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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bob Mayer's 9 Keys to Indie Publishing Success

1. The best promotion is a good book. The next best promotion is more good books. I’ve got over 30 titles uploaded with six more to go. I had a new book coming out last month, The Jefferson Allegiance, and then will be pushing forward several of my series and starting a new one.

2. Know what your platform is, especially in social media. My blog, Write It Forward, is designed to be an advocate for authors and readers.

3. However, for a new author, write more books before worrying about putting a lot of time into promotion. There’s nothing wrong putting a first book up, but remember, most traditionally published authors didn’t sell until manuscript 2, 3 or 4. So don’t worry about sales on that first book. Don’t waste time promoting. Wait until you have three books published, then start pushing the promotion. Have patience. This is a marathon, not a sprint. The authors who will succeed are the ones who are looking three to five years ahead and not worried about what they sold today on Kindle.

4. The next point is this: don’t let emotion make your decisions. We all have strong feelings about books and writing and bookstores, etc. That’s fine. Put them in a box. Focus on reality. This is a business. Numbers rule, not emotions. If you want to succeed in the new world of publishing, you have to deal in reality. I recently had a romance editor at a major house tell me they were following the technology and I was rather stunned by that. One of the keys to our success in the Green Berets was to act rather than react. Starting my own publishing company two years ago has allowed me to be ahead of most of the changes and to build. We went from selling 347 eBooks in January of 2011 to 100,000 monthly.

5. Pricing. It’s the key advantage I have over a traditional publisher. All our books at Who Dares Wins Publishing are between $2.99 and $4.99. We have two titles at .99. Regardless of what you feel about the .99 price point there is absolutely no doubt there are many people who troll for books at that price. We view them as hooks—Atlantis at .99 is the hook to get people to read my science fiction; Eyes of the Hammer at .99 is the hook to get people to read my thrillers. Pricing has allowed me to have two of the top ten titles in science fiction on US Kindle, UK Kindle and Nook for months now. I’m not even considered a science fiction author. But my Area 51 and Atlantis series are good, priced reasonably, and have covers that . . .

6.   Different than regular print covers.

7. Develop a process as a writer (I discuss this in The Novel Writers Toolkit) that you constantly refine and improve upon. Write this process down and update it every so often.

8. Lastly, understand that if you want a career as an indie (or even traditional) author, you are running a business in the world of publishing. I took all I’ve learned over 20 years of traditional publishing and 2 years of indie publishing and put it into Write It Forward: From Writer to Successful Author because there is no ‘training program’ for authors on the business side. Stay up to date on what’s going on.

9. Lastly, lastly, it’s the most exciting time to be a writer. You have more opportunities than ever before. All the best to everyone!


Linda Lovely said...

Bob--What is your process as a writer and what's the most recent change you've made to it? Also when you say you created your own publishing company I'm assuming that provides you with an entity to deal with book sellers and distributors? BTW, I took one of your courses a few years back and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thanks for being on our blog today.

Judith Ashley said...

Hi Bob, I agree it is an exciting time to be a writer and there are many opportunities for us if we dare to go outside the
'traditional publishing box'. Do you see any new emerging trends at this time?

Thanks for an informative blog!

George Guthridge said...

I have two questions.

First, which do you see as of greater marketing value today -- an adventure novel/love story without the paranormal, or the same with it? Do you see the interest in the paranormal waning? ie. do you think it's becoming saturated?

Second, what is your feeling about taking nonfiction (educational material, in this case) and breaking it into a series of very short books for the general public? (This regards the other hat I wear, and there seems to be great interest in it -- I have received a lot of queries but am unsure how to meet what appears to be an obvious demand.)

Dr. George Guthridge

Paty Jager said...

Bob, Thank you for being part of the Genre-istas today! I'm looking forward to meeting you and learn more form you at Emerald City conference next weekend.

Your insights into publishing are valuable and interesting.

Bron said...

Hi Bob - thanks for sharing. I follow your blog and I'm finding it very useful even though I’ve started down the traditional publishing route. The points I’ve noted from you are; to write lots of books, write quality books, and build my BRAND. I totally agree with you around price point. A romance blog is currently doing a survey on what drives romance readers to purchase and PRICE is now becoming a clear marketing tool. I'm worried the .99 is setting buyers expectations. You only have to look at the Amazon top 100 to see how the indie author pricing is affecting those books that make the top 100. What's your view on this? Will .99 sales drive the price down and if so how will traditional authors compete when we have no say in pricing? Is online pricing moving to where only those self publishing can make money?

Bob said...

Let me address these in order:
.99 price point is a marketing tool. We have only two titles at that point: my first Atlantis book and Eyes of the Hammer, my first thriller. They are priced that way to draw in readers. There are definitely a lot of readers who troll for that price. For the rest of our books we price between $2.99 and nothing over $4.99. Pricing is the big advantage I have over traditional publishers.

I'm not sure there's a greater marketing value in either genre. There are too many variables. As far as breaking into shorter books, people tend to want an entire entity.

The biggest trend is Amazon becoming a publisher, whether via their Encore program or their imprints. That's only going to grow over time.

99% of the fiction we sell are eBooks so they go through Kindle, Nook, iPad etc. There is no need to distributors in that case since the platform is the distribution.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

A very informative discussion. As an author, it gives me much to think about.

Sarah Raplee said...

Bob, Thank you for sharing your insight. Your take on publishing today makes a lot of sense to me.

I agree that there are more opportunities for writers today. The flip side of that (paralyzing for some writers) is the need to take risks by making all those choices that weren't available to writers in the past.

New writers also feel a lot of pressure to 'do it all.' Your advice to keep promotional efforts low key until you have three books makes sense. What a relief!

Margaret Tanner said...

Hi Bob,
That was so interesting and informative, thank you so much. I was really disappointed that I missed seeing you at the recent Romance Writers of Australia conference in Melbourne.



Susan said...

Hi Bob, thanks for a very interesting blog. Lots of food for thought. My publishing partner says the same thing re: don't do a ton of marketing until you've published three books, only his number if five :) It's hard to sit back and do little marketing, because there's too much OCD in my office, meaning I have a devil of a time sitting back and not trying to do 'something' to help sell the books as they're published.

On that note, time to get back to the writing :) Working on books three and four :)

jenny milchman said...

Good tips! I'm sharing this with the indie authors I know...

Diana Mcc. said...

Thanks so much for sharing all your terrific information.

Vonnie Alto said...

How very motivating your advice! What do you mean by "different than regular print covers?

Christie Walker Bos said...

Thanks Bob. Down and dirty...just how I like it. I saw you at a writers' conference. Because you write like you talk, I could practically hear you as I read your blog. See you at the next conference.