Being an independent author is a lot of work, as anyone who falls under that category knows. After self-publishing my first eBook back in March of 2015, I discovered that the biggest hurdle is not in fact writing the book. It isn’t editing. It isn’t formatting. It isn’t even writing that super-inconvenient synopsis, the cover, or publishing the darn thing. It’s getting the word out. And this is something that I wish I knew more about when I published Tè Nan Lezar. I was sure that if only a few people stumbled upon my work while perusing Amazon, that they’d read it and love it, and spread the word for me. Well, not only was this thought process naïve, it was arrogant, and I’m glad to say that I’ve changed my tune and reworked my strategy since then.
“How?” you ask. By enlisting the help of five very wonderful—and free—online resources. People aren’t going to know about your work if you don’t tell them it exists. Now, I’m not saying you should scream, “Buy my book!” from the mountaintops—in fact, I’d scream right back, "Don’t!"—but providing a friendly online presence works wonders.
Now, let’s get down to what these five resources are, shall we?
Weebly is at the top of my list for a reason. They host my author website, as you’ve probably noticed, and their drag-and-drop system makes coding unnecessary, which I love. (Although you still have the option to code if you know how.) With lovely, customizable website templates, they were an obvious choice for little ol’ un-HTML-savvy me, and getting an author website was one of the first steps I took towards having an online presence. When people Google someone to find out more about them, they usually look for their website. (At least I know I do.) So it was an obvious choice.
But beyond that, how does having an author website help? If you’re not famous, odds are people aren’t going to be Googling your name all that often. Well, that’s why I blog. Offering meaningful blog posts on writing—after all, an author ought to know something about that—gives people a reason to come to your website. But how will they know about your blog posts if they aren’t Googling you? Well…
Twitter was my first social media, and my favorite. I use it to let people know about my blog posts, talk about writing, and give people a way get to know me a little better in a fast-paced, easy-to-digest environment. It’s also great for getting the word out about book promotions, and new books. Twitter is the place to make friends. If people develop a connection with you, chances are higher that they will be willing to support you. By the same token, reciprocating this support to other authors is equally important, not to mention fun! By reading their blog posts and their books, you get to help someone that is in the exact same boat as you, and it’s a wonderful thing.
But I learned all this the hard way. When I first joined Twitter, I was scared to death that I would come across unprofessional, and would frighten people off by showing any imperfections. I had to know what I was talking about—or else—and that made me stiff. Using this method, the total of my followers was stuck at 140 for a long time. Then I decided to try being real instead, and I recently crossed the threshold of 900 for the first time. It’s called social media for a reason, guys. There are so many fake people online—don’t be one of them.
I use Mailchimp for my author newsletter. It works a lot like Weebly, being a drag-and-drop situation, and it makes it easy for me to build a list of subscribers by offering customizable subscribe forms to plug in to my website.
The purpose of having a newsletter is pretty obvious—it helps drive traffic to your author website—and though I only send it out when I have a new blog post, book release, or book promotion, I still use it more than some. It also helps maintain a link of connection with readers, letting them see that, “Yep, she’s still writing.”
Canva is great. It’s a photo designing website that I only discovered last year. You can make everything from eBook covers to Twitter headers to blog post images easily, or design your own project with custom dimensions. (In fact, I use it for all those things!) Once again, it’s a drag-and-drop editor, but what I really love is the fact that I can go back and change things after I’ve saved them. Before Canva I used GIMP, and that was downright frustrating, especially when I had a new book cover to design, and still keep the same basic format because it was part of a series.
Canva fixed that problem.
And now we come to Goodreads. Goodreads is another fairly recent addition to my indie-author arsenal, but it’s been a good one. It’s a social media website designed to bring bookworms together in a wonderful community not found anywhere else online. It’s a great way to connect with readers, share blog posts, find new books, and show off what you’re currently reading. After all, writers have to read, too, so why not keep yourself accountable?
I have to admit, when I first joined Goodreads, I didn’t do much—just read books and gave them a star rating. But then I started writing reviews of the books I read, whether they were 100-year-old classics, or the recent work of fellow indie authors. Being able to write a good review is important. As an independent author I know that one of the cruelest things you can do is read a book and not leave a review, so I try to do my part.
“Wait a minute, I thought you said this post was about your top five favorite resources?” Yup, I did. But now it’s freebie time. (Think of it like that never-unwanted thirteenth donut in a baker's dozen.) ;) Pixabay is a free stock photo website, with beautiful images, no strings attached. I’ve found it to be invaluable for finding pictures, whether for blog posts or book covers, or anything else I might need a free photo for.
Well, then, that’s it! These are my favorite resources as an indie author, and while they work for me, they may not really be your thing. But that’s all part of the process, finding what works for you. And while I said that all these resources are free, it's only fair to note that some of them, like Weebly and Mailchimp, have paid plans. (I've just personally found the "free forever" options to be enough for now.) Still, I hope this blog post was helpful, and maybe I've even given you some new ideas! How does your "getting the word out" strategy differ?
Welcome to Katelyn Buxton Books! I'm a Christian author and blogger, with a passion for writing stories that are not just enjoyable, but also lead people closer to Jesus. Feel free to look around, and enjoy your stay!