5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Published My Novel

Written by Chantelle Atkins | December 31, 2014

When I became an Indie Author after publishing my first novel, I learned a lot of valuable lessons. I wish someone had warned me about the obstacles I was about to encounter. Below are the five things I really wish I knew, before I became an Indie Author. They are all common obstacles that Indie Authors face. It really helps if you are prepared to face these obstacles before publishing your first novel.
1) Finding your audience takes time
I was incredibly naive about this when I published my first indie novel. I really thought it would happen by itself. Of course, all my family and friends would read my book, and so would all of my Facebook friends and Twitter followers, and then they would make all their friends read it, and so on. It was a bit of a shock when this did not happen.

In reality people will promise to read your book, but won’t get around to it. People will read your book but will neglect to review it. People will read and review your book, but then

forget to recommend it to others. This can be incredibly disheartening when you are just starting out, so it is important to realize that you cannot depend on your friends and their friends to become your audience.
Yes, of course start a Facebook author page, engage in Twitter, and write a blog. But there is so much more to it than that. Sadly I wasted a lot of time in the beginning just waiting for people to discover my book and hoping that my friends and family would pass it on and it would all just take off. I didn’t realize the amount of work that needs to go into finding your audience! If I had known, I would have started this aspect before the book was even published.
2) Dedicate as much time to promotion as you do to writing
I had absolutely no idea how to go about promoting my book when I first published it. Once my book was available on Amazon,  I  added it to Goodreads, and started a Facebook author page and Twitter profile, and I kind of gave up for a while.
The range of promotional sites out there is just mind-blowing, to be honest. There are so many, some free and some that you pay to be on, that I just wanted to believe I didn’t need them. The thing is, you do need them. You need to be on as many as possible, but more importantly than that you need to actively engage on the ones that work most for you. Of course it takes a while to figure out which ones work for you and which ones don’t.
This all takes time, when you would obviously much rather be writing. I often felt overwhelmed and put off by the promotional process, but now I view it as another part of the job. I make on-going lists of promo goals and I tick them off as I go along. Some are researched and crossed off as not worth it, and some I go back to again and again. I always have a notepad beside my laptop with weekly and daily promo goals on it. Daily ones can be small, quick things like tweeting and sharing my book links, or posting to my author page, and weekly ones will require more time spent, like updating my website, researching new sites to join and so on.
3) Be as professional as possible
This sounds obvious but was another thing I was really unaware of at the beginning. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be professional, it was just that I didn’t quite understand what that meant.
I am talking about all aspects of the process. Your front cover, your blurb, your synopsis, your author bio, your website, your blog, the whole package. I didn’t put enough effort into these things to start with. Surely my books would sell themselves?
But the old adage still rings very true I am afraid. People do judge a book by its cover, and authors by their biographies. I am still learning. Becoming more professional is another thing I consider an on-going process. I now consider it a duty. I am an indie author and proud to be one. I don’t want to let the side down in any way.
4) Connect with other authors
I was too shy when I was first published. I didn’t push myself forward. I would read other indie books and review them in the hope that the author would reciprocate, and funnily enough they never did. I would share other authors blogs and articles, like their pages and tweet their links. I wasn’t quite brave enough to suggest that I was worth promoting too.
This has changed as my confidence has grown. I will now read and review for other indies as long as they commit to do the same to me. The same goes for tweeting and liking pages. Wherever possible I try to connect with other authors because I believe we can really help and support each other. It can be really lonely out there on your own when you are independent.

I think you need as many author friends and connections as possible. You can help each other in endless ways, be it sharing information regarding new promo sites and advertisement ideas, reading and commenting on each others blogs. In fact it is nice just having someone to moan to when you are feeling under valued.

5) Confidence comes with practice
In other words; keep writing. Yes, dedicate the right amount of time to promoting your new release, but if you are a writer you should already be writing the next one. This is how you get better and better. This is how your skill grows and evolves.
This is how you become a better writer, and this is how you start to believe in yourself. I do find the more I write, the better I get. I have so much more confidence now. There is no better way to prove yourself as an indie than keep writing great books. Aim to please your readers. Gain their respect and their loyalty, and they will keep coming back for more.
Bio:
Chantelle Atkins is the author of four novels including The Mess Of Me and recently released This Is Nowhere. She lives in Dorset, England with her husband and four children. Atkin’s work is often described as gritty and character driven, and she writes within both the adult and young adult genres. You can connect with her on Facebook.