Random Inspirations

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5 Ways that Indie Authors Can Act Like Small Business Owners

on January 16, 2014

Since I’ve become a full-time indie author, I’ve attended several networking events, some in publishing and others in general business and marketing. I’ve connected with many entrepreneurs , and I’m continually struck by how similar small-business owners are to indie authors.

There used to be a schism between the business world and the world of literature, at least for authors themselves. Before the advent of self-publishing, there was only one way for novelists to get noticed: by going the traditional agent – publishing house route. Authors didn’t have to be business people, since they had agents and marketing teams to take care of that stuff.

Now, however, it’s exciting to be in a brand-new paradigm. Self-publishing has risen in popularity, and today’s great indie authors have enabled the business to shed its previous inferiority complex. Readers themselves are excited about eBooks; a recent survey showed that the majority of US respondents estimated that over half of the books they’ll purchase in the next three years will be eBooks.

This dramatic switch in the way readers consume books means that we, as indie authors, must find innovative ways to build our readership and connect with readers. And that’s why I believe indie authors are small business owners.

I became a huge fan of small businesses while living in Wicker Park, a trendy community in Chicago that was just brimming with them. The sandwich shop, hot dog stand, florist, spa, bars, and boutiques I frequented were all small businesses. I knew the people who worked there, they were friendly, and I could tell they appreciated my business. They brought a personalized touch into their services; I never felt like I was in a quasi-corporate, big box store type of environment.


So as I build my own business as an indie author, I’ve been incorporating these small business principles into my work, and guess what? I feel successful and fulfilled.

Here are some ways indie authors can act like small business owners:

  1. Connecting with readers and writers on social media – The internet has made the entire world into a small one. I’ve found that Facebook and Twitter are the best media to connect with my audience and colleagues. Facebook author groups have been invaluable in my quest for Amazon reviews, and I’ve built a group of supportive, smart writer friends. And my Facebook author page has been an amazing way to interact with fans!
  2. Giving readers the hookup – Just as small business owners offer freebies and discounts to loyal clients, indie authors should reach out to their loyal readers about their promotions. I’ve interacted with some fans and reviewers on my Facebook page who are interested in my latest books but are unable to download them for whatever reason. And when I read these kinds of messages, I offer to gift the book immediately. It works, and fans become even more loyal! I also offer subscribers to my website extra perks like a free short story or Free Book Fridays.
  3. Encouraging reviews – Small businesses love Yelp reviews; indie authors love Amazon reviews. That’s why it’s important to encourage reviews at the end of your eBooks and even to offer a prize to reviewers. Which brings me to the next point…
  4. Holding a contest – Everyone loves entering contests. That’s why so many small businesses hold periodic raffles and giveaways. Indie authors can do the same, with great payoffs. I recently hosted a contest called the “Buy Winner & Win” contest. Anyone who bought, gifted, or reviewed my book was entered into a drawing for a new Kindle Paperwhite. All they had to do was forward me their receipts. The contest generated more traffic to my blog, and increased my book sales.
  5. Bringing a personalized touch – Successful small businesses get out there in the community, talking to people and doing good. Indie authors can learn from this. I find that one of the most helpful, personalized ways to connect with readers and increase readership is to always be prepared to meet new readers. When I meet moms with teen daughters who like to read, I tell them I write clean YA and hand them pocket-sized bookmark flyers with info on my latest eBook. When I meet teen girls who adore eBooks, I find out what kind they like to read and let them know about which of my eBooks would be a good match for them. Connecting with potential fans on a personal level turns them from potential to actual fans!

Indie authors, do you think of yourselves as small business owners? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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