Indie Insight is a blog series about book marketing and social media for authors.
Author: Chris Wimpress
Bio: Chris Wimpress has been a journalist at BBC News in London for many years, and started writing fiction in 2009. He focuses on speculative fiction novels set in the near future. So far he’s published two novels.
1) If you could travel back in time to chat with your novice-self about how to market a novel, what advice would you give? Novel writing is quite an introverted process—you "go in on yourself” to get the work done. When you are putting it out to market, you have to be an extrovert, which isn’t always where your head is—and a lot of writers are not naturally extroverted, including me. I used to wish and hope that people would just find my books. Surprise! They didn’t. So an important trick is to put on another hat, which might be a different persona, when marketing. It’s going to take a lot of work, and will involve encountering a lot of people who aren’t interested in your book. A thick skin is essential.
2) New writers are often told they need to "build their platform." What does this mean to you, and how do you envision your platform today? For me it’s about being very clear where my novels sit, which is the subgenre of speculative fiction, so a bit niche. So for me success involved making sure all my books were properly titled—all of mine are subtitled a speculative novel or similar on Amazon, and my website’s meta-data includes speculative fiction in the description.
3) Do you have any advice for new authors about how to convince potential readers to sign up for their newsletter? I’ve always been far more into using social media than newsletters, which I find a bit old-fashioned. It’s a lot easier to follow a page on Facebook or Instagram than it is to type in your email address.
4) What's the latest insight you've learned when it comes to book promotion, and how will this impact your next marketing efforts? You can sell quite a lot of copies if you spend time working on your keywords on Amazon Advertising, making sure you’re in the market for hundreds, if not thousands, of keywords. Put yourself in the mind of your would-be reader and ask what would they be searching for? This takes time, and some diligence in making sure you’re bidding competitively on the right keywords. But it will lead to sales. Don’t get into this without first properly watching some good tuition videos on YouTube, or you’ll lose money. 5) If you could change one thing about the publishing world, what would it be? I wish that literary and non-genre fiction did better in the indie publishing world. Small presses are often the solution, but they’re overwhelmed. We need something between small-press and KDP, but nobody’s quite figured it out yet. 6) How important do you think it is for indie and self-publishing authors to pay for editing services? I think this depends on the individual, and is a toss-up between time versus money. I’ve always written for a living as a journalist, so I tend not to make too many literal errors apart from silly typos. You can sometimes substitute a paid editor with a combination of several beta-readers, ideally including someone pernickety who will enjoy spotting your typos. Perhaps fellow writers can help, too. You can find all of these kinds of people in a good writers' group, but it’s a longer, more drawn-out process to get the job done. 7) As a writer, how has your process changed in terms of drafting and revision since you first started out? These days I try really hard to write from beginning, to middle, to end, even if that means getting stuck sometimes. I used to cut corners and think, "Oh, I’ll come back to that," when struggling. But in the long run, those nightmares will still be waiting for you in the second draft, and fixing them might turn your novel into a tottering late-Jenga disaster zone, leading to more plot-holes requiring structural edits further down. It also used to make me feel stupid, and there’s enough self-flagellation going on without adding to it needlessly. I think a decent gap between drafts—ideally a month—is crucial to spotting your own bad work. I’d also try to get some beta-readers to have a look between the drafts—even if it’s only those first few important chapters. If they’re not hooked, something needs to change.
8) Please tell us a bit more about your latest novel or work-in-progress! I’ve got a novel about an intergenerational civil war in 2040s England on submission to traditional publishers through my agent. My last indie novel is Weeks In Naviras.