Head of IngramSpark gives her top 12 tips for indie authors


Head of IngramSpark gives her top 12 tips for indie authors

Old Mate Media was at the Indie Publishing Forum, where the head of IngramSpark, Robin Cutler, offered her advice and tips for self-publishing indie authors.

Earlier this month I was lucky enough to attend the inaugural Indie Publishing Forum in Sydney. This fantastic event brought together more than 100 indie authors, booksellers and publishers to listen to the latest industry news from experts. A highlight was the keynote speech from Robyn Cutler, US director of IngramSpark, on the changing technological face of publishing and how that affects the processes of getting a book to market.

It was important to hear her thoughts given the growing debate over the pros and cons of IngramSpark vs KDP.

There was also a fantastic presentation by Bianca Whitely from Nielsen discussing the state of the book sales market in Australia. Plus there was a lengthy panel Q & A addressing specific questions from the enthusiastic indie authors in the audience.

These events are common in other territories and I’m hoping this indie publishing forum will be the start of many more here in Australia.

Robyn’s Top Tips for success from the IngramSpark Indie Publishing Forum

Robyn shared her thoughts on things that successful indie authors do. Here is my selection of her best indie self publishing tips:

  1. Build a platform of readers.
  2. Non-fiction authors need to be an expert in their field. How? By claiming you're an expert and then becoming an expert.
  3. Be patient; most authors take about three books to get traction.
  4. Use professional editors and designers for your books. (No points for guessing why I like that one!)
  5. Support indie bookstores.
  6. Do a lot of market research, including price and shelf placement in stores.
  7. Test the book cover both full size and at thumbnail size.
  8. Test the book title.
  9. Try to keep your book title less than 80 characters.
  10. Create your 150 word blurb for your book. Test. Then practice practice practice until you have it down pat and can deliver it with gusto at the drop of a hat.
  11. Create an imprint name for your books as it looks more professional. Make it sound grand and glorious so it sounds like you've been around a long time. But it should also fit the content.
  12. Price your books to make a profit. Keep in mind the discount required by bookstores if that is your target market.

Robyn was enthusiastic and inspiring whilst also quite down to earth. If you have an opportunity to hear her speak, take it up. If not, I encourage all authors to check out the Ingram podcast “Go Publish Yourself” for more great nuggets of info from Robyn and the rest of the Ingram team. As she says:

"It's truly the best of times to be an indie author/publisher"

Robin presenting in Melbourne

Robin Cutler presenting at the Melbourne Indie Publishing Forum

Panel of Experts Shares Insider Advice at IngramSpark Indie Publishing Forum

The panel of experts that followed Robyn’s speech had a tonne of experience from all across the industry. The Q & A session stretched on as they eagerly shared their knowledge and discussed and debated best practices. Here are the best nuggets I pulled from the discussion:

Question: What should indie authors do to help them achieve success?

Independent Bookstore:

  • Consider what will make an impression and capture a bookstore owner's attention. A bookstore will see your book for a maximum of one minute.
  • Consider a jacket design.
  • Perhaps have a message from the author or even a video message.
  • Send an advance proof of the book.
  • Be creative in your approach – try to stand out.
  • Do not approach bookstores cold. You need to build a relationship with your local store for them to consider stocking your book.


  • Pre-plan your marketing. Campaigns for books should be planned months ahead.


  • Decide early in the process on your plans for your manuscript. Is this a commercial book or just a personal project?
  • Register your ISBN and don’t skip on adding in the information.

Independent Author:

  • Think about your audience and where they are to target your marketing.

Niche Publisher:

  • Consider doing a blog tour, where you appear on several blogs in a short period of time. Blogs are often content hungry. Give them content ready to go such as an interview, extract or run a giveaway.
  • Try and be creative with your social media in a way that appeals to your audience.

IngramSpark Indie Publishing Forum in a Nutshell

What a great event and inspiring experience to share with other local independent authors. The information from the experts was really interesting and gave me a lot of great ideas to implement in creating and promoting our books. As always, it boils down to the core business principles of doing your research, creating a fantastic product that resonates with your audience and being prepared with your marketing.

If you agree or disagree with the points above, we’d love to hear from you, do leave a comment, drop us a line or find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. You can also flick through our range of free publishing guides or check out our current catalogue of books.

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