Six Indie Author Online Mistakes

lake erie lighthousePromoting Your Own Work Is Tough Duty.

I did some informal research about the way fellow indie-authors use their websites and blogs, and the results weren’t encouraging.

While there are many nicely done sites, like that of Joanna Penn, Thomas Rydder or M.S. Fowle, many indie authors seem to have a website or blog simply because they’ve been told they should.

Mistake #1: Not Building a Good Web Site or Blog
Not investing a little time and effort is a mistake, because an indie-author’s website or blog should be the base of their online effort. Unlike most social media, it’s the one place where they are in full control of the content, image and brand they project.

However, the sad truth is many indies don’t seem to consider the why of what they’re doing. If you build a site without really knowing why it’s necessary, your site might not be much good for anything but collecting virtual dust.

In fact, having a bad site can be worse than no site at all.

Mistake #2: Not Showcasing as a Professional
Looking professional with your website or blog doesn’t mean spending a lot of money on design (sorry, designer folks) because there are good templates on blog or web site hosts like WordPress or iPage that will take care of that for you.

The hard part comes when you add content. You’re free to put in whatever you want, of course, and I would never presume to tell you what to say, but for your own sake please, please, please try to avoid the blatantly unprofessional shouting of “buy my book”!

As an indie writer a simple, easy to navigate, professional-looking site with helpful information shows you take your writing seriously.

Mistake #3: Not Providing Media Info
I’ve mentioned this before, but it deserves repeating. Provide images of your book covers, your author bio and picture (a good one, not something cropped from your last family beach outing). Perhaps the best idea is one I’ve also talked about before … creating a dedicated page on your site just for media.

Bloggers, reviewers, and any other media folks who happen to stop by will love having your information already there for them to use; meaning they’ll be more likely to mention you.

Mistake #4: Not Building a Mailing List
Many indie-authors avoid collecting e-mail addresses because they think having readers and followers on their social media is enough, but not collecting e-mail addresses is one of the biggest mistakes an indie author can make. I confess to being guilty of avoiding this myself.

However, an email newsletter speaks directly to your readers, letting you announce a new title, or poll them about new cover ideas, without depending on the rather haphazard contact of social media.

Earlier, I mentioned e-mail newsletter management systems I’ve been considering. Well, I’m still looking at both Mailchimp and Constant Contact and I’m almost ready to let you know my decision.

Mistake #5: Failing to Engage and Interact
“Engagement” has already become a cliché in online marketing, and there are so many varying opinions on what works, it’s mind-boggling. But I’ve noticed people online I feel familiar with, even though I’ve never met them, are those who respond to my blogs and use social media to help me.

They’re very much like virtual friends.

Some folks are just like that, bless ’em, and I try to reciprocate. I appreciate people who do that for me. How do you get others to do it? It’s easier than you might think.

Try doing it for them first.

Be a friend, not a salesman. Mention them on social media. Use your blog or website or Twitter account to help promote them. Some critics call it schmoozing, but so what? Let ’em. If you want to know if it works, read up on indie author John Locke.

Mistake #6: Not Persuading Potential Readers
I’ve mentioned this before, too. When you describe your books, use powerful, action verbs and make the descriptions exciting. This is just as true for romance as for adventure, horror, mystery or sci-fi (who wants to read dull and boring?)

Showcase the best of any good reviews you have, add any awards you may have won and include a blog link (your own or someone else’s) your readers might enjoy.

Then, still without blatantly screaming “buy!” be sure to include links to your books in several visible places, and make it as easy as possible for readers to purchase them if they want to.

Is that enough? I really don’t know yet. My own efforts are still a work in progress. But I promise anyone who follows this blog I’ll let you know what happens.

 

 

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12 Responses to “Six Indie Author Online Mistakes”

  1. Why Create a Fan Base? | Painting With Light Says:

    […] Email Addresses The following month, on April 24, 2013, in “Six Indie Author Mistakes”, I talked about how a great many indie authors avoid collecting e-mail addresses because they think […]

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  2. My brother Ron Herron over at Painting with Light has a great article on social media mistakes many authors make…:) | Thomas Rydder Says:

    […]   […]

    Like

  3. John W. Howell Says:

    I have nominated you for the WordPress Family Award. I know, I know Awards right? This one is a good one. Go here for details: http://wp.me/p2Qoij-qg

    Like

  4. Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) Says:

    Slowly, but surely, I am learning these lessons.The last two are where I’m still feeling wobbly, but it’s a good thing I’m fine with taking things slow. Hopefully that approach will pay on in the long run.

    Like

    • Ron Herron Says:

      Jeri –
      the last two sound simple, but they take a lot of effort. No one says we have to be in a hurry about, though (thank goodness). Keep at it. You’re working well on #5 just by being here!
      😉

      Like

  5. Michelle Proulx Says:

    Great post! I definitely have to work on #6. Every time someone asks me to describe my book, I’m like “… well, there’s this girl who gets abducted by aliens … and then she gets rescued by a space pirate … and then they fly around and have adventures …” I need a better sales pitch!!!! Preferably one that actually explains what happens in the book beyond “they fly around and have adventures”, lol.

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    • Ron Herron Says:

      Thanks, Michelle. Getting that “elevator speech” ready can be daunting. It’s hard to compress thousands of words into 150 that you can spout quickly (in the time it takes to ride up in an elevator). Keep working on it. You’ll get there! 😉

      Like

  6. John W. Howell Says:

    Ron – Always good information. We all struggle with quality and it’s nice to see a meaningful recap.

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