I have to admit…years ago I was a publishing snob. I had worked as an editor and publicist for authors who were published by the big houses: St. Martin’s Press, Scholastic, and Simon & Schuster, just to name a few. The idea of self-publishing was still a no-no, but then I took the leap to represent indie author Lizzy Ford and never looked back. This post is a testament to why I love working with indie authors.
Dream the Impossible Dream
There’s something exciting and inspirational about surrounding yourself with people who dare to dream. Indie authors have a can-do attitude that is infectious. I write about this creativity and the habits of successful indies in my upcoming book, “Full Color Life: How to Live a Creative, Balanced Life.” Indies share an entrepreneurial spirit that is decidedly unique — they aren’t just right-brained creatives; they’re also astute business people.
I’m not going to lie. Finding widespread success as an indie author can be a daunting process considering one doesn’t have the same resources and advertising dollars of big publishers; but, it’s no longer “an impossible dream.”
In this linked article, “What Makes a Self-Published Author Stand Out,” literary agent Paul Lucas discusses some of his clients who started out as indies. He touts their ability to have closer access to fans and maneuver the publishing to-do lists such as contracting cover art. However, here’s where I have a different perspective, or should I say, a more attuned appreciation for the innovative nature of indie authors.
Indies are Innovative
Paul states that indies who want to capture the attention of publishers should invest in professional cover art. I totally agree. Then, he mentions that spending between $500-$1,000 for a cover is worth it. Hmmm? In my opinion, if you’re an indie author and you have priced your ebook between 0.99 and $4.99, it doesn’t make good business sense to invest close to $1,000 on a cover. My recommendation is to keep your cover art budget between $100 – $500. Otherwise, imagine how long it would take you to recoup your investment. Not to mention that as an indie you also have to consider the cost (or time, which equals cost) of formatting and marketing.
The innovative indie has learned how to network and create relationships not just with readers, but also with cover artists who are in the same indie boat. It’s true that a New York publishing house will employ cover artists who charge upwards of $3,500 for a cover, but that doesn’t mean that has to be the industry standard. One can contract a beautiful cover for much less. Just take a look at these finalists in the cover art category for the 2016 Rone Awards — simply beautiful.
Adjust to an Ever-Changing Market
One trait I see and thoroughly respect in indie authors is their ability to be flexible and change their course. Indies know it’s important not to rest on one’s laurels. Rather, they adjust to an ever-changing market. This means polling your readership to find out their likes and dislikes:
- Do they prefer stories told in first person or third?
- Do they want steamy love scenes or do they prefer just a hint of romance?
These polling tactics can be applied to marketing as well.
- Do your readers like to take part in online events or would they prefer to hear about your latest news via direct newsletters?
In addition to having direct access to their readership, indie authors also have the freedom to test out a variety of advertising methods, attend conferences and enter awards contests. This all adds up to increased knowledge, which can later be applied to the author’s platform and business plan.
A Cooperative Learning Environment
Perhaps the main reason I love working with indies is their supportive nature. I’ve been in the business of books — either as an editor, publicist, or literary manager for twenty years — and while I have a lot of knowledge to share, I find that I’m constantly learning new tricks. I don’t feel the need to pretend that I know it all. The industry changes so rapidly, I don’t think any of us can know it all. One minute Facebook is the best advertiser on the planet, the next we find that our posts are limited to our best friend and their dog. One has to rely on each other to learn new trade secrets.
What indies have discovered is that by cooperating with each other, we all grow and prosper, which is the basis for a happy career.
There’s only so much shameless self-promotion one can do. Indies know that it’s ideal to have contact with their readers on a regular basis, but to only talk about one’s own books comes off a little self-serving. It’s best to share other people’s news along the way and then that phrase, “sharing is caring” comes full circle, and we find that by helping others we help ourselves.
Margery’s articles have appeared in national newspapers and she has also worked on publicity campaigns for nationally and internationally recognized companies. She was privileged to teach public relations at Pepperdine University in Malibu and provide countless professionals with private instruction on book packaging, marketing, and public speaking.
Margery holds a Bachelor’s Degree from U.S.C. and returned later to earn her Master of Arts degree in Professional Writing also from U.S.C. If ever stranded on a desert island, her one wish is to be with another writer.
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