5 Key Tips for Indie Authors in 2013
By Jon F. Merz
I had a great year of sales in 2012. As detailed in my previous post, I did quite well selling ebooks that I released independently. But I try to never rest on my laurels – because, frankly, laurels aren’t all that comfortable.
So what am I doing now that I hope to see bear fruit in 2013 and push my ebook sales goals even higher? Let’s take a look at some of the things indie authors can do to improve their sales over the next twelve months.
1. Invest in Your Business
This may sound more like something “regular companies” do, but if you’re an indie author, you’d better be treating your writing like it IS a business if you have any hope of sustaining or improving sales. To that end, you need to take some of your profits and reinvest them back into your company. How? Here are a few things you could be improving:
- Website: is it professional enough? Are there any pages that need tweaking? Any that need completing? I’m still trying to get this site completely functional, myself!
- Book Covers: are all of your books selling enough? Are they meeting your goals? If not, maybe you should try a different cover.
- Analytics: see below
You do have a newsletter, right? It is the single most important piece of marketing you have access to: people who have given you permission to market to them directly by virtue of them signing up for it. Your email list is far more important than most realize and it’s the one source of data you have that isn’t reliant on Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites. If all of those go away overnight, you’ll still have that list. Make sure you pack it full of good stuff – news, free fiction, and more. Get a reliable email service provider that offers detailed stats on click rates, open rates, etc. This is data you need that will tell you whether you’re doing it right.
Speaking of stats, do you have Google Analytics installed on your website? Do you know where your traffic is coming from? Do you know which of your site’s pages are the most heavily trafficked or how long surfers are staying on your site? Analytics are a vital tool that will help you refine your marketing efforts. If your landing page isn’t capturing the attention of surfers, then change the landing page until it does. Is your sales funnel channeling prospects to key pages and then getting them sign up for your newsletter or purchase your ebooks? Analytics will help you determine all of this and more. I know next to nothing about analytics and how to make it hum, so I’ve brought in a real pro to help me. This is another investment in my business. Yes, it costs money upfront, but I fully expect to make back many times the amount I’m spending now once I can look at the reports and see how I can improve. If you don’t know much about analytics, find someone who does who can help you figure this out.
4. Read More
You’re shaking your head at this one saying, “Yeah, Jon, we’re writers. We know we need to read more. We do anyway.” Great. Happy to hear it. Are you reading Fortune Magazine? What about free articles on Stratfor? Are you tuned in to key development continents like Africa? Are you thinking ahead enough to see where sales will be coming from in the future? There will be thousands of opportunities in the near future, but only for those who know they exist. Don’t shortchange your future by failing to read about coming waves of business opportunities now. There are a LOT of things happening across the world that indie authors can position themselves to take advantage of. Free ebook programs for disadvantaged youths in the rain forests might not sound like it will add to your bottom line, but in ten years when those kids are grateful your work and have elevated themselves out of poverty, they might just become your biggest evangelicals.
5. Help Others
Again, a lot of you are probably saying that you do this anyway, but do you? It’s not enough to simply retweet another author every week or so. You have to look for ways to positively impact the lives of other people – not just those you’re attempting to sell to. Look at your Facebook newsfeed and find someone you might only “kinda sorta” know. Take a day or so and learn as much as you can about them. Drop them a note. Say hi. Appreciate them. Nothing is cooler than getting a pleasant note out of the blue from someone. They might be having a bad day and your message is just the thing that helps them get through it. It doesn’t take money; it just takes effort and sincerity. Given the pace of our world and the level of insincerity that exists in so many areas, the gift of genuine attention is precious and rare. Even if it doesn’t translate into money in your pocket, it definitely generates good karma. And we can all use a little more of that!
Thanks for reading!