People are talking about Chasing Amanda and Come Back to Me. Having been on Amazon’s Top 100 Bestselling Kindle list for over two months, hovering above stars like The Help and Hunger Games, they’re calling Chasing Amanda and Come Back to Me Indie successes, and asking me how I have remained in the ranks for that much sought after position. People are talking. That’s what it means to be an Indie success—for most people. What does it mean for me? People are talking and I’m learning. I’m gathering information that I can share with other authors. I’m clawing to remain in the elite top 20, and the whole time I’m reevaluating what it means to be there, what it feels like (yes, it feel magnificent, it’s also very stressful), and how I can help others reach the same level, so they can share in the elation of Amazon’s top runners.
Being an Indie success is a precarious position. It can be taken away at any moment, and it will, with no fault of the book or for being independently published, but simply because other books are doing better. John Grisham and Nicholas Sparks took me down two notches this week—thanks guys. Who better to be surpassed by? Truly, what an honor it is to be in their presence. If I lose my ranking tomorrow, I have tasted it, I have watched the number climb and danced around my house with my family, shared the joy with my friends and readers. That can never be taken away. It feels good.
Everyone wants to know how I got here. I asked a good friend of mine, when she was in the Top 100, how she made her mark. Her response was, “A good book and a whole lot of luck.” At the time, I poo-pooed that remark, feeling as though I was being put off, cast aside in an I-don’t-want-to-share manner. The truth is, she didn’t know exactly what worked, and neither do I, but I know what didn’t work, and I have some idea of the things that did.
Spending oodles of money on ads and promotions doesn’t seem to do more than a momentary boost in rankings (from my experience). Begging people to read your book doesn’t work. What I’ve found is that the more you reach out, the more you network, interact, and actually play a vital role in your marketing, the more readers you will engage. I happen to love talking with readers and reviewers. For me, marketing is an added bonus to doing the things I already enjoy. To some, it’s nothing but a time sucker and a pain—imagine being an excellent writer, but you’re a WRITER, not a marketer—two very different occupations.
Marketing is a difficult, almost full-time job.
In my opinion, the best opportunity for Indie authors to become known is to work together in a collective group. If you are marketing your book, you’re one person, with one group of resources. Even if you have 100,000 Twitter followers, that will barely make a mark in the millions of readers out there in the world, many of which don’t visit social networks. If you’re teaming with several others, you’re gaining their networks as well. Collaborative efforts offer much more than just a greater outreach; they offer support, new ideas, and camaraderie in what can be a very solitary field. This is why I developed the WoMen’s Literary Café. The WoMen’s Literary Café (welcoming both men and women) is an extension of the The Women’s Nest, a social and support site for women that I founded a few years ago. WLC is a literary community that helps authors learn to promote their work, and works to bridge the gap between writers and readers. The WoMen’s Literary Café quickly becoming the venue where readers and authors unite. Oh my, I sound like a commercial!
I seem to be babbling, so I will conclude. What it means to be an Indie success is to work three times as hard as you thought you’d have to, meet more amazingly funny, warm, supportive, and interesting people than you ever imagined, and for me, best of all, to learn steps and tricks that you can pay forward to help others do the same. Thank you, my blessed readers and my writing friends, for giving me the opportunity to learn. You can look for me to pay-it-forward daily. Join me on WoMen’s Literary Café, and let’s work together to help you succeed.