I hear this is the month where we’re all meant to give up all of our tips and tricks about indie publishing, whether they be for writing, marketing or what have you. I’m not going to be able to help you all that much with what you should be doing, but I do have a lot of experience in the things you shouldn’t be doing.
When Writing, Don’t
- Cling to the plot if you have something better. I once tried planning the story down to as many details as I could feasibly manage and it turned out terrible. I had all these other ideas while I was writing, but dammit there was a plot! I had to stick to it! And then throw it out and start from scratch.
- Try to make it perfect the first time. As a young person, I tried to make sure the first draft was flawless so that I wouldn’t have to do any of that pesky editing. I finished almost nothing and the few that did get done were embarrassing about a year later.
- Follow someone else’s plot. The hero’s journey. I tried using it as a plot once and tried to just change the basic elements while keeping the structure. It did not work and I was so miserable that I couldn’t do it that I vowed never to use someone else’s plot again.
- Neglect an editor. Editors will make your work so much better. At the very least, they will ensure that your typos are intentional and make you think more about region specificity.
When Publishing, Don’t
- Make your own cover if you don’t have art skills. You will never see those first covers. At least I hope not. I have burned that computer and I pray that nothing escaped the blaze.
- Use an exported version of your document. I edit my work in Google Drive and they have a means to export the document. I tried to format online and upload the rendered doc. Yeah, no.
- Use custom fonts. They don’t work.
- Forget to commission your covers. Speaking of, Book 3 is going to be coming out a bit later than anticipated. Whoops.
When Marketing, Don’t
- Follow back. I have spent so long cleaning out my account of people who just tweet out ads for books. Twitter became useless when I did that and I was lost in the sea of people who were also selling their books.
- Talk only about the books you have for sale. Seriously. I don’t know anyone who’s even bothered to buy one of my books because of my tweets. And I have started unfollowing people who do nothing but tweet about them. So.
- Expect book reviews from giveaways. I think I’m going to stick strictly to an “I will give you a free book if you ask for it and say you will write a review” policy from now on. After so many giveaways, I end up with about half of the people who get the book even downloading it, then only a handful of those people leaving a review.
- Take long social media breaks for writing. I just did this and damn it’s hard to get back into the routine of actually posting blogs and doing stuff on Twitter when you’ve just had that great break from it all.
- Direct your marketing at other writers. Talking and communicating with other writers is awesome and it feels very comfortable and natural. Other writers aren’t the market that’s going to buy your books. Have fun with the writers, talk shop all you want, but remember to focus your marketing efforts on readers.
I’m sure there’s a ton of other don’ts out there, but that’s all I got in me for now. Feel free to add to the list. I want to hear what else people have learned not to do the hard way!