by K.S. Brooks and Stephen Hise
We indie authors need all the help we can get to spread the word about our writing. We don’t have an army of agents and publicists at our disposal. We don’t have a big publishing house pushing our books onto the front shelves of every remaining brick and mortar store in the world.
Still, we don’t have to bear the burden alone – we have each other. We use social media to build networks and connections. We learn from each other and we teach each other. We help each other.
I established Indies Unlimited for the express purpose of helping indie authors. We provide a number of different types of features that can showcase you and your writing (e.g., interviews, guest posts, sneak-peeks, video book trailers, etc.). We also get a ton of page views here, and that number is trending consistently upward. The exposure you get here can be very beneficial to you.
You want help and Indies Unlimited wants to help you. This should be easy. Some people make it difficult. Below are some things that will facilitate that process – and keep us from wanting to kill you.
1. Familiarize yourself with the blog
It just makes sense to know something about the blog on which you and your work will be featured. Indies Unlimited has a certain je ne sais quoi, a sort of edginess and an element of snark that is not evident on all sites. Knowing this in advance may be helpful if you’re writing a guest post and want to inject just a little bit of humor, if that is your style. Otherwise, play to your strengths.
There are also certain genres of writing we do not feature here. If you have a question about that, you can ask—or you can just look up at the masthead thingy and see the stuff we cover. Do you see erotica up there? No? Then we don’t have it. I have no problem with erotica as a fully legitimate form of writing. There are many other venues for it though. Same with business writing.
2. Read and follow submission guidelines
How would you feel if someone supposedly “read” your guidelines, which are clearly posted, and despite that emailed you saying “how can I participate?” Agents and publishers use guidelines as a way to evaluate if a potential client will be difficult. It’s a good standard operating procedure to do due diligence and show you respect the platform by caring enough to read and follow those guidelines. Ours are here. Learn them, know them, love them.
3. Submit a clean product
Bloggers are not here to edit your writing to sparkly goodness. You are showcasing yourself and your writing here. If a piece needs a couple of minor edits, we have to send it back for approval – which delays the post. If the piece needs a major overhaul – well, bloggers have the right to reject it. We may go back and forth with you once or twice if a piece has some promise, but we have other things to do and other people waiting in line. You don’t want to hold up the whole line do you? Don’t be that guy.
4. Provide what’s requested as requested
We’re in the business of helping writers. We WANT your submission (within reason). We also know what we need to do the job we do—we put it right in the submission guidelines.
One time, an “interviewee” sent in an interview in one email (not as a word attachment), their head/shoulders shot in another (and a 5mb version at that), book cover art in yet another email, and forgot her links, so we had to contact her yet again. How many emails does that make? Dammit Jim, I’m a writer not a mathematician.
Sure, we’ll take your links – we want to help people find you – that’s the whole point. So it doesn’t really do any good giving us a broken, mistyped or otherwise wrong link. It’s a wise general practice to copy and paste your link when sending it to someone anyway, and it’s a good opportunity to make sure your sites are up and running. If we don’t have a working link for you, people will have to find you or your book by using their amazing telepathic powers. How do you think that will work out for you?
For certain features, we request head shot photos of the individual featured. Some people are a little camera shy. We get that, and we may even be willing to work around that from time-to-time. However, while we are sure you love your family, had a great time at the mafia wedding, and were real proud of that deer you shot, we really only want a head shot photo of YOU.
5. Respect our caseload
We’re all in this together, really. We want to help everyone we can, but we have a backlog of writers who are working with us: people who read and followed the submissions guidelines. We understand that you may have found yourself in a position where you have a book-signing scheduled two hours from now and really need that information posted right away. That’s probably not going to work for us. For that sort of thing, you probably need something more along the lines of “Action News 6.” Just sayin’.
6. Be courteous and respectful of our time
There’s no need to hard sell to get a submission. So please spare us the 2 page long dissertation explaining how awesome you are and trying to talk us into giving you a spot. We assume you are awesome. We’re more concerned with the quality of what you’re providing, and presenting it in a way that will do you the most good. If we’re spending our energies reading a bunch of stuff unrelated to getting the job done, well, that kind of thing just makes us grouchy.
7. If you don’t know, ask
The old adage goes something like “there’s no such thing as a stupid question, only a stupid mistake.” It’s true. If you’re confused, send us an email. Let us know what your question is. Our helpful and courteous staff of blogging professionals is here to help. So ask, but for god’s sake, don’t try to guess—you’ll never guess.
8. Your job doesn’t end when the post is published
Once you are notified your feature has been posted, be a good citizen and spread the word and the link to your friends and fans. This is a great time to use your social networking skills. Encourage people to leave comments. Do your part to generate a little buzz.
Check back here to respond to comments, even if it is just to thank someone who took the time to leave a comment. If someone asks you a question, answer it. See, the big deal about indie authors is our accessibility. Do your part to live up to that reputation.
Most of this stuff is just common sense. Remember that we are on your side. Try to be on our side too. If we work together, we will all be better for it.