Posted On November 4, 2013 by Print This Post

Two Simple Ways to Become a Successful Indie Author with Delaney Diamond

Welcome Delaney Diamond with her insight into what it takes to become a successful indie author. Read on!

“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

That quote has been attributed to Chinese philosopher Confucius, and it’s one of my favorite quotes. I often think of it whenever I hear authors commenting how they don’t care about the money when they write – as if there’s something to be ashamed of in making money writing. I actually think authors feel guilty about wanting to make money at their art. I’m here to tell you there’s no shame in it, and it’s wonderful when you can have a marriage of creativity and business.

What it means to be an indie author

Cover_The Blind Date_200X300Being an indie author (or self-published author, depending on your preference) is time-consuming and labor-intensive. Not only are you responsible for doing the writing (creative), you also have to take control of the business aspects, which a publisher would normally manage. But it’s the best of both worlds, and there’s nothing like being in control of your own career path. Doing so is not as daunting as some people think. In fact, there are two main ways to ensure success.

  1. Be customer-friendly.
  2. Produce good books.

Be customer-friendly

Businesses know the way to stand out and have longevity is to be customer-friendly, so do like any good business and treat your audience well. That includes being professional and taking care of your regular customers. As writers, our customers are our readers.

Be professional. First of all, don’t respond to negative reviews. It’s not a good look. There’s no way an author can win, no matter how reasonable you think your argument is. Unfortunately, indie authors have a bad reputation of responding to negative reviews and accusing reviewers of destroying their livelihood. Some have even accused reviewers of having a personal vendetta against them.

When you get a negative review, do what I do. Take a deep breath and go eat some ice cream. While you’re eating the ice cream, read all the positive reviews you’ve received and reread all the emails you’ve been sent telling you how wonderful your book is and how they can’t wait for the next one. Everyone gets negative reviews once in a while. As of this writing, book one of Fifty Shades of Grey has 5,845 1-star reviews, but I’m pretty sure E.L. James never responded to a single one. She’s too busy working on her business, and you should be, too.

 Be positive and friendly. One of my favorite things to do is communicate with readers. I respond to emails, and I chat with them on Facebook and Twitter. Not only does this humanize you, it builds a relationship with your readers that will be hard to break.

Put your best foot forward. When participating in reader events, such as meet-and-greets, make sure you dress the part and act the part. If you’re having a bad day, suck it up and put a smile on your face, and no pouting until you get home. They’ve taken time out of their schedule and some have come a long way to see you, so make it a pleasant experience—one they’ll go home and brag about. We all know word-of-mouth is the best advertising, and you want them sharing positive messages about you, not negative ones.

Reward your loyal customers. In the writing world, or loyal customers are called fans. They’re the ones who follow your blog, Twitter, and Facebook. They repin your images on Pinterest and friend you on GoodReads. They’ll buy almost all, if not all, of your releases, so be sure to take care of them. Make it worth their while to follow you.

Here are some suggestions: Offer exclusive content and free short stories with spin-off characters; notify them first of new releases or works in progress; have contests only they can win where prizes could be autographed books, swag, or gift cards; let them know about book discounts and packaged bundles.

Produce good books

Our products are our books, so we should put out the best product possible. No one wants to spend their hard-earned money on subpar material.

Study your craft. While it’s true the more you write the better you’ll become at it, it doesn’t hurt to take writing classes and get refreshers. Two of my favorite books on writing are James Scott Bell’s Plot & Structure and Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. Those books are filled with highlighting and underlines and notes in the margin, and every now and again I take them off the shelf to refresh my memory about the areas I need to focus on.

Another way to study your craft is to read other books in and outside of your genre. What did you like and not like about them? Analyze the novels and figure out what caused you to have an emotional response to a particular story. Can you duplicate the same in your own books?

Learn from mistakes. Remember those negative reviews? Maybe it’s worth paying closer attention to see if there’s anything you could learn from them. While positive reviews let us know when we’re on the right track, negative reviews could provide insight that we’re not.

Hire an editor. It seems crazy that I’d have to mention this, but so many indie authors don’t use editors. Part of being a professional is putting out a professional product. As one reader said, editing is part of the package, so saying you can’t afford an editor is a poor excuse. You wouldn’t put out a book without a cover because you couldn’t afford it, would you?

We can’t edit our work because we’re too close to it—our brain fills in missing words and corrects typos. The easiest way to find an editor is through referrals. Talk to other authors about who they’re using. Editors usually have testimonials or a list of references, and every editor I’ve ever worked with offered a sample edit of 5-10 pages so I could see their work and make sure we could work well together.

Create attractive book covers. Unless you’re a whiz at graphic design, hire a cover artist. If I like the cover of a book, I usually peruse the inside to see if the author gave the cover artist credit, and then I go to their website to check out their other work.

Outsource. Don’t try to do everything yourself! Businesses have employees and they outsource tasks to other business that can do the same work better and more efficiently, and you should do the same. So outsource your cover design and your formatting if you need to and spend that time writing. Many authors are using author assistants to update their websites, handle marketing, help with research, and upload books to the online retailers. In the long run you’ll be better off because you’ll get the money back in the time you save and the professionalism of your product.

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Have you self published? Have any great advice on how to do it?

Join us on Wednesday for author Codi Gary.

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Bio: Delaney Diamond writes sweet and sensual romance novels and is the site manager of Romance Novels in Color, where diversity in romance is celebrated. When she’s not reading or writing she’s trying out new recipes or traveling to an interesting locale. Find free reads and the first chapter of all her books at www.delaneydiamond.com.

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16 Responses to “Two Simple Ways to Become a Successful Indie Author with Delaney Diamond”

  1. Hi Delaney,

    Great tips. You’re so right about authors being too close to their work to view it objectively. Hiring an editor, especially for the first book, is money well spent.

    Thanks for joining us today.

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | November 4, 2013, 2:50 pm
  2. Evening Delaney!

    Sorry I’m so late, been a wild day. =)

    This is great advice – and I agree with Jen (and you!) about hiring an editor. And learn from your mistakes – wow….that one goes for indie authoring and life in general.

    Great article – one I’ll definitely refer to again!

    carrie

    Posted by Carrie Spencer | November 4, 2013, 6:22 pm
  3. Hi Delany – These are great tips! With indie publishing, it really seems to matter what you know almost as much as how well you write. It’s surprising to me that indie publishing is as close to a level playing field as authors are likely to find.

    Thanks so much!

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | November 4, 2013, 10:20 pm
  4. Agreed, Becke! There’s so much more to being an indie author than the writing, but I feel that it’s all worth the effort.

    Posted by Delaney Diamond | November 5, 2013, 10:09 am
  5. Excellent tips, Delaney! I hope to self-pub one or two titles next year and I truly appreciate generous advice from indie authors. Thanks!

    Posted by Reese Ryan | November 5, 2013, 2:08 pm
  6. Hi Delaney! I’m tuning in more these days to indie publishing news and tips. Thanks for these great tips. Storing this for future use.

    Posted by PatriciaW | November 5, 2013, 3:10 pm
  7. Great post Delaney and so true! I started indie publishing about a year ago and had to learn a lot via trial and error. Putting out a professional product not only provides a great read for fans but also gives the proper amount of respect to the book you’ve slaved so many hours in producing. Why spend all of that time wrestling with your muse only to release an unpolished book? This is a perfectly timed post especially with NaNoWriMo going on right now.

    Posted by Laurel Cremant | November 8, 2013, 10:02 am
  8. Laurel, I never even thought about that aspect, but you’re right-putting out a professional product shows respect for our time and effort. Thanks for those thoughts!

    Posted by Delaney Diamond | November 8, 2013, 10:38 am
  9. Great tips and reminders! VERY timely!

    Posted by Sharon C. Cooper | November 8, 2013, 2:56 pm
  10. Fabulous advice, Delaney! I’m pleased to say I’m already following your recommendations…including learning from my mistakes.

    Posted by Bettye Griffin | November 8, 2013, 4:26 pm
  11. Solid advice, Delaney.

    Posted by J.L. Campbell | November 8, 2013, 4:58 pm
  12. I’ve learned so much from reading articles by other authors, so I’m glad I could provide some advice that others find helpful. I appreciate you stopping by Sharon, Bettye, and JL!

    Posted by Delaney Diamond | November 8, 2013, 5:37 pm

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