stone. There are a lot of indie-authors making a full-time living from their books but they all struggled early on, bringing in as little as $10 in royalties over the course of six months.

So, how should a writer cope in the real world?

You need a sound plan of action and be ready to change such a plan at will.

 

It’s a Job

If you’ve written books and published them yourself, congratulations, you’re officially an author-entrepreneur.

Now that you’re an author-entrepreneur, obviously unless you’re an indie who’s outsourced your marketing, you need to wear a second hat, so trade in that writer’s cap for a businessperson’s cap.

There you go, now it’s time to think like a businessperson and remember that this is your second job if you want to make money off it.

Note, some indies don’t care about making money, they just like to write and publish books without worrying whether people will buy and that’s okay.

But I’m sure most of you want another stream of income, right?

In today’s world, where uncertainty lurks everywhere, it’s a good idea to have.

So, treat writing like it’s a second job right now and learn to market.

Need a few ideas?

 

Get Your Book’s Name Out There

Start a blog, I can’t reiterate this enough. For those of you serious about blogging, I highly recommend joining Wealthy Affiliate (WA) and yes, I am part of them and will receive a commission if you click through my affiliate links, but rest assured this will save all serious bloggers A TON, literally A TON of money in startup costs.

Invest in paid book promotion and enroll your book in KDP Select. Yes, this is going to sound counterintuitive, but if you enroll in Select, you get five free days each month but don’t expect to sell much more than 100 free copies unless you have a solid name (yes, there are exceptions to this). Now, imagine investing in paid promotion.

Yes, it costs money but these paid promo sites, especially BookBub if you can manage it, have hundreds of thousands of visitors and emails per month, so imagine if you write in fantasy and one of these promo sites have over 100,000 email addresses, it’s going to make your book visible.

Sure, only between 2,000 and 4,000 will buy your book, but Mark Dawson states that you’re looking at between 20 and 40 potential reviews out of these buyers.

While KDP Select freebies don’t count toward sales, you can snag a number of reviews. There is a rumor Amazon is cracking down on these reviews and deleting them if they’re not paid, but you can always upload them yourself into your book’s editorial reviews, which will help.

Another tactic is to place the reviews on your blog and social media pages, so either way you’re getting reviews and hence, more customers trusting your product. I’m honestly not sure if this rumor is true or if it’s merely a gray area in Amazon’s terms and conditions regarding reviews but even if it is, you’ll still have access for a short time and can place these reviews somewhere else.

While I’m on the subject, contact book reviewers. Now, while you may only get a few responses and even fewer willing to read your work, it’s still going to help. You can also gift an e-book to a reviewer so it counts as a sale and if your book is $2.99 or more you’ll get a 70% reimbursement due to royalty, so it’s a cheap investment on your part.

Friends and family can help, too, but beware, because Amazon bots know who follows you and is in contact with your social media accounts, so you may need to delete these people from social media to get around this. Hey, they shouldn’t take it personally, it’s just business as usual.

And finally, query others to see if you can guest blog. Many bloggers love and welcome guest bloggers onto their sites and will even leave links to your work so those who come across the blog will have access. Imagine getting onto a blog that generates high traffic.

 

Have Patience

Be patient, because this will take time, especially if you’re like me and only have one full-length book out.
I’ve always stated that you should be in KDP Select if you have one or two books out in a series, which will allow you to promote them as freebies simultaneously while also using paid promotion to really get the first in series’ name out there.

By having a second book on deck and also promoted (most sites reject promoting seconds in series, just a heads up), readers who enjoyed Book One will probably get Book Two as well.

You can even enroll Book Three in Select and do this same thing with a different promo site and email list before open publishing, which will then leverage you even more traction in the book marketplace.

And yes, this can and will be a process regardless if you publish a series simultaneously or if you publish Book One, Two, and Three in three to six-month increments.

I know we all want to make a living full-time off our writing but we also need to remember we are owning and operating a business whether we want to admit this or not. And remember, there’s not a single business out there that’s profited, even those big names and multinational corporations you see today, in year one.

Building your indie-author empire takes time but if you’re in it for the long haul, you’re going to be in good shape.

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