This is part two of my series on what I learned at the 20Books To 50K conference in Las Vegas. You can find part one here.
Welcome to a great panel discussion with Rebecca Moesta, Malorie Cooper, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Alex Liddell, and Lindsay Buroker titled High-Powered Authors. These five authors are killing it in the indie publishing world, and they shared what works and doesn't work for them. This panel was chock full of inspiration and knowledge, and I can only write so much and have your attention on this blog post for so long. So I encourage you to check out the You Tube video of this panel if anything I say here catches your interest!
(When you click play above, it should take you to the high-powered author panel, but if you are interested in the two guys behind the conference, go back to the beginning of the video and watch their introduction!)
Here are a few tidbits that the high-powered authors said and was also echoed throughout the conference:
1. Market research is important. If you're writing romance, then make sure you're giving your readers what they expect--respect the tropes and your readers. Look at the top 10 on Amazon in your genre. What do their covers look like? What are their blurbs? What are the current trends? How will your book fit with these? You have to standout without being too different, of course. (Sidenote from me: stand out with your good writing and ability to tell a story, not by trying to trick your reader!)
2. Self-published authors are advertising on Amazon and Facebook, and it's working. Trust me when I say that if the sentence above gave you the heebie jeebies, you'll have to find a way to get over it IF you want to make money as an author and sell copies of your books. Traditional publishers have put advertising dollars behind their top names for decades. To compete with this, and you can, you have to be willing to spend some money on advertising that makes sense. Currently, that seems to be on social media, with email services like Bookbub, and on Amazon or other booksellers. (Although everyone was honestly talking about Amazon ads!)
3. Being consistent over time is the best way to build your career. Stop comparing yourself to the high-powered authors on the panel, as they all had to start somewhere. But they're currently writing on a regular basis and putting out books regularly. They treat their writing as a career, and they show up for work every day. Analyze your best time of day and write then. You will get much more done than if you are trying to work when you are tired. (Sidenote: Since I came back from this conference, I have written every morning when I get up until I get to at least 1000 words. My streak so far is 19 days, and I have written 24,324 new words. I finished one non-fiction book project I had been messing around with for far too long, and started on another one. I plan to self-publish both of these.)
4. Different income streams are important. This was also something that was talked about a lot, not just on this panel. There's a huge debate right now about being exculsive (to Amazon) or going wide (selling on many different platforms). If Amazon went away today, and all your eggs are in Amazon's basket, where does that leave you? This doesn't mean you can't take advantage of some of the exclusivity perks on Amazon for a certain number of days, but you also have to think of how else you can get money. What do your books lend themselves to? Where else would they sell?
In conclusion: What I loved about this panel is that a couple of these authors were also tradtionally published at one time or still are--so they are known as hybrid authors. They are on a panel at an indie conference talking about the perks of being independent in this day and age. This advice seems more spot on than most because they have experience in both worlds, and they are telling us that currently in many genres, authors who treat their books and career like a business as well as a creative endeavor can have success with self-publishing. It's an amazing time to be a writer!
Margo L. Dill is a writer of children's and YA books in St. Louis, MO. She is also WOW!'s managing editor and teaches a few classes for WOW! on novel writing, school visits, and YA/MG writing. Check out her classes at https://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/WOWclasses.html. The novel writing class starts on December 6, and she can work with you to have deadlines not through the holidays if needed. To find out more about her and her books, join her newsletter here.