My Freedom Flame

Motivating Writers Worldwide

Tag: Rookie

How Rookie Indie-Authors Achieve Success on a Limited Budget

Did you all miss me?

Yes, I took a one month hiatus in the middle of winter. Hibernation, so to speak. Er…not really. Spent a lot of time editing for the final book in the Original Lord of Columbia Trilogy entitled Missing in Columbia which will be out soon….very soon. Also, I was hard at work on my affiliate blog and of course, Lord of Columbia Series blog, but I didn’t forget about My Freedom Flame.

So, last month I spoke of how indie-authors can create a plan and today I hope to expand on the subject as to how rookie indie-authors can achieve success on a limited budget. I know a lot of us are doing the following:

1. Working a day job they’d rather be without.

2. Drowning in debt.

3. Refinancing or flat out defaulting on loans.

4. Have this urge to succeed in writing but we don’t know how we can build a business without capital.

Don’t worry, I’m here to give you some advice.

Want to know a secret?

Just a few months ago I was down to my last seven-hundred dollars, so I can relate to your pain.

I joined the Wealthy Affiliate Community and learned to blog. I learned how to at least get my site’s name into Google and Bing search engines. It was a cheap investment that started at a measly $19 a month; best nineteen dollars I’ve ever spent.

In fact, it taught me a lot of cool stuff and guess what?

You too can succeed on a limited budget.

As I’ve mentioned before, I also joined the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild in November 2017, which transformed my writing one-hundred-fold. His Guild isn’t open at the moment as it’s only open for a limited time throughout the year, but if you have a shot to join, I suggest you join.

Want to go inside the numbers?

Wealthy Affiliate costs me $585/year, and if I decide to go annual, $359/year.

Jerry’s Guild cost me $370 for the year.

So, we’re looking at a grand total $955 total throughout the year.

Throughout twenty-three months if I were to combine the two.

No, you don’t have to invest thousands in courses, so if you’re on a limited budget, follow me down the list here.


Invest in a Cost-Effective Book Cover

Did you know all three of my book covers for the Lord of Columbia Original Trilogy are pre-made?

The cover for Northern Knights cost $85. Ditto for Missing in Columbia. Swords of Destiny cost $95.
Grant total of $265.


You don’t have that much, either?

No worries.

Back when I was vetting for a book cover, and you will vet, believe me, I came across a few that were as low as $30, so you can definitely find something to fit your budget here.

I would not hire someone from Fiverr for a book cover as I’ve seen them and you’d be better off making one for free, which you can do if you go to Canva. However, I recommend you not use Canva to create covers for books you plan to sell. Freebie e-books are fine, but not paid books.


Learn How to Self-Edit

While hiring a professional editor would be top-notch, they can charge as much as .02 cents a word. Had I hired someone to edit Northern Knights, it would’ve cost $1,600. Some of the better ones charge more, as much as a nickel per word. Yikes!

Most of us don’t have that kind of cash, but don’t worry, because self-editing really isn’t that hard once you learn tricks to the trade.

Which is why I recommend the Guild, something I tried myself and enjoyed learning. Okay, I enjoyed learning some new stuff after I found that the first drafts of Northern Knights sucked, but still.

Take your pick: $370/year, or $1,500+ per book edit.

Again, for those of us on a budget, we have to be smart with our money.

$1,500 is a little much.

At the very least, invest in a book that teaches self-editing.

Whatever you do, don’t use this blog or any other free source of information as your only information. We can teach you some, but the best thing to do is always, always, always find a mentor; even a virtual mentor.

Grammar Checkers Don’t Break the Bank

Grammarly and Pro Writing Aid are my two favorites. Grammarly is the one I have built into my laptop and it’s saved me countless times. I really never go a day without it.

On the other hand, Pro Writing Aid does have a freebie tool on its site and if you have any questions, Pro Writing Aid has the answers. It’ll tell you if your writing is fast or slow-paced, whether you used too many glue words, and much more. It gives you sentence length, word frequency, and if you’re running a chapter of fiction through it, how much unnecessary back story you’re using up.

Grammarly is my top choice due to the fact it’s readily available and will point out errors within seconds. It catches things other grammar checkers can’t and it’s free to install.

So, if you’re self-editing, take your grammar to the next level here with Grammarly or Pro Writing Aid, as in time, you will thank yourself. It’s one thing to self-edit to make the work interesting, but it’s a completely different ballgame when it comes to finding you forgot to put ‘the’ where it’s needed, ‘a,’ or any similar word.


Book Promotion is Fairly Priced

Books Butterfly has a Silver Eagle campaign running for $50. JustKindleBooks, one I used last December, has an $18 package. Book Runes costs a simple $25.

I’ll never tell you to invest in promotion I haven’t personally used. I’ve used all three and I plan on using more in time.
The above equals a grand total of $93. Three cheap promo packages sold me a grand total of nearly 600 copies of Northern Knights on its free days. It didn’t really come out of the wash, but for $93, I’ll take it.

As a rookie indie-author on a limited budget, I’ll really take it. Especially when my KENP has steadily increased, meaning in time, the promo may end up paying for itself.

Even if you don’t have the budget for $93, there are other options as well. I’ve come across bknights, which is a Fiverr-based promo site that charges $5-$10 for basic promotion. Per Reedsy, they’re a good deal. I’ve never tried them when it comes to freebies, but it shows what can be done even on a small budget.


My Investments

Okay, so I joined Wealthy Affiliate for site building, keyword research tools, site networking, and SEO practice for $558, bought my Lord of Columbia Series domain for $14, so we’re at $572.

I joined the Writers Guild the year before this, which cost $370, so we’re up to $942.

Add in the $265, and you get $1,207. Add $93, and we get a grand total of $1,300 that I spent from November 2017 and will spend to November 2019. Divide this by twenty-five months and you get a total of $52/month I’m investing in my indie-author business.

Do you have $52/month to spare?

And again, if not, there are cheaper ways, but for me to create the highest-quality product on my limited budget, I squeaked out $77/month and I mean I squeaked it out.

So, rookie indies, just because you have a small budget doesn’t mean there’s no hope out there. There is hope, and trust me, you will thank yourselves when you invest in something important to you. Invest in something beneficial to you.


How Rookie Indie-Authors Gain Credibility

Hi, my name’s Todd Matthews and you’ve probably never heard of me. That’s because I’m a rookie indie-author still very new to the game with two published works. Well, you can say I have five published works if you count my reader magnets, two of which are hanging out on Amazon for 99 cents but you can get them for free by following the links at the bottom of this article.

Today I’m talking about how rookie authors gain credibility in what’s supposedly an over-saturated book market. But to tell you the truth, the market might contain millions of books, but it’s not over-saturated.

In fact, the market will only become over-saturated when there are millions of authors vying for the same target audience.

At this point in world history, there are only millions of authors, over half of which upload books to Amazon and think royalties will pour in like magic.

Then they wonder why nothing’s happening and blame successful authors for being “lucky” without even having read up on their stories.

Joanna Penn, Mark Dawson, Nick Stephenson, anyone?

They all make six and seven figures doing what they love, but guess what?

Not one of them saw overnight success.

Penn spent three years building an author platform before she made a dime.

I can’t remember which, but either Dawson or Stephenson brought home an astounding $10 (I want to say 10 pounds, but I’m an American isolated from the rest of society) in his first six months.

For some strange reason, indie authors forget the fact they need to market their work and market it well.

When they’re angry that they haven’t seen the green fly in as the passage to quitting their day job, they get hung up on the false claim that they’re not destined to succeed.

We’re all destined to succeed, I love to break the good news to ya!

But, to succeed we need to work as if our author career is our full-time job.

Yep, we get to work two full-time jobs, aren’t we lucky?

I feel lucky, because I want this to be my full-time job along with being part of the Wealthy Affiliate Community, which if you haven’t checked it out, follow the link below where you can sign up for zero cost to test drive the system…no credit card required, either.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand, how indie authors gain credibility. Below are four ideas so if you’re hooked by my rambling, keep reading.


Enter KDP Select

I know two things:

1. KDP Select grants authors five free days every ninety days to gain a readership but the catch is one must remain exclusive to Amazon or face deadly consequences (like a permanent ban).

2. Open publishing is nice but can be self-destructive in the short run, so I wouldn’t open publish any paid works; only my freebie e-books are on Nook, Kobo, iBooks, etc., with every single one (except iBooks) containing a link with my paid works to Amazon.

If you have three or fewer books, KDP Select is for you. Heck, some authors like it so much they remain enrolled in KDP Select.

I was on edge about it at first, but in the end I’m glad I’m enrolled. This past week I set my five free days and bought a small paid promotion for $18 that’s given me decent results, selling 110 copies of Northern Knights on Monday and 24 copies of Swords of Destiny.

Days Two and Three were slower, with only 34 total sales, which is typical with this particular promotion.

Yesterday, I garnered 52, with 27 sales from Swords of Destiny and 25 from Northern Knights.

Today, 23 so far with a few hours to go in the promo.

Overall, I’m happy I did a simultaneous paid promotion even if my books were set to free along with my five KDP days. I gained almost 250 new readers and I’m sure to gain a few reviews from the work.

Actually, on Goodreads, someone reviewed both works at 5 stars at the time of this writing, so I can attest this method works wonders. Just make sure you have the right people reading the work.

If a Steeler fan reads Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny, they might not take kindly to the allegory of the antagonists dressing in black and yellow and one of the main antagonist’s name being King Rooney, but hey, it’ll happen.


Blog, Blog, and Blog

Yeah, if you’re an author right now and you don’t have a blog, I suggest you stop reading this, log onto WordPress and create one.

Create a blog that can get indexed by Google, so don’t do a free or anything like that. My Wealthy Affiliate link can give you up to two sites, both subdomains, but you have complete access to with it, so you can always build content the way you want it and pay for the actual site hosting later.

If you don’t have a blog, you aren’t gaining exposure, plain and simple. You need to have exposure if you plan on selling your books.

You can also blog about anything you want, as long as it’s in a narrow niche.

Maybe your book contains messages that you’re passionate on. You can blog about those.

You might model your blog after mine and help writers.

You can talk about the writing process, how to market books, whatever you want, just stay in your niche.


Link Your Blog

We all have social media, so creating a Facebook Page, Twitter Page, Google + Page (for now), and Pinterest should be a must.

Also, if you want to treat your writing like an actual business and connect with other writers, linking your blog to a LinkedIn page isn’t half-bad either.

Some people prefer to receive a blog via email, so always have an email signup sheet on your blog, too.

I make sure everything is shared on these social media sites.

I don’t spend too much time sharing my blog to social media; maybe one or two shares throughout the day blog-wise, because it won’t work miracles. It will, however, give you a few bonus readers.


Make Your Product Professional

Look at my covers; they’re both professionally designed.

I did that on purpose.

My product already looks higher-quality than half the books over at Amazon because I took the time and spent $85 and $95 on the covers of Northern Knights and Swords of Destiny, respectively.

I researched and even bought a course in self-editing which also enhanced my writing tenfold, called the Jerry Jenkins’ Writers Guild. Excellent tool and enrollment is always limited. It completely changed my once amateur, and I mean amateur, writing style within six months.

The product works wonders and I advise you all to invest your money into writing courses. You’ll thank yourself one day when you do make full-time income writing.

If you look in my books, there may be a typo or two, as even traditionally published bestsellers contain them, but there aren’t many.

I took the time and edited my work. Months. In Northern Knights’ case, a couple years since it was my first work and I made more mistakes than one can count to infinity.

I formatted my work, double, and triple-checked to make sure it was correct.

I took my time, knowing I’d rather upload a high-quality product as opposed to a low-quality one.

I didn’t make the mistake most rookie indies make and rush to publish as those mistakes can be fatal to a career before it even begins.

No, I spent about nine months reading up on the entire publishing process the second I decided to publish the work myself and treat my books like a business.


Sink or Swim?

It’s true that most indies will ultimately fail, but the ones who fail wouldn’t have had they taken their time to build credibility.

The reason why most indies average $500 in royalties per year is because they refuse to do anything beyond uploading a book and watching a blank sales report page.

They fail to underestimate that this is a job and must be treated as such. Put it this way; if you went to your day job and just sat there would you succeed?

Of course not.

Some might argue that they took a lot of time writing their work and getting it published so they deserve to make money, right?

If you’re an indie-author, you’re a business owner, like it or not. Business owners invest a lot of money up front into their businesses. They work twelve to sixteen-hour days in that first year and many times into their second year. They invest a lot of money and they lose even more money.

Heck, many might be teetering on bankruptcy.

All those successful people some of us hate on, most of them lived on a prayer once upon a time.
But they built their credibility and ultimately their business empire.

Building a business and succeeding in your own business is something ANYBODY can do, but you have to be willing to put in the work most don’t want to do.

And that will be the deciding factor on building your business; on building your credibility as an indie-author.

Invest, invest, invest, and create the highest-quality product you can and succeed even if it means sacrificing a once healthy bank account or shortchange yourself and watch your dreams slip.

The choice is yours and I want you to take the high route.

I want you to enjoy success in this field for years to come.

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