Game-changing Resources for Indie Authors

https://i2.wp.com/ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51TdgHrJGpL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpgI’ve been trying to keep my topics here more general because I know not everyone who visits my blog are writers, but sometimes I feel compelled to share certain things for the sake of the writers who I know do read this here blog (note to writers: if you want me to post more writing/publishing content, holla!). For example, I recently stumbled across a couple of resources that I think are going to be game-changers for me when it comes to marketing and selling my indie books.

The first of these is Nick Stephenson and his concept of Reader Magnets (hat tip to Joanna Penn). This is not necessarily a new concept, but he lays out the precise steps involved in using freebies to build your mailing list for dense people like me who have trouble figuring it out on their own (and he does so for free). Funny thing is, there are only two steps–maybe that’s why I had so much trouble figuring this out on my own. It’s too dadgum simple.

At any rate, I implemented these steps a couple of weekends ago (hence why Restless Spirits is now perma-free), and already I’ve added more than 10 new mailing list subscribers, without doing anything else. That might not sound like an impressive result, but considering it took me over two years just to get 30 people to sign up on my own, that’s a pretty big deal.

I also signed up to Nick’s free video course, Your First 10K Readers, a series of three videos explaining how people find books on the various online bookstores. Video #2, which explains how to leverage keywords on Amazon, was particularly helpful at increasing the Amazon rankings for Restless Spirits. The third video pretty much recaps the first two and then goes over the Reader Magnets steps, so at nearly an hour long, you can probably skip it if you’re busy and not miss very much.

Finally, in order to make Restless Spirits perma-free, I had to first distribute it for free everywhere but Amazon, and then wait for Amazon to price match it. Since you can’t list your books for free by going directly through Nook Press, Kobo, etc., I used Draft2Digital to distribute it. This is not really that new of a service, but I haven’t used it in the past because I was under the impression that it’s a paid service. And it is, sort of; they keep 10% of the royalties you earn through them. But they also track sales on all of your non-’zon sales channels, and you can publish free books through them at no cost.

This is exceedingly useful, as before the only way to do this was via Smashwords, which, if you’ve published there, you know is a PITA. Plus, D2D recently added Tolino to their distribution channels, which is the largest online bookseller in Europe next to Amazon–and as far as I know, D2D is the only way to get your books listed there if you’re in the US.

What about you, readers (and writers!)? Are there any tools or resources you can’t do without? Have you gotten any good advice that turned out to be a game-changer for your own writing career? Please share your tips in the comments!

Rearranging the Furniture

I spent some time over the weekend tweaking this here blog and making the theme look a bit more custom. I spent a lot of time and needless energy last week worrying that I needed to build myself a brand-new “profeshunul author” website and trying to envision something I’d be happy with that tied my personality/interests in with the type of fiction I write — which, let’s face it, are kind of unmeshy, as far as vibe goes. But I’ve since come to the conclusion that a) with a few more tweaks, such as replacing that big image at the top with a slideshow to prominently hawk my books and services, this blog will do me just fine for the foreseeable future; and b) I really like this theme and think it actually does a pretty good job of meshing both vibes, so why create extra work for myself?

Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World - Kristen LambThis is, of course, all stemming from finishing Kristen Lamb’s book, Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World, which has me all motivated to fix everything I’ve been doing wrong in marketing myself as an author. I also made some tweaks to my social profiles, and started developing a master plan to make this here blog more organized and professional and non-neglected.

In other news, this is day two of going gluten- and dairy-free. Well, mostly gluten-free. Last night I made stir-fry for dinner, and though I’d planned to use a pre-mixed, gluten-free spicy Thai sauce that needed to be used up, there ended up not being enough of it to flavor the whole dish (I made four servings, enough to feed me till the middle of the week), so I had to improvise and ended up using the gluten-containing soy sauce we had on hand. So I guess I won’t actually be free of gluten until that dish is all eaten up. Also, I’m not worrying about gluten cross-contamination so much as I am just avoiding it as an ingredient.

Anyway, I’ve felt pretty good all day. I had to write some content mill assignments this afternoon, and that usually leaves me feeling mentally wiped out, but check it out: I still have the mental capacity to write this blog post. If I’m already feeling this much better after only a day and a half, then I imagine this is all going to turn out to be a worthwhile endeavor. I really did miss the cheese in my spinach omelet this morning, though.

I also put down 500 words on the new new novel this morning. AFTER I walked a couple of miles and did some light yoga. So go me.

Have I mentioned here that I finally started writing the sequel to Restless Spirits? I can’t recall if I did. At any rate, I’m currently more than 1,700 words into it, so I guess it’s officially underway. If you care to track its progress, there’s a little word count widget down there in the sidebar.

So far it’s flowing really well. I’m not working from an outline, but rather kind of a vague idea of what needs to happen to get to the end. That’s how I wrote the first one, so it seems appropriate. If there’s time after posting this blog and checking in on my social networks, I might try to add some more words to it before dinner.

The new TV season has just gotten started and I’m already behind. It’ll be the weekend before I’ll have time to watch Once Upon a Time and Castle — though to be honest, I’m not in a big hurry to watch OUaT anyway. I just can’t work up any enthusiasm about what they had planned for this season. I’m probably the only person on the planet who still hasn’t seen Frozen, mainly because I just haven’t had the opportunity. I’d still like to see it, and I’m afraid this show is going to ruin it for me. I’m also really tired of the way they constantly pile on new characters while neglecting characters I already care about.

I haven’t seen the new Agents of SHIELD yet, either. Matt missed the last six or so episodes of last season, and for some reason we failed to get caught up over the summer, so we’re working on that now. I think we’ve got three more to go before we can watch the season premiere.

I have started Sleepy Hollow, as well as the new Ioan Griffuth vehicle Forever. The latter has promise, and the former is still my favorite show that isn’t Hannibal or Doctor Who.

And of course I’ve been following the new Doctor. Twelve is starting to grow on me. So is Clara, finally. They’ve done a lot to improve her character this season and I find I’m no longer pining for the Ponds, though I can’t really see myself missing her quite as much when she’s gone.

Oh! I also finally managed to retrieve all of my book cover files off of my old, defective laptop over the weekend, so expect a cover reveal for Midnight Snacks later this week, if I can fit that in around implementing suggestions from the beta readers and getting that book ready to publish.

Anyway, does the new TV season have you rejoicing? Tell me what you’re watching in the comments!