Traditionally published authors can rely on a team of professionals who will ensure that the final document is polished and ready to reach its target audience.
Indie authors do not have that luxury. They have to do everything themselves, which is not an easy task, because none of us are professional writers, editors, designers or advertisers rolled up into one. Yet, self-published authors who take the time to build a team they can rely on, can have much higher chances of success, than those who don't. Basically, the indie author should create a mini-publishing team that will contribute to a top-notch product.
So, who are the team members of the next self-published best-seller?
1. The Author
Well, yes, the author is where everything begins, right? No author, no book! Have you been mulling over a story for years, waiting for the right opportunity to put it on paper (or computer, more likely)? This is an excellent time to get it done thanks to web platforms such as Amazon, that make it possible for anyone to become an author, and everyone to become a reader. Nowadays, you have no excuse not to become a writer. Procrastination, lack of time or fear of failure are personal barriers that can be eliminated if you put your mind to it.
2. The Editor
Unless you are an editor yourself, don't assume you know how to dot all your i's and cross all your t's. Finding a pair of fresh eyes to wipe out your typos (because you don't make spelling mistakes, obviously), eliminate tiresome repetitions, obliterate unnecessary spacings, balance your story or realign POV's (ie. your character's point of view) is fundamental to your success. You will have to invest a good chunk of money into this team member.
3. Book cover designer
Aside from the editor, the person who will design your book cover is the other team member who will deserve a big paycheque. Don’t kid yourself: a book IS judged by its cover. It is the portal to your success, so make sure you find the right designer to fit your genre. Trust the result, which may not be what you had in mind. Perhaps you imagined a cover full of pretty fairies and cute unicorns, only to end up with fighter girls and muscled torsos instead. The point is, you must invite readers to open your book, and the cover designer will know how to do that.
4. Social Media
Consider your author name (be it your real or pen name) as if it were a company or brand name. Consider your book title as your product. If your author name was “Starbucks”, you'd want readers to consider it a respectable brand, whereas everyone should have your awesome book title “Caffé Latté” on their lips. So make sure you have a website and an email, as well as a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account with your name splashed all over it. This is where readers can find, read up on, or contact you, and where you can communicate with them about upcoming releases.
5. Sales platform
You need a store where you can display and sell your product. There are many online platforms where you can do that, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing only being one of them. Also consider CreateSpace, iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Smashwords, etc. Fortunately, you can register for free on most of these websites, though your task will be to check how much royalty will be taken off each book sale.
Well done! You are now the proud author of a published book. You made your novel available on one or more of the above-mentioned platforms (cheers, clapping and flowing Champagne). You now await your first sale with great anticipation. But then, nothing happens - you don’t sell a single copy (balloon pop). The reason is pretty simple: aside from your hairdresser, the rest of the world has no idea that you made a wonderful book available to them. For now, your story is a just needle in a haystack, and nobody even knows there IS a needle. You’ll have to shout out your book and find your readers. Fortunately, there are tons of specialized websites that will do just that: they will bring the right authors and readers together. Facebook Ads is one of them. Booksends, Instafreebie, Bookraid, Read Cheaply are some other examples.
If you intend to write more books, make sure you find a place to gather your fans. They’ll want to know all about your upcoming releases, and you’ll want to communicate that information to them. MailChimp is a good way to gather emails. Remember to pamper your fans, as they will be returning customers. They may even be able to help you with beta-reading and reviews.
Once you have put together your team, everyone will come out as a winner. It is in the best interest of each member to see you succeed, as the process can then be repeated. And you, the author, can now concentrate on writing your stories, knowing that others have your back.