How to Succeed as a New Indie Author
Type “How to succeed as a new author” into Google, and you will receive 238 million results. With a plethora of information on this topic, why should you listen to me? Because if you are a new Indie author, I have been where you are—just starting out and forging a path, mainly on my own. All while holding down a demanding full-time job while running a household.
First, a little about my journey. I finished my first book in late 2020 and was ecstatic when a small independent publisher accepted my manuscript, Love Ordained, which was published on February 14, 2021. The second book in the series followed in September, and the third in April 2022.
While it thrilled me to have a book published, the rest—marketing that book—was left up to me. I had to figure it out on my own, and while there are mountains of info I can share, below are the items I would recommend most.
This is not a comprehensive list. Yes, I started a website and set up profiles on seven social media platforms, but those don’t make it into my top five.
1. Start a newsletter.
The first non-fiction book I purchased after publication (on March 16, 2021) was Writing and Marketing Systems by Elana Johnson. She is a highly successful independent author in my genre (clean/Christian romance). My main takeaway from that book was that it was crucial to start a newsletter—and write a reader magnet.
On May 2, I sent out my first newsletter with my reader magnet (a prequel to my first book) to 58 subscribers. I now have 948 subscribers to my monthly newsletter a little more than a year later. I purchased Newsletter Ninja by Tammi Labrecque in June 2021 to help me find my way. If you are starting out, I highly recommend this book, which lays out the basics.
There are so many more things I could talk about in this section, including the importance of using a website such as BookFunnel or Story Origin (I use the latter). These services will help build your list by utilizing newsletter swaps and group promos. This is vital and another item to research.
2. Seek out other authors.
What better way to learn how to be successful than to gain knowledge from other Indie authors? You never know where you may find them—I happened upon one while at a summer swim meet with my youngest daughter.
I met a young adult author in my town who published a book about vampires and werewolves—the opposite of the books I write or was interested in. But she has been integral in my journey, and we have helped each other so much along the way.
While my books are primarily on Amazon, she is published wide and has proved instrumental in educating me in that realm of expansion. We each have unique strengths and skills that we share with the other.
We share calls and text messages often, keeping each other accountable. And every early summer morning, we park our cars next to each other, roll down our windows, and write while our kids attend swim practice.
Any time I can contact an Indie author, I grab that opportunity to pick their brain and share information. I can’t recommend this enough. With social media and the Internet, it’s so easy to connect with others, and every time I make a connection, it proves worthwhile,
3. Read voraciously.
If you’re an author, chances are you also love to read. I am fortunate enough to have been blessed with freakishly fast reading skills. I can plow through books, and although I am busier than ever in my life, I read more than ever. This is advice you will hear from authors of all sizes and popularity, including Stephen King.
My reading pile includes books about writing and marketing and contemporary romance—what I love to write—and read. I love reading a descriptive passage that gets my creative juices flowing when I sit down at my computer.
4. Set goals but give yourself grace.
If you are a goal setter and a high achiever like me, it’s easy to want to do everything at once. When that happens, look back at everything you have accomplished thus far. Chances are, you will be proud of yourself.
Setting goals is key to your success. I started my first book more than two years ago. It wasn’t until I set a concrete goal in 2019 of writing five days a week that I finally finished my book.
Still, you will get discouraged. Make sure you have people around you to lift you up. For me, it’s my husband—and my author friends.
5. Join associations and network with their members.
I am a member of two associations for Christian authors and this has proved invaluable. So many opportunities present themselves, from guest blogs to author interviews, and having a group of people to call on whenever you have a question is essential. So, join an association, and take advantage of the opportunities and people placed in your path.
What’s the key message that appeared several times in all these steps? Networking and education. Though I didn’t list it above, I highly recommend attending a writers’ conference.
Again, the connections you forge will prove invaluable. I attended the Florida Christian Writers Conference in October 2021. I talked to everyone who crossed my path, and many participants described me as a sponge soaking up all the knowledge around me.
When I met with an editor to pick her brain, she asked me a few questions. Do you have a newsletter? Have you read the book Newsletter Ninja? When I answered these questions and others with a “yes,” she said, “You’re doing all the right things. Just keep doing them.” That moment was so affirming to me, and I think of it when I get overwhelmed.
Just keep at it. Remember, it’s a journey, and if you stay the course, you will reap the rewards.
About the Author
Tara Taffera is an avid reader and the author of A Divine Love Series. She writes contemporary Christian romance enveloped in God’s grace and love. Book two in her series, Love Unfailing, won the silver medal in the 2022 Illumination Book Awards in the romance category. The program shines a light on Exemplary Christian Books. Love Unfailing was also a semi-finalist in the Indies Today Awards. You can learn more about her at tarataffera.com and find her on all the major social media platforms.