I thought it important to put together a list of websites for indie authors, meaning, websites that will help independent authors rise to success with their hard-wrought novels and stories by educating the independent author about how to write, publish, market, make sales, and build a fan base for their work.
There are a few explosive success stories you can read about all over the internet...where one independently published author hit the best seller lists and grew an empire seemingly overnight.
What you don't get to read about are those authors who spent years trying different tactics, waiting for a "big break" that more likely came as a slow upward trend until it steadied out into something less resembling an empire and more of a steady, committed relationship.
As an independent author you aren't beholden to any agent or publisher. You are a direct line to your readers, and must put your readers at the forefront
First on our list is the author marketing course brought to you by best-selling author Nick Stephenson. Stephenson has his marketing formula down pat. His course guides authors to build their own, personal fan base, so that your readers are never in the hands of an unstable platform, like Amazon or Facebook.
By focusing on gathering an email list, you have people to pitch to whenever you have a novel to sell or another book to promote.
First and foremost, indie authors are fan-reliant, meaning you need to grow an audience. Stephenson shows you how to do that organically, and then capitalizes on this organic growth to drive sales.
Imagine a reader picks up your first book for free in exchange for their email address. When your second book releases (or if you'd like to offer it for a promo discount) you've got someone familiar with your work to try and sell to. It's a lot easier to keep a customer than convert a new one, so this strategy is overwhelmingly successful.
Stephenson shows you exactly how to set up these freebie incentives either on your own website or through a sales platform like Amazon, and then guides you through the email correspondence that will keep your readers hooked.
Further, he shows you how to isolate niche keywords in Amazon so your book climbs up the sales ranks and premiers on more likely to be seen recommended book pages.
And if you're ready to start advertising, he's got the facebook marketing strategy for you.
His insights are invaluable to an independent author. If you're confused about marketing your books and how to start grooming your empire, this is a must-have course.
No wonder Joanna Penn and Nick Stephenson are buds. They're both hugely successful fiction authors with a massive following for their non-fiction writing and advice for authors.
Joanna Penn has a huge resource built up for independent authors interested in writing, publishing, marketing, and selling their book. She holds a place on the most prestigious Top Websites for Authors lists. Probably because of her willingness to walk authors through the step-by-step process of writing, publishing, selling, and promoting a book.
She has books, blogs, podcasts, and courses all designed to help independent authors maximize their potential.
The Creative Penn is where I first started when I was learning about the independent author marketing process, and even 3 years into it I find a wealth of information at my fingertips when I visit her website.
With interviews from notable indie publishing specialists, such as Steven Spatz from BookBaby, to inspiring posts like this tip-filled gem, she's a goldmine of information and strategy planning for the independent author.
If the first stage of building your independent author empire is gathering up relevant knowledge and tools from people like Nick Stephenson and Joanna Penn, the second stage is building your fan base and foundation for attracting more and more readers.
That's where book websites where readers can leave reviews, engage with the author, and participate in giveaways come in.
There are plenty of new platforms popping up all the time, but one of the oldest and biggest is Goodreads.
Goodreads allow you to join very active groups, and I recommend singing up for reader groups as well as writer groups to really diversify your reach. Many groups are geared toward helping independent authors introduce their works to other authors, get feedback and reviews, and offer tips and suggestions for promotions.
Another really useful way to use a platform like Goodreads is to host giveaways. Giveaways help you draw attention to your book and get it on a lot of "to read" lists, which helps with visibility. Especially if you're in pre-sale mode, giveaways can add a lot of juice to your promotions, and they're free to use! You just need to ship a book to the winner.
If you're an indie author you've GOT to be on a sales platform. The most mainstream (and often, lucrative) option is Amazon, but you have to deal with a lot of red tape and corporateness that can feel icky for an indie author.
However, Amazon is a powerful tool in getting your book into readers' hands, especially if you offer ebook versions of a print novel.
Other sales platforms are available, such as Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, etc. If you want to go really indie fringe you can try publishing on sites like Etsy and BigCartel, but these can be a little harder to market with.
*Bonus: if you sign up for Nick Stephenson's 10K readers course, he'll walk you through how to optimize your Amazon pages for more sales. I found his strategies very helpful!
If you're all set with building your author foundation and finding fans for your work, the next step is to promote the heck out of your books.
There are SO many sites offering book promotions. Bookbub is just one. They tend to be very powerful for those whom they accept; but the selection process can be a little tough. My advice is to keep submitting after you've been rejected. It may take months to get accepted, but is well worth it.
Also note that you do have to put some money into these types of promotions, but the return is usually very great. Do your work and research before you commit to any kind of promotion and make sure that the results seem real and replicable for you.
Bonus: Your Website
Of course you should also be putting in a lot of attention to your own website. Make sure it's optimized, introduces the reader to your work in a clear, uncluttered manner, and offers a free incentive to sign up for your email list (a free first book is a great place to start).