A recent Facebook status of mine had people requesting this post, so here it is. I'm always paranoid that if I say, "Wow, I'm really doing a good job" then it will all fall apart. However, this is one time that I'm going to speak up and bask in my success for a moment before running back to the shadows. To cut out on some backstory here is the status that brought on this blog post: "In 2011, I had barely 25 downloads on my books for the entire year and I never dreamed that I would be able to make it as an author. At the end of 2012, I had well-over 25,000 downloads. See what difference a year can make if you dare to dream? Don't give up."
Afterwards, several people asked if I would do a post telling the story of how I did it. Here's the thing, I don't know. I've worked non-stop this past year and tried so many things that I don't know what worked. I know a few things that didn't. I do, however, still have some advice and tips that I will share.
1.) This is the most important, keep writing! Regardless if your other title(s) are selling or not, keep churning the books out. The more titles you have available the more likely you are to be seen.
2.) Don't rule out traditional publishing. I'm a hybrid. I've been trad, and indie, then trad again. Nobody said that you have to be one or the other.
3.) Go to where the readers are. Goodreads and Librarything are good places to start. Goodreads has several groups that are author friendly, and if you join groups within you genre, they usually have many promotional opportunities for authors as long as you are willing to follow the rules. If you have a paperback, then take advantage of their giveaway section by offering 1 autographed copy every 2 weeks until you see your book on several to-read shelves. I like Librarything because they will allow you to do an ebook giveaway using Smashwords coupons, which leads me to my next piece of advice...
4.) Don't be afraid of doing free days. I know that many people feel as if free days are a terrible thing where they are giving their work away to people who will never read their book, well maybe that's true, but how will anyone ever know who you are? If you don't have anyone backing you and promoting you then you will have to MAKE people see you. Maybe you've written the best book ever written, but it will be the best book no one has ever read if they've never heard of it.
5.) Don't publish a book that has not been professionally edited. I know your cousin teaches 6th grade English but a proofreader is not enough. Trust me...I know. I made this mistake and I'll never make it again. I want this to be my full-time job for the rest of my life so that means that I need to be a professional. A professional would never put out an unedited piece, which once again leads me to my next piece of advice...
6,) You have to spend money to make money. That doesn't mean you have to spend a ton of money but you will have to shell out some occasionally. Edits is the big one but there are people out there charging as little as .80 cents a page. Your book cover is another big one as it's the first thing people see about you, so you want a good one, but you can also find those fairly cheap (or if you have any graphic ability you can do that yourself). Advertising is important, but you can do much of that with your only investment being your time. There are some low priced promo opportunities out there. Here's a few things that I have used:
Please look around these sites and see what they can offer you that is within your budget, some things are expensive, but some things are free.
7.) Be a joiner!!! This is a very important one. Join everything that you can, even if you don't see any future potential in it because you never know what will catch fire next. Get in on Facebook groups, Twitter, Pintrest, Webring, Linkedin, Librarything, Goodreads, Triberr, and anything that gives you an outlet for free advertisement. I have a podcast, and if you get the opportunity to be on one of those then accept, because they are what's "in" right now.
8.) There is power in positive thinking. Sometimes we see other people doing well and think, "Their book is not even that good!" That is one of those bad moments that we all have, and it doesn't make you bad person unless you stay there and allow it to destroy you. If you see someone else succeeding it's okay to have that moment of envy then ask yourself, "What are they doing that I could be doing?" Most likely, they are working their ass off on promotions and you're just not seeing it. Very few people are making it on dumb luck alone.
Remember we are all stronger together and you took the hardest step when you hit that publish button. I know that there are a TON of people out there who are more successful than I'll ever be, and there will always be people who won't accept me because a few of my books are erotic, but that's okay with me. I hope that everyone who reads this posts takes it in the helpful light that it was intended. I don't know everything and I may never be a big-name but I refuse to stop dreaming. Write like nobody is reading because they might not, but it's not for them, it's for you.