3 Key Points about Indie Success (2014 RWA Nationals) - Jo-Ann Carson

3 Key Points about Indie Success (2014 RWA Nationals)

Indie Success with no Publishing History (tape 19-088)

presented by Melody Anne, Kathleen Brooks and Lillian Hart

One – Your Newsletter Mailing List is your number one marketing tool

  • promote you mailing list sign-up form on every page of your website
  • your mailing list is a core list of your fans, and having a direct link to them to tell them about your next publication is really important
  • keep your newsletters interesting and informative – you don’t want to spam people
  • some send out newsletters monthly, others only when there is a new release – do what works for you
  • suggested three subsections: 1) new release or a sale 2) personal note 3) upcoming work and pre-order information
  • you can pull a street team from this list
  • some people run contests to build their list, but you don’t really want to fill it with people who only sign up for the contest – you can let it grow organically

Two – Treat your writing as a business

  • line your writing ducks up in a row (my words) – be prepared – know what you need to do and what you’re going to do next
  • set goals
  • build trust with your fans – if you say you’re going to launch a new book every six months – do it

Three – You don’t need to pay for PR

  • THE best promo is your next book
  • write, write, write
  • the presenters didn’t pay for very much of their promotion
  • they strongly suggests putting out several books at once and adding to your list at regular intervals
  • build your audience


The audience buzzed with excitement as these ladies spoke. I buzzed right along with them. They made their success sound attainable.

I keep hearing the same phrase: “It’s a marathon.” Not a sprint. Time to get writing. Have a great week.


I love reading your comments, so if you have time, please, add to the conversation.


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9 Replies to “3 Key Points about Indie Success (2014 RWA Nationals)”

  1. All great points. However, most indie authors I know are always paying something for promotion. The women at the panel (who are at the top of their game) pay a lot for marketing. Book Bub and other sites are very pricey and a lot of mid-list authors and above pay for that exposure for their work.

    Another fact that emerged for me after listening to many authors at the San Antonio conference, is that top authors have staff. For example, a family member is enlisted to focus on marketing, or various assistants are hired, who have their role in supporting the author.

    The environment changes when you’re ‘at the top’ and wanting to stay there. I think we would be amazed if we knew of all the professionals who are paid in order that the highly-successful author can focus on ‘writing’.

    1. Hi Jodie
      Thanks for stopping by. You raise a very important point about money and one that I need to keep in mind. Thank you.
      I love the idea of support staff. Wouldn’t that be wonderful! I think I’d start with someone to vacuum my house on a regular basis, then move on to marketing.
      So many things to learn.
      I really appreciate your savvy addition to the conversation.
      Best Wishes on this Labor Day

  2. Jo-Ann, you may have been teasing about the house cleaner, but I’ve heard that from others who’ve “made it.” The money they paid to get the house cleaned, allowed them to write that next book, you’re talking about. I encourage you to give that some thought. Even if only every other week.
    Now, I have a confession to make. I really don’t like newsletters. (Oh, I’ve signed up for yours, and one or two close friends.) I don’t have the time or the inclination to write them. I can. I know how. I’ve had years of doing them for schools and PTAs. Am I the only person in the world who doesn’t like newsletters? I’ve FBed and Tweeted, Jo-Ann. 🙂

    1. Hi Marsha
      I wasn’t kidding about a house cleaner. Throughout my whole teaching career I dreamed of having one, but I always found something else to spend my disposable income on. Maybe I should decide at what point I get to have one. It would be so wonderful.
      I don’t think there’s only one path up this mountain. You write great a great blog that is well followed by your core readers. I don’t think you need to write a newsletter, especially if you don’t want to. You put your book news out there and that’s what’s important.
      Who likes newsletters? I don’t gobble them up, but I follow a few. I love Louise Penny’s because her writing style is so warm you feel like you’re in her fictional town of Three Pines in rural Quebec, sitting by a wood fire in a rock two hundred year old rock fireplace, sunk deep into a cozy chair sipping a perfect cup of latte chatting about life. Talk about a classy voice!
      Nice chatting.
      I gotta get back to work.
      Hugs and happy writing

    1. Hi Kathryn Jane
      I’m using Mail chimp. It’s free and they hold your hand through the entire process.
      I couldn’t “embed” the signup form in my blog the way I wanted to, because I don’t have the technical expertise (and I suspect if I upgraded and paid for my WordPress blog it might be an easy fix). I wasted a few hours trying and decided to go with having it in places I could easily place it.
      While my newsletter sign-up form may not be as front and center as some people’s, it is easy to find for those who want to.
      I don’t know if that helps your heel problem, but that’s my experience.
      Best Wishes

  3. Just back from work and all your points are good ones, but there’s only one of me, so the top priority is the writing, then a blog and and a newsletter at some point.

    As a reader what concerns me most is the writing. I really don’t care whether the writer has a newsletter, although I will say that Susan Mallory does a great job of hers. It’s noticeable that many people seem to work for her though. That seemed to be a theme at Thrillerfest too. Writers are increasingly a brand and there may be many people working on brand ‘Jo-Ann’ or ‘Pat’.

    We live in interesting times.

    Take care

    Pat Amsden

  4. Hi Jo-Ann, I’ve put off starting a newsletter, but you have inspired me to reconsider. I’ve signed up for your newsletter and look forward to reading it. I’ll also take another look at Mail Chimp. Joanne 🙂

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