Since I’ve gone indie, one thing that I find myself doing a few times a year is….
reviewing then re-calibrating if necessary. What I mean by that is, I step back and look at all of my stats and decide if I like what I see. If I do like what I see, I continue doing what I’m doing. If I don’t like what I see, I re-calibrate.
Being an indie author is a lot different than publishing with a publishing house. With a publishing house, you have a built in visibility that comes from the reputation of the publishing house you publish with. I’ve said this before, but when I was writing erotic romance for Ellora’s Cave, I could sell a ton of books without doing any promo myself. Ellora’s Cave had a built in readership and reader trust. Those readers purchased every new release when they were posted each week. But as an indie, you have to build up that kind of following on your own. I complicated matters further for myself by changing the name I wrote under and the genre.
So what did I see on my last stats check?
1. I sell more books as a romance author than I do as a mystery author. Which is no great surprise, since romance is the top selling genre of fiction. Still, I really wanted the books I labeled as paranormal mystery to equal the sales of the books I labeled as paranormal romance. So far, that hasn’t happened. And, I’m not willing to wait any longer for an uptick in sales. The truth of the matter is, every book I write has romance in it. Someone is always falling in love. The thing that changes is how much focus I put on the budding romance. In my Talhari series and St. Sebastians series, the focus of those stories is on the romance. Everything is about the characters falling in love. The mystery is secondary. In my Doomsday series and Bridgeport series, the mystery is out front and the romance is secondary.
2. Visibility is paramount. I’m not doing enough marketing to get the kind of visibility I need. When I wrote erotic romance and had a large readership, I did a lot of advertising. My book cover was on every romantic review site frequented by readers and I did a ton of interviews. When I had a book release, people knew about it. As Heather Elizabeth King, I’ve just recently started to use paid advertising. I tried Bargain Booksy a couple of months back and absolutely LOVED the results I had. My books sales shot up. I’ve also done more Facebook ads. I’ve seen success with some and not so much success with others, so I’m still learning what works and what doesn’t work.
3. I still love being an indie author. Being an indie author is the equivalent to running a small business. As such, there’s so much to learn. I started indie publishing back in late 2014, but 2015 didn’t feel like I was focused on my present career because I spent the majority of the year re-releasing the Stella Rice series. That’s something I did for readers who loved the series, and I don’t regret that decision for a second. But having spent so much time focused on Adrienne Kama, I lost a bit of the steam I’d built up from the two releases I had before I began working on the Stella Rice books. 2016 feels like the first full year I’ve been working as an author entrepreneur selling Heather Elizabeth King books.
4. I need to be more consistent with my blogs and newsletters. Treat it more like a business. I was reading a book about indie publishing today and the author, Shelley Hitz, said something that really stuck out to me. She said that nobody would build a house without blueprint, so why would you strike out as an author entrepreneur without a solid plan. I’m paraphrasing. And I’ll add, and if you have a plan and need to re-calibrate, don’t be afraid to make the necessary changes. It’s all part of the process.