What happens when you round up a gaggle of talented South African authors and let them loose in a brewery? Laughter (with some snorting), sharing of ideas and a few classic Facebook posts. Oh, they might have sold some books too.
Sunday the 10th September the sprawling grounds that house the Black Horse Brewery in Magaliesburg was home to reprobates of a different kind. The parking lot hugging the Italian-esq architecture of the brewery was overflowing with people hungry to peruse the cream of South African Indie literature whilst simultaneously sipping an ale.
This particular literary-celebration was made possible by the generous team at MindMark publishers. I had the pleasure of chatting with the founder Michael Howard, who impressed with his wealth of knowledge within the publishing space. A big thanks to MindMark for hosting this event, a much-needed salve for those suffering under a blistering sun within the wilderness that is South African self-publishing landscape.
For those who might be new to writing. Indie authors = Independent authors. These are authors who choose to self-publish their material into bookstores without the “assistance” of big-name publishers. Some do this by choice, some from lack of choice. Either way, Indie authors in this country are a tight-knit group who support each other through the thick and thin of publishing into and industry reminiscent of a warzone. The weapons of choice are found on a QWERTY keyboard and the beaches of Normandy have been transformed into the bursting shelves of the Amazon store.
Talented authors and entrepreneurs (the same thing really) gave up their time on the day to host talks aimed at the author-community. Starting with Michael, the founder of MindMark publishers and ending in the safe hands of serial entrepreneur Adam Rabinowitz and Andrew Christie, the brains behind the popular Facebook group Books and Everything.
Whilst the event is my eyes was a success, remember that success should not be judged purely in terms of books sold. The success of these book fairs should be measured by the impact felt by a fledgling indie-publishing sector emerging from underneath a blanket of ignorance.
That said, far too many authors are still not taking their writing seriously enough. Several authors I bumped into at the event were suffering from common author-ailments.
Simple Mistakes Made by Indie Authors
#1 Poor cover choices
Never create the cover yourself. This is a service you absolutely should outsource. (I don’t care that your cousin is a graphic designer.)
Always send out your potential cover options to your friends, followers and family for feedback. This will help you avoid picking something that only you like.
Never ever EVER put your face on the cover. You are not Trevor Noah.
Less busy is better. Do not cram the cover with several images as these just serve to distract the readers.
#2 Single book authors
Yes Dear Author, you are a business. Do you know of any business that would achieve lasting success with a single product? Far too many authors release a single book and wait for the gates of Eldorado to open. You will not retire from a single book. Write. More.
#3 Lack of a digital presence
Your eBooks need to be on Amazon. No excuses. The barrier to entry is the lowest it has ever been. Ignorance is no excuse. The print industry is anchored in vanity. Profit comes from digital sales. Your readers are sitting right now in distant countries, reach them by leveraging Amazon. Or you risk being isolated like Penny Sparrow at her high-school reunion.
#4 Getting mired in social media
Stop chasing likes and shares. These do not lead to sales. Your valuable time is best spent writing. Do not spend a cent on marketing up until you have at least three books ready for the readers. Book YourAuthorWebsite.com and create a professional author email address. All your posts and articles should then be released on this platform rather than relying on Facebook.
Rant over. See you at the next book fair :)
Here are some of the pictures taken from the fair. (For the rest visit our Page on Facebook.)
Know anther event for readers and authors? Let us know so that we can help gift your with free publicity 😊