Have you ever wondered how the top selling indie authors achieved their success?
Today I am going to cover the question of who the top selling indie authors are and how they got there. This is the second of the four top questions I get; go here to see how I covered the first question below:
- What does “Indie Publishing” mean?
- Who are the most famous indie authors and how did they do it?
- What are the three distinct ways to go about publishing?
- What are the top ten questions authors should ask an indie publisher before committing to one?
Let’s look at some of the most successful indie authors and learn some of their secrets to success.
I recommend conducting an internet search for any of the following names: Vince Flynn, Darcy Chan, Amanda Hocking and the famous EL James. You’ll find that they all started out as independently / self-published authors. Most of them were rejected by traditional publishers at first. Now each one of them have gone on to sign big book deals, including movie rights.
One of my favorite indie author success stories is about the late Vince Flynn. For any political/military thriller fans, Vince Flynn and his Mitch Rapp series have become very popular. He grew up struggling with Dyslexia and was determined to beat it. He was also in the military for a short time, all the while voraciously reading all of the political and military thrillers he could get his hands on at the time: Tom Clancy, David Baldacci, Nelson DeMille—all outstanding writers in this genre. He began to formulate his own story following what many in the industry call the “boilerplate” or “blueprint” for mass market books. He had a great editor helping him and was ready to shop for a traditional publisher.
After being rejected countless times, he decided to self-publish. He developed a sound marketing plan, starting with his local market, using word-of-mouth, grassroots marketing and taking advantage of the social media channels available to build awareness. He hit the top 10 list on Amazon and sure as anything the big houses came calling! He signed a multi-million-dollar deal to write the Mitch Rapp series with Atria books (an imprint of Simon & Schuster).
Who hasn’t at least heard of El James and the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy? This indie author famously went through an independent publisher who helped her go from manuscript to multiple film deals.
If you are determined to add yourself to the list of “indie authors,”here are my suggestions:
- Read a lot of books in your genre.
- Note who is publishing them.
- Identify the blueprint, i.e. the formula, for the books of a particular author through a specific publisher and use that blueprint to formulate your own book. These blueprints are tried and true for the audience for those books.
- Never try and write for EVERYONE. Choose a very specific audience.
- Hire a great editorial team—I CANNOT specify this enough. I’ll go over how to find right editor for your manuscript in a future blog.
- Create a great marketing plan (hire someone that can help you with this) because selling yourself and your work can be difficult for some. Hiring a professional to write your pitch can help to position yourself in a competitive landscape. If you are budget conscious, find out what you are comfortable doing yourself and what you should hire out. Then follow through! Start locally and make a name for yourself within your local area first. (More on detailed marketing plans in a future post.)
These tips can help you join these successful indie authors and partnering with an independent publishing company can help streamline and accelerate that process!