I’ve said it in at least two posts: most indie-authors never make a full-time living on their writing. The sad part is most of them can and would make such a living because I’m a firm believer in the fact most books will find an audience.
Even a small audience in an obscure genre or plot element will find a home. Somewhere, a readership will form. The problem is that many fail to build an indie-author business because they have not a single plan going into the game.
I’ve written a few posts in the past regarding goals and ways that indie-authors can boost their sales, but today I’m going even further and will outline a way for you to make a full-time living as an indie-author.
NOT A GET-RICH-QUICK SCHEME
I know, writing in all caps is equivalent to shouting, but it’s something I want to clear up immediately. What I’m about to show you is not a get-rich-quick scheme, so don’t think for a single second you can quit your dreaded day job and become a successful indie-author by simply implementing these steps.
My way will give you a roadmap that will get you to your destination if you take the time to treat your books or book series as a full-time business. Yes, if you have two full-time jobs, welcome to the big stage.
You think working 40-50 hours a week at a day job is tough, you haven’t seen anything yet.
Hey, if this were easy we’d all be doing it, so I hope you’re up for a challenge, which is another reason why a lot of aspiring (fill in the blank in a field of your choice) fails. They’re unwilling to put in the time and effort required to see their dream through.
Everyone wants to live their dream, but few are willing to put in the work to make their dream a reality. Ironically, these are the same people who are miserable at their own day jobs, so maybe they just don’t like to lift a finger and contribute in any way to society.
Sorry for the harsh words, but there are a lot of dreamers that just expect success to find them and these are the same people envious of those who are successful. Listen, unless your name’s Paul Menard, it’s not going to happen.
Storytime: Who is Paul Menard?
Paul Menard is a professional NASCAR driver whose father, John Menard Jr. founded Menards Inc., the third largest home improvement company in the nation behind Lowe’s and The Home Depot.
Long story short, Menard is a mediocre driver whose experienced one win at NASCAR’s highest level over the past fourteen seasons. His father sponsors his racecar and according to NASCAR legend Tony Stewart, Menard’s father “writes hefty checks to buy his son a ride.”
So, unless you’re Paul Menard, success finding you, albeit on a yearly basis of embarrassment over the course of thirty-six weeks, is rare. You’d be more likely to discover your favorite Pokémon exists.
This isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, so if you think it is, go somewhere else. I want workers for this operation.
Step One: Identify a Target Audience
Who are you writing for?
If you read my dedication page for Northern Knights, I mention Libertarian America. Boom, done, Libertarian America is the target market.
Libertarians tend to disagree with one another on what they perceive to be Libertarian issues and non-Libertarian issues. I can go on forever about this.
You have your Green Libertarians, Paleo-Libertarians (um, that’s me), Libertarian Socialists, the list is insane.
But I’m more Rothbardian in nature, hence my preference for the Paleo sector. Libertarians everywhere might disregard my work for not being Libertarian enough because:
a) My main character starts a war, and
b) The enemy colors happen to be anarchocapitalist and voluntarist colors of black and yellow…I’m a Cleveland Browns fan, people, hence the color scheme of this site, Lord of Columbia Series, which can be accessed here, and even my book covers.
Before I scare you all away with politics, I’m stating this because it shows how narrow a target audience must get. There are a lot of Libertarian sub-sectors, I’ll call them, but only select groups of these sub-sectors will be interested in the work.
Why do we even need a target audience?
Because people who read Nora Roberts aren’t reading anything by Todd Matthews, so why the hell would we bother with people who won’t read our work? Likewise, my reading audience probably won’t be reading Nora Roberts.
So, identify that target audience. Ask yourself who will read your book. These are the people who need to know your work exists but the only way they’ll find out is if you show them the work.
Step Two: Work Within a Niche
Much like a target audience, by working within a niche you can bring people to you either via a blog or social media. While a blog, in time, will grant you far more traffic and social media won’t even take you to minor celebrity status.
But search engines can, and it’s all about knowing how to blog within a niche to make your work visible.
This is true for both fiction and nonfiction writers. You need to have an audience for your work to become visible and a live blog to keep people coming back to your site while driving new traffic each day. Only a blog can do this. And it’s cost effective.
How much does a blog cost?
You need a domain and webhosting, plus a vibrant theme, so it’ll cost a few, but nowhere near what social media promotion will. Also, Google doesn’t charge for ranking unless you pay for AdWords, which will put your business at the top of a listing if a keyword within your blog is searched.
Now, this is a slow process and you’ll toil away in obscurity for a time, sometimes as long as twelve months. But you know what? Keep churning and moving, because Google will reward you. On my NFL blog, Get Pro Football Apparel, Google’s trust of my site has increased by 40% over the past five months.
The key isn’t to add content, but to add relevant content readers are searching for. Investing in a keyword tool like Jaaxy will work wonders here, as it shows you what readers are searching for.
Step Three: Promote, Promote, Promote
I’ve heard mixed reviews regarding Amazon KDP Select, but a lot of authors love it because it gives their books a chance for exposure with its Kindle Countdowns or Free Promotions.
For new authors, you will give away far more books than paid sells, but it’s worth it in the end.
One indie-author who makes a full-time living off their books earned about $95 in royalties their first year, but gave away a lot of books….thousands. They promoted like crazy when the free promo days came, and Amazon gives you five of these every ninety days. Kind of cool, right?
If you’re a new author, you need to be active in free promotion by signing your book up for promos with Freebooksy, Books Butterfly, or something similar.
Go For It
Okay, now that you know what it takes to make a formative business plan, it’s time for you to go for it and start creating.
I’ll be back with another installment soon with a more advanced plan that comes once your initial readership is exposed to your work.
Note that what you see here is the formative stage, which will take one to two years, I’m afraid, but if you keep going, make your way through the dark times, and stay consistent, you will find success. And I heard once you find success, it will follow you.