Behind the Scenes in Indie Publishing with Krista Street
Behind the Scenes of Indie Publishing
At YABC we work closely with a lot of Indie authors. Some are best sellers and some are just starting out, and many more fall in the middle of that spectrum. Today we are excited to introduce you to Krista Street, Author of the Lost Children Trilogy. She brings such an intresting persepective to what it's like entering this confusing and often overwhelming world of independant publishing. Weclome Krista!
A New Author's Experience in the Indie Publishing World
by Krista Street
I was lucky enough to be invited to this page to share my experiences in the indie publishing world. Hmm, (*tapping my chin*) where do I start?
At the beginning.
Yes, it’s probably always best to start at the beginning. That’s where all epic tales originate. Right? Well, this certainly isn’t an epic tale, but indie publishing has been a whirlwind experience for me with a huge learning curve.
To truly start at the beginning, I have to go back fifteen years. That’s when I started writing. Most of those years were spent writing on and off. Some months, more, other months, less. However, the time I did spend writing was extremely important – I was practicing my craft and learning how to write a story. That was truly the first step to becoming independently published (obviously).
Fast forward to 2016 – the year I finally became serious about writing. For years, I’d wanted writing to be my career. And 2016 was the year I finally decided that I wanted to make that life-long dream come true. I wanted to publish!
So that meant I had to make a choice. Traditionally publish or independently publish. I’d tried the traditional route in the past – querying agents, going to writer conferences to pitch in person, waiting impatiently for responses, etc. I had some very nice rejection letters and a few bites, but that was it. My writing wasn’t going anywhere in the traditional world.
And then I started talking to other writers who’d independently published. They were not only getting their books out there, but they were SELLING them! My eyes lit up like a Christmas tree!
That was the first time I seriously considered the indie route. And since the publishing world had been rapidly changing with more and more indies soring to the tops of the charts, I realized it was a truly viable option for publishing.
So, after firmly deciding that I wanted to become an indie author, I got to work. I began working earnestly on my trilogy that had been sitting neglected on my hard drive for years. It was only partially complete so I needed to finish writing it (and editing it – you do know serious indies hire professional editors, right?). That was step one. After I finally got all three books written and edited, I talked to writer friends who’d had success indie publishing and followed their advice. I hired a great cover artist (step two). I then began reading what I could find about publishing on my own.
Looking back now, I realize how green I was. I spent a lot of my time looking in the wrong places and very little time looking in the right places. I also made all of the beginner mistakes. I published book one in my trilogy with no launch plan, no marketing plan, and no readership base. The extent of my publishing knowledge was: write a book, get a great cover, and release it! So on April 2, 2017 that’s exactly what I did. I put Forgotten out into the world while biting my fingernails and anxiously watching my Kindle dashboard. I then realized a few hours later that I better tell someone what I did. I frantically posted on my personal Facebook page that my book had released, and dear friends, would you pretty please buy it? Another rookie mistake…
Despite having amazing friends and support, I quickly learned within twenty-four hours that nobody wants to spend $2.99 on a brand-new author with some unheard of book in an incomplete trilogy. That dawning realization led me to my first desperate marketing experiment – maybe if I make it FREE people will give me a shot!
So I did. I made book one free the day after it published and had around 225 downloads (again, family and friends came to the rescue by sharing my FB posts). BUT, I was ecstatic. Someone out there was reading my book! And it was possible I might not even know them!
I spent most of the spring getting books two and three fully polished and ready to publish, but I also began observing successful indie authors, and I kept seeing one important thing. A reader magnet. In the front and back matter in books, authors were advertising free books if readers signed up for the author’s newsletter. It was like a light bulb went off. I need a free book! So in May, over the course of two frantic weeks, I wrote a prequel to my trilogy and emailed my very amazing cover artist about buying another cover, and ta-da! I had a reader magnet! That free prequel allowed me to begin growing a readership base. Okay, I was starting to get the hang of this.
Fast forward to July 2017. I was ready to release book two. I was a bit more marketing savvy. I’d found some amazing Facebook author groups to join and learned the sheer power of indie author collaboration. I also spent more time observing (okay, who am I kidding… stalking) successful indie authors, that I was actually beginning to learn a few more things about selling in the swamped market of Amazon e-books. So book two launched, and I saw a few more sales.
Fast forward two more months. It was now September 2017, and I was ready to launch book three – the last book in my trilogy. I’d spent the entire summer reading and learning as much as I could about marketing and working Amazon’s algorithm in my favor. I now knew about Amazon categories, also-boughts, newsletter swaps, social media sharing, countdown deals, free days, ARC teams, book promotion sites, Facebook ads, AMS ads… you get the idea.
Book three was the first book I published in which I had an actual marketing plan in place. It launched and sales steadily grew (another thing the algorithm favors). And the sales kept coming. I knew a huge reason for that was due to readers liking completed series, and within a week, that became incredibly apparent. Come October, I was actually SELLING!
Now, as you’re reading this, I have book one in my new series getting ready for release. I currently have nine months under my belt in this crazy indie publishing world and have been working on my launch plan for this series for the past four months. I no longer would consider releasing a book without a firm plan in place. And while an expert I am definitely not, I can now say that I’m no longer green.
In conclusion, I’ll end with this… Are you a writer who’s considering the indie publishing world? If you are, I definitely recommend it. But don’t make the mistakes I did. First off, learn how to write. If you don’t produce a quality product, nobody’s going to buy it regardless of how much you know about marketing. Second, assuming you have a quality product, learn about marketing and advertising before you publish. Join Facebook author groups. Read marketing books. Learn about ads. Soak it all up like a sponge, so on that day you do hit publish on your book one in your first series, you’ll be leaps and bounds ahead of me! Good luck. I know you can do it!
Meet Forgotten: The Lost Chidren Trilogy (book 1)
Forgotten Memories. Tattooed Symbols. Supernatural abilities. Lena soon learns she’s not the only one with a forgotten past and extrasensory gift. And the dark-eyed man she’s inexplicably drawn to may have a deeper connection to her than anything she’d imagined.