How to Support an Indie Writer

15 May

Okay, well first, we need to ascertain… What IS an indie?  Basically, an indie writer is someone who has chosen other routes of publication besides with the “Big Six” in the publishing biz.  (The Big Six are:  Hachette Group, Simon and Schuster, HarperCollins, MacMillan Publishers, Penguin and Random House).  These are the BIG guys- the WalMarts of the publishing world.  They have very deep pockets and a LOT of clout. 

There are a million smaller publishing houses out there, as well.  And tons of self-pubbed authors, too.   These guys are lumped together as Indies.   It always cracks me up when people say that so-and-so “went Indie”.  It reminds me of the phrase, “goin’ rogue”.  I feel so rogue-ish.  But honestly, there are a million reasons why someone chooses to “Go Indie”.   The publishing world is changing as you have seen with the folding up of Borders.  Obviously, the big houses will still be there and like I’ve said before, that’s a good thing.  Agents, editors and the big houses consistently set the bar of perfection for writers.   

 But with the boom of smaller publishing houses and self-pubbed authors, things are changing.  Readers are getting a really awesome opportunity  to decide what it is that you want to read and love.    Indie authors play an important role in giving you that opportunity because there are so many awesome indies out there– you will definitely be able to find exactly what you are wanting to read. 

But indies write as indies for a cost.  We don’t have the super-million-dollar-marketing teams behind us.   Small publishing houses can’t give us millions of dollars to market. We must do it ourselves.  And also, the big brick-and-mortar stores (Barnes and Noble) won’t let indie authors on their shelves because smaller publishers can’t afford to give them the refund option (selling back books that don’t sell).  Therefore, Indies do all of our selling online- on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, etc.  We work tirelessly to market our own work. 

I should probably mention right here that yes, there are some indies out there that probably shouldn’t be releasing their work to the public just yet.  It hasn’t been edited well or formatted well, or maybe it hasn’t even been written well.  It happens- I’ve bought indie books like that.  And if that happens to you and if you wanted, perhaps you could gently suggest to them either by email or in a review, that they hire a professional editor, etc.  But don’t skewer them or turn it into a verbal abuse contest like we’ve seen lately.  That’s just not productive for anyone.  We’ve seen horrible blow-ups online in the past few months that were just down-right ugly.

But let’s get back to what to do if you come across an indie writer that you love.   There are things you can do to help their careers.  My super-talented friend Wren Emerson (her debut novel is coming out very soon.  And you will luuuuurve it.  You can learn more about Wren here) made up this list of ways you can help an indie author, whether you are a reader or a fellow indie.  It’s an awesome list and so I thought I would include it today.

“So you read my book and you loved it. How can you help my fledgling indie writing career and show your support of my book? Let me give you a list of ways.

  • Word of mouth- The best thing you can do for any product you love is tell your friends. Tell them in forums, on your blog, Twitter, in person. Any way you can communicate your love for something works great.
  • Write a review- Reviews are like currency for indie writers. It let’s other potential readers know that people are reading and enjoying the book and makes it easier for them to decide to buy the book. You can post a review on your blog, the book seller’s site (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc…), reading sites like GoodReads. Or cross post your review on all of them. It’s an awesome gesture and so so SO helpful.
  • Rate, tag, and like my book on Amazon- Amazon has a bizarre way of ranking books that nobody seems to really understand, but doing things like tagging or rating a book only takes a second of your time, but helps get the book into the hands of the people who will most enjoy that type of book.
  • Give me feedback- If the book doesn’t work for you and you don’t want to hurt my sales with negative feedback, but you don’t feel like you can give honest positive feedback, please know that I’m open to hearing whatever it is that you want to say about it. I want to know what’s working or not. I am not the temperamental artist type so don’t fear my crazy wrath. And if you have nothing but good things to say, feel free to let me know that too. I’ll never turn down a little feel good.
  • Offer to host me on your blog- If you really love the book and you feel like I might be a good fit for your blog readership, ask me to do a guest post or an interview. I won’t say no and we both get something from the partnership- I get access to your readers and it’s a day that you don’t have to come up with a post of your own. Wins all around! Yay!
  • Put an excerpt of my book in the back of yours- Have a new book coming out and think that the first scene or two of my book would appeal to your readers? Shoot me a note and we’ll work something out.
  • Recommend the book- This goes along with the whole word of mouth thing from way up the list, but it bears repeating. If you see an opportunity to recommend my book to someone who will enjoy it, it would help get the word out. Book bloggers, reading groups, friends and family members. A sincere recommendation can sell a book to almost anyone.
  • Read books by other indie authors- If you like my book then buy books by other indie authors. We’re all in the same boat as we struggle to promote our books. Buying a book from an indie not only helps them pay the bills, but it gives them a sense of validation to know that someone wants to read what they’ve taken the time to write. Buying indie helps to support our little community and without my indie writing friends, I might not have even heard about indie publishing.
  • Buy the book- If you truly loved the book and want to show support, buying the book would help out a lot. Of course there is the money that I’ll see from your purchase which is awesome and appreciated, but buying the book has the additional benefit of raising my rankings on the site where you buy it, which will increase my visibility to other buyers.
  • Gift the book to your friends and family- Gifting the book not only counts as a sale (which benefits me as stated above), but it also introduces my book to a new potential fan who can then do all the things in this list.

Thanks for the list, Wren.  Sooo many ways you can help Indie authors.  I know I speak for all of us when I say THANK YOU for reading our work.  We appreciate it.

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One Response to “How to Support an Indie Writer”

  1. Robbi Sommers Bryant May 27, 2011 at 3:09 pm #

    Interesting and insightful essay. Thanks!

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