How to Support Indie Authors

Suzi Banks Baum

I’m not sure I’ve heard the phrase “indy authors” frequently,  but I like the sound of it. For me, it calls to mind an author who goes far above and beyond any support that her publisher may (or may not) be offering by way of marketing, publicity, events coordination, and distribution. If you want a more formal definition, I found this explanation to be pretty good. Most readers of The Writing Life know that I hired the fabulous Jessica Glenn of Mindbuck Media for publicity, and the equally astounding Debbie Jayne for book tour (and more). I also promised not to a) go into debt for the book and b) make every penny back within three years.

I made it back within two years–and how much did it all cost? I revealed those numbers here, and three years later I’m honored to report that I am still invited to come speak and read from my book, for an honorarium, across the country. Suffice it to say, all of that made me feel pretty indie and this fall, I’ll be launching an e-course on literary stewardship and marketing. For now, I wanted to share these lovely tips from cross-media artist Suzi Banks Baum, who learned her fair share about indie authorship as editor of printed anthology, Out of the Mouths of Babes. Suzi has an insert that comes along with each copy of the book–I think it’d actually make a great bookmark. The insert thanks readers for their interest and suggests ways they might support indie authors moving forward. A few tips from the insert:

  • Show up and bring friends: Attend book events for authors. Bring friends. The support means a lot. Readings and book events are almost always free. They benefit the author, the bookstore, library, or house that’s hosting, and can actually be a fun way to spend an hour or so.
  • Recommend the book to your library: Libraries are wonderful places to spread the word about a new author. Often, libraries are looking for books to go with themed events. Suggest a theme, a community discussion, or other local or holiday tie-in that might inspire libraries to put the book on display for a while.
  • Offer endorsements or reviews: Write an honest, brief, positive review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online retailers. This is how a book grows legs. A positive review or endorsement is more valuable to the author than a single sale because it makes the book visible. Even a sentence or two is a giant help. Tip: Don’t refer to the author by her first name in the review (it can sound like you’re posting as her Mom or Dad!).

If you’re drawn to Suzi’s approach–informative, natural, not pushy, wise, extraordinarily helpful–she’s not only like that on paper and in person, but also as a teacher. She has an online class that starts at the end of April and if the 7th revision of my novel is done by then, I’m signing up. Here’s her course info. 

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