I’m a member of several indie publishing groups and on occasion, I also frequent the Kindle Boards. A common, recurring issue for many authors is that of sales, or rather the lack of.

My observation is that for many indie authors the sales they do make are in spite of their work, rather than because of it. And while they bemoan poor sales, they don’t want to invest in professional covers or editors, they use lackluster blurbs, they refuse to pin a genre on their books, and they haven’t educated themselves on things like keywords, categories and meta data.

If I run a pizza joint, but the sign over my shop says FOOD I’m probably not going to get a lot of pizza customers. If I get any. (Now imagine that FOOD is written in crayon and there’s a picture of one of my cats plastered in the middle of the window. Confusing, huh? That’s kind of how some authors are presenting their books to the world.)

When you become an indie author, you’re essentially becoming your own publisher. That means you have to understand and educate yourself on every aspect of the business. It’s not nearly as daunting as it sounds. And you should want to do this. After all, this is your business, your career, your future. You should be eating and sleeping and breathing this stuff until it clicks. Talk to those who are where you want to be and take their advice.

But really, here are the basics:

1. Make sure your cover is the best it can be. And for the LOVE OF ALL THAT’S HOLY, stop designing them yourself unless you went to school for it. Seriously. Your mom might love it but everyone else is lying to you because they don’t want to hurt your feelings.

2. Get help with your blurb. At the very least have several friends proofread it. Ask them if it would make them want to buy the book. Tweak it until it does. Not sure what it should sound like? Read some of the blurbs for the best selling books in your genre and figure out why they work so well.

3. Hire a content editor AND a proofreader. Don’t argue, just do it. Let’s get real, okay? No one’s going to pay for your book if the Read Inside sample has a typo and a tense shift in the first paragraph.

4. PICK A GENRE. Don’t tell me your book is a young girl’s metaphysical journey into womanhood during which she meets a boy who’s actually her guardian angel and you just can’t pigeonhole it but you also can’t figure out why it’s not selling. Try calling it paranormal YA and get back to me in week. (Make sure you get that right in the categories too.)

5. Keywords and metadata and all that other stuff. Google is your friend. There are tons of articles out there to help you understand this stuff. Read them. This is about discoverability and you want your book to be discoverable, don’t you?

Comments, questions, suggestions? Leave ’em in the comments.

Happy writing, y’all!

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