Just under four months ago, having had my fill of rejection letters from literary agents, I signed up on the spur of the moment with a random indie publisher on the web. Now, I know I should have asked around first but in my defense, I was all alone in this back then and knew nobody. Anyway, to cut a long story short, my debut novel got distributed across all major online stores and just like that, I became an indie author. Until then, I had done virtually no research; a mistake that I got to rue painfully once I finally did! The first mistake I realized I had made was the fact that I had done things backwards: instead of promoting my book before the launch, I launched it first and then started to promote it. What followed my shocking realization was a hectic and stressful period of three months where I researched the internet daily for promotional tools & tips while trying at the same time to build a platform on the social media.
In the very beginning, all I had was Facebook. I had been using it confidently for years in order to keep in touch with friends and family but had always steered clear of Twitter. Why? Somehow, it had struck me as an unfathomable and inhospitable place. All these funny little words and hashtags didn’t make any sense and used to put me right off. However, once I finally read the basics and had a go, it turned out to be an amazing promotional tool, second to none. On Facebook, I had managed to get a measly 80 or so likes after a daily struggle of one month that mainly involved harassing my old friends (sorry guys!) but once I gave it my all on Twitter, the likes on Facebook started to increase painlessly. This is because my Twitter followers (who soon started to increase with geometrical progressions), felt somehow obliged to head to Facebook and connect with me there too. I couldn’t believe it and wondered why I had waited for so long to join this amazing community of eager supporters. Twitter is a great place to meet people. Virtual strangers find it easy there to say hi and have a little chat. On the other hand, talking with strangers on Facebook seems to be avoided by all. I guess it’s because on Facebook we tend to disclose far more personal information (family & holiday snaps, schooling info and so on). Anyway, to cut a long story short, these days you’ll find me on Twitter more often than on any other site, promoting and connecting with the world.
As a new indie author trying to find my feet, my life got a lot easier since I started to make friends with some lovely people on Twitter, mainly Indie authors but also readers and bloggers.
By now, I have a handful of new pals who have proved to be invaluable assistants and supporters. Among the authors, some are newbies like me and others are well-established already. Before meeting these lovely people I never believed there could be so much solidarity and kindness among virtual strangers. The thing that amazes me the most is that even the established ones who you would think would be too reluctant to give me the time of day, are actually the ones who dedicate more time to give tips, share insights and secrets of the trade. My new friends often feel inclined to share with me the odd article they come across that lists a valuable tip or statistic. Others may inform me of a site that promotes authors or another may alert me to a competition going on somewhere. It goes without saying that I do the same for them too, often sending an email to all in one go to share a tip or a resource. We make sure to visit each other’s blogs too as to enrich the bottom of every new post with likes and comments and we do the same on Facebook for each other, never leaving a post go unnoticed, creating a buzz that often attracts other users to engage in the conversation.
On Twitter, we often introduce each other to our followers with all the usual hashtags (#FF, #WW, #SO) that just four months ago would have had me running for the hills with distaste.
It is always wonderful when I visit my mailbox in the morning and I find a message from one of my new friends who has gone out of their way to recommend something to me or to offer to be helpful in some way. There is so much kindness in that and every single time, it feels like a beautiful gift.
To say the least, having fellow author friends means you never have to look for proof-readers, beta readers or reviewers ever again. There is no end to the blessings I feel I have gained in just these past four months! It has been scary in the very beginning but that was when I used to walk alone. Now, thankfully, I am penning a different story every day.
To make it as an indie author, as it is with every man in any walk of life who has a dream, it takes faith and perseverance. Along the way, we are bound to face drawbacks, disappointments, difficulties. But as long as we can count on others who are willing to share our frustrations and to give us sound advice from experience, I have full faith that at the end of the line, we will all be arriving together as winners.
So this is to thank my precious new friends! (listed below)
Thank you for everything you have done for me guys; for your support, your kindness, your sweetness. I admire you all for your amazing talents and strengths. You are a blessing to me – I love you guys!
NIKKI ANNE SCHMUTZ
SHAHZAD ALI KHAN
DR GLEN HEPKER