Year in Review: What I’ve Learned

Image courtesy of HikingArtist via WikiCommons

Image courtesy of HikingArtist via WikiCommons

It’s the end of the year, so it’s time for an end-of-the-year post. When I was a journalist, I did these stories each year, and, to be honest, didn’t really like them. However, as I started to take stock of the year, I realized just how valuable going back and assessing what happened can be.

As I went through my journey in indie publishing, I learned many things and it seemed a good idea to reflect. So, here are the things I’ve learned:

More is better. There’s that expression: “sometimes more is less.” Not true in publishing.  More books means more chances for readers to discover you. While it’s hard to realize how much of a difference this will make when you’ve first published and have only one book out there, the difference is immediate and noticeable once you have two books.  You get to update your back matter with excerpts of the other book. You’ll also notice new sales for the other book after promoting a different book.  So having more books out there is important. I’d read several authors who said it, but until you see the results on your sales reports, it’s hard to know how emotionally pleasing it is to have multiple books out.

Covers matter. Having professional covers matter, as anyone who enjoys reading (the kind of person you want to enjoy your book) knows the difference between a professional and nonprofessional cover. But, it’s not just about a professional looking cover; it’s also about one that captures attention and draws readers to your books.

You can’t always get what you want. OK, I stole that from the Rolling Stones. But, it’s true. I had a great experiences with my first advertisement, on ereadernews Today. I would highly recommend them. I tried a few unpaid advertisements and got commiserate results. My next advertisement, one I paid for, and one others had said they got great results with, returned absolutely abysmal results for me. I had been expecting similar types of results as my colleagues and got bupkis. It was a real disappointment, and one that had me down for a bit. But, sometimes, you’re not going to get what you want, or what you expected. The key is to learn from it, try something different and move on.

You can’t spread yourself too thin. Trying to blog, guest blog, Facebook, tweet, Link-in, Google+  and pin is a lot to ask for anyone. And, realistically speaking, it’s probably too much to ask.

Writers are helpful.  Not to say that I thought writers were unhelpful before, but I’ve found writers to be willing to answer questions, offer feedback and share the results of their mistakes. That’s a true help.  Facebook writing groups like Writing Kindle Books (now a closed group) and Indie Author Group, as well as on writing sites like IndiesUnlimited, have all been great.

Reviews are both awesome and terrifying. Having your work reviewed can be a terrifying experience. Sometimes, people say things that really crush you. But, the best are when you see a review from someone you’ve never had any contact with and they say things that completely amaze you about your book. It is an unexpected pleasure that thrills me every time.

This is a changing field. I followed publishing before publishing my book, but I don’t think  I realized until being published how much things are changing. It used to be that people recommended new indie authors offer a free book to get people acquainted with their work. After Amazon made changes to it’s algorithms for free books, there was the thought that free was dead. Then, people said, no, free is good if you can give enough free books away. Some people contend 99 cents is perfect, others say never sell beneath $2.99. Now, Amazon offers Kindle Countdown deals (which let you have a sales countdown) as well as the Matchbook Program (which allows you to sell a discounted ebook version when people purchase the print version). Smashwords offers distribution through Oyster (sort of like a Netflix for books, where users pay a monthly fee and read as many books as they want).  Everything is constantly changing in this new age of publishing. Not sure if that is good or bad, but it’s certainly the state of things.

I’m sure I’ve learned other things, too, but those were the highlights.

Would you like to share anything you’ve learned this year about publishing? I’d certainly love to hear it.

Next year (yes, I said next year! But, that’s just a couple of days away), I’ll write a post about what I plan to do with my new knowledge.

About RJ Crayton

RJ Crayton is a former journalist who now writes fiction. She's reported for the Kansas City Star and Wichita Eagle, as well as the smaller publications Education Technology News and Campus Crime. She has two published novels, Life First and Second Life and blogs for Indies Unlimited and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies. For exclusive content and first looks at her new work, sign up for the newsletter at http://rjcrayton.com/subscribe.
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