The Hazards of Being an Indie Author

No excerpts today, I’m going to pause in my cheating and write on an actual subject. Yay! (Aw, c’m on guys, I can hear the boos.)

Well, it’s been over a year since I self-published. The people who’ve read the book have given me good responses, at least so far. One actually said she had trouble putting it down, another told me there was a point where the story exploded for him. No better feeling than getting responses like that. 

But the readers are so far very few. I simply cannot afford actual advertising so focus on social media, which might work better if I’d started with the hundreds or thousands of Facebook friends some have and tens of thousands of Twitter followers, but I simply don’t. I have found a number of free sources of promotion, but every one of them requires you to have a minimum rating of 4 stars on Amazon and a minimum of 10 total ratings. So, essentially, to find a format through which to sell books, I need to  . . . sell books. I suppose I could ask friends and family to read it and leave reviews, but there are two issues with that. One, it is frowned on in all of the forums I have encountered on the subject, seen as chintzy if not outright cheating. Two, I don’t think I actually know enough people to find ten that would be willing to do it. Narrowing the list of possibilities down to the readers, then narrowing it further to the fantasy fans, then even more to the female fantasy fans (yes, my male reader did admit that, exploding plot or no, it was a bit girly and best suited to being promoted as chick lit. Which I am fine with, as I am a chick and had asked him to read it to find out his opinion on just that subject.)

Funny, it never occurred to me that being shy and increasingly introverted would affect my writing career, unless I actually made it big enough to be invited to a con somewhere and froze during a speech, or threw up on stage out of nerves, or something even more humiliating.

Not that I thought it would be easy. Writing isn’t easy and despite what too many people think, it is work, and marketing is work on top of that. Without a big press behind you, it becomes even more work. You have to get people to pay attention to something completely unfamiliar. Sometimes I think it might be simpler to actually start a publishing company. It wouldn’t be the first I’d run into started for just that purpose. And I could help out some contacts that are also self published and also having problems getting the attention.

Part of the problem is that Indie authors still don’t have the respect that traditionally published authors do. We put just as much blood into our pages as the “real” writers do, sometimes more, but without the big names boosting us up, it is assumed that we are not worthy of that traditional contract. And sometimes that is true. I don’t have the distance to judge my own work as worthy or not so I’m not going to give an opinion one way or another. (It’s good read it if you like fantasy and faeries and elves and magic ahem sorry consider this a subliminal message. Did it work?) I have most certainly read Indie books that you could call dogs. Bad story elements, bad grammar, bad punctuation, I’ve seen every kind of woof on paper. Some would have been so easy to fix. If you’re not entirely familiar with the technical part of writing, either learn or get someone to edit it for you. The harder ones, the story elements, are for me just as hard to get past. I was reading the first book in an independently published series that was actually very good, until about halfway through the main character did something so completely stupid that, though I am curious about how the story turned out, I shall not read any further. The situation the character was thrown into was something so completely avoidable that it ruined it for me. And I have read real gems that did inspire me into buying that second book by the same author.

So, just like in traditional publishing there are good and bad authors. The worst dog I have ever read was traditionally published, and it was one that had the harder to fix kind of errors. I do notice a few more typos in self published works. (My favorite, which by the way was in one of the stories I loved, was during a scene where one of the characters is riding a horse in a hazardous area. Instead of worrying about his horse finding a pitfall, he is worried about his horse finding a pratfall. Of course the first picture in my head was of a giant war horse slipping on a banana peel in classic Vaudevillian over-the-top style. I laughed out loud. Then kept reading.) Since I’ve been taking writing seriously, I’ve noticed typos in every single book I’ve read, including ones written by the biggest names, published by the biggest houses, but the professional editors really do get rid of the majority, while an Indie author usually can’t afford the thousand or more dollars it takes to have it done without that magical contract. The best most of us can hope for is a friend or family member to borrow us a fresh pair of eyes. (I’ve actually got a volunteer for my next book, for which I am so incredibly grateful).

So, in my experience, you are slightly safer with a traditionally published work as far as readability, but only slightly. And the Indie books tend to be–I was going to say cheaper, but that’s only half true. Those published as ebooks are definitely cheaper, usually by a lot. The print books, not so much. I did find that I could have mine produced in print profitably for around a comparable price to a traditional novel. My plan was to sell that cheaper too, but to do that I would have had to pay people to buy my book. Yeah, not gonna work. I priced it at the smallest margin I could get to make a profit through any supplier, so I guarantee that my profit margin is tiny in comparison to one of those “real” writers. All the books I’ve sold have been in ebook format, but there really is something about pages between your fingers. Especially when those pages came from your own brain.

And I digress, as per usual. As I was saying, in my experience as a reader I haven’t noticed a huge amount of difference when it comes to quality. True I’m careful about what I purchase and skip over any with egregious errors in the descriptions, but I really haven’t been disappointed any more often than I have with books purchased at a bookstore.

So maybe if you run into one of us, you’ll be willing to give us a chance even if we can’t wave those comfortingly familiar logos at you. And maybe you’d be willing to go onto one of those merchant websites and leave one of the magical golden tickets known as a rating or a review. We are writers too! At least most of us are.

Thanks all, and pleasant reading, writing, editing, ect.

Links are below, including a free story.

Website:  http://llynkc.wix.com/kacie-llyn

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EnchantmentsEndgame?

Twitter: llynkc@gmail.com  Rassilon27

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B0KHUW0

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magics-guardian-kacie-llyn/1114134634?ean=2940015956313

CreateSpace: https://www.createspace.com/4397796

Free Short Story: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/333840

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