The Trials Of An Indie Author: Making Connections
With the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Google+ and blogging platforms; in fact ALL social media, there has come a greater chance for other indie writers to become your friends and become part of groups that exist solely for us indies to promote and work together to get ourselves recognised. Just as those in the traditionally published world will make connections with other authors (indie or not), an indie author needs to have a number of people that she can count on to help her with promotion because you can't do it all yourself.
There seem to be a number of types of indie authors though, including the ones who make the connections but only seem to want to get what they can for their own personal gain, ignoring the idea that they should be helping others too. And there are others who will do whatever they can to help you sell a book or two or more, and will endlessly support you and help you in any way they can. Both of these types are extreme ends of a spectrum and there are many different ones in between. The point of this piece is not to call out those who don't help others, nor to praise those that do, but to say that as an indie author you need to make many connections. Connections can equal sales, recognition and they can help you sell your image, a topic I have touched on before (found here). So here are my tips to making good connections in the indie author world.
#1 - JOIN GROUPS
On Facebook and Goodreads, as well as other social media sites, there are a number of groups that have the aim of promoting and connecting with other authors. I am a member of a few whose purpose is just that. It's usually easy to join these groups and use their resources, but be aware that by asking someone to promote you, you will probably be asked to reciprocate and if you're not willing to do that, then some of these groups will not be the right fit for you.
#2 - TAKE PART IN EVENTS
There are numerous events going on in the indie world, from Facebook page takeovers to the Bunny Hop event that I took part in after Easter. There are also the "like for like" events that will help you to connect with other writers, editors, cover designers and many more people who make up the indie world. Sometimes you'll find that you are liking people who you will never talk to again, and that's okay, but other times you'll find that you're meeting people who really click with you and will help you move into private groups or other events that will help to promote your work. Along with takeover events, there are also the planned giveaways. These can help with getting your work out there and swapping books for reviews. I have taken part in these and can say that while I still don't have hundreds of reviews, they have helped me to make some good connections with other groups and people in the indie world who like my work.
#3 - REVIEW WHAT YOU READ
Sometimes when you pick up a book by another indie author, you won't think to review it because people usually only review when a book has blown them away or is really bad. However, reviews are an important part of being an indie author and as long as you don't attack the author and provide honest and constructive criticism (where needed), then there's no reason why you can't share your thoughts on their work. This also allows you to make friends, and connections. It was through a mutually agreed review swap that I met one of my favourite indie authors, as well as many others. This in turn has led to being asked to take part in events, being invited to groups, and more reviews on my own work.
And finally, #4 - GIVE WHAT YOU TAKE
The whole thing about being an indie author is that you're usually doing it alone without the backing of a team of supporters, at least when you first start out. So when someone offers to give you an honest review, or host you on their page or blog, try to do the same for them. Or pay it forward and do it for another indie author. If you're always taking from the indie community, then eventually the handouts and favours will stop. You have to reciprocate for it to work and to make good connections.
So, those are my tips for making connections in the indie world. Not every author you'll meet on Facebook or Goodreads is indie, some are traditionally published or with a small press and that's just as good a connection too. The idea is that we, as a community, should be supporting each other and not tearing down someone because their sales figures differed from yours. It's all about a give and take and also trying to remember that as far as traditionally published and indie go, it's not an us and them world. Your mileage may, of course, vary.
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