The life of an indie author involves several things; ferociously refreshing the sales statistics for their latest releases, obsessively checking social media, maybe a bit of Googling their own name. It's all pretty hectic stuff.
What it rarely involves, unfortunately, is them looking at how the new ePublishing market can be brought forward, and how that might help them.
I can understand why, of course, the new world of digital publishing being a scary yet exciting place. Given the rapid change we've seen from the old monopoly of print books to the growing importance of digital, it might be enough to simply roll with the tides. If change is happening already, why bother pursuing it myself?
The answer is the same as it is for any business. Fail to be the innovator within your marketplace, and you'll find yourself turning into one of its relics. It's happened to automotive manufacturers, it's happened with Hollywood studios, and it could happen to the new breed of independent authors if they aren't capable.
There are plenty of self-published writers out there, successful or otherwise, who are already falling into this trap.
So what could they do that's different than simply releasing their books onto Kindle and leaving them to it? And, if I'm ready to spout my mouth off about the issue, what am I doing?
Firstly, reader reward schemes. The Legacy Universe Reader Crew, or LURC as it is more commonly known, offers free short stories, shareable discounts and the opportunity for a reader's name to appear in the book in a special section. All of this serves to say thank you to groups of people who are used to buying a DVD, and getting a whole load of special features with it.
Essentially, it's the act of bringing back the fan club. Given that loyal readers are so important to independent authors, it seems obvious to give them something back. Has your favourite author thanked you recently?
Secondly, indie authors need to find new ways to promote. If you head over to SFBook.com you'll find that GENTLE REMINDERS, the first Legacy Universe novel, is now being serialised, with a new chapter available every week. Paid adverts on big name Kindle reader websites like Pixel of Ink or Kindle Nation Daily are good, but what happens when those blogs are saturated with amazing offers? Your book won't stand out.
Finally, indie authors need to talk to their readers, not just sell to them. Twitter is an oft-cited source of new customers for indies, but so many of the writers on there have scheduled tweets that repeat URLs to books, or snippets of reviews they've received. That's no way to repay a reader who has tried to connect with you, and shows a remarkable arrogance to believe that they will keep listening to some marketing robot.
This post comes from somebody that can't quite believe that you can DIY books, the last bastion of corporate creativity. I want, and need, the independent market to continue to flourish. My ideas are limited compared to what a massive band of creative people should be able to achieve.