Monday, 1 September 2014

The Indie Book Routine by Guest Author Mark Shaw

Since releasing my first novel The Keeper of the Wind, the one thing I noticed right away on social media was the frenzied way everyone seemed to be promoting their books. I thought it was crazy how Indie authors were basically begging for someone to either buy or take a look at their book for free. Social media is saturated with this, and I found this very discouraging and wondered how i could compete in such chaos, and I’m sure many new Indie authors think the same way in the beginning, too. Being a very creative person, right away I started thinking of ways to get around the frantic hustle that promoting Indie books seemed to be based around, and started thinking of other alternatives to promote my book. 

A few days after putting my book out, another Indie author sent me a note asking me how my book was selling and how I was promoting it. He then proceeded to tell me how his current book wasn’t selling well at all, and he was in the process of releasing his 4th novel. I thought this was crazy. Then right after, I read an article online titled “Keep Your Day Job”. It broke down how very few Indie authors are making money at their craft. And how the chances of them being able to make a decent living from their writing are slim to none. This pissed me off, and I saw it as a challenge for change. With this notion I came up with the #IndieBooksBeSeen movement. 

The first thing I set out to do was to make July 1st of every year IndieBooksBeSeen Day. A day where Indie authors show we’re unified and proud to be Indie. We would post a picture of us holding up our Indie titles and then constantly retweet everyone else’s book, for the world and all social media to see. One grand gesture to show the world that we’re here and strong together. It was a better success than I thought it would be, and I was very moved by others' warm sentiments and sense of pride. This gave me hope and I felt encouraged to forge ahead with a new plan while the momentum was still present. 

I then decided to attempt giving struggling authors a boost, by challenging all others to seek these authors out and give them reviews to bolster them. I for one know what it’s like to just start out and hardly anyone will give you reviews, unless you pay for them. So i felt this would be an easy challenge, and boy was I wrong! I began to tweet several participants of our indie pride day to start. Thinking they were still feeling the love from our #indiebooksbeseen day a couple weeks before. Only to get one person say that she felt like she was being spammed by me. And i thought wow! But it wasn’t spam when I and tons of others spent hours retweeting your title. To make things worse, the review challenge never took flight. Out of all the people I reached out to, only a few took part. What this said to me was that most Indie authors will only get involved in projects that are self-serving to their own cause, unless they’re part of a group. 

What is so clear to me and a few others is most Indie authors can’t seem to shake this routine of hustling the books at all cost. This mindset will keep us right where we are, with some doing great and most of us not! I am doing everything I can to break this routine with new innovative ideas on how to take us to that next level where being Indie is trendy. I want Indie books to be the cool alternative to mainstream books and the only way I can see this happening is if we become one voice for the industry itself. I’m not saying don’t promote your book, I’m just asking you to give some of your energy to boosting our industry. Because when the light shines on our industry, it’ll shine on all of us.       

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  1. You make some very good points, Mark. We have to get out of the pattern of yelling self-promo and nothing else. For one, our potential readers get tired of hearing that. It's so important to support other quality Indie works so that they have a chance to be seen.

  2. Excellent points. I've been a part of your FB group for a while, but haven't been able to do much with it. Life and the day job keep getting in the way. I really like this idea you have and want to be a part of it and help it grow.

  3. Nicely said Mark! After all, we happen to be in one of the only industries where we don't have to compete with each other for sales. Teamwork really does benefit everybody.

  4. Yes, I agree. I did a similar thing to help promote other Renaissance performers and merchants and now that page has over 5,500 fans (plus) and now I created a Facebook fan page to help promote other picture book authors. I think it helps if you help promote others. It's really a win win.