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10-21 Sarah Raplee – Author of “Blindsight” Psychic Agents Series, Book One

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The 10—no wait—11 Keys To Success as a Digital/Indie Author


Live Write Thrive


In February, we published The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author.   We collected, collated and reflected upon all we’d learn being indie the last several years.  The world of publishing is changing so fast, that I’m sure we’ll have to issue an updated version of the book before the end of the year, but for now it’s on target.


We came up with 10 keys to success, then like in the Holy Grail, we realized there were 11.  Actually, there are 12, but if I told you the 12th, my Special Forces training would kick in and I’d have to cut off your head and stick it in a vault.

So here they are:
  

  1. In it for the long haul, rather than thinking you’re playing the publishing lottery.  We see far too many writers who want success now.  They check sales figures every day.  Instead, they need to think about perhaps succeeding in 3 to 5 years, with at least a half dozen titles under their belt.
  2. Plan for the long haul.  At Who Dares Wins Publishing we’re always looking at least three years ahead.  We have a writing, production, promotion, blogging etc. schedule laid out that keeps us on task.
  3. Stay one step of ahead of the trends.  Act, don’t react.  This means sometimes you must take risks.  Some of these attempts will fail, but the ones who succeed will be on the front end of the trends.
  4. Write good books.  This one seems so basic, but we see too many writers spend so much more time worrying about promotion than worrying about the quality of their craft.  Bob has learned more in the last two years about writing than in his first twenty.
  5. Sweat equity.  This ain't easy.  Never has been.  We’ve watched the careers of many writers.  The majority of writers who are having the most success as indies have a backlist, which is the sweat equity from the time they spent in the trenches in traditional publishing.  If you don’t have backlist, your sweat equity begins now.
  6. Run an efficient business.  Most writers just want to write.  They don’t want to deal with all the details of running a business, but being an indie author means you are self-employed.  We know people who were great doctors or lawyers but went bankrupt because they couldn’t run their own business.
  7. Networking and team building.  “Indie” is an interesting term because in fact, we believe it’s very difficult to succeed on your own.  You’re going to need help with the books (editing, covers, formatting, etc.) and you’re going to need help with the promoting.
  8. Build a platform that has a specific message.  At Write It Forward we view our platform as author advocate.  We see too many writers whose platform seems to be “buy my book.”  People need a reason to read your blog, RT your tweets, and listen to you.  The key to successful platform building and branding is the ability to create a community. It is not about selling, but making yourself available to those individuals who will be most likely to buy your books. Always be real and genuine.
  9. Stay informed.  Things are changing fast.  Many people are trying a lot of different things.  Some will work, some will fail.  But staying up to date on everything that’s happening can help you make informed decisions.  Some things you can do for this are get on Kindleboards and follow and get involved in the discussions there as well as promote your book in the Book Bazaar forum.  Subscribe to Publisher Weekly’s Lunch and Deals for $20 a month.  Stay active on Twitter and follow people who are knowledgeable about the business.
  10. Be assertive but not obnoxious.  We’ve grown much more assertive in the past six months.  One of the largest mistakes Bob made coming out of Special Forces and going into traditional publishing was trusting that other people would do their jobs without having to look over their shoulders.  This cost Bob.  Now he pushes others, gently, but consistently, in order to achieve goals.  No one cares more about the success of your book than you do.  Always remember that.  Perseverance and persistence count for a lot.
  11. In sum.  Writers, your fate is in your hands now.
 
Bio: Bob Mayer is the NY Times Bestselling author of factual thrillers. He steeps his stories in military, historical and scientific facts, then weaves those facts through fiction creating an exciting ride for the reader. He’s a West Point graduate, former Green Beret, and author of more than 50 books all available in eBook that have sold over 4 million copies. He’s been on bestseller lists in thriller, science fiction, suspense, action, war, historical fiction and is the only male author on the Romance Writers of America Honor Roll. He is one of the bestselling indie authors in the country.



7 comments:

Judith Ashley said...

Thanks for stopping by, Bob. Your information is always useful. I've read "The Shelfless Book" and learned alot! I especially liked you specified exactly how to publish to Smashwords and Kindle...step-by-step so even a neophyte could do it.

As writers, today more than at any other time in publishing, we have so many more options and opportunities. Thanks for shining a light for those of us just starting down the path.

Sarah Raplee said...

Thank you for taking the time to mentor up-and-coming writers, Bob. I'm reading THE SHELFLESS BOOK now and boy, do I appreciate the information!

Bron said...

Hi Bob

Great to see you at the Romancing the Genre blog. I'm busy sweat equiting at the moment but I now have 4 books - two TP but two SP that are doing rather nicely, thank you. I hope to have three more by the end of Jan 2013.

I still have more work to do on my 'platform' I'm not sure what it is yet. How would you define the process of 'platform' definition for a writer? What are some of the questions you'd ask yourself to determine your platform brand?

Robena Grant said...

Very well said. Excellent advice.

Dr. Debra Holland said...

I have read your book as well, and it's nice to see the points again in one little blog. :)

I'm going to point out that you don't have to be traditionally published to have a list of books you can publish. Shall we call it a front list? I was an unpublished author when I started self-publishing with six completed novels, five of which I've self-published. Being able to self-publish two at the same in my sweet historical Western series made a huge difference to my beginning sales when I started in April 2011. Luckily, I'd already written part of book three, and was able to add that to the list in January. Total for a year of self-publishing sales--almost 97,000 and making the USA Today list. :)

I'm so grateful that I had the sweat equity, and a stack of rejections from traditional publishers. :)

B. A. Binns said...

I view the long-haul thing as most important. Yeah, we all want to be overnight successes, only most of those guys really have years of working behind the scenes in virtual invisibility until the right "overnight" finally arrives.

Paty Jager said...

This are all good points and this is a good reinforcement post of those items. I agree with the backlist. It has helped me immensely to capture new readers and keep me solvent while I explore new genres in my writing.