Thursday, June 01, 2017

Indie Publishing Paths: What’s Your Next Step?

By Jami Gold, @JamiGold

Part of the Indie Authors Series

For nearly two years in this Indie Publishing Paths series, we’ve been exploring our options—and the pros and cons of those options—for many of the decisions we face as indie authors. That’s a lot of posts.

So before I wind down this series for good, I wanted to offer one last post to serve as a Table of Contents to help us through the learning and decision-making process. Consider this post a To-Do List for our indie publishing choices. *smile*

Recap: Why Should We Plan?

As I’ve emphasized throughout this series, there’s no one right way to be successful as an indie author. Just because our favorite virtual mentor chooses one method to reach success doesn’t mean that method will work for us.
  • Our role models might have different goals or definitions of success from our own.
  • The publishing landscape constantly changes—from Amazon’s rules to reader expectations—so what worked six months ago might not work anymore.

It does us no good to blindly follow someone else’s strategy if we don’t understand it or know if it will help us reach our goals. We need to understand the pros and cons of our options to translate their methods to the current market or to something that might be a better match for what we want out of our publishing career.

Step One:

Identify your goals and priorities and think about how you measure success. This step comes first because it’s the most important aspect of our decision-making process, as we’ll use what we determine here in every step that follows.

Our goals and priorities provide a framework for the rest of our decisions. They guide us on where we should imitate our virtual role models and where we should strike our own path. And they let us know when our strategies aren’t working as we’d hoped and to try something else.

The last step in this post discusses how to take our goals and come up with a “master plan,” working backward if necessary to plan how we’re going to reach our goals. However, before we can work backward through each of the choices, we first have to understand our options.

So for each of the next three steps, we might not want to make our decision quite yet. Instead, think of the next few steps as learning what the possibilities are and what we might want to consider or watch out for. Then once we reach Step Five, we can pull all our knowledge together to design our master plan. *smile*

Step Two:

The next step we want to consider is the ins and outs of putting our book up for sale. There are no wrong answers, as any choice can be successful. The only question is what’s the best strategy for our goals?

Making a decision about each aspect requires us to think like a businessperson:

A) Where Do We Want to Sell Our Book?

We have four options for how we can distribute our book, explored in two posts: direct & distributor, as well as retailer & and exclusive. Each option has its own pros and cons, and some options can be combined with others.

B) When Do We Want to Sell Our Book?

We have three options to consider for the timing of listing our book for sale. Depending on our goals, we might want to use a pre-order, or we might not. We might want to release right away, or we might not. It’s important to learn the pros and cons before we decide.

C) How Much Do We Want to Sell Our Book for?

We have three options for pricing our book: high, middle, and low. The best choice for our situation depends on what we want to accomplish and how we plan to get there. Depending on our priorities, we might use a loss leader to capture more readers, drive more sales to maximize income, or hope for more exposure—and we might choose different strategies for different books. We might even have our reasons for offering our book as a freebie, but that approach comes with even more cons to consider.

Do you need an example of how to match your goals to your book listing strategies? Check out how I focused on my goals and priorities to make these choices for myself.

Step Three:

No matter our goals, we usually want to hold on to as many of our readers from book to book as possible. Blog posts across the internet can give us lots of ideas for how to retain our readers, but some strategies come with extra pros and cons we should consider before we make the leap:

Do you need an example of how to match your goals to your reader retention strategies? Check out how I focused on my goals and priorities to make these choices for myself.

Step Four:

One method for retaining our readers is to direct them to a newsletter. Author newsletters are essential for us to communicate with our readers, but it’s important to implement some “best practices” as well.

Like with reader retention strategies, some aspects of newsletter implementation come with extra considerations:

Do you need an example of how to match your goals to your newsletter strategies? Check out how I focused on my goals and priorities to make these choices for myself.

Step Five:

Finally, we can take everything we’ve learned about our goals and priorities to come up with a broad set of strategies for a long-term “master publishing plan.” With our goals and priorities in mind, we can work backward from what we want to accomplish and plan all the steps leading up to that point.

Check out how I came up with my “leap frog” plan by choosing options for each of the steps above that matched my goals and priorities. For another example of a “master plan,” here’s a post from my blog discussing Liliana Hart’s “5 down and 1 in the hole” strategy.

Understand Your Options and Your Reasons

After two years of monthly posts, there’s a lot of information in this Indie Publishing Paths series, but I hope this breakdown of the steps we can go through to learn our options and weigh our choices provides direction through the glut. If we understand what we want to get out of each decision, we’ll better recognize when our strategy isn’t working. And if we understand the pros and cons of each option, we’ll have a better idea of how to adjust to the varying publishing landscape. *smile*

Thanks for hanging out with me during this series! And let me know if you have any questions…

After escaping Area 51 armed only with a ukulele, Jami Gold moved to Arizona and decided to become a writer, where she could put her talent for making up stuff to good use. Fortunately, her muse, an arrogant male who delights in causing her to sound as insane as possible, rewards her with unique and rich story ideas.

Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

About Stone-Cold Heart, the latest release in the Mythos Legacy series:

A gargoyle betrayed by his soldiers…

After centuries of stone-cold death, Garrett discovers his legion has deserted him. Without their help, he’ll succumb to eternal sleep once more unless he can trick the woman who woke him into trusting him with her soul.

A combat veteran scarred inside and out…

Her last night in Afghanistan, Raquel Guerrero’s team fell victim to a suicide bomber, killing everyone but her. Now, despite her determination to never again let anyone close, her sense of duty compels her to help an endangered warrior survive.

Trust isn’t in their vocabularies…

A tentative truce frees them to investigate his regiment’s abandonment—and unleashes passionate temptations. But when the truth is uncovered, Garrett and Raquel’s fragile bond—and the healing power of love—might be the only thing that keeps them alive.

Amazon | iTunes | GooglePlay | B&N | Kobo | Additional Retailers


  1. This post got me thinking about my personal "number one goal" for writing (as opposed to other people's goals). I mentioned before that what I care MOST about, is being deeply connected with my story characters, getting to know them and understand them, etc. Recently, I thought about how I've been trying to achieve this goal. For instance, I told you about me acquiring more social, emotional, and psychological experiences in my real life to help me understand people more. The things I learn from my counselling courses also give me insight to my characters' hearts and psyches. And in my writing, I use lots of dialogue and try out different ways to convey my characters' thoughts and feelings the best way I can. Gradually I get a sense of which writing styles seem to convey my characters' emotions most accurately, precisely, and powerfully.

    Okay so this comment wasn't that related to the post, since I wasn't talking about publishing, haha. But I do believe that when I can delve in and really connect with my characters in a profound way, I will be able to reach and touch my readers' hearts too.

    It's very interesting to think about different people's different writing and publishing goals!

    1. LOL! There's nothing wrong with learning more about what we want to get out of publishing--or writing itself. :)

    2. Yeah and I find that attaining one goal may help you attain others. Being able to understand and write deeply about our characters, would probably increase the quality of our books, and thus gain more readers! (Which may in turn help us in sales.)