Blake Auden shares his five tips to make it as an indie author

Love to make it as an indie author? Popular poet Blake Auden shares his five top tips.

Building a career as an independent author has never been easy, but with the growth of self-publishing platforms and the ubiquity of social media, making a career from your writing is more feasible than ever before.

That said, if you’re new to writing, how do you know where to start? To help you, the popular poet Blake Auden is sharing his advice with us.

Blake has built a substantial following on Instagram, where he has over 115,000 followers. His debut poetry collection Tell the Birds She’s Gone has sold out three print runs, and his new book, Beekeeper, is released on 8 September. 

Here are his give top tips for success as an indie author.

1) Build an audience with social media

Traditionally, building an audience without the help of conventional publishers and mainstream media was all but impossible. But the Internet has brought with it a raft of platforms, distribution channels and digital media that make audience building a very real prospect for indie authors, and none more so than social media. 

Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are all viable platforms for authors to reach huge numbers of people on a daily basis, allowing them to start to build their own audience via these substantial networks.

In my own case, Instagram has been invaluable for getting my poetry into the world, so much so that the vast majority of the sales I make are via my Insta profile. 

It’s worth spending some time researching the best platform for your niche, and your target audience. For example, if you write non-fiction in the business niche, LinkedIn might be a good option.

Whichever platform you choose, be sure to publish regularly and engage with your audience as much as possible. This means replying to comments and messages, reaching out to contemporaries and liking, sharing and commenting on other people’s content. 

2) Have a mailing list

It’s important to try to move your audience from external platforms to your own website, or to one that you have full control of. If you can encourage your audience to sign up to your mailing list, then you can reach out to your audience, or to segments of it, when you want to inform them of a sale, new release or event. 

Generally, people will need an incentive to encourage people to sign up to your mailing list. A free digital product is usually the best way to achieve this – you could give away a free chapter of a new book, a novella, a chapbook or even a full PDF of an older release. 

3) Use external proof-readers and editors

I would strongly recommend using external, professional editors and proof-readers for every book you want to release. As tempting as it might be, you really shouldn’t be doing these things yourself. 

Of course, this will involve some level of investment. If you’re on a tight budget, try and find a friend or relative with a strong grasp of English to proofread the book for you.

You might also consider using advance readers from your fanbase. Give them a free, PDF copy of the book and ask for detailed feedback in return. Not only will this ensure any spelling or grammar mistakes get picked up before the full release, but they might pick up on any words you subconsciously repeat, discrepancies in your story, factual inaccuracies or technical issues. 

4) Have a strategy

I would absolutely recommend authors have a strategy in place; both for individual releases and for their career as a whole. For single books, it’s important that you have a detailed strategy for every stage of a book release, from pre-promotion and audience building, to writing and editing, through to sales, distribution, marketing and promotion.

In most cases, the success of your release will hinge on how effective your marketing and promotion strategy is, but despite this, it’s often overlooked by authors. 

When it comes to your career as a whole, think about where you want to be in a one, five, or ten years’ time. Do you want to write a series of novels, move into other territories, or work with a traditional publisher?

Decide where you want to be and think about the steps you need to take to get there. Of course, it won’t necessarily be that easy, but having some kind of plan and strategy in place will make achieving your ambitions much more likely. 

5) Reinvest

Being an indie author is, essentially, the same thing as being an entrepreneur. As such, I think it’s a good idea to think of your writing career as a small business, and to treat it accordingly. Every month, I keep a record of the turnover, expenditure and profit from my books, and then I look for ways to reinvest this profit to grow my career and profile. 

Whether it’s hiring a professional editor, using a literary consultant, hiring a cover designer or taking on a PR agency, there are a wide variety of ways you can invest to help grow your business. I would strongly recommend reinvesting any money you bring in from book sales, wherever possible. 

Blake Auden is a poet and writer based in Brighton, UK. His books are available via his website, and you can follow him on Instagram.