Indie Author Problems

One of the activities during a class that I’m taking involved learning how to listen to people, such as not interrupting, not being on your phone while the person is speaking, and paraphrasing what the person said. The activity involved someone from the class sharing a problem or question they have while the others listened. Lucky me got “volunteered” to be the speaker.

The problem I mentioned was trying to get people to buy my books. 

People have no problem buying them when they are free, but they are unwilling to pay even $0.99 for one.

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Also, since everyone can publish through blogs or self-publishing there is a lot of noise for you to get through. You have to struggle your way through the thousands of search results and get to the top. There is the added problem of keywords or hashtags. If you choose something that is trending, you know people are searching for it, but you are just one of millions of search results. If you get something unique, you are at the top but no one is searching.

Covers are another issue. Anymore it seems like they all look alike or similar (probably because we use stock images), so it makes it hard to say, “Oh, that looks interesting or unique.” How can you stand out when you look exactly the same?

Most of the time it seems like the cover has little to nothing to do with the story. For instance, it shows an attractive male or female on the cover making some sexy or attention-getting pose. You then check out the book description and there is no mention of a male or female, depending on the cover (i.e. there’s a sexy woman on the cover but the main character isn’t even human).

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The other issue with covers is that there seems to be all this excitement-noise. The cover is filled with loud colors or filled with lots of action going on. You have to make your cover “loud” enough to be eye-catching, and you have to make your title large enough to be read in thumbnail form. But, sometimes, I feel like all that bam-bam,

pew, pow, look-at-me makes me tried before even picking up the book. I feel like I ran a marathon just by looking at the cover.

Trying to do writing, or any creative project, can be frustrating. You have to be like everyone else yet like no one else. You have to be the same enough to be noticed and let the audience feel like your project is safe and familiar; but also, you have to be different so people won’t say, “I’ve seen that before. It’s the same old story.”

There used to be a sense of “you scratch my back…” but many times you’ll end up helping them out through reviews or book purchases and the other person whines about helping you or simply disappears. They are more than happy to listen when it benefits them, but they vanish if they have to return the favor.

One other problem is that some people seem to think that since they are an independent creator, they can do anything they want. They can swear, have gore, or sex in a children’s book because they think they are the boss. They aren’t; the audience is.

I also find it funny when these people end up doing exactly what the big companies have always done. Why re-invent the wheel? There are some things that need or can changed but some things have been around for ages because they work. For instance, it doesn’t matter the era, customers like to be treated with respect and kindness.

Finally, thanks to technology, some know how to cheat the system by using bots or click farms to make it appear as if they’re successful. They can use bots to make their book a “bestseller” when it isn’t or make their social media post trend when no one cares. But, by making it appear like everyone cares, everyone then cares. It is kind of like The Emperor’s New Clothes; everyone said how wonderful the invisible clothes were simply because it made them look important or popular. Everyone wants to feel like they are part of the crowd, even if that crowd never existed.

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And so it is frustrating because a) something that is supposed to be artistic, entertaining, or enlightening because cutthroat and deceptive and b) here you are trying to do it the right way (being moral, using your talents, etc) you can’t compete because others can just tap a button on their phone and have machines do everything for them, which allows them to publish first or in a grander scale. Just like the shoemaker who builds each shoe can’t compete with the mass producing factory or the news media trying to compete with social media.

The most frustrating part of the activity was that I spent time coming up with my presentation and only got through a third because the people in the class kept interrupting me and not listening. Ugh!

Until the next wormhole…thanks for reading!

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