The Transition from Newbie Indie to Complete Author Package


The newbie indie author typically launches with a humble beginning:

  • One book on the market.
  • First attempt at formatting.
  • Just friend and family support.
  • Could use some editing help.
  • Not sure how to promote the book.
  • Very tentative about any marketing.

The professional indie author has a complete package:

  • Multiple books available.
  • Several customer reviews.
  • Substantial fan base and following.
  • Extensive online platform includes blog, website, and social media.
  • Knows many formatting and publishing tips.
  • A variety of connections provide valuable support.
  • Experienced with several marketing strategies.
  • Shows confidence to setup promotional events.

It’s easy for a newbie author to encounter a professional author and feel overwhelmed.

Yet every author starts out new.

(You can do research and start out wiser, and you can start to build a following before you publish… but no matter what, the author you are on your debut doesn’t compare to the author you are when you become wiser, more knowledgeable, and more experienced.)

Here’s the thing: Every newbie has the opportunity to evolve into a professional author with a complete package.

It’s easy, really; much easier than you think:

  • Time is on your side. Improve a little here and a little there, and over the course of time, you’ll have a complete package. Time also gives you experience. Learn what you can.
  • You need initiative. If you’re negative and tend to convince yourself that this won’t pay off, that won’t be worthwhile, and you’ll never be able to do that, then you’re right: It won’t. There are so many opportunities out there for those who are patient, show initiative, and don’t give up.

Most marketing strategies don’t pay quick dividends.

This doesn’t mean that they’re not worthwhile. Many free and low-cost strategies pay long-term dividends that make them worthwhile.

Here’s the difference:

  • When you spend a couple of years diligently branding your image on a variety of online platforms and in person, you can eventually build a name for yourself. When only do this short-term, you aren’t noticed or are quickly forgotten.
  • When you post content relevant to your target audience for several months, eventually you attract a healthy following as word spreads about your gold mine. Early on, there isn’t as much material and you haven’t been around long enough to get discovered.
  • When you only use one online medium, only people who favor that one online platform can find you. When you have a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, etc., you’re visible to everybody and you also look like a more complete author.
  • When you’ve been posting for a couple of years, you look like an established author who has been around. When your content is relatively new, you’re still struggling to get discovered and build your following.
  • When your blog is new, you have a basic blog with a few posts. Over time, you can have several pages on your website with valuable content geared toward your target audience, and your website evolves as you come across and try out new features.
  • When you’ve interacted with other authors for a couple of years, you learn many useful formatting, publishing, and marketing tips. This helps you improve over time.
  • Researching marketing strategies and trying them out takes time. The more effort you put into this, the more knowledgeable and experienced you become.
  • After a few years, you will have more books out, a larger fan base, a bigger following, more reviews, more connections, more experience, more knowledge, more wisdom… you’re more of an author than you were.

Success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes hard work, motivation, initiative, a thick skin, a good support system, and much patience.

You don’t write a whole novel overnight. (I hope!) You don’t do all of your marketing overnight, either.

It’s a choice you can make. Do you want long-term success and to thrive as an author? Or not?

There are many opportunities out there. Grab them.

  • Have you signed up for free exposure through Read Tuesday? You still can.
  • Did you take up Green Embers’ gracious offer for free indie advertising? It’s not too late.
  • Are you contacting bloggers for possible guest posts, interviews, or book reviews? You can’t do it if you don’t try. Check out the Story Reading Ape, for example.
  • Which local bookstores and libraries have you approached? Put together a press release kit, grab a few copies of your book, and give it a shot.
  • Check out complete authors to see what they’re doing, that you aren’t trying. Take the word “can’t” out of your vocabulary. Figure out how you can. Don’t expect immediate dividends. Strive for a complete package a couple of years from now. Be patient, work hard, and let time be on your side.

The difference between an author who develops a complete, professional package and one who doesn’t is very often as simple as showing initiative. It’s not really a secret, and it’s easy enough for anyone to do it.

Love books? Check out Read Tuesday, a Black Friday event just for books (all authors can sign up for free): website, Facebook page, Twitter

Check out the CNN iReport for Read Tuesday. You can help support Read Tuesday by voting on it, commenting, and sharing the iReport on Facebook or Twitter. Click here to see the iReport. Tell your friends and maybe we can get additional national exposure for Read Tuesday. Any help will be much appreciative. Here is another example where a simple thing like initiative can make a huge difference.

Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Volume 1 (formatting/publishing) and Volume 2 (packaging/marketing), Facebook page, Twitter

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