07 February 2013

10 Ways to Stand Out as a YA Indie Author

No one said indie publishing was easy. And if they did, I'd be wary if they really knew what they were talking about.

What acclaimed indie-author Belle Whittington says: 
When LB approached me about co-writing this post, I thought it was a terrific idea. Not only because of the subject material, which is one of my most passionate obsessions, but mostly because I was excited about co-writing something with my very talented daughter. She and I have worked really hard together over the past year-and-a-half on promoting Cicada and Firefly and also promoting me as an author. We’ve learned a lot, to say the least. And, no doubt, we’ll learn a lot more over the next couple of years. However, LB wanted to share what we’ve learned so far, and she gave me the restriction of listing five tips to stand out as an indie author. I can’t tell you how difficult it is for me to smash this swarm of information that’s buzzing around inside my head into five tips. But, here goes!

LB's tips:
1. Be dynamic! Whether you want to come off as magical and sparkly or simplistic and minimal, you want your book and website design to be dynamic. It should not only capture your personality and your book's concept, the designs that represent you should be bold and follow the rules of design. 

If you're not familiar with design principles, start small. For instance, have your name bigger than your book title. That's a big no-no and takes away from your cover. Research what makes an eye-catching cover before you seek out a designer. Look around at other book covers and see what you like. Then bring those covers to the designer you pick so they know what you're looking for.

2. Mold your persona. Even as an indie author, you're still in the spotlight; more-so because you directly communicate with your readers. Brainstorm for a while and figure out what top two or three traits you want to be known for. Perhaps you want to be whimsical and kind like J.K. Rowling, sassy and out-going like Amanda Hocking, or maybe you are more of a recluse like J.D. Salinger.

3. Relate to your audience. I firmly believe that the reason authors like John Green are so popular is not just because they generate awesome work, but they really connect to their audience. Start talking to your readers, figure out what they like and learn more about it. Connect to the people who read your books and you'll create a lifelong fanbase.

4. Don't be helpless. Have you ever attended any type of speaking event with multiple speakers? Which presenter did you remember, the meek speaker who fumbled their words or the vibrant, confident speaker? Being an indie author is a lot like public speaking, because you need to be confident in what you're doing. Research, collaborate, and revise, but always be confident in yourself and your work.

5. Start local, then go global. So many writers want to be known world-wide. I think those indie authors who have such a large vision need a reality check. More than likely, you are not going to become famous overnight. You are your own agent and publicist, you don't have the luxury of wanting to put the definite article "the" in front of your name just yet. Start small, then go big. Look around at your local community, schools, and libraries. Everyone loves meeting a local author.

Belle's tips:
6. Imagine. By this, I mean give yourself a little time to think about how you want to be perceived by
your fans and readers. What’s your style … your flair? Give yourself enough time to fully visualize the face you will show the world. But not too much time! You’ve got lots of work to do!

7. Branding. I’m sure you’re aware of what branding is. But in case you’re not, here’s a link to a good article on branding for authors; I think it says it all.

8. Author Platform. In short, your author platform is where people can find you and get to know you online. If you weren’t here reading this post to learn more, I’d ask you why you weren’t tweeting, Facebooking, tumbling, or blogging. There are always readers to meet and other people to help promote. Not sure what an author platform is? Here’s a terrific article by Jane Friedman. I have a great deal of respect for her. You should get to know her, too.

9. Networking. This is going to have to become your new daily task … besides writing and all your other life-related things. This is what you are going to think about so much that you’ll dream about it at night. This is how you spread the word about you and your work. Networking not only takes place online, but also off-line, too. This is not only how you meet your readers and fans, but it’s also how you meet the organizers of events. You’ve got to make it your business to find out who organizes what book events in your area. They are your new best friends. And, trust me, they are usually such awesome people that you’ll really want them to be your new best friends! I’ve met the coolest people. For instance, I’ve met a forever friend named Tabatha who has got to be the coolest librarian ever. She’s one of the organizers of the Montgomery County Book Festival. And she’s totally awesome! That’s my shout-out to ya, Peep! <3

10. Write Great Stuff. You’re probably thinking that this should have been number one on this list. But shouldn’t you already be writing if you’re reading this? If you’ve got a book already finished, then polish it. Find some beta readers. Hire an editor. Make it shine. After all, you’ve been working so hard on the other four tips, that you’re ready share your story with the world! Get going! What are you waiting for!

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