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What’s The Secret To Indie Success? I Know.

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On all the indie boards I’m on – whether it’s through yahoo loops or FB groups, there’s one similar theme that keeps cropping up time and time again.
How do I become successful?
What do I need to do to get my books noticed?
How can I increase my sales? What did YOU do that I’m NOT doing?
If you’re an indie author – you’ve probably asked these questions. I know I have. I watch the big indie names and I wonder what did they do to sell millions of books in one year alone – from nothing to something? What special skills to they have that I don’t have? What am I doing wrong that they are doing so right?
Sound familiar? I bet it does.
Time and time again you see these questions crop up in threads. Whether they’re trying to figure out why they were rejected from BookBub – again – or how come they’ve followed every step XXX author said to do with a series and they’re sales are rock bottom instead of sky high. I thought we were done with the comparison game, but apparently not.
Did you notice Joe Konrath’s recent blog post?  
We are all looking for that answer on how to get our books noticed, how to be a bestseller, what those “other” authors did to be successful. And we’re all wishing, dreaming, hoping that someone will have the answer. And not just THE answer – but any answer. Because desperate authors wanting to reach their audience will latch on to anything – any little gimmick, any suggestion…they’ll even put aside the plan they have for their series, for their writing and will jump on to the new ‘band wagon’ that’s out there. Or is it a train car that we’re all worried will leave the station without us on board?
If you are wanting an answer, I have on. I do. I believe I know what it will take to make you a success. That one thing that will change the career path you are on, that secret tidbit that will help you find more readers.
Joe said it best in his post…there is not magic formula, no deep and dark mysteries for why one author hit it big and one didn’t. It’s not because one author jumped before you did and thus you’re the one sitting in the dust. It doesn’t matter that you wrote alongside all those big authors oh so long ago and it’s not fair that you never made it big while they did. It’s all about luck.
It’s all about you.
You are not them. You don’t write the same way they do. It doesn’t matter you were both in a critique group together or you both wrote for the same publisher. It doesn’t even matter if you write in the same genre as those you’re comparing yourself to. It doesn’t matter because you are not them. You don’t have the same voice. You don’t have the same stories. You don’t have the same brand or even the same audience.
Bottom line – stop comparing yourself to another writer. Stop waiting for what happened to them happen to you. Because it won’t. It can’t. Your journey is different. Just like your own success will be different.
The secret to finding success? The answer is YOU. Only you can brand the way you do. Only you can write the stories you do. Only you can market the way you do. Only you can reach out to your audience and build a connection the way YOU do.
Are you listening? Do you get it?
You will not be the next Bella Andre or Carly Phillips or Tiffany Reisz. You won’t be because you can’t be. Bella has her own style, her own magic, her own personality and heart that she pours into her stories and readers. Carly Phillips is the only one who can Dare the way she does. Don’t even bother trying to copy her. And Tiffany…well, Tiffany is in a class of her own with her creative genius.
What you can do though…you can watch them. You can listen to them. Take their advice. Follow their lead. Use what they have done and what they are doing and rework it so that its more moulded to you, your writing and your personality.
That’s what I did. I ‘stalked’ my favorite authors…I watched them, I signed up for their newsletters, I checked their websites and their rankings…and I noticed what they did to reach out and be a success. And then I sat back and figured out how do it myself, on my own terms, within the stories that I write.

Would I love to be the next Jodi Picoult or Kristin Hannah or even Debbie Macomber? You betcha I would. That’s my goal…to be as successful as they are, to reach those readers and have them moved by my stories. But I can’t do it the way Jodi does. I can’t write small town series like Debbie does with her heart and passion. So I have to stop comparing myself to them. I have to stop measuring myself to their success because bottom line…I’m not them. I’m me. And I will continue to be a success (based on my own measure of success, not someone else’s) because I will keep doing what I do best. Write MY stories with MY heart and passion and I’ll continue to place MY readers first and foremost.
What’s the secret to my success? It’s me. My luck. My writing. My timing.
What’s your secret? Stop comparing your measure of success to others and really think about it. What’s your secret to reaching the readers you’ve met along the way? What’s your secret for writing the stories you do and having one person, one blogger, one reader read them?
All it takes is one writer, one story and one reader to pave the pathway to your success. So tell me…what’s your secret?


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7 Responses to "What’s The Secret To Indie Success? I Know."

  • Piper Newton
    April 13, 2014 - 9:08 am Reply

    I came to your website looking for this exact advice. I just published my first book and it’s really hard knowing how to move forward, but I’m going to trust my gut, learn from the best in my genre and forge forward! Thanks Steena :) Oh and LOVED the pics from your trip!

    • Steena Holmes
      April 16, 2014 - 5:58 pm Reply

      Piper, congrats on publishing your first book! Trust your gut, get involved in self publish groups and remember, it’s all a journey!

  • Prosper B. Wealth
    March 24, 2014 - 5:39 pm Reply

    I feel alive. There is no other me. I’m taking time to enjoy my journey – and the rate at which my brand grows. The reality is that there is no overnight success.

    LEARN YOUR CRAFT. BRAND YOUR CRAFT. PUBLISH YOUR CRAFT.

    That’s more like my ABC of success on this path.

  • Toby Neal (@tobywneal)
    March 20, 2014 - 1:45 pm Reply

    Dear Steena, I love the energy and passion of this post, the heartfelt conviction behind it. You said it so well, and as someone who watches YOU navigate success, I heartily concur!
    Much aloha
    Toby Neal, author of the Lei Crime Series

  • Dixie Minor
    March 19, 2014 - 5:28 pm Reply

    Thank you so much for this great advice! This really makes sense! I appreciate your words of wisdom very much!

  • Patricia Viviano
    March 19, 2014 - 2:14 pm Reply

    you could not have written that any more beautiful, steena. right to the point, well said, just love the way you write your every thought and dreams and wishes.

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