We have a real treat today. Bestselling romantic suspense author Cristin Harber is here to share a few tricks on how to become a successful indie author like her. Take it away, Cristin.
Thanks for having me on to talk about self-publishing.
This week marks the fifth month anniversary of publishing the first five titles (three full length, two novellas) in my Titan series. It has been quite the ride. During that time frame, I’ve sold over 75,000 books, nabbed Amazon’s #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller nods, hit the Top 100 list at all my e-retailers and hit USA Today’s top 100 bestsellers. I also managed to have baby number two right smack in the middle of all that.
I wanted to share a few key points that I’ve found helped along the way.
The More the Merrier
I had four manuscripts written, three of those in one series. After attending RWA’s conference last summer, I reviewed my chicken scratch notes and saw a theme. Put out several titles or a backlist and make sure they were the best books possible. Liliana Hart pushed that five was a good number to start with. So I wrote two additional titles for my Titan series, for a total of five in one series. Romance readers, in particular, are voracious readers. If you hook them on book one, chances are they will buy one book after another. By giving them five books in a row, I’ve given them the opportunity to fall in love with my characters while at the same time helping readers remember my name.
Self-Publishing Is a Business
It makes you a business owner, not just a writer. As a self-publisher, I am the CEO, CFO, and CMO of my business. I am the publisher, marketer, and strategist. It is my job to understand the market, to make advertising decisions, and to hire the right team to produce the best product.
Polish the Prose
A professional edit and proofread is a requirement. As writers, we know our stories. Our minds are trained to see what is supposed to be on paper. That’s why we skip over things that would normally be flagged as mistakes. A good editor takes a story and refines it. Proofreaders find those pesky rogue periods or the homonyms that crit partners and editors read over.
I tend to write very deep POV. That includes random sentence fragments and jumpy thoughts. I had to find an editor who understood my voice and worked to enhance it, not tone it down. (Big huge props to Lynnette.) The simplest way is to ask for editing samples. Try to have the same passage for comparison purposes. The passage could be the first few pages or a section further in the manuscript, because the first fifty pages have already seen the most revisions.
Connect with the One-Clickers
If you are a new author, you are often relying on word-of-mouth and impulse purchases. An impulse decision to one-click is made within seconds, often after a quick perusal of a cover and blurb. Make those few seconds count. Covers should stand out but are not too different. They should articulate the genre, heat level, and key audience in a quick glance. Check to see that covers are discernable as thumbnails and that they look professional. More than a working knowledge of Photoshop is needed for a standout cover. Professional cover designers know which fonts work and which scream don’t-buy-me. They understand title and name placement and how to draw good attention. More often than not, simple is better. Don’t try to tell a specific scene in a book but rather give the potential reader a feel for the story.
If you’ve passed a reader’s cover scrutiny, the blurb is next. It must be as tightly worded and edited as the novel. Major plot points, rising conflict, and perhaps motivations must be conveyed concisely and with a hook. A huge block of text is hard to read. Consider utilizing headers. Read comparable blurbs and see what works in your genre and what makes your eyes glaze over. Try to pinpoint and replicate why a blurb is able to sell the book to one-clickers.
Above all, remember that the beauty of self-publishing is that you have the ability and control to make adjustments. Try different covers and blurbs. Consider different pricing strategies. Don’t be afraid to advertise. Embrace (but ignore) reviews. And, write, write, write. Content is king.
Thanks for letting me swing by. My latest release, SAVAGE SECRETS, launched Monday, February 24th. It is the sixth title in the series about a two operatives forced undercover as newlyweds only to find that they need each other to survive their personal demons.
Cristin Harber is a USA Today bestselling romantic suspense and military romance author. Fans voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was #1 romantic suspense, #1 military romance, and a USA Today Top 100 bestseller. She lives outside Washington, DC with her family and English Bulldog.
Thanks for stopping by, Cristin. Loved having you here.
If you haven’t already, check out Cristin’s books. You’ll love them.
And, for those of you waiting to hear about my big announcement, it’s almost here. Check back next Tuesday for details. Hint: This is going to benefit indie authors and those seeking traditional publishing. Can’t wait to share my news!