From the Archives: Top Tips from the INDIE FILES

By SFWA Publications Crew

Independent publishing can feel as daunting as it is empowering. Monthly at the SFWA Blog, the INDIE FILES has offered tips and insights to help authors taking this route to share their writing with the world. Whether you’re just starting out or an active indie author who feels they need a little more guidance to boost sales and reader response, there are articles in our archives that might have just what you need to improve the business end of your writing.

Have you checked in with Kelly McClymer’s “5 Ways to Sell Your Book Directly”? This overview of direct sales explores the range of options available in our industry today. As McClymer notes, there are five approaches to direct sales. To decide which one is right for you, you need to consider the path that each provides—its upfront costs, its level of author autonomy, and its time frame for results. For a pragmatic, professional overview of the state of the business, what could be better? McClymer introduces a range of third-party platforms that can help you find your way, and doesn’t shy from warning you of downsides in the process.

Steven Radecki’s “Measuring Your Success as an Author” offers an excellent complementary read that focuses on how you set your expectations. After more than a decade in indie publishing, working with over three hundred authors during that time, Radecki knows that different writers have different goals—and also, that the state of the industry isn’t such that we can all expect to meet them. How do you frame success for yourself in a world of factors you can’t control? If you adopt a more flexible mindset, there is room to enjoy the journey no matter what happens with the work itself.

Then we come to the more technical and targeted business details of indie publishing:

Have you read William C. Tracy? He has tips and tricks for improving how your work appears on Amazon. Even though the platform makes indie publishing seem easier than ever for many, there are quite a few tweaks to user experience that you should keep in mind to maximize the reach of your work. Don’t miss out on potential readers by failing to take advantage of every indie author feature available on the site. Check out “Author Tips and Tricks for Selling on Amazon” and make sure to implement them all.

Tracy also has a two-part series on the costs of publishing, where “Continuous Marketing and Selling Costs” offers a critical overview of the challenges for indie authors after the excitement of that initial launch window. How do you adapt your promotions and sales paradigm for a work that’s 3-6 months beyond its first publication date? For writers thinking seriously about mid-career professionalization, Tracy has tools on offer to help monitor projects out in the world and to adjust investment in their next steps accordingly.

Scott King’s “Maximizing Your Sales for the Holidays” also reminds indie writers to think about the seasonality of their wares. Sales are not calendar-neutral, but to improve your chances of leveraging holiday purchasing patterns for personal success, you need to consider a few key factors with respect to the look of your book and the ways you pique interest in it. For an article about time-targeted work, King’s piece also offers some sage advice for year-long success as an author, by thinking more holistically about how you network. It’s a read to keep in mind from January to December.

We’re well beyond the basic question of “Should I self-publish?” In today’s dynamic literary industry, direct sales or indie publishing are an integral part of many authors’ careers: either as hybrid components for writers also pursuing traditional presses or as standalone pathways to sharing their creations with the world. Whether just starting out in indie publishing or wrestling mid-career with the wide range of platforms and promises on offer, keep the SFWA Blog and Indie Committee brain trust in mind for professional solidarity in the fray.

The SFWA Publications Crew is the editorial team behind the scenes, reviewing your excellent pitches for articles of relevance to professional and professionalizing writers in the field of SFF. Do you have thoughts to share on the writing or business of SFF? Check out our submission guidelines, peruse the archives, and send a pitch our way.