Marketing & Sales Perspectives for Indie Authors
“I’ve considered myself a professional writer for a little over three years now, and I’ve learned a great deal about the publishing industry in that time. Much of how I think and what I do as an independently published author parallels the experiences of my traditionally published friends, but there are also significant things that set this path apart.
A wise friend in the business gave me some good advice early on. She said, ‘For an indie author, publishing a book is more like a marathon than a sprint.’ Now, a few years and a few projects in, I have a better understanding of what she meant.
The sales model is different for indies. Indies shouldn’t focus on brick and mortar bookstore sales because there’s no mechanism to access that market. Publishing houses have the distribution channels and sales teams that indies don’t. Instead, indies market and sell directly to readers, bypassing bookstores in favor of online or in-person sales. It’s important to use this information to our advantage, and to understand the implications of it in our planning.
Here are some big picture suggestions for indies to consider when creating a marketing and sales strategy from pre-launch onward:
Build and maintain a vigorous author platform.
There’s a ton of information out there on building an author platform so I’m not going to cover that here, but I mention it because, for indies especially, it’s necessary. Remember, we market and sell directly to our readers, so our readers have to be able to find and connect with us, and we need a vibrant platform from which to present our work.
By the time I released my first novel, I’d been building my author platform for a full year. I’d established a solid social media presence and tended to my online community with regularity. I had a handle on what my author brand looked like, and I was having fun blogging on my own website and writing for a book review/interview site called Book Club Babble. When my book released, I had the means to connect with my potential readers through the network I’d been creating.
Put energy into pre-orders, but realize this is only the first step in sales.
For traditionally published authors, a book’s success can hinge on early sales. Much attention is given to garnering pre-orders in hopes of pushing a book onto a bestseller list during release week. Strong pre-sales also encourage retailers to order more books, and it certainly builds momentum towards the book’s launch.
For an indie this is important, too. Pre-orders and a strong launch matter, but an indie can and should orchestrate ongoing promotions, and employ a creative, long-lasting marketing strategy, imagining the book’s launch as one among several opportunities.
Having said that, the pre-publication phase should be an active and busy time.”