“Now that my novel is written, it’s time to sit back and watch the readers beat a path to my door.”
That’s the Indie author dream, or fantasy, but it hasn’t actually worked for anyone I know without also doing the 10,000 things. What are we talking about–you’ve heard of ancient Chinese wisdom, right?
Laozi (Lao Tzu and other spellings) translates roughly to “master teacher.” The Chinese sage is believed to have lived around the 5th century BC and been the inspiration for the philosophy/religion known as Taoism. Laozi is also the credited author of the Tao Te Ching, which roughly translates to The Great Way of Power/Virtue.
It makes sense that Laozi, a philosophical author, wrote something like this;
Tao made the One.
The One made the two.
The two made the three.
And the three made the ten thousand things.
Already on a tangent here so I’ll refrain from getting overly analytical as to the meaning of this great yet mysterious wisdom. While the simple lines are filled with themes of both Creation and Evolution, the first ideas ringing in my mind are how it relates to being an Indie author.
Tao made the One. This reminds me of the inspiration for writing the first book, which had to be done and was in itself a monumental accomplishment (imho).
The One made the two. The ending of the first book set up the sequel, which also had to be written and at times felt just as much of a herculean task for this humble author.
The two made the three. After both novels were written, they were published via Amazon Kindle and other formats to be made available for readers all over the world. Now that the three were in place–there were books, there were readers, there was a system for making it all continue… and I was an Indie author. End of story, right? Wrong, just the beginning.
And the three made the ten thousand things. This is what I discovered (painfully)–the ten thousand things–which would be necessary to effectively market my books. The harsh reality of being an Indie author. Sad but true.
Yes, I’ve done 10,000 things since the completion of the sequel novel in 2009. Some things take very little time while others can take days, and I’ve averaged roughly 10 things per day for 3 years = 10,000 things.
Of course, not all Indie authors have the same experience. Another Indie may only need to accomplish 1,000 things before her stories take off, while the next author may have to do 20,000 things. 10,000 is just a ballpark figure, a guesstimate.
In 2009 if someone told me it would take 10,000 things before my stories began to sell in decent amounts, thoughts of quitting may have entered the picture. The awareness that marketing is what separates successful Indies from the rest is often the difference it takes. Many give up after learning this the hard way. It is the best of times and it is the worst of times (Dickens) because anyone can be an Indie author, which means new writers are self-publishing in droves, but few will truly succeed because few will not only write a great book but also do the 10,000 things. The good news is that all of these things can be done for free. The bad news is that most of them need to be done, which will require a lot of time, persistence and learning.
What are some of these 10,000 things I’ve done and many Indies do with all their extra time? Great question. Here’s a very partial list:
- cheerfully write a hundred query letters and emails to agents and publishers
- after that fails, format documents for ebooks and paperbacks
- create book covers by learning programs like Inksape
- find royalty free images for use in covers and websites
- upload to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and more
- make phone calls to regional book stores for book signings (if you can get booksellers to agree and if you have paperbacks)
- do book club discussions if you can get a local book club to read it (those are especially fun for the wine and hors d’oeuvres, but don’t expect everyone there to have read your book)
- participate in a myriad of forums for writers, readers and the subjects of your books
- blog regularly (like this post and the other 370 posts I’ve written)
- tweet on Twitter for anything related to what you’re doing or have learned in this business (yes, it does help)
- spend minutes to eons on Facebook (fortunately 10 comments a day on my FB Group page for Indies can happen in a few shakes of a lamb’s tail)
- spam politely on LinkedIn, RedRoom, Authonomy and other social media sites
- make profiles everywhere else you can, and spam politely there too
- leave thoughtful comments on other people’s blog posts making sure to get your URL on it
- submit articles to ezines like Technorati, Idea Marketers, EzineArticles and more
- make videos for sites and YouTube even if you have no video experience (why not, everyone else is doing it?)
- do SEO work for rising in Google searches (too expensive to hire out for this so learn a new trade or buy my SEO book)
- have Skype chats with other authors and even some readers (try to avoid the creeps)
- host and join Google Plus hangouts for networking (I’m addicted to this now, find me on Google Plus)
- build websites (free ones are easier and work great at Yola, Webs, Weebly, Wix, etc)
- upload free books samples to places like Scribd (give freely as you have been freely given)
- upload free short stories to Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook, etc with links at the end for other books (keep giving even if it hurts)
- create PayPal buttons for autopilot sales from your own sites (this one feels great but sales might be slow here)
- pray to God and other deities that this plan will work
- use Law of Attraction principles like in The Secret to help with prayers
- email buyers when possible and thank them as your prayers get answered
- grab darts, throw at the board of things to do, and begin again with cheerful spirit
- repeat until at least 10,000 things have been done or your book is a success
- if Amazon is sending you big checks each month, smile, you’ve made it
Then the nest lesson is what-not-to-do that might screw up your new-found success. Unfortunately, that’s something I’m still discovering. Stay tuned.