Look, being an author of gay smutty romance is amazing, and I am so proud of what I’ve already accomplished! The support I’ve received from everyone – from fans to other indie authors to folks whose goal it is to simply promote & support the indie authors & artists community – has been so overwhelming! The only thing I’m seriously struggling with is marketing and promotion – aka getting my gay books in front of new eyes, which is what needs to happen if I ever want to turn writing gay smut into a real career that can actually support me.
According to many articles (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, all found with about 20 min of searching google for how much indie authors make) the average author sells about 100 books. And that’s not monthly or yearly – that’s ever. In their entire career as an author. Average indie authors are reported to make around $5K per year, and something like 20% report not making a profit at all. That data’s from 2013, but there is so much more competition now that I can’t imagine it’s gotten easier to succeed as an indie author.
Here are some ways you can help support me and other indie authors, and they’re all totally free! The graphic above gives a basic idea of what to do to support me and other indie authors, but if you want to read the how and why of each, as well as see a few me-specific ones that will totally help me kill it in the gay smut author world, keep reading!
So one of the things I’ve learned from being an indie author is that having a mailing list is huge! Seriously, every guide I’ve read recommends 2 things for indie authors who are looking to spread the word about their books – start a mailing list and make social media accounts. My mailing list is small but growing every week, and I get super excited every time I see a new email added to the list! If you haven’t joined yet, please click here to sign up now!
My mailing list is free, of course, and I send it out once per week on Wednesdays. In it, I share a bit about myself, any news on my current writing projects, special sales, early cover reveals, bonus content, and so much more! I’m planning to do some fun contests and giveaways when I get closer to 100 subscribers, so why not sign up now? You can unsubscribe at any time!
And when you get an email from an indie author, simply hitting the reply button tells gmail that it’s not spam and their future emails will be less likely to be sent to your junk folder. But what most people don’t know is that gmail tracks stuff like that and applies it to other people’s inboxes too! That means that if you hit reply, everyone else on my list has a higher chance of not losing my email to the spam filter!
You can even forward indie author newsletters to someone who you think might enjoy it. Sure, there’s exclusive subscriber-only content on there, but as far as I’m concerned if you’re just sharing it with friends and family I’d totally appreciate it! Just don’t post the exclusive stuff on social media or something.
Click my Group Promo Links Each Month
I join a few group promos every month which require me to advertise a couple links with my mailing list (see above) while they advertise my books. It’s a great way to get my name out there! BUT – they won’t promote me if people don’t click those links. The site tracks how many individual clicks the links get and gives me a ‘score’ which others can see and decide whether or not they want to promo-swap based on my score.
I only ever going to do 1 – 3 of these per month, and I’m going to make sure that they’re always for books or group sales that I think you’ll enjoy. For July, I joined 2 group promos, so if you could click these links, I’d really appreciate it! The links expire each month, so I’ll be sure to try and update this list when I join new promos.
If you clicked the links for my group promos, HUGE thanks! But these are something different – these are feature-swaps, which I’ll be doing with other authors whenever I send out a newsletter to my mailing list. They’ll share one of my books to their list and I’ll share one of theirs with you! Just like the group promos, Bookfunnel tracks how many clicks I send to these urls and gives me a ‘score’ that other indie authors can see. Those authors then decide whether or not they want to work with me based on that score, so please click the links and check them out! Again, I’ll be sure to stick to spicy MM romance so that I know it’s something you’ll actually like, and most are free on Kindle Unlimited! These links never expire, as far as I know, so check them out whenever! Click here to get a list of my book spotlight promo links!
Some of these numbers may be off because I gathered them from other graphics like this, so if you see something off, let me know! But basically, reviews fucking matter to indie authors. Especially ones like me with nasty anxiety and imposter syndrome @_@ I love seeing reviews from my readers! It’s a huge boost to my self esteem just to know that someone read my book and be impacted enough by it to review it.
But more than that, people want to read books that people like. So when you leave a review for one of my books you liked and someone else sees that, they take it to heart. Sure, I can scream about how amazing my indie gay smut is until I’m blue in the face, but when a stranger does it? That’s big! Especially if you go through and like any good reviews or vote them as ‘helpful’! Amazon usually gets rid of reviews from friends or family members, so they can be pretty sure that it’s not just someone doing me a favor. I mean, I don’t do that, mostly because I want my reviews to reflect the honest opinion of people who read my smut – why would I want someone to spend money on a book they didn’t like just because of a bunch of fake reviews saying it was good? But fake reviews were a huge problem for a while on Amazon.
Support Indie Authors on Goodreads
There’s more than just Amazon! Goodreads and Bookbub are also great places to review indie author books to get them out there. Bookbub is a newer one to me, but it looks like you can follow authors, like, review, and even recommend books from indie authors there! Many authors swear by their ads, so I may invest in those at some point and see how they go.
69% (nice) of readers use Goodreads to find their next book. It’s full of great features like the ability to rate and review books, but you can also add friends and see what they’re reading and what they rated books they’ve read. Everyone has a ‘to be read’ or TBR list that friends and followers can see, so adding books to your TBR, rating them, and reviewing them is a great help.
You can follow your favorite authors to get updates about them whenever they post (I try to share big stuff like cover reveals and planned release dates on mine), see all their books in one place, etc. But the big help for Goodreads are lists and groups. If you join groups, some have the ability to add books to group ‘shelves.’ For example, I added my books to the proper shelves in the M/M Romance group I’m in, so now anyone who goes to those shelves will see my books.
But some groups don’t allow authors, and many frown upon authors adding their own books to shelves. It’s actually just not allowed to add your own books to lists, too. That’s where you come in – if there’s a group with shelves or a post asking for recs, rec the books of your favorite indie authors (as long as they fit, of course)! And for lists, there are tons!
Goodreads is partnered with Listopia, so you can see and make listopia lists right on the Goodreads site. And some are hugely popular! Like this one comes up on page 1 of Google if you search “spicy gay romance” – https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/169279.Spicy_Queer_Romance so adding my books to it would be a huge help! And if my books are already on a list, you can ‘vote’ for them so that they appear higher up in the order.
Support Indie Authors on Social Media
There’s a reason most indie authors have a big social media presence – it’s one of the other main places that people go to find new books to read. And when they see an author with a big social media following whose posts have likes and comments, it lends us credibility! So just following our social media accounts and interacting with our posts (liking, commenting, and especially sharing) is huge for indie authors! I’m on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tiktok, and Pinterest (which is kinda like social media, right?) and I have the links to all my profiles available in each of my mailing list emails.
For Facebook, there are tons of groups for every genre of books. Many don’t allow authors to post about their books, but if you see someone asking for book recommendations and one of my books sound like something they’d like, hit reply and let them know! Who knows – they could be my next biggest fan!
And if you want to be an even bigger help, write your own shoutout posts for indie authors and their work! Post a picture of you reading their book, your favorite quote from it, fanart or fanfic you drew or were inspired to make while reading, etc. Tag the indie author you want to support with the post and they’ll probably re-share it too! I know I do!
Lastly, and this one is pretty damn big, if you follow any influencers, suggest that they read/review your favorite book by your favorite indie author. Again, like with reviews, I can message every influencer on the planet, but of course I think my book is good. When it comes from someone who isn’t me, though, they are more likely to take the suggestion seriously. And ok, I lied, I can’t message every influencer on the planet. I don’t know them all, and I don’t have the time if I want to keep producing that sweet gay smut you have all been loving.
Follow Indie Authors on Tiktok, then Watch, Like, Comment, and Share our Videos!
Tiktok has exploded over the past few years, and there are indie authors who have made thousands just from sharing little snippets of their books on Tiktok. I try to post once per day, but some post even more than that! Many guides suggest that indie authors should post 2-4 times per day! My depression (plus the job that pay the bills currently) take up way too much of my brain for that much, but I can manage once a day, usually.
Tiktok shows your videos to groups of people based on the tags you put in it, but it shows the video to even more people if videos have a good watch time and engagement. That means that simply watching indie author’s Titkok videos (usually tagged #booktok) will get us out there more! I don’t really know if putting it on loop for an hour would help or if it just counts the first few watches, but the more you watch, the more indie authors benefit! And don’t forget to like and comment on them as well. Sharing, as always, is a huge help too. You can even make your own book trailers or review videos and share them with your followers!
Repin indie author’s books on Pinterest
I love things like Pinterest mood boards for books! I’m in the process of making them for all of my current stories, and I plan to make them for the upcoming ones too! Indie authors use Pinterest because people on Pinterest often go there searching for things to buy. So if you see your favorite indie author’s book on Pinterest, re-in it so others can see it too! You can even share the entire mood boards with friends if you’re feeling extra generous.
Share Indie Authors on Reddit
Reddit is especially hard for indie authors because most subreddits do not allow ‘advertising.’ That means that even if someone posts asking for a spicy gay romance novel about a catholic priest and an incubus, I would get banned from most subreddits for suggesting they check out Tainted Belief. So if you are in any relevant subreddits, be sure to drop the indie author’s name and books in any threads where they’d fit! Most book subreddits, especially for spicy gay romance, have weekly ‘what are you reading now?’ threads, which you can share a book in too.
And if you really want to go above and beyond, post a thread yourself! Whether it’s a review or a ‘I liked this book, what others should I read?’ where you talk about what you liked about one of your favorite books from a given author, this can be an amazing way to support indie authors like me!
Share Indie Authors Yourself
Everybody knows people, and most of the people we choose to call friends have similar interests. So it’s likely that you have some friends who might enjoy some of the same types of books that you read. Just sharing your favorite indie author’s name and what books of theirs you particularly enjoyed is a great way to support them. And if you’re in a book club, recommend that the group read one of my books – that would be huge! And I know almost everyone has a side hustle now, so do you have a blog or website? Maybe a mailing list? Just dropping the name of your favorite indie author and a link to their site could really garner some serious interest!
Nominate Indie Authors for Contests and Awards
Lots of groups and sites have contest where you can nominate books or authors. Just this past December, the M/M Romance group on Goodreads had a bunch of contests where users suggested their favorite books or authors and then the community voted on their favorites from those nominated. So if you see a contest category or award that you think your favorite indie author would qualify for, nominate them! I think I would die of happiness if someone nominated me for one of the categories for the M/M Romance group, seriously!
Beta Read / ARC
This one is particularly fun because you get to read the books for free! Indie authors are responsible for their own editing, so being a beta reader is super helpful. I have a few folks who are kind enough to do beta readings for me, but I’m always looking for more! Basically, a beta reader reads the first (or second or third, depending on the indie author) draft and gives the author feedback. I have a list of a few questions that my beta readers can answer to help me figure out how to improve the story, so my beta readers actually influence the plot of my books sometimes!
An ARC or advanced reader copy is a copy of a book that gets sent out by indie authors before the book is officially released. I only have a few ARC readers on my team, but again, always seeking more! The idea is that the indie author sends you their finished book for you to read and review before the release of the book. That way we have some nice reviews to use in book promos and descriptions before the book is even live!
Join Indie Author’s Street Team
A street team is a group of people who basically just want to see the author succeed, and are willing to go above and beyond to see that happen! An author’s street team is basically made up of people who are willing to do any/all of the things listed on this page, so if you want to help out your favorite indie author on a more regular basis while working closely with them and receiving extra secret special behind-the-scenes info and goodies at the same time, ask to be on their street team! Here’s a google forums application for my street team, if you’d like to join: