It’s IWU Blog Tour time! This week, my special guest is indie horror novelist Jack Wallen, author of A Blade Away and I Zombie I (which is currently available for FREE on Amazon, and which I just downloaded, because you know I can’t resist zombies), among others. He’s here to share his top five tips for new and wannabe indie authors. Take it away, Jack!
I want to begin this by making a claim – being an author of any type is a rough road to go. Not only is it a career of rejection, ebbing and flowing sales, emotional roller coasters, and hour after hour of hard work. In the end it will be worth it – regardless of how large your fanbase gets, you will have your work published and purchased.
But how do you survive the nightmare and come out of the ride better than you were when you began? If you follow these simple tips, you will find being an indie author not nearly as painful as you thought it would be.
- Be patient. This is the single most important piece of advice I can give you. Because there is no formula for success guaranteed to work for everyone (or anyone for that matter), there is a lot of trial and error. You see, there are a lot of variables that go into success: genre, number of books, style, author brand, presentation, quality editing, and (of course) a damn good book. But because there are so many variables, there is no one path to the promised land. Instead, what you must do is try, try, and try again. And above all of that, you can NOT expect overnight success. It doesn’t happen. Do not, in anyway, expect to click that Publish button and instantly watch the sales start rolling in. You could publish that brilliant novel and sell one book a month for a while. You could sell a book a day for a year and then, out of nowhere, you book sales shoot out the roof. Patience will keep you from growing ever more frustrated as you hear of your contemporaries selling 100-300 books a day, leaving you far behind. Be. Patient.
- Expect luck to factor in. That’s right. It’s not only about having a great product, it’s about luck. I’ll lay this down without all the sugar coating we’ve all grown to expect. There are books out there that suck, yet they sell like crazy! That’s right … it’s as true as blood. We’ve all experienced it – read a book that was hot as a tafetta ball gown on a steamy summer New Orleans evening. Thing is, when you read the book, you have no idea why! Luck had a part in that. The book published at the right time, in the right genre, and got just the right notice. Without luck, some books will never get off the ground.
- Sex sells and genre matters. It’s true. You take the same book and slap a professional looking, yet sexy-less cover on one and slap a professional looking, sexy cover on the other and which do you think will sell better? That’s right, the sexy cover. Why do you think you never see average-looking to ugly people on covers (unless it’s a parody or makes a perfect point)? Just like Hollywood, the book industry isn’t immune to the appeal of sex. If your book falls into one of those categories that can benefit from a sexy vamp or hunky hunk on the cover – use it! And make sure there are abs, legs, and lips aplenty.
And while we’re at it – genre matters. I write in the horror and thriller genres and neither of those genres sell nearly as well as some others. If you want to place yourself in a genre that is more a sure thing (even though there is no such thing as a “sure” thing – just ask John Cusack), look at the genres that are selling well (Paranormal for example). If that genre is something you are passionate about, and can write within, there you go!
- Find your style. Every writer has a different style and that style translates from book to book. It doesn’t matter if you jump between parody to horror to thriller to paranormal – your style will follow you. Embrace that style. Once you have found your voice, don’t fight it. Even if that voice might seem counterpoint to your genre! That’s right. One of my idols is Clive Barker who writes horror and “fantastique” with the voice of a beautiful-soul’d poet. That’s Clive’s voice and he uses it with a masterful precision, even within a genre that might not normally invite such a voice. For Mr. Barker, it works and works brilliantly. It can work for you as well.
- Don’t annoy your followers. If I could change one thing about new indie authors it’s the constant self-pimping on social networks. If all you do on Facebook and Twitter is say “Hey, read my book!”, you’re going to find you turn more possible readers off than on. Use those tools to help prospective readers get to know YOU! Once those readers are intrigued by YOU, they will want to read your books. Remember, you are a brand and you must think of yourself that way. Once you’ve realized that, you will understand that pimping the brand must come first and the sales and readership will follow. But if you can’t make yourself interesting to readers, how are you going to make your books interesting to readers?
There you go indie authors, five tips that will help make your journey to success a bit easier. There is no sure-fire way to garner sales and readership – it’s like an enormous, complex puzzle that must be first assembled before it can be enjoyed. But there is a beauty in the journey and we must all step back and respect and enjoy that beauty.
Jack lives with his incredibly wonderful wife, three step-children, and six (count ’em…six) cats!
I Zombie I
A Blade Away
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