People ask me what it’s like to have a book on Amazon. “Hard work,” I reply. It feels good, and I’m not hiding it, but behind the prospect of selling millions of books, there’s a lot going on. Especially if you’re an indie author, like me.
The most important thing, for an aspiring author, is visibility. I went through the painful process in my home country, Slovenia, and now I’m in the same position again. With one important difference. Instead of two million people, I have to present myself to seven billion. No pressure. Of course everyone on the planet will never know me, even every Slovenian doesn’t know me, but you know what I mean.
So what does one do to achieve a fair amount of visibility? First of all, it takes time. I mean, you can always buy fans of your Facebook page, Twitter or Instagram followers, but is it worth it? It looks nice to have 100k followers, but it only functions if they’re organic. Meaning that people followed you because they’re genuinely interested in you. And here’s where time comes into the picture. It’s virtually impossible for an indie author to get a thousand followers over night. Except in case of an extraordinary event, like Sarah Jessica Parker sharing your book.
In Slovenia we say that blacksmith’s mare is always barefooted. Mine is not. I run three websites (a personal site, my publishing house’s site, and a site featuring articles by authors). I also have three FB pages (one for each of the websites), two Twitter profiles (Slovene and English), and Instagram profile.
If I google myself (yes I do that, and you should, too), there’s all sorts of hits. Articles about me and my books, interviews, photos, videos. The world can type eight letters into their search engine and see that I exist. That’s very important. That being said, people won’t just start searching for you, just because you exist on the internet. They have to find out about you somewhere, preferably by reading your book(s).
Being visible on Amazon
When I published my first book in English, I decided that I’ll make it available exclusively on Amazon. Why? I won’t go into advantages and disadvantages. Let’s just say it was less time-consuming.
How does an author from the land of two million people become visible to world-wide audience? Again, slowly. Step by step. I run Amazon ads (be prepared to lose money), communicate with people on FB and Twitter, organize giveaways, run promotions (money involved again), try to find book bloggers that will review your book (it’s harder than you think). Didn’t I tell you it’s hard work? It took me six books and seven years to gain moderate visibility in Slovenia, now my books (and myself) have to stand out in a vast ocean of millions of books on Amazon. Sounds like a life-long project. Could be, but I’m determined to try and make it happen before I say farewell to the world.
You need to give some to get some
Visibility usually costs money. If you’re not ready for this, you might as well call it a night. In my case, I had to pay quite a lot to translate my novel and publish it in English. Since it was published, I spent a few hundred euros on ads and promotional sites. But I was prepared for it. If you think an unknown author can appear on Amazon and immediately starts making sales, you’re wrong. Of course, you can tell all your friends, that own a kindle, to buy your book. Maybe you have thousand(s) of fans on your mailing list, waiting to help you get your book into top spot(s). It’s a lovely sight to see your book in the chart, but it will all be forgotten in a couple of weeks, if you let the river run its own course. You have to constantly let people know your book is out there. Unless SJP gets hold of your book and likes it. Then you’ve won.
They say that the best promotion for your book is a new book. I can confirm this is true. Since I published a short story, You Only Die Once, on Amazon, the sales of 720 Heartbeats jumped. It might be a coincidence, but I don’t think so. It’s logical. If somebody liked your book, he/she will search for more. If it can’t be found, that could be it. No one will wait five years for you to complete your next masterpiece. Again, no pressure.
It’s hard to be a writer and a promoter of yourself. But as an indie author you have to accept the fact that you’re a one-man band. Of course, you can have people helping you, but a lot of work is on you. Many writers can’t handle it and give up. It’s a shame, really, but nobody told us it was gonna be easy when we wrote those first words. Life is a lottery, and there is only a handful of lucky winners. It can be you, it can be me, it can be a girl next door. Our job is to write, and improve as an author. Being indie author is a struggle, but it can also be beautiful. Remember that everything you’ve achieved to this point is your doing. It feels good, right?