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Sharing My Lessons Learned

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I've been a self-published indie author since 2012, and I thought I would share some of my main lessons learned from six years in the business. I've still got a lot to learn and don't pretend to be an expert, but there have been some decisions I would reconsider, if I had the chance. The three following suggestions would have saved me a significant amount of time and effort if I had acted on them from the start.

If you've decided to write a novel, my first tip would be to start your writing career with a stand-alone book. Although I enjoyed writing my trilogy, from a sales and exposure standpoint, I think starting with a stand-alone novel has advantages. As a reader, I understand the reluctance to buy the first book of a trilogy by an unknown author who has yet to publish the second and third books of the trilogy. Honestly, there's a good chance books two and three will never get published, and that's a hard sell to a prospective reader. Plus, there's alway…

The Importance of Amazon Reviews

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I'm sure you've heard it before: "Amazon reviews are extremely important to authors." That statement (or some variation) is an oft-repeated mantra. And guess what? It's true.

But do you know why it's true? Verified customer (reader) reviews boost your book ranking, which in turn, affects the algorithm that places your book link on other Amazon pages for potential customers to see. Amazon's infamous algorithm is is a formula that instructs the Amazon website how to populate suggested product lists when customers search for items (and even when they don't--thanks, Amazon).

Amazon wants to make money, and they can make money off your book if it's selling and people like it. Amazon determines how much people like your book by how high and how often they rate (review) it. Hence, reviews lead to promotion, which lead to sales, which lead to more reviews, and so it goes.

Amazon reviews are also required for promotional opportunities. Want to purchase an …

BookBub Promos

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You may have heard of BookBub, or already know all about it, but if not, I've come across some potentially helpful information I wanted to share. First off, BookBub is an online service that reaches "millions of readers" while providing authors a way to increase sales. BookBub’s marketing tools let authors promote their books, for a substantial fee.

I've never submitted to BookBub, but my research shows it is the premiere service for book sale promotions and exposure. I've also learned BookBub is very discerning about the books they sell ad space to. In addition, it's no small investment to promote your book on BookBub. While writing this post, I checked the price to advertise my fantasy novel Crimson & Cream for a US-only sale. The BookBub cost was $470. To run an international sale adding the UK and Canada, the cost was $688.

For me, that cost is daunting not only for the upfront fee, but the realization that I would need to sell over 700 eBooks priced …

Another eBook Sale?

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I know it seems like I've been running book sales every week, but this is the last one for this KDP cycle (I promise!). I saved the best for last; read the whole Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy--every damn book--for $2.99.

If you're interested, I'm running ads for this sale the next three days on Book Barbarian ($45), Fantasy Book Deals ($17), and Booksends ($50). I got rejected by ENT this time, but will try them again next sale. And someday, I'll work up the nerve to submit for a BookBub ad (they are pricey, and very discerning), so I probably shouldn't worry about spending the money when I'm unlikely to get picked anyway.

I try to share the results of my promotional experiences on this blog, but if you ever have a specific question, please let me know, and I'll be happy to try and answer. And if you have good advice to share, please do--I'm always interested in what works for others.

Now, here's a review of The Oxbow Kingdom Trilogy:

"When I learned th…