Top Tips From Successful Indie Author: Interview with Dale L. Roberts
Do you want to learn more about the self-publishing process, book promotion, and author branding? Then keep reading our interview with one of the most inspiring influencers in the indie author arena, Dale L. Roberts.
Dale is an experienced indie author and the man behind the YouTube channel Self-Publishing with Dale. He’s also an international bestseller and a proud author of more than 40 titles.
“Self-Publishing with Dale” is all about providing useful content to fellow writers, including but not limited to publishing, book marketing, networking, and much more. Besides, it was ranked among the top 50 YouTube channels devoted to self-publishing, so if you’re looking for ways to expand your knowledge, Dale answers all of your burning questions.
In this interview, Dale Roberts shares his story of becoming a self-publishing advocate, gives tips on building an author brand, book promotion techniques, and the importance of a book cover.
Ready to unlock the self-publishing secrets? Let’s get cracking.
Dale, you have quite a fascinating story of becoming a writer based on a “challenge accepted” deal. We’d like to know what made you share self-publishing advice with others?
In January 2016, I had my first breakthrough success in An Ultimate Home Workout Plan Bundle. Once word got around, I achieved my first #1 bestselling book in the hyper-competitive fitness niche, and I landed an interview on two different YouTube channels devoted to self-publishing. Naturally, many indie authors got their first taste of who I was and wanted to know more about how I did it.
Answering all these requests by email and direct messages took me away from my business. Rather than being rude or refusing to answer, I devised a plan to kill numerous birds with one stone – video. It took me a few months before I took action, but I started Self-Publishing with Dale L. Roberts in April 2016. Any time someone had a question, I shot a video for it and sent them the link.
I just never knew I’d still be at it over four years later. In fact, the “Self-Publishing with Dale” brand soon overtook all my responsibilities and became my main focus. I love working with indie authors and can’t see doing anything else.
What are, in your opinion, the most common self-publishing mistakes each and every author should avoid?
Quite a few repeat offenders come to mind, but none are quite as heinous as these:
- All Talk, No Walk
There’s a difference between wanting to write a book and actually doing it. Don’t get hung up on the details of publishing the book if you haven’t written a single thing. Just write the book and figure out the rest as you go along.
- Lousy Book Covers
People will judge your book by its cover. Stop trying to do your own cover and hire out a professional. Yes, it’s not cheap. No, getting a subpar cover will not suffice till you can afford a pro cover. Also, hire a pro who has a track record and a deep portfolio of book cover design in your niche.
- Bad Book Description
You must be able to entice people to buy your book. In the words of Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street, “Sell me this pen.” The cover can be STELLAR, but on rare occasions do readers buy a book solely based on the cover. That’s where you need to get good ad copy that compels a browsing customer to become a buyer.
Dale, you have plenty of tips on how to build the author brand. Could you share 3 practical insights on where to begin the branding journey?
- Identify your ideal reader
Before you ever put pen to paper, you need to know who your audience is. It’s not enough for you to write a passion project. If you simply want to write for the fulfillment, then that’s great. But, if you want to actually reach an audience and sell books, you need to know who your audience is.
- Niche down
Look, I get it. You’re an author, so you must be creative. That creativity can and will betray you if you aren’t careful. Pick a niche or topic and stick to it. Become known as the go-to in your space before you EVER switch to any other type of books. How crazy would it be if you went into a McDonald’s restaurant for lunch only to find out they sell shoes? Wouldn’t you be confused? What would you do if you discovered the fast-food chain only sold shoes now? McDonald’s knows exactly what it does and positions itself as the go-to in fast-food restaurants. You should get good at what you do and stick to it before pivoting to something different.
- Identify your purpose
Being an author can often be a thankless job, especially at first, when you have no real following beyond your friends and family. That’s why you need to identify your “why” or your purpose. Why are you an author? What does authorship bring you that you don’t already have? What moves you to write and why?
Thanks for sharing so many different useful resources. We’ve got hooked on your podcast “Book promotion sites”. What are your personal favorite book promotion techniques?
I wish I could say I had one preferred book promotion technique over the other. But I don’t. I simply look at ways to get more attention online. That’s it. The introvert in me HATES doing appearances, but I know the more interviews and appearances I make, the more people get to know who I am and what I do. So, if I’m forced to choose a promotional strategy, I’ll say video interviews.
Now, if you’re an introvert and you’re outright refusing to do interviews, then consider doing author newsletter swaps and building out an advanced reader copy (ARC) team. Both options don’t require much work and are a great way to build your target audience without leaving the comforts of your home and mental space.
We couldn’t help but notice that you also run a Facebook group. Your YouTube channel videos on Facebook tips and tricks are fantastic, to say the least. Which FB author groups would you recommend self-published authors to check out?
Oh, this is a tough one! I’m part of many great author groups. The sad part about it is I’ve seen more Facebook author groups come and go over the past six years than I care to remember. You can’t go wrong with my group Self Publishing Books. I have over 4,000 active members, and the support there is incredible. Others to consider include:
- Self Publishing Formula with Mark Dawson
- 20BooksTo50k with Craig Martelle & Michael Anderle
- ALLi Author Member Forum
Speaking about the YouTube channel, could you please share your top 3 videos that the beginner writers might find helpful?
Dale, what’s your stand on book cover design’s importance to attract more readers and improve the sales?
The book cover can make or break the success of a book. If your cover doesn’t clearly capture the attention of the browsing customer, you can forget getting any sales. Yes, you need to have a great manuscript. Sure, you need to have excellent formatting. And, you should absolutely have a book description that’ll entice the buyer. But, if you can’t hook the ideal reader’s attention with a stellar cover, the rest will be in vain.
If you’re lacking book sales, then the first place to look is your book cover. Nearly 90% of authors who approach me about improving sales usually have an issue with their cover. They believe their cover is good, but when I tell them it’s hammered garbage, they don’t want to hear it. Hey, I’m not paid by a book cover designer to say this; I truly mean it. Book covers are mission-critical in getting book sales. Take this area lightly and stand to lose out on thousands of new readers.
We lack words to express gratitude and sincere thanks to Dale L. Roberts for sharing so much useful information with us today.
Don’t forget to check out the YouTube channel Self-Publishing with Dale to learn even more valuable industry insights. You won’t be disappointed!
Got more questions? Leave them in the comments section below, and we’ll be happy to help you out.