–Sondi Warner, Writer/Blogger for Wrought Iron Reads
By some estimates, 81% of Americans feel they have a book in them, with between 600,000 and 1,000,000 or more books* published in America EACH DAY. To separate oneself from the hundreds of thousands of writers out there, indie authors had better well have x-factor.
Now, I like music. I know, that’s off-topic, but hear me out. X-factor in music is a mix of talent, visual appeal (read: good looks) and emotional response. Great pop artists know they need to not only have memorable songs, but have an unforgettable brand and tug at the heartstrings of their fans.
Writers can learn a lot from our creative cousin, the pop artist. Let’s reimagine some of our favorite stars as indie authors and take a look at what they got right.
- Hone your craft.
Beyonce. It’s common knowledge the goddess, Bey, didn’t spring from the ocean, wholly formed and ready to swish her hips right into our homes and hearts. She started with dance class in elementary school, singing in the school choir and summer performance “boot camps” with her dad, and she wisely continues honing her craft with vocal coaches and choreographers.
Writers should know the job of author comes with homework for the rest of your life. You are never so brilliant that you need no more instruction. Periodically enroll in writing courses, attend conventions and study the craft to keep your pen sharp and your wit sharper. If you are an indie author, this is doubly important because you may not have a team of editors, so you will have to know the grammar, punctuation, spelling and content errors you need to avoid.
Beyonce’s indie author book would be a spicy urban romance full of sass, sex and sensationalism.
- Build your platform.
Justin Bieber. You don’t need to be a Bieber fan to admit this artist got one thing exactly right. JB became a Youtube celebrity with his soulful covers and fresh, new sound, and he diligently cultivated he fan-base. Well before he was signed, the Biebs had a following of rabid female fans, and many of them have stuck with him through the ups and downs ever since.
You might not be Youtube celebrity material, but if you’re a writer, you need to get very, very savvy with social media pronto. Establishing a platform can begin with keeping a blog, a Soundcloud or a Facebook/Twitter/Instagram/Pinterest page. You don’t have to spread yourself thin by having a page on every available outlet. Keep your target audience in mind, choose a playground they’re familiar with and get to building connections. Invest time in your readers. Post often, be personable and stay consistent.
Justin Bieber’s indie author book would be a memoir. Because who doesn’t want to know what the sexy Canadian heartthrob has to say for himself?
- Establish your brand.
Nicki Minaj. She might have been a quiet, reserved school girl at her visual and performing arts high school, but this seductress vamped things up a bit when she entered the music scene. Despite a recent style change, everyone will remember Nicki as the fruity haired hip hop honey with the salacious beats.
Writers need to be aware that YOU are your brand, and whether you’re colorful or classic, you want readers to know right upfront what you represent. If you want to be seen as a serious author, show your creativity, but professionalism is a quality you can’t afford to lack. Never openly criticize other writers or publishing houses. Never get into it with your readers. Never bring your inner diva to the writing world. Do be polite, friendly and clever.
Nicki Minaj’s indie author book would be a yummy erotica anthology full of scintillating sensual details for your reading pleasure.
- Know your market and release smart.
Troye Sivan. If you haven’t heard of this Australian lover boy yet, take a second to look him up. This artist released his 3-part The Blue Neighborhood music videos featuring a storyline about homosexual best friends. Sivan shows timeliness in recognizing the market was ready for this kind of content, as well as in recognizing when to release while the market wasn’t crowded with similar content.
As a writer, you can pay attention to the trends and know when your market is ready for a change, too. Now, don’t mistake this to mean you have to hop on every bandwagon that passes. But, if you’ve been coddling your very own MMF romance and you’re wondering if now is the time to put it out there, find out. The more you know about what your readers are reading, the better you’ll be at spotting and changing trends.
Troye Sivan’s indie author book would be a literary coming of age tale that examines social paradigms and forces the reader to think.
- Promote right.
Adele. Her recent single “Hello” already promises to be a chart-topper. Why? Because Adele got the promotion right. She started with a teaser and kept the momentum going.
You can, too. Don’t think your indie book’s promotion can be put off until after your book is released. Instead, the smart promoter knows to create a buzz beforehand, then continue with heavy promoting in the first two weeks after your book has been released, and finish with regular promoting for the next several months. It’s hard enough letting the world know about your great new title if you don’t start early and stay late.
Adele’s indie author book would be an intense new adult contemporary romance full of the angst of becoming an adult in this changing world. You’ll instantly fall in love with it, as with everything else she puts out.
Bonus: Don’t stop!!
Taylor Swift. It doesn’t matter how many times America’s sweetheart gets her heart broken, she goes right back to the lab and pens another hit. And, she keeps getting better!
This is the advice every new writer hears, but some don’t make it because they give up too soon. Keep writing. Everything you create is practice, and if you’re honing your craft, you’re learning more and more about what you do. If you’re building your platform, you’re connecting with other industry professionals who can give you sound advice. If you’re establishing your brand, then you’re more familiar with what works for you. If you know your market and release right, then you can produce more targeted content. Promotion brings you to the forefront of reader’s minds, and you benefit from word of mouth.
In short, it all ties together to propel you forward in your chosen career path. So, don’t give up when the going gets tough. It’s going to get even tougher! But, hey, you wanted to be a writer. 😉
Taylor Swift’s indie author book would be a paranormal romance about the perfect man who doesn’t exist in real life because who wants normal?
The list above was an imaginary look at potential pop singer books, but here’s a real list. You’ll be surprised! Did You Know These Celebrities are Also Fiction Writers?
Think you’ve got the x-factor? Check your chops against The 90 Top Secrets of Bestselling Authors from Writer’s Digest.
We’ve got some budding writers of our own to add to the indie author industry. Have you heard about Reatha Beauregard’s awesome novella!
When He Knocks by Reatha Beauregard
When a girl unwittingly seduces Death, she’ll have to live with the consequences.
Tova Greene finds herself unemployed. But what seems like a lucky break—a cryptic note inviting her to a job interview—leads her up a dangerous winding road to an isolated mansion hidden in the woods. She discovers her task is to watch an ailing man in a creepy old house full of ghosts and things that go bump, but the nightmarish encounters on her first day are nothing compared to what comes knocking next. Tova has very specific instructions from the homeowner: No matter what…Don’t open the door.
Lovers of Dark Fantasy will be spellbound by Reatha Beauregard’s haunting storytelling in this macabre debut.