Don’t Make This Critical Indie Author Mistake

I’m on many author forums. I LOVE to “talk shop” in them and exchange words of wisdom and advice. It makes me feel connected like working in an office.

I’ve seen this question asked time and time again:

“What is one piece of indie publishing advice you wished you had known when you first started out?”

Many of the answers you’ll see rolling in are some variation of making sure to vet editors and cover designers before hiring them, and staying far away from certain sites that promise  affordable quality work but is chock full of scammers (rhymes with Diver). Some will stress the importance of a good cover, while others lament about not knowing about writing to market. However, among the sea of answers, one answer in particular comes up more often than the rest. In fact, it’s my answer as well.

A fellow Indie author, Hazel Longuet put my thoughts into words so well, that I asked permission to borrow them for this blog.

“The one piece of advice I was given over and over and wish I’d listened to was – write more books before you start advertising and promoting the first. I spent far too much money advertising one book and not benefiting from read through etc. It makes sense no shop keeper or designer would stock just a solo item and expect to support themselves on the sale of it.

So my advice would be:

  1. Build your newsletter audience focus the bulk of your promotional energy there.
  2. Have a base you own and no-one can tamper with or take your audience – ie a strong website.
  3. Put 85% of your energy into writing your next books and when you have another couple then explore advertising.
  4. Don’t worry about sales of book one at all – don’t feverishly check your KDP report. DONT. That’s the route to madness with your first book. It’s the foundation stone of your book empire and it’s success will grow exponentially with each new book you publish.

I so wish I’d listened to that advice – it’s sound and it would have saved me a wad of money. I’m not saying you can’t make the first book sell successfully, some do but it’s not the norm.”

The line in particular that stuck with me was this one “don’t feverishly check your KDP report. DONT. That’s the route to madness with your first book.” It REALLY is. This is exactly what I had done. I would refresh it several times daily. I would plot and plan ways to make those sales numbers go up, but where did it lead to? NOWHERE.

I pushed book one… hard. I used all of my free days, I gave away 8000 copies, I spent hundreds of dollars on promotion. I also didn’t know a good thing when I had it. I made all of my money back and then some in the first month, with one book and no mailing list. It all went to waste.

Why? I didn’t have another book for them to buy. All of that time and money was expended on one book, when I could have spent the SAME AMOUNT of time money and energy trying to sell three. I can’t help but wonder where my career would have been had I been able to work off the momentum I had when book one was released.

Now, is all hope lost? No. I think rapid releasing my next series has the potential to lift the sales of my first series. However, the key here is to work smart as well as hard. In last week’s podcast, I mentioned intentionality. It’s something that struck me when I was listening to the audiobook version of Successful Indie Author: Release Strategies. I had already decided to make more purposeful decisions moving forward. Craig called it intentionality and my mind was blown. It was exactly what my indie career was missing.

If your goal here is to simply publish a book, and have it out in the world, then that’s fine! However, If your goal is to make money, you need to be more intentional about the decisions that you make for your indie author business.

That’s all for now!

Until next week,

Niki

The Struggling Indie

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