13 Tips for Indie Ebook Success in Fiction

Today  Martha Jewett & Evan Marshall are my guest bloggers who will share their expertise in Indie publishing (self-publishing). They will provide expert tips on preparing a manuscript for Indie publication. Learn more about them at the end of the article.

If you’re a thorough and ambitious would-be indie ebook fiction author, you’re drowning in a sea of advice. From our perspective of working with both traditionally published and indie-published authors (sometimes an author is both), we see what really works and what doesn’t. Here are our 13 best no-nonsense tips for getting your e-book published successfully.

  1. Write the kind of book you love, the kind you most enjoy reading, but if at all possible, try to fit it into one of the most popular e-book categories: thriller, mystery, romance, young adult. If necessary, rethink your story so that you can legitimately package and market it in one of these genres.
  2. Keep the books coming. Write shorter books in order to publish more books, more often. Rather than giving us one 100,000-word novel, give us two 55,000-word novels.
  3. Before you publish your first novel, have several written so that you can publish them in rapid succession. Even a week apart is not too fast.
  4. Once these first books have been published, it’s OK to slow down, but not too much. A book a month is great.
  5. Write a series and keep it open-ended. In mystery, it’s your continuing sleuth. In romance, it’s the Johnson brothers, or the Mackenzie sisters, or the daughters of Full Moon Ranch, and so on.
  6. Invest in professional editing, copy editing, cover design, and interior formatting. If you want readers (and the major publishers who are watching the indie lists like hawks) to take you seriously, make your books indistinguishable from books out of New York City.
  7. Blog. Write about your writing process, the book you’re currently working on, interesting side information from your research that you can’t use in a novel, decisions you’re making about your plots, and so on. It’s more important to blog regularly and consistently than frequently. If you have a separate website, link it to the blog and vice versa, and keep the look similar if possible.
  8. By all means take advantage of the social media biggies—Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.—but think of them as spokes on the hub that is your blog and/or website. Always bring people back to your blog/website, where they will find the most comprehensive information about you, your books, what you’re working on and, of course, calls to action (BUY!) and purchase links. Remember, your own blog and/or website is the only place that is completely under your control and only about you. It’s the heart of your platform.
  9. Make sure your blog or website has a prominent email sign-up form. Use the email addresses you collect to send a regular newsletter in which you talk not only about your newly published works but also what you’re currently working on. Ask for opinions, feedback, suggestions on your story. Let your readers become part of your process. Raffle off free copies of your books. Ask your readers to forward your newsletter to anyone they know who might be interested.
  10. Write short novellas to fill gaps between novels and keep your readers on the hook. Tie these novellas cleverly to your novels—spinoff characters, stories alluded to in the novels, prequels . . . the possibilities are endless and it’s a lot of fun.
  11. For maximum discoverability, use one of the major publishing platforms: Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, Barnes & Noble’s PubIt!, Kobo, Apple’s iBookstore, Smashwords.
  12. Price smart. Give the novellas away for free (think of them as ads or premiums), but price your full-length works at $2.99 or more. If you do you’ll get a 70% royalty on Amazon (versus 35% if you price lower), and PubIt! has a similar structure.
  13. Try to get your books into ebook bargain newsletters and websites such as BookBub and E-Readers News Today. Here is a link to an excellent article that gives a rundown of the best of these.

To our minds, these are the indie-pub biggies. We hope they bring you success.

About the guest bloggers:

Marshall Plan Software2


Evan Marshall is an expert on fiction writing and author of the Hidden Manhattan and Jane Stuart and Winky mystery series. A former book editor, for 30 years he has been a leading literary agent specializing in fiction. The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software, which he co-authored with Martha Jewett, is an adaptation of his bestselling The Marshall Plan® series. Read his articles at themarshallplan.net.

Martha Jewett is a memoir advocate, editorial expert with an outstanding track record in book publishing, and co-creator of The Marshall Plan® series, a structured approach to writing fiction and nonfiction which helps writers get great results fast. She is co-author with Evan Marshall of The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software. Martha worked as a business book editor at major New York publishers including John Wiley & Sons, McGraw-Hill, and Harper. She collaborated with authors to reach the widest possible audience—as developmental editor, acquisitions editor, editorial consultant, ghost writer, and independent literary agent. She was awarded The McGraw-Hill Corporate Award for Editorial Excellence. She blogs about memoir writing at writeyourmemoir.com.

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    Thank you so much for the great tips!

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