I thought I’d share some links and communities for indie authors looking for resources as I know it can be difficult to even know where to start. Starting off without a reader base makes getting one challenging, but there are ways to showcase your works from the start!*
*I have not used all of these websites personally, as some of these have been recommended to me, so do let me know if anything needs amending!
I try to update this page pretty regularly. Most recently updated March 2023.
Firstly, there’s my Indie Book Spotlight Twitter page. I post my indie book reviews there and try to boost other indie authors, poets, artists and bloggers. I’ve also started a general chat on Discord for authors, reviewers and readers interested in indie books. Feel free to join in!
There are a number of freelance editors that work with authors in the indie book community. A recent Twitter thread (as of March 2022) of editors that indie authors recommend is here. Writer and editor A.E. Alexander has also kindly put together a database of SFF book editors.
I have personally worked with a variety of wonderful editors and writers on my books to date: Elizabeth Tanner worked with me on the first two books of The Outlands Pentalogy; Daniela Tarlton-Rees has been my editor for a number of my books, most recently These Violent Nights; Meredith Anderson was my editor for the third-fifth Outlands books; and Kristina Decker and I co-published an anthology back in 2019 (Spellbinding: An Anthology of Magic) that has since been unpublished, however my short story in the collection, The Man and the Crow, is now available as an ebook.
I started out with CreateSpace, which merged with Amazon KDP a while back, thus my current books are all published through Amazon KDP, which includes paperbacks. There’s also an option for hardbacks! I haven’t used it myself yet, but I’ve seen several other indie authors publishing hardbacks and they all look great! So the options are all there.
- Other places to publish your book: IngramSpark, Lulu, Barnes and Nobel Press and D2D. The hardbacks from IngramSpark that I’ve seen have been exceptionally beautiful, too.
- If you need help formatting and designing the interior of your book, I’ve heard good things about Vellum, although I haven’t used it myself yet.
- If you want to convert your Word docx into ebooks, Calibre is very handy for this.
I have used a variety of book cover designers so far and all of them I can wholeheartedly recommend: Rachel Bowdler, RFK Designs, Heather Maddalozzo, Black Jazz Design and BespokeBookCovers.
Rachel Bowdler is kindly offering covers to indie authors on a smaller budget and I cannot say enough good things about her work! She’s so talented and has created many of my own book covers!
A few other places I’ve come across but haven’t tried personally (yet! at least, ha!) are: Truborn Design, Fantasy & Coffee Design, Lance Buckley, Seedling Design Studio, Book Cover Design, Juan Padrón and The Cover Collection.
I am absolutely in awe of all of these places and encourage anyone looking for a cover designer to have a good browse around for the right art to adorn your book!
For those looking to design their own covers, Canva is a very popular website. Here are some articles about using Canva:
- Canva Free Media License Agreement
- Free Book Marketing Tools for Authors: Canva
- Using Canva For Your Cover
- Canva Images And Graphics: How Safe Are They For Authors
If you’re going to design your own cover, here is an excellent Twitter thread on what to keep an eye on.
Indie Story Geek | Goodreads | Readerly | Reedsy | Litsy | LibraryThing | Booksprout | StoryOrigin | ProlificWorks | NetGalley | Bookfunnel | BookBub | The Story Graph | Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) | Writer Beware® via Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. | Footnote | Scribd | AllAuthor | Indie Fantasy Fund
In my personal, subjective experience, Goodreads and Twitter are phenomenally helpful tools for marketing yourself as an author. In addition to having a Goodreads Author Page, if you have a Twitter account and engage with hashtags like #WritingCommunity, #booktwt, #SPFBO, #SPSFC and #BBNYA, you’re going to find thousands of authors, readers and bloggers interested in the indie book world. My Indie Book Spotlight page on Twitter is here, for anyone interested!
Author Lee Hall, who has had great success promoting his books online and via social media, wrote up the wonderfully helpful ‘A Concise List of Book Promotion Sites’. S. Z. Attwell’s also written up a very helpful post about what’s worked for her: On Marketing.
The Pretty Bookshelf takes indie book submissions for promo!
Author Rob J. Hayes writes a great blog for authors that features news on monthly self-published fantasy book releases and other cool indie community info!
Author Zack Argyle and Bookborn created the Indie Fantasy Fund to support self-published fantasy authors.
I’ve also recently been directed towards the Money-Saving Guide for Authors and Writers, which looks very helpful and has lots of tips, advice and links to check out.
Book Blogs, Bloggers and ARCs
WordPress is a great place to start, honestly. So many bloggers have made WordPress their home and many have review policy pages to check out. This is generally located in the menu.
For those looking to offer advance reader copies (ARCs) of their books, there are also master posts of bloggers seeking ARCs at The Indie Reviewers List, The Book Reviewer Directory, The Book Blogger List, 100 Best Blogs for Book Reviews and Shirley’s Book Blogger List.
Further, the Indie Authors & Books community welcomes authors, readers and bloggers to share their books, sites and recommendations. Some other really great Goodreads communities are: For Love of a Book, (Indie) Authors At The Round Table, Advanced Copies for Review & Book Giveaways, Making Connections, Authors & Reviewers, Shut Up & Read, Free Books, .99, Giveaways & Reviews, Bookworm Bitches, Readers That Love Giveaways, Ebook Deals, and Free Books, Paranormal Romance & Urban Fantasy. Be sure to read the rules before posting/submitting. Each community has different requirements. 🙂
There are also places like the self-published/indie authors community on Livejournal where you can post about your book. Voracious Readers Only is another option, where they advertise your book to readers seeking indie options. In my experience, VRO is a truly fantastic resource and I definitely recommend giving it a go. The trial period is free and you get to send ARCs to readers themselves, thereby adding readers to your newsletters!
For those looking on starting a blog or starting a website, these two places have been kindly shared with me: How to Start a Blog in 2021 and How to Make a Successful Website.
- There is also Word Refiner, with proofreading and promotion.
Blog Tours & Promos
Blog tours are another great option to advertise your book to readers! I haven’t used all of these, but some that I know of are: A Novel Take, Let’s Talk! Promotions, Xpresso Book Tours, Be My Book Boyfriend, Rockstar Book Tours, Promotional Book Tours, R&R Book Tours, Storytellers on Tour, The Write Reads, Bewitching Book Tours, TBR and Beyond Tours, Psst Promotions, Turn the Page Tours, The Book Terminal, Blackthorn Book Tours, Random Things Tours, Silver Dagger Book Tours, Prism Book Tours, Caffeine Book Tours and Booktamins.
Book Boyfriend Buzz and Gay Romance Reviews have also been recommended to me!
For those on Kindle Unlimited, one of the most popular ways to get your book noticed is to run an occasional free promo. This helps your book reach a wide audience and gives readers a chance to try your work if you’re unknown to them. Some promos get better results than others, which is important to keep in mind. Author Eve Koguce wrote up a good blog post on the topic here.
Author Lee Hall also published Consistent Creative Content (2021), which has his personal insight into the art of marketing indie books. Rachel Bowdler, both self and traditionally published, also has a thread on what’s worked for her.
On Bad Reviews (and Letting Them Go)
I’m adding this note because, as of 2023, there have been quite a few incidents in the book community that have gone viral and I hate to see this happen to anyone. So! An important thing to remember once you’ve published your book is the rules and expectations that exist between the author and reviewer communities. My number one bit of advice on letting your book out into the wild is to not react to negative reviews or one star ratings (this does not include personal attacks or false information, of course). But if someone simply doesn’t like your book – which will happen, it happens to every author because you cannot please everyone – you can’t change their minds and you’ll only damage your standing as an author if you try. Don’t talk negatively about a book reviewer online and don’t message them to demand a better rating. It’s happened a fair number of times (both with trad authors and with indie authors) and almost always goes viral and it will have a drastic impact on your book. The golden rule once you’ve published your books is to ignore the bad reviews, shake them off and let them go. If you want to discuss critical feedback, do so in a private chat, with your beta readers, etc.
Author S. Z. Attwell, a fellow author, has written up a good thread about this as well.
There are several yearly competitions: There is the wildly popular SPFBO, hosted by best-selling fantasy author Mark Lawrence. Hugh Howey, a big name in the self-publishing community and an international best seller (with a show coming soon!!), is now hosting SPSFC, styled after SPFBO.
In 2021/2022, my debut novel, A Touch of Death, made it into the semi-finals of the first SPSFC competition and placed 8th! It was such a fun experience and I definitely recommend taking part in one of the competitions in the indie community. The semi-finalists even got a badge to put on the front covers of their books, which I was delighted by!
In terms of other popular contests, there is also the fantastic BBNYA. I’ve entered it three years in a row and have always had fun and found so many amazing books in the process. There’s also the North Street Book Prize, the Story Circle’s Women’s Book Awards and the National Indie Excellence Awards. Some of these are free and some have a fee, so be sure to decide which option is right for you!
For those who publish on Wattpad, there’s the Wattys awards.
Creative writing contests are another an option to check out, although I haven’t done one myself.
The Alliance of Independent Authors has an Awards Ratings page.
Magazines and Journals
If you’re looking to write short stories and want to try submitting to a magazine, there are some great magazines calling for submissions and I found a (older) wonderful compilation of links here.
- Indie Bites is a quarterly indie fantasy anthology that accepts submissions from self-published, independent, hybrid and new authors. They are also on Twitter (@Indie_Bites).
- I also found How to Write a Proper Short Story Cover Letter very helpful. There’s Authors Publish Magazine, a magazine for writers.
- A post with links to new/current literary journal (as of March 2022) was made by author Emily Harstone at Authors Publish: ‘Seven Exciting New Literary Journals’.
I haven’t made audiobooks myself as of yet, but have seen several of my fellow indie authors create them and I hope to get audiobooks made for my books soon. For those interested in the audiobook path, Brandon Sanderson wrote up a blog post and discussed the pros and cons of various audiobook sites and the impact on indie authors, which is definitely worth a read!
Getting freelance/indie artists to draw the characters in your novel is not only fun, but helps readers visualise the characters. There are numerous artists showcasing their work on Twitter. I was lucky enough to get Libra Illustrations to draw some of my characters from my book These Violent Nights and am delighted by the final result!
When advertising on social media, having nice graphics can really help. I’m still learning this myself, but some helpful guides I’ve found are here: Book Brush vs Canva and How To Kill It With Book Promo Images on Twitter.
My absolute favourite programme to use is Adobe Spark (now Adobe Express, I believe). I find it really user friendly and it’s easy to use and figure out. DIY Book Covers is also very helpful for getting your covers into good promo format.
More helpful places for promo art:
- How to design 3D book promotion graphics with Google Slides (FREE TEMPLATES!).
- DIY Book Covers
I hope this helps anyone looking for resources! (ɔ◔‿◔)ɔ
If anyone has any lists they think should be added, let me know and I’ll add it to the post.