Thursday, August 9

Indie Writers: 10 Things Not To Do

Indie Writers: What not to do

Dean Wesley Smith continues his two part series listing 10 things indie writers do to shoot themselves in the foot. My post talking about Dean's first five points is here: Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!

6. Don't get hung up promoting your first book, go write another one! 
Sometimes an author will write one or two books and spend most of her time promoting them using social media. Dean writes:
The best way to sell more books is become a better storyteller, to have more product to sell, to work on craft and pacing and cliffhanging and all the thousands of things a professional writer needs.
7. Use different pen names when you write in different genres
Many writers say they don't want to use a pen name because it would take more work to develop two names than one. And of course that's true. But as Dean writes:
Yup, that will kill sales faster than anything I have seen. Why? Because of reader expectations, that’s why. A reader picks up and likes a romance under “Real Name Writer” and then sees another book from the same author name and buys it and it’s a horror novel with ugly guts and blood. Reader says, “I’m not buying anything by that author again.”  And then tells their friends to avoid you.
I see Dean's point, but I think it's probably only a killer in conjunction with a bad cover and a bad blurb. For instance, one of my favorite authors writes two very different series, one is gritty urban fantasy while the other is high fantasy, but it's obvious from the cover alone what genre is under the cover. I haven't bought one of his high fantasy books yet, but I'm still a huge fan of his urban fantasy series.

8. Pricing your work too low
Due to changes Amazon made to their ranking algorithm it no longer pays to sell a book for under $2.99. Sure, offer your book for a reduced price for a limited period to generate sales, but don't keep any of your books at that price.

What price is best for your book? Everyone has a different opinion. Dean thinks the $4.99 to $8.99 range makes sense. He writes:
So if you want to build a long-term career, with fans finding you slowly, over time, who are willing to pay a respectable price for your work, have some respect in your own time and craft. Price your book in the same range as traditional publishers price their works. ($4.99 to $8.99 for most for e-books)
9. Going exclusive 
This issue is hotly debated. Some authors find they sell well over 95% of their books through Amazon so enrolling most of their work in Amazon's KDP Select program--a program which demands exclusivity--seems right for them. Not so for others.

Don't forget about paper books
Many indie authors make the mistake of not putting out paper copies of their work. Dean writes:
[B]y ignoring paper editions, not having them available at least, you ignore 80% of all readers. And also kill a great price comparison on your own books. (I did an entire post on this topic, but say your print book is $15.99, it makes your $7.99 electronic edition look like a deal.)
 Excellent point! And I hear that CreateSpace is easier than ever to use.

10. Hurrying
Take time to practice your craft and stop focusing on sales. Dean writes:
I am not saying you shouldn’t mail your stuff to editors or put your work up electronically and try to make sales. Do put it up, do mail it to editors. I mailed my very first short story to a magazine that bought it. And my second. And after that I got hundreds of rejections before a magazine bought another story from me. If I had been in a hurry, if I didn’t understand at a deep level that learning how to be an internationally-selling fiction writer took time and years, I would have stopped somewhere between 1975 and 1982.

But I didn’t stop. I kept writing and learning and working on becoming a better storyteller. And I kept learning the business, even as it changed.

And now, thirty-seven years later, I’m still writing and still learning and still working to become a better storyteller.

So slow down the worrying about sales, focus on learning, focus on the next story and the next story, and have fun. The sales will come if you put your work out there and keep learning.
These quotations were all taken from Dean Wesley Smith's article: The New World: Publishing: Killing Your Sales One Shot at a Time: The Second Foot.

Now that I know what to do if I could just do it! ;)

Hope you've having a great writing day. Cheers!

Other reading:
- Indie Authors: Bad Sales? Redo Your Cover!
- Kristen Lamb: 5 Steps To Writing Success
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: By theexbrit


  1. This is excllnt advice. The same can be said about the advice on the remainder of the page dealing with how to boost the selling power of books....
    You are a jewel, Karen....
    I plan to start a page for my books on Facebook. But I have no idea what to do beyond the mechanics of establishing it. Any ideas?

    1. Hi James, thank you for your kind words!

      As for your Facebook page, I should know more about that platform but I'm a Twitter fanatic.

      That said, perhaps it depends on why you want to build the page. Do you want to build a writing platform? If so, perhaps share stories/topics related to your work. For instance, if you write murder mysteries, share interesting headlines, or if you've done some research you think your readers would find interesting, share that.

      Whatever you decide to do, good luck! :)

    2. I am pioneering a new branch of literature that I call verefiction--apocalyptic scfi-fantasy. My inspiration comes from visions and dreams. I sometimes exprience visions, while I am writing. Through those and other visions as well as dreams, I have met many of the people that I write about. They lived a long time ago on worlds far reemoved from ours. The upheavals, woes, and tribulations that they struggled to overcome are similar to the troubles plaguing our world in some cases and poised to do so in others....
      Anyway, the books that I write are historical fiction in that I add characters and circumstances to what I consider historical facts and circumstances. But the settings are generally drived from what I have exprienced and seen, during visions and dreams....
      Most of the people that serve as the heroes of my stories are associated with a black ops service in the process of being established [during the last several books that I have written]. Some of them already served as intelligence, counterintelligence, and special ops agents before they became involved with it. Others are or were pirates, mercenaries, thugs, junkies, strippers, harlots, call girls, corporate operatives, secretaries, construction workers, runaways, sorcerers, witches, magi, monks, bikers, rock stars, actresses, gunslingers, policemen, cowboys, so on and so forth....
      Heavy-duty women play central roles in all of my stories. Some of the main ones are establishing what they call a neo-amazon tribe that forms the core of the special ops service. They are fighting a galactic shadow war in the process of becoming a galactic conflagration pitting arrogant, greedy nations against nations controlled by neofeudal traditionalists aligned with aborigne peoples. Do not let the term "neofeudal" lead you to conclude that it is about filthy rich aristocrats and plutocrats whipping and squeezing profits out of serfs and slaves. The balance between the classes is maintained through what both sides of the equation consider mutual responsibilities and rewards. That is, the system only superficially resembles feudalism....
      Most of the characters are humans. But they also include vampires, changlings, elves, halflings, and all sorts of humanoids, androids, cyborgs, replicants, and what I call autodroids, which are artificially produced superhumans genetically and psychologically programmed to some degree. There is much more to it all than I have mentioned. But you get the flavor of what I write about. The bottom line is that I have a lot to work with.... Anyway, some of my books are simple. Others are riddled with plots, subplots, and superplots. Actually, superplots play a role in all of them since they are related to one another....
      My big obstacle is getting readers interested in exploring what some big shots in the publishing universe have deemed edgy, outfront, powerful, daring, and challenging in that it charts new territory literarily, philosophically, theologically, and in other ways. In other words, my writing challnges most peoples' notions concerning sociopolitical, sociocultural, and theological issues and other matters....
      I have learned quite a lot, while writing my verefiction books. Thus far, I have finished fifteen. Another three wait in the crucible of my laptops for me to finalize them. Several more are fermenting in the vats of my psyche....

    3. "verefiction--apocalyptic scfi-fantasy. My inspiration comes from visions and dreams. I sometimes exprience visions, while I am writing."

      What a fascinating concept!

      "Most of the people that serve as the heroes of my stories are associated with a black ops service in the process of being established"

      Have you ever looked at Barry Eisler's blog, The Heart of the Matter? Here's the url:

      He writes about black ops as well, so you might be able to get an idea or three.

      It sounds like you have created a richly varied world! Congrats, I'm sure you'll find lots to write about.

      And congrats on finishing 15 books, that's quite an accomplishment. :)


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