This post, by Karen Woodward, originally appeared on her blog on 6/25/12.
I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Lindsay Buroker before. Even now I don’t know much about her, but I do know three things:
1) She’s an indie author
2) She sells enough books as an indie that she’s able to write full time
3) She gives awesome advice about how to become a full time indie author
I’d go so far as to say that anyone who follows the advice Lindsay has given is guaranteed to sell more books. Of course, milage will vary. You might not be able to quit your day-job, but her advice to indie authors is along the lines of, "look both ways before you cross the street". You could ignore it, but I wouldn’t advise it.
Here is Lindsay’s advice:
1. Don’t just write novel length stories, write shorter ones too
This allows you to publish more in the same amount of time, and the more you get your name out in front of readers, the better. Especially in the beginning. Lindsay writes:
… I’ve never been in the Amazon Top 100 (or in the Top 1000 for more than a couple of days), and I’m not particularly visible even in my sub-categories (epic fantasy/historical fantasy) in the Kindle Store. You don’t have to be an uber seller to make a living, though you have to, of course, have characters and/or plots that capture people’s imaginations and turn them into fans (not everyone has to like your books but enough people do so that you get good reviews and you word-of-mouth “advertising” from readers). If you have ten books priced at $4.99, and they sell 200 copies a month, you’re earning over $6,000 a month.
I don’t mean to make it sound like it’s easy to write ten books or sell 200 copies a month of a title (I would have rolled my eyes at such a comment 16 months ago), but, right now, the numbers tell us that making a living as an indie author is a lot more doable than making a living as a traditionally published author (where the per-book cut is a lot smaller). If you’re mid-list as an indie, and you have a stable of books that are doing moderately well, you’ve got it made in the short-term. If… you’re building your tribe along the way, you ought to have it made in the long-term too (more on that below).
2. Use the power of free to promote your books
I’ve tried a lot when it comes to online promotion, everything from guest posts to book blog tours to contests to paid advertising, and nothing compares with having a free ebook in the major stores. Not only will people simply find it on their own, but it’s so much easier to promote something that’s free. If you do buy advertising (and I do from time to time), it’ll be the difference between selling 25 copies and getting 5,000 downloads (i.e. 5,000 new people exposed to your work), because people live in hope that they’ll find something good amongst the free offerings.