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Saturday, November 3, 2012

The Emerging Life of an Indie Author

Never in a million years did I think I would need to know what a favicon* was.

If you've read a few of my posts or bio, you know that I was brought up on a dairy farm in New York, that I was a pretty good equestrian (still am), and that I've had a pretty interesting career - albeit a meandering one - in law, investments and biotech. I actually thought I was was pretty savvy. Up until I launched my book, I had never even heard of a favicon or felt that my life was somehow incomplete because of it. But now, in my newly acquired role of "Indie Author", I now am deciding whether I should jump on the favicon bandwagon.

When deciding publish a work outside of the big publishing houses, an author needs to make a choice. Either he or she is writing for the pure love of it and that is the reward in and of itself, or, as is the case with many others including myself, love has its place but we want to reach as many people as we can with our words. Once you decide that global reach is your goal, you have now placed yourself in the world of social marketing.

I've called this my "emerging" life because every day I'm learning more about the tools, techniques, site, blogs and people that populate this space. It's a HUGE space to fill and you have to hone a message, figure out your audience, and focus your efforts so you don't feel like you're chasing your tail all day long. I am only becoming aware of just how large an undertaking getting heard is. I'll write as I learn and will take you along for the journey, too.

There are a lot of writers with their works still in a shoebox or a hard drive and their work will never see the light of day. That's fine for them, but if you want more, then one of your first steps is the 3F Softstart: Friends. Family and Facebook.

  1. Friends: Chances are they have already read your work more than once in its various stages of undress. They've seen your poem or short story in the daylight and have gently told you that its dimply butt is not pretty. So, you went back and worked on its shape and tone.
  2. Family: After a few more reps, you further vet your work by rolling it out to mom, dad and that sister that just doesn't have a kind thing to say about anything. If you're smart, you'll listen very critically to what they have to say. Much of their comments will be good, solid advice. Much of it will be crap. This is the beginning of where you will need to find your backbone and the clear message of what you are trying to say in your work. If you take everyone's advice and change your work to suit everyone's opinion, you will end up with poo on a page. Go to your mountaintop, think about what you were trying to convey when you began your piece, close your eyes and focus in on that message. Then, thank your Aunt Sally for that insightful comment, tell her you appreciate the time she spent reading your work, then do what you damned well please.
  3. Facebook: With the click of a "Post", you will now reach a few hundred of your friends and friends of friends. If you're like most people, this stage is "on the job training". Use this stage for a few items.
  • Readership Feedback and Identification - See who your work resonates with. Who is commenting? What are they saying? Are there any points in common with the folks who like or don't like the work? This is the beginning of knowing who your audience is.
  • Additional Vetting - With Print-On-Demand being as easy as it is, if you get feedback on minor typos and grammatical errors, fix them, upload a clean version of your work, and keep moving forward. If your readers are having a "hard stop" - that they cannot finish the work because it was too long, hard to read or whatever - then stop marketing and go back to revising the manuscript.
  • Launchpad for Your Message - Facebook has a wealth of tools out there for the indie author and the small business person. Click around and learn the difference between "Likes", "Groups" and "Subscribe". This is where your social marketing voyage really begins.
One thing that really strikes me as I take on this new life is how much the lessons of my professional lives come to bear. I'll have a lot more to say about this in later blogs, but I'm not nearly as overwhelmed as I would have been if it were not for years of marketing, business development and personal branding experience. I'll share those insights as I continue my emergence.

*A favicon (short for "favorites icon"), also known as a page icon or an urlicon, is an icon associated with a particular website or webpage. I haven't decided to make one - yet - but I'll let you know when I do.**

**Two days after this post I did.