Top 11 Things You Can Do To Support Your Humble Indie Author

As an independent author (one without a major publisher), I have to assume both the artistic duties of author as well as the business duties of publisher.  Honestly, authoring is hard enough.  But publishing, too?  How am I supposed to compete with the likes of Random House?  Penguin?  Simon & Schuster?  “Breaking in” to this club is a challenging proposition.

Fortunately, Amazon and other e-book platforms have made it at least theoretically possible to self-publish.  But throwing a book up on Amazon on the one hand, and writing a seriously competitive novel that can go heads up against the offerings from major publishing houses on the other – as I wish to do – are two very different things indeed.  Assuming equal author talent (this is an exercise – cut me some slack), the big publishers still have massive editing  and cover-artist budgets plus gigantic marketing budgets that I can only dream of.  When they launch a new book, they really launch it!  What’s more, they essentially own the front rack-space at Barnes & Noble so it’s doubtful that you’ll be seeing my smiling mug front and center there any time soon. So, facing that sort of competition, how does an indie author compete?

Start by writing a great book with compelling characters that people care about.  I’m working on this and while, admittedly, I may not be to the “great” level,  I’m proud of the efforts so far.  I love my characters!  And I believe each novel has been at least technically better than the one before.

Next, operate leaner and meaner than the big boys.  Charge less – give better value, work longer and harder – the same exact formula that’s been used by start-up businesses in America since day one as they’ve sought to bust through the competition. If I charge $2.99 for a 300 page e-book and the name brand author gets $12.99 for a similar 300 page e-book, is their book really four times better?  Sure – sometimes.  Some of those authors are very good and consistently turn out great stories.  But not all of them.  For many of them, it comes down to publisher reputation and bigger marketing budgets.  I think that as an Indie, in most cases I can deliver comparable or better value to my readers.

Finally, connect with the readers in a way that the big guys can’t (or won’t).  Engage with them, answer their questions, address concerns, listen to their input.  Get them involved.  Let their passion help fuel the process.

Which leads to the point of this page:  what you can do to help me continue to write books that entertain you at an affordable price.  In no particular order, here are the top 10 things you can do to support your local indie author:

  1.  Visit the Web Site

You’re already here, so thank you for that.  The website features all the books I’ve written as well as direct access to the blog, information about me, and contact information as well.  Please visit often!

2. Sign Up for the Newsletter

This one’s easy – your inbox won’t get cluttered because I generally don’t send out more than one email per month.  But in it, you’ll get up to date news on specials, awards and appearances, new books, etc.  My hope would be that most of those who sign up for the newsletter are M.D. Grayson fans and would be a least be somewhat receptive to buying a new release.   Here’s a Newsletter signup form:

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3. Like the Facebook Page

Another easy one, and one of the better ways to find out what’s happening on a day-do-day basis.  Not just about books.  Drop in as often as you like.  Here’s a Facebook Like page:

4. Read and Comment on the Blog

I’ve set a new resolution to try and post weekly.   The posts will be, as the page says, “Random musings and occasional profundities.”   (Although I may have to swipe the latter from someone else.)  The blog is available in the “ABOUT MARK” website section or  by clicking here:

5. Buy a Book!

Kind of obvious, I suppose, but I want you to know that I truly appreciate every single person who takes a chance on an M.D. Grayson novel and lays down their money.  I don’t take it for granted.  And, unlike the authors represented by the major publishing houses, I have no 100-year momentum standing behind me.  So that makes every single reader special to me.  Thank you!  To see all the books, visit the “BOOKS” section of the website or just click here:

6. Check Out the Merchandise

You’ll be the hit of the neighborhood barbecue with a super-sharp Logan apron.  Or a tee-shirt, polo, or coffee mug.  To check it out, just click here:

7. Refer M.D. Grayson to a Friend

Your friends will (most likely) appreciate it.  Me, too.

8. Write a Review for Amazon, Goodreads and Others

Independent authors build their reputations one review at a time.  I’m happy to say that after six years and five novels, I now have several thousand reviews on Amazon, the overwhelming majority four or five stars.  This is a huge help when a new reader shows up and says “who’s this M.D. Grayson character.”    Your review is highly valued.

9. Become an M.D. Grayson Beta-Reader

If you’ve read the series and have a good feel for each of the characters, you might consider signing up to become a “beta-reader”.  Beta readers get advance pre-publication copies of the latest novels for early review.  They then complete two very important tasks:  First, they let me know right away if I’ve made any glaring mistakes.  Being familiar with the characters in the novels, they are able to spot any transgressions I may have made in the way Danny or Toni or one of the others speaks, acts, or even thinks  (I don’t always get it exactly right).   Secondly, they write an advance review – perhaps a paragraph or so – that I can post on Amazon and the other platforms to “jumpstart” the review process for new novels.  If you’d like to sign up, click here:

10. Support our ongoing Patreon campaign

If you’re a fan of YouTube, you’ve probably seen Patreon campaigns in action.  Patreon is a company that  helps artists (musicians, film-makers, and more recently – authors) connect with “patrons” who each pledge a small amount of funds on an ongoing, monthly basis.  The collective amount of these funds to an individual artist won’t make the artist rich (usually), but hopefully, they’ll provide enough of a “salary” that the artist can quit their “day job” and focus their time on their craft.  Patreon has been highly effective with many artists.

I’ve decided to take the unusual step (in the publishing world) of starting my own Patreon campaign.  Why?  I found that when I was able to write full-time, I could produce three or four books a year – maybe more.  This jump-started my career. On the other hand, since going back to work, I found that it took more than two years to finish a single novel.  I don’t believe that it’s possible to create a viable indie author career with just a single book every other year.  The modern paradigm seems to be massive numbers of readers, jumping from one inexpensive offering to the next, looking for an author they can connect with – at which time, they then quickly snap up all the author’s offerings.  The key:  write a great book, obviously.  But then, when it gets discovered, have a large back-list at the ready.  In order to build a large, quality back-list, full-time effort is probably required.

Typical Patreon pledge amounts are small – they generally run from $1 per month to $25 or more per month.  Contributors are rewarded with everything from advance copies of ebooks to signed hardbacks to merchandise, depending on the contribution level.  Unlike Kickstarter campaigns, where contributions are higher, but connected to a single project at a time, Patreon pledges are ongoing.   If you’re interested in seeing what’s available and how you can help, click here:

Thank you very much for your support!