Nancy Golden
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Your Local Indie Authors: A View from th ...

Your Local Indie Authors: A View from the Trenches

Mar 25, 2023

I took classes to improve my craft. When I was working on my science fiction novel, Alien Neighbors, I asked beta readers to read my book to get their feedback. I went through five rounds of revisions and paid money for professional editing and a graphic artist for the book cover. I carefully researched how to launch my book and on what platforms. I put in the time and effort (around my full-time job) to launch Alien Neighbors during the pandemic. Not being able to have in-person events made the launch so much harder.

So, by now I must be rolling in the dough…right?

Most people don’t realize that indie authors typically get a fraction of what is paid for their print book when purchased through the various platforms available. And if an author agrees to accept refunds from book stores who decide to return their stock (not to accept refunds is the death knell for getting into large brick and mortar book retail chains) – they will come out in the negative and not by a small margin, if the book seller returns their books. Factor in the costs of advertising. Millions of books are on Amazon alone. How do I get Alien Neighbors seen above all of the others? Facebook campaigns, Amazon Ads, Bargain Booksy emails – all of these cost money. As an unknown author trying to get my story into the hands of readers, it can be very disheartening to try to do so with an advertising budget in the hundreds rather than the thousands.

Most indie authors are not in this to make money but we often dream of breaking even so that we can continue our journey of writing our next book. So now that you have a glimpse of the writer’s journey – what can you do to encourage an author?

Reviews are a great way to help people make a buying decision. One of the best things you can do for any author is to put a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It is also one of the hardest things to accomplish. While an internet search revealed varying responses ranging from ½% to 4% of readers leave a review – ask any author what their numbers are and you will see them cringe with dismay. We don’t want to be rude and we don’t want to beg – we would just like some support from our readers. Be honest in your reviews, but also be kind if you are providing a negative one.

Tell your friends about the book if you enjoyed it. Word of mouth advertising is HUGE. If you see an opportunity for an author to be able to promote their book – please reach out. These opportunities can be hard to find.

Tell the author if you enjoyed it, too – most of us (who are not in the big leagues) answer our own email. It brings joy to my heart when I know I have touched someone with one of my stories. Your email or note keeps me from giving up when this journey gets really hard. 

If it is within your budget – consider purchasing the book rather than borrowing it from the library. Every sale is meaningful.

The next time a local author is sitting at the grocery store or at a community festival with a stack of books they are selling and offering to sign – you don’t have to buy anything. But pause, and pick up a copy and examine it. Chat with the author a moment. You can still put it back down if it doesn’t grab your interest or your budget won’t allow it– but smile at the author and compliment them on their perseverance in getting their book written and out in the world. They are putting a piece of their heart in front of you. We are all on this journey together and your affirmation will mean the world to them.

Remember dear reader, writing is not an easy task. We understand what we write won’t resonate with everyone. We don’t want false praise or empty flattery. We just want your support and perhaps a kind word in exchange for all of the ones we have labored to give you. Keep reading - we will keep writing.

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