Since launching black CATastrophy, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with authors from all around the world. Even better, I have the special honor of calling a few of them friends and colleagues.
During this time, I watched authors push through their novels on their worst days. Battle depression, anxiety, and constant self-doubt. Scrap novels halfway through, and then start over from scratch. Mourn the loss of major characters they hadn’t intentionally planned to kill, but it happened anyway…
Believe me when I say, the world of writers is varied and full of intrigue. After observing the struggles and triumphs of fellow writers online and in the office, here are six things I think independent authors should do to start the New Year off on the best note possible! 😃
1. Finish that Novel You Got Sick Of
One of the main struggles I watched indie authors face this year was the drive to finish that novel they had grown tired of.
Let’s be honest, here. Whether it’s a new article, a new short story, or a new book, most — or even all — of us have gotten to that point where we couldn’t stand to see the words arranged in that order anymore.
It’s perfectly fine to set work aside when you’ve done all you can. What isn’t fine is never getting back to that project. Many authors I talked with were almost terrified to revisit that book sitting on their hard drive from months — even years — ago, that they had yet to finish.
Don’t be that author.
As 2017 draws to a close, it’s time to pull that book out of the shadows, dust it off, get yourself together, and get back in the game. What once seemed like an atrocious piece of crap, may be brilliant with fresh eyes, and a rewrite.
Give it a try!
2. Suck It Up… and Edit, Edit, Edit
Some authors look forward to the editing process. Most don’t.
The editing process requires us to criticise our own work, and later to accept criticism from everyone else. Whether we do it ourselves, ask a friend for help, seek out beta readers, hire an editor, or all of the above, editing is never easy.
But while difficult, it’s totally necessary if you want a book without plot holes, typos, poor grammar, cliches, and repetitive gestures. So as much as it sucks, if you’ve already finished your novel, it’s time to suck it up and get that editing done.
Without successfully completing this step, you will never be able to hold the finished masterpiece in your hands.
3. Create a Marketing Plan for Your Books
Since working with independent authors (including bloggers!), we have only met one or two who had a marketing plan; and only three, who ever had any intention of making one. A lot of indie authors spend months planning their books, but then toss it out into the world with no clear plan.
In your marketing plan you need to know who your target market is, not based on who you want to reach, but who you’re most likely to reach. You must understand that audience. Where do they hang out? How do they speak? What’s the best way to reach them? What colors, graphics, symbology will appeal to them?
Why is this important? The decisions you make while working on marketing plan will set the tone for everything from your book cover design, to your font size and style, to the social media platforms you choose to use for your marketing.
Don’t leave marketing up to chance, especially on a limited budget. Make every penny count, and if time is all you’ve got, don’t waste that either.
4. Hire an Indie PR Firm
For the authors who have more than just time and pennies, it’s worth considering an independent public relations firm, like us, to represent your brand and your books. An indie firm can also help with the marketing plan, book cover design, and many of the other tasks that will make your book successful.
Even better, by hiring someone else to do the boring tasks of marketing your book, you have more time to focus on what you do best: work on your novel, short story, poetry, blog. You focus on your strengths, and we do the same.
As Michael Fedison, author of The Eye-Dancers shared:
I no longer have to do everything myself! Alexis Chateau PR has been a godsend with online marketing, social media, and helping me to create a game plan for moving forward. They have almost single-handedly made my Facebook and Twitter pages relevant.
5. Save Up for a PROFESSIONAL Book Cover
I’ve seen some pretty terrible book covers this year, and if I’m being honest, all of them belonged to indie authors. The old cliche line goes that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. But who has time to read 100,000 words before purchasing a book? So, potential readers will naturally judge the contents by the cover.
Give your writing the chance it needs to succeed by investing in a quality cover, created by a professional designer, with more than just public stock pics. The last thing you want is to get that awesome book cover, only to find that ten other authors around the world have the same one.
6. Travel More
In 2015, our Managing Director at Alexis Chateau PR, quit her dayjob doing payroll for Delta Airlines, to travel and write. Staring at excel spreadsheets, data reconciliations, and ledgers, just weren’t providing her with the inspiration she needed to finish a novel she had been working on for three years.
While not everyone has the will to risk bankruptcy and failure by quitting a steady job, almost everyone has the opportunity to take some vacation time. It’s tempting to spend that time unwinding on the couch at home with a bucket of ice cream, or a glass of wine, but don’t do it.
See more of the world you live in — whether it’s a trip out of town, a flight out of state, or a cruise through the Caribbean. You would be surprised at how much inspiration you find yourself with when you broaden your horizons to include new faces and places.
Are you an independent novelist or blogger? What are your goals for 2018? What advice would you give to other writers for the new year?
About the Author
Shadow the PR Cat is the Goodwill Ambassador at Alexis Chateau PR, and head of the firm’s indie author division. His job includes tweeting, taking selfies, rolling in catnip, and advocating for animal rights and social equality. Follow his kitty adventures on Twitter as @ShadowThePRcat.
About Alexis Chateau PR
Alexis Chateau PR is an independent public relations agency with its own built-in travel agency. We have a special interest in independent writers and lifestyle brands. From education to entertainment to travel, we’ve worked with clients in all areas of the lifestyle industry since 2006.
About black CATastrophy
black CATastrophy is a special division at Alexis Chateau PR for independent authors. We provide the same services to indie writers as our corporate clients, but at discounted prices that suit a serious indie budget.