As I approach the release of my second book, I've had plenty of time to reflect on what I did wrong with my first book. There are plenty of mistakes to choose from, but I wanted to share the top 3 things NOT to do when you indie publish a book.
Never skip the services of a professional editor
This is single most skipped step for indie authors. Why? It can get expensive.
As Reedsy showed in their recent infographic (and I can personally attest to), depending on your word count and level of editing help needed, editing services can run you between a couple of hundred dollars to over $1,000. But, you know what? If you don't spend money on another thing as an indie author, spend your money on this, because not doing so can permanently damage your reputation as an author.
Whether or not you recoup the money you spend on an editor through book sales, it is worth it to hire an editor, because neither you nor your English major friend is as good at editing as an editor with professional experience in the publishing industry is. If you feel like you can't afford the services of an editor, this is not the right time to publish your book. It's that simple.
Never skip paid ads
There are a lot of indie authors who will tell other indie authors that positive reviews and posts on social media will generate book sales better than any paid ad. This is absolutely false. I posted on Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr about my book frequently. I also had many positive reviews for Into the Darkness, as well as a review and interview in a major Pittsburgh newspaper, but neither of these things generated more than a handful of book sales.
You must pay for ads in order for readers to know your book even exists. It is totally passive to place an ad on Facebook, Amazon, or GoodReads, but that's ok. You know why? Because not enough people run ad blockers on their browsers for readers to miss your ads, but plenty of people know where the Mute button and Unfollow buttons are on their social media platform of choice. And, trust me, people are not shy about using those buttons.
Never give a book you intend to SELL away for free on Amazon, Smashwords, etc.
There is the school of thought amongst indie authors that in order to generate interest and future book sales as a first time author, you need to have "free" days, where you offer your ebook to any old reader for $0. This does not work. When you have a book for sale on Amazon, Smashwords, etc., but then you make it free for a day or so, all you do is signal to readers that you're trying to drum up interest in your book. It smells like desperation.
Further evidence that you shouldn't do this either? When was the last time you saw any of the Big 5 publishers offering a new author's ebook for free? They don't do this, because they're in the business of making money on their books, and they have better mechanisms for generating book sales than offering readers a free book. Follow their example.
Have any tips you want to share? Feel free in the comments below.