Evolution of an Indie: No Silver Bullet

Evolution of an IndieEntering my third year as an indie, it is my responsibility to impart sage wisdom to the world. (Don’t blink, or you might miss it.) See the series introduction post for more on my saga. But for now, lesson #11 for 2012 (the final installment!):

Don’t expect anyone else to sell your product for you.

Whether you are big six, small press or totally indie, no one will sell your stuff for you. If you want to be a writer in today’s world, sales and marketing are part of the package. (The only exception is if you can afford to pay an agency or individual to do this for you!)

Oh the agony. In the last two years I’ve lost track of how many offers I’ve gotten from entities wanting to make my fictional masterpieces the next big thing for the low, low cost of $50! Some of these groups, people, websites, etc. have been more legit than others. I even gave some money to a couple of them (live and learn).

The one thing they all had in common was a complete and total inability to sell my books for me. One key truth will almost certainly stand in the way of them doing so: people buy books based on personal recommendation.

So, unless an entity has earned enough trust with enough readers, that entity will have no chance of selling your books better than you no matter how much money you give them. And you know what? Earning that sort of trust is too time consuming for it to be economically viable as a business.

Think about how much time you have put into relationships online and off. How many books has that sold you? Would doing that full-time make a good business model? Repeat it to yourself three times. (It’s time. Take a deep breath and just get it over with.) “No one will sell my stuff for me.”

There. I don’t expect you to feel any better, but we can move on. You’ve heard about platform development, so what’s the point in rehashing that all over again? Facebook, Twitter, personal blog (or maybe static webpage), goodreads, google plus, yap, yap, yap. Hopefully you’ve been doing all this stuff since before your first outline.

Amazon can help

Twitch and Die! in the Kindle storeNow that we’ve got all the depressing stuff out of the way, one entity has indeed helped me sell stuff via recommendation–Amazon. To be perfectly clear, the Kindle store has not sold my stuff for me. But like no other group or service I’ve come across, Amazon has the size, muscle and trust of consumers to make money off of me while helping me make money.

The Kindle store is the only online ebook retailer that doesn’t care whether they make money off of Rowland or me. If a book sells, they promote it. And they have created means to level the playing field like no other large retailer. Reviews, tags, likes, top 100 genre lists, listmanias, kindle forums. Each of these can provide ways for indie writers to get their products infront of consumers eyes.

Virtual bookshelf space is unlimited, but consumers attention spans are not. If there is no quick and easy way for a reader to find my books, she will never know she loves them. So learn to utilize both your author profile page and your product pages: tags, likes, reviews, descriptions and covers. Do them right. This article from Digital Book World is a great place to start learning how to master your Amazon presence.

To conclude this series, I’ll remind everyone my third book, Twitch and Die! (Lost DMB Files #26) is now available from Amazon (and soon everywhere). You can also check out Fistful of Reefer (Lost DMB Files #17) and The Austin Job (Lost DMB Files #18). With any luck, all these great lessons will pay off by making me a superstar by 2013. Here’s to hoping. In the meantime check out my other lost files and/or subscribe to my wonderful blog! You know you want to.

***Standard Disclaimer: There are 3 brands of Indie:

  1. an artist expressing him/herself for the pure joy of it
  2. an artist or idealist who wishes to express an emotion or idea to the world
  3. an artist/entrepreneur who wishes to make a living as a writer

An indie can be one, two or all three of these. But knowing the composition is critical. I am all three of the above, but first and foremost I have to be #3, or I won’t be able to continue doing #2 and #1 full-time. Not all of the above applies to someone seeking #1 or #2. Man, this is sounding scatological, isn’t it?

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