My blog posting today is focused on a specific audience: my indie author colleagues. We are still referred to as self-published, but someone, somewhere decided we’d be less tainted as inferior members of the writing industry if we referred to ourselves as indie (short for independent) authors.
It is ironic that the success of so much of what we do is based on words not used inside our books, but those employed outside. These latter words are referred to as Metadata, or keywords. Mastering the creation and effective use of Metadata, I am told, has tremendous influence on your book being discovered and sold. I would not know. I have not mastered this element. It is my mission in 2019 to do so.
What many people do not understand is that just because you produce a book and it appears on places like amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com, that you are now a successful author. Uh-ah, it does not work that way. I’ve produced 11 books in as many years and most of them are for sale on the two websites mentioned above. The other day, a relative of mine asked me how many books I had sold. In his mind, he assumed my one book had sold at least ten thousand copies. He was very surprised when I informed him the number was nowhere near that. I hasten to add that, while I wish I had a lot more sales, it is not the motivation that has kept we writing.
So, how does an indie author sell more books? First of all, the books must be written well and the contents compelling. That’s a given. After that, much of it has to do with marketing and promotion. These are things that a big publishing house helps with when you are lucky enough to have one of them publish your book. If you are an indie, you are on your own. The initial advice for authors like me is to do the following:
- Be active on social media
- Establish a blog, even a podcast if you can pull it off
- Develop media coverage: promote yourself as a guest expert on talk shows, assuming you have written a non-fiction book on a specific topic (how to be your own stock broker, for example)
- Produce a media kit, write press releases and advertise if you can afford it.
I have done all these things, except hitting the talk show circuit. Talk show hosts are more interested in non-fiction authors who can address specific topics that offer advice and information to their audience. I write fiction and not many talk show hosts are interested in fiction.
The one major area I have failed to accomplish is learning how to effectively get results with keywords and Metadata. These are artfully placed within all the supplemental materials used to promote a book: the book description, the text on the back cover, advertising and even the title and subtitle of the book. This process is what I am studying right now and hope to implement in the coming months. I have done so in the past, but not to the degree necessary. In fact, I have taken the first step which some older followers of this blog may have noticed. There is now a subtitle on my header graphic (“random writings from a self published author”) These are the kinds of keywords—”writings, self publish, author”—that show up when people search the Internet for these kinds of topics.
My task is to address all 11 books. Well, maybe not all of them and maybe not all at once. I have homework to catch up on and then some money decisions to make. Oh, did I mention that money plays a part, as it does with everything. I have a website for almost every book and these cost various annual fees. And GoDaddy, bless them, is the server where my websites reside. Now, GoDaddy is always looking for ways to increase their fees. Right now, for example, my websites are on an older GoDaddy system which is not secure, so many people will not click on my sites. I can move to a new secure server, but that’ll cost $250+ for all the sites.
So I have to get busy and with hope, and some luck, 2019 will bring more bountiful results past years. Stay tuned and I’ll let you know how goes the war, especially if I ever hit that ten thousand mark!