The short answer is that as an indie author and entrepreneur I’m still learning, and that’s a good thing. The longer answer is that although I’ve had fantastic reviews I haven’t had much in the way of sales. It’s been frustrating, but in a way it was a good thing because it caused me to learn a very valuable lesson:
We all have our gripes about Amazon but one of the absolutely beautiful things about the mega sales site is that they allow you to tweek and change your product until you get it right. Unlike a retail store where once the product is on the shelf it will either sell or die, we have the opportunity to make changes then bring a book back to the market. Not only is this a product developer’s dream but it also allows those of us who are making tons of rookie mistakes to fix them.
I love the covers that I have right now. They are very cool, but they don’t work. When I worked with my first designer I just wanted a cool cover (and I got one), I didn’t understand that sometimes cool doesn’t translate for readers. What my covers didn’t do was announce that my books are romance novels. My titles didn’t help either. In my quest to be unique I uniqued myself out of what readers were looking for. Fortunately I met the amazing Whitney G. , a business-savvy indie author with a super-generous soul (and hella good writer, check out her books here). In a three hour meeting over coffee she opened my eyes to the problem. She straight out told me that if she were skimming Amazon, looking for a romance book, she wouldn’t know that either or mine were in that category or have a clue what they were about.
Now I could have gotten all offended and shut down in a huff. She was talking about my babies, my first two novels. But I want to be a successful writer more than I want to be seen as some creative genius. I have 100% faith in the stories inside the books but if I didn’t make some changes not many would ever get to read those stories. So, I’m working with a designer right now to create new covers. I’ve created new titles. I’m rewriting the blurbs and so much more. And I’m loving it. I’ve got renewed energy for the series. Half the fun of being a writer has been learning about the business side and this lesson is HUGE. Even if I had great covers, titles and blurbs they still might sell better with a new ad campaign or marketing technique. There is always an opportunity to grow and learn as an entrepreneur.
But to do that you have to be proactive–seek out other authors and ask questions about what is working for them. Listen to podcasts on the business of selling books (I highly recommend The Creative Penn). Study what the most successful in your genre are doing. Attend a writers conference that is focused on the business side of things. As I’ve noted before I had no clue I was opening a business when I hit publish on my first novel. That has made for a chaotic but still damned exciting start. I wouldn’t trade the roller coaster ride for anything. The longer I’m in it the more I feel like I’m in control of where I’m going.
How about you? Indie authors, how are your first books selling? Now that you’ve learned more about your market would you consider changing the covers? Titles? Marketing techniques? Share your stories in the comments so we can learn from each other. #PayItForward