Five Elements An Indie Author Needs To Be Successful

November 19, 2017 | by Mark Stephen O'Neal

I stared writing books independently over ten years ago, and I wasn’t aware of any road maps leading to the promised land of the bestseller’s list. Everything I learned was through trial and error, and I managed to fall into virtually every pitfall known to man early on. If there was a trend that potentially led to massive exposure and book sales, I always seemed to miss the boat.




Anxious was an adjective that described me best in terms of getting my books published on Amazon before they were ready to be sold to the general public. Republishing my work was a recurring theme because I would repeatedly find typos each time I’d reread my books. I had to learn the hard way that hiring a proofreader to edit my books before publishing them was an absolute necessity. Hiring a professional lends your work credibility and ensures that your product is good enough for the mass market. It also saves you time with republishing a book that’s riddled with errors in it.


Book Cover Illustrator.


The first book cover that I used had a cheesy blue background with bold white letters, and this cover shouted out the work of an amateur. My writing was in a nutshell amateurish, and the book cover was much worse. I thought that essentially the content of a book was far more important than the cosmetic part of it, but the truth is I judged a book by its cover just like everyone else. A professional-looking book cover will garner more sales and is a direct reflection of the author.


Ebook Formatting.


Ebook sales are just as important as paperback book sales. An author should want his or her ebook to also look as professional as possible once it’s uploaded on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Kobo for example. There are freelancers on Fiverr who can format your ebook as well as proofread your manuscript and create a cover for a low price. It’s very simple and cost-effective to piece together a team of freelancers to polish your books.




Many writers may feel that a website isn’t necessary to get their work noticed by readers, but I’ve observed the most prolific writers all have a website where their books can be found. My mantra is to be the best, you have to duplicate what makes the top authors successful. A website gives an author visibility over time and makes it easier for readers to find their books. A website on average only costs $9.95 per month, and there are software tools that can aid an author in creating a website in a matter of hours.


Marketing Plan.


Last, but not least, an author needs an effective marketing plan for the maximum exposure of books. This is by far the most difficult thing to achieve because competition is so fierce. There are literally millions of writers out here, and many authors are stuck with the daunting task of getting their books in the hands of the masses themselves. Everyone seems to flock to social media outlets, and that’s great if you enjoy interacting with people. But if you’re like me, someone who’s reserved and shies away from social media, you’ve better come up with another game plan. I tend to focus more on the SEO of my website where blogging and keyword placement play a key role in drawing traffic to my site. 


My experience has taught me that these five elements are vital to the success of any book or series of books. The goal is to build a brand that will stand the test of time, and longevity and quality are what I strive to achieve as an author/blogger in the wonderful world of self publishing.


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