The control and freedom indie authors have can be a big asset when it comes to marketing. The problem is time. Shouldering the weight of writing, editing, researching, publishing, marketing, and promoting alone can be exhausting, especially knowing our industry is growing more crowded and competitive by the day.
There’s a silver lining here, though: Indies are business people (let’s face it, you have to be to make it in our world) who know the value of collaboration. After all, working together means spreading out the marketing load, sharing audiences, and leveraging everyone’s platform and connections.
Finding other authors to collaborate with might take some time, but it’s worth it. Look for authors who 1) write books very similar to your own 2) have a good work ethic 3) believe in give and take, and 4) have a platform and the trust of their readers (influence).
Built your crew? Awesome! Here’s six ways to collaborate.
Swap Valuable Links
Once you have gathered six or so writers who write high quality books similar to what you produce, create a What to Read Next page at the end of your ebook and then list & link each member’s book. This way you suggest a book of theirs to your audience, and they do the same for you. It’s instant exposure with new audiences who may not yet be aware you and your books. Everybody wins.
Brainstorm & Be A Champion
Once a month, meet online (a Google hangout, a skype, etc.) and take turns running a brainstorming session that focuses on one of the team members and their book(s). Discuss how collectively you can use the next month to help raise awareness for that book, increase the author’s platform, plan marketing strategies, etc. It’s often easier to come up with ideas and a plan when it isn’t your book. Take turns sharing content and running visibility events to spread the word (without spamming of course) as part of a marketing surge. Repeat with the next member, and then the next, continuing throughout the year.
Create Team Book Pages
Have each crew member create a page on their website called “Books To Read Next.” Similar to the ebook links, you can use this to profile each team member’s books, showing off the cover, a short blurb and a link to Amazon (and make sure it’s an affiliate link, so you earn something from each sale). If you each have this page on your blog or website, you will expose each other’s book to different audiences. You can also tweet these pages, share them on social media as “reading suggestions” with genre appropriate hashtags if needed, and even add the pages to appropriate Pinterest boards. Together, you will find new readers.
Spread Library Love For Print Books
Write down the ISBN of each member’s book and go to your local library (or visit their website) and ask them to order the books. They may or may not, but either way you gave it a shot. Again, it’s uncomfortable sometimes for an author to ask for their own book to be brought in, and so much easier to ask for someone else’s book. If the members of your team have more than one book, you can do this a few times throughout the year to spread requests out. However (and this is important), if the library does bring the book in, make sure to check it out to read and encourage others to as well. Libraries need to see there’s an audience waiting for that book!
Time is always in short supply when you’re an indie, so each month during your meeting, pick an area of marketing to look into. It could be advertising, books awards, Bookbub promotions, finding review sites, or understanding price pulsing. Discuss what you know and ask questions to see what others have experienced. If there’s a subject you all want to delve deeper into, divide and conquer. For example, maybe you want to focus on “audience discovery.” One of you can poke around Wattpad and bring back your findings, another can investigate the Figment community (if you are all YA authors) to see how engaged members are to see if it’s a reading community worth joining. Another can check into the conversations and groups at Goodreads. Assign each member a site to look into and share the load of research. Communicate by email to report what you find.
Host a Group Event
Try a collaborative event and work together to draw people in. Remember, the goal doesn’t have to be “buy my book,” simply to gain visibility and stand out. Yes, you can host a Facebook party, or put together a box set and promote it, but don’t be afraid to think outside the box, too. What would be fun, entertaining, and different? Things that are imaginative and either meaningful or hit the funny bone tend to get shared. That’s what you’re after–think big and try to go viral. You could host some sort of “Author Challenge” where as authors you compete against one another in a way that encourages readers to participate (voting, watching videos, sharing, commenting with feedback, etc.). Do it for fun, to raise money for a cause, or just some old school rivalry, but make it fun to watch and participate in.
You could also host a private virtual party with fans. In fact, for a modest fee, it is possible to rent a virtual room at Tech Surgeons and host your own event, allowing you to interact with your readers. Run a giveaway for seats to the party on all your blogs, building excitement. Then, collectively put on an amazing event for the winners. This is an opportunity to get together with fans in real time, using audio, chat, and webcams. You could have prize giveaways, answer insider questions about your books, or pit authors against one another in a crazy and fun contest. Consider a theme tailored to your audience to encourage participation.
FACT: Indies can do so much when they pull together!
It’s common to collaborate for special holidays, but day-to-day activities and support is just as important. Building your own Indie Crew will give you access to a marketing resource all year, improving your reach and visibility.
Do you have a Indie Crew? How do you collaborate? Let us know in the comments!
Psst! Need help with marketing?
Check out our Tools For Writers page.
There’s a ton of handouts and links to explore, including a live marketing webinar and Swipe File of all my marketing materials from our last book launch.
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Francine Beaton says
Maybe a long time after you published this article, but this is great advice. We are a group of indie authors from Southern Africa, mostly in the romance genre, that are having our first brainstorming session on 30 March. This will definitely form part of our discussion.
BECCA PUGLISI says
Congrats on finding a local “tribe” and getting a group together! The time and effort are going to pay off in so many ways 🙂
Angela, thank you so much for the article and advices! I really had never thought about gathering together with other indies, but now you gave me great idea! I love nowadays opportunity by just googling the topic & following discussions to get new direction for your book promotion. Isn’t that great? Couple of months ago in another indie authors forum I found this ESP called Mailer lite, they are not so branded, but offers great service at low prices ( you can check it upon this link: https://www.mailerlite.com/authors, but up to 1’000 subscr it was forever free plan). Taking into account all recent takeaways, I can create offline event & promote it online by newsletter or invitation to all me e-mail list! can’t wait to try it out! Thanks again!
Ichabod Temperance says
I was directed to this article by some fellow steampunk authors and we are taking you up on this splendid advice!
Thank you, Angela!
Cheers, and happy authoring everybody!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
That is awesome! I am so glad to hear it. Keep me in the loop and let me know how it goes–good luck!
Anne Marie Hilse says
I love the collaborative ideas!!
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
SE White says
Super good article! I love the “what to read next” feature at the end of my books, I use it all the time. It’s a great idea to use that to promote your group.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
It is–Becca and I do this in all our books, and we make sure the authors we include know we are doing this, Many return the favor in their books. It works great! 🙂
Mary Van Everbroeck says
Great suggestions! I’m looking forward to the day that I have a finished product so that I can begin this collaborative process. For me and I suspect for all people the most challenging aspect is choosing partners wisely while remembering that for newbies there is a learning curve so we need to relax a bit. Hope that you are having a great day.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says
Glad you liked this Mary! The good news is you can start building relationships now, figuring out who might be a good fit for you. Start building them up now and when you’re ready to publish, you’ll have some help launching. 🙂
Super article. Marketing does take a ton of time-and it would be more fun sharing ideas.
ANGELA ACKERMAN says