Five Things I Should Be Doing as an indie Author that Scare the Shit out of Me

Trying to make it as an indie author involves at some point making an ass out of yourself.

A year and a half ago, I published my first book, the first in a now-six-strong series of comedic mysteries, and nothing happened. No one bought it. My funny-as-balls book didn’t fly up the Amazon rankings. And I wasn’t able to write my resignation letter with Mickey Mouse-shaped crayons and tell my boss to go fuck himself in the three primary colors.

“That’s good, buddy. But try to write some words on your next attempt, and try to put in ‘ass hat’ a few times.”

Fast forward a year and a half, I now realize I’m not a beautiful snowflake whose books will go viral with little-to-no effort. I’ve got to earn that shit, and I’ve figured out a few ways to promote my work that are effective, resulting in my earning a coveted orange Amazon bestseller tag for one of my books (albeit briefly), and having amassed a modest readership.

I’m also about to write the end for the first installment in a new series, before starting work on the seventh installment in my Jake Hancock series. But I’m still an indie author minnow, who shits my big boy pants while bigger fish go swimming past me. My earnings as an author would struggle to pay for my bus fares to work, let alone my apartment in Oslo.

The view from some other more successful asshole’s apartment.

Clearly, I need to up my promotional game. But I’ve been dragging my feet. Why? That photo of me in the profile section, that’s not a photo of a handsome, mustachioed, will-die-trying indie author warrior, but a photo of a mustachioed, handsome, timid little mouse who’s identified other ways he can get out there, but who’s been content to sit around in his pajamas on an evening, watching Netflix, only moving to grab his next handful of generic cheese-flavored puffed corn snack.

Those days are behind me, and my sustained, day-by-day effort to gain the readership that will allow me to do this shit full-time have just begun. I’ve just got to muster up the balls to:

  1. Giveaway the other books in my series for free

The little success I’ve had has come from giving away the first book in my Jake Hancock series for free, using that promotional bonus I get from having my books enrolled in KDP Select. I set the date on my Kindle dashboard, pay for advertising, and then get thousands of downloads, resulting in my gaining a few handfuls of hardcore fans.

I could’ve done this for other installments, but I’ve been hesitant. Why? I don’t feel they standalone as strongly as the first book, so aren’t the ideal introduction into the series, which could result in them attracting more than their fair share of negative reviews.

I wanted the rest of the series, barring the first book, to have at least a 4.1 average star rating, and was using the first book as a filter, to reduce the number of people who haven’t read the first book from reviewing the subsequent books. It’s time to think long-term and sacrifice the star ratings of those books, so I can gain a couple handfuls of hardcore new fans five times every three months, instead of once every three months.

The first one’s free

2. Use my Facebook page more often

I don’t write posts on my page as often as I should out of laziness. But other features, such as the ‘Go Live’ feature, haven’t been used out of fear. It’s time to suck it up and start broadcasting my stupid face live to my Facebook fans as my mouth moves from the silly words coming out of it… Live! Shit, I’m shaking in my boots already, but those Mickey Mouse-shaped crayons I’ve found on eBay won’t pay for themselves.

“What up, mothafuckers.”

3. Start producing a weekly podcast

I like the sound of my voice enough to endlessly riff comedic about the dumb shit I’ve observed during the day to my girlfriend, so why not note down all that stuff, put a microphone attached to a digital recorder in front of my face on a Saturday morning, and produce a podcast, at the end of which I’ll plug the shit out of my books? I can’t think of a reason not to… apart from what about if no one listens? And will I be able to stand the sound of my voice while editing? And what about if my girlfriend just laughs out of sympathy, not because I’m funny? Fuck it, that’s the thinking of the old me.


4. Write more books

I started writing in December 2014, and have written seven novels in that time. While that might sound prolific, you’d think twice after reading one of them. That isn’t to say they’re bad. They’re just light reads, with shitloads of jokes and dialog, and very little beautiful prose and epic descriptions. None, in fact. If I could say fuck you to my fear of writing every morning and mean it, I could crap out five or six novels a year. And surely new books are my strongest promotional tool… as long as they don’t suck, and as long as I don’t ‘lose it.’

Nailing it…

5. Write blog posts more often

There’s around a six-month gap between the publishing of this post and the publishing of the previous one, and it isn’t because I’ve been using the time I spent blogging to volunteer as a steel-roof-hut builder for the indigenous people of Zambia. It’s because I’m scared that I suck. That this post sucks. And the one I’ll write next week will suck. But what’s the worst that can happen from you, my potential customer, not liking the shit I write? You’ll move on and like some other author’s shit, which is what would’ve happened anyway.

Meet Joan, she’s a paranormal romance author.

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Five Reasons to Keep an Author Blog

I started writing this blog for one reason: to sell my fiction books. I may just suck at blogging, or I might not have been doing it for long enough, or it might be because I write wonky lists like this too often, but this blog does not sell any books. It doesn’t even get a significant number of downloads for my perma-free book. I’ve thought of quitting and putting the time I take to write, edit, and publish this blog back into my fiction writing, but I kinda like doing it. From now on I’m going to write one a week. Even if the end result is shitty, like I fear this one might be. But because I have an iPad and an ass and way too much time on a Saturday morning, I’m going to need greater motivation than the half-assed promise I just made to myself to keep up an intense once-a-week schedule. I’m going to need to go full-ass. Fuck that, I’m going to need to go five asses. Just in case that wasn’t clear, which I’d totally understand, I’m going to need five reasons to keep my author blog updates more regular than my beard-trimming schedule.

Seven, but who’s counting?

Here goes:

  1. To keep my writing sharp

It doesn’t take me long to write the first draft of a novel. About six weeks, assuming I don’t get ill or go on vacation. This year I figure I’ll write four. So this year, I’ll spend only twenty weeks actually writing—if I don’t keep this blog going—and the rest of the time making book covers, writing blurbs, editing, formatting, and publishing the finished products on Amazon and Smashwords. That’s a tiny amount of time doing what I love and a shit-ton of time doing stuff that makes me want to blow my fucking brains out. Not only is that a little depressing, but during those weeks when I’m not writing comedy or the stupid exciting stuff that goes in between it all, I’m going to get seriously rusty. Just take a second to think about the drivel you’ve just read. It’s definitely a product of my being rustier than…well, something that’s typically rusty, and definitely not a product of my having always sucked. So there’s the first reason, keeping those comedy writing muscles strong and ready for action for when I write shit I expect people to actually pay for.

Old motor vehicles are typically rusty. And lazy writers.

2) Something to do instead of drinking

One of my hobbies, up until fairly recently…scrap that, pretty much my only hobby up until fairly recently was getting drunk and watching shitty horror movies. I’m now into my thirties and want to be able to look back on this period as a time when I went hell for leather and tried to achieve everything I wanted to achieve with my life. Failing the achievement bit, I want to be able to look back and think that I was at least a reasonably functioning member of society, with friends, and healthy hobbies, and Saturday mornings that weren’t spent scrolling through my Facebook feed as I built up the motivation to reach out my hand and put the glass of water I poured for myself ten minutes ago to my dry lips. One of the distractions that I’m going to use keep myself from relapsing back into that wonderful time of potato chips, craft beers, and movies that were so bad they were good is this blog. Sure, writing it will pale in comparison to that feeling of cracking open that first beer, knowing there are eight more in the refrigerator, but it’ll keep me out of trouble. If you don’t have a drinking problem and want to make this point applicable to you, swap something you do instead of drinking that’s damaging  such as eating processed foods or whatever.

“Uh, honey, where do you want me to put the cheese?”

3) It’s cheaper than a therapist

I try to keep this thing useful or entertaining for the small readership it has, which comprises mostly of fellow indie authors. When I don’t have dubious advice to offer them, I at least try to make the blog posts funny. But sometimes it’s good to just let loose and go full narcissist and write about shit that pisses me off, to expunge it from my mind, such as when I critiqued some of the really bad reviews I’ve received  for my comedy mystery book. I don’t know whether that’s an accurate description of what people do when they go to see a shrink—now that I’ve thought about it, it definitely isn’t—but I figure I’ll use this blog to give my girlfriend a rest from my tirades and expose you guys to them instead. You’re welcome, there’s no need to say thanks. You guys are now my shrink, which means you’ll listen and probably not say anything afterwards or interact with me in any way. You’ll probably just nod, feeling a little sorry for me. Now that sounds like an accurate description of what a shrink does. And better still, you won’t want me to pay out my ass for it afterwards.

“I’d do this shit for free…”

4) One day a shit-ton of people might read these words

I don’t fully understand it, nor am I willing to spend a significant time researching the subject, but the more you blog, the more chance you have of your blog turning up in search engine results. Sure, if you’ve got a decent number of followers on a social media platform, you can get fairly decent traffic to your blog by spamming. But it’ll never be enough to significantly impact on book sales. You have to turn up on the first couple pages of search engine results for that, which means producing a shitload of content. In a couple years’ time, assuming I’ve kept my promise of not drinking and writing these things every week, this blog could be like a gigantic cyberspace glacier, slowly moving week after week, picking up shitloads of debris and dirt as it goes. You’ve probably just worked out, if you’re a follower of this blog or have read my books, that in that metaphor you were dirt or debris, which isn’t how I imagined thanking you for reading. How’s that shrink gig working out for you? My apologies.

“Go straight on, take a right, keep going, then another right and it’s there. You can’t miss it.”

5) One day I’ll have a record of how I made it

I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel here, but four is a shit number when it comes to offering reasons to do something in a blog format. If the meager sales I get turn around in the future and make me financially independent, I’ll be able to look back on this blog as a historical record of how I got there. It’ll be like when my grandparents tell stories of hardship during World War Two, only way less significant and way whinier. Now if that isn’t a decent reason to keep an author blog, then I don’t know what is.

“Sure, the Nazis were shitty and everything, but I wrote one hell of a blog.”

So there you have it.

My hour’s up. It’s time for me to get up from your leather sofa I’ve been lying on and for you to get up off your chair you’ve been sitting ramrod straight in and for us to ride out that awkward moment when we don’t know whether we should shake hands, hug, or just quietly nod at each other after I’ve told personal stuff to you and probably cried a little. Is the same time next week good for you? Excellent.

If this was useful or as therapeutic for you as it was for me, hit one of the share buttons below. Right now this blog’s a tiny snowball, with your help it could become a snowman’s ass.

My fiction books can be checked out here.

Some of my more dedicated therapists hang out with me on my Facebook page here. Like it and become one of them.

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