aladdinMost advice for indie authors can be summed up as, “Don’t suck. Network, network, network. Keep at it.”

The caveat always follows, because it bears repeating, that if your books are not worth reading, then you will fail.

Compare this advice to the story of Aladdin, who has two wishes for the genie: get me out of the cave, and get me married to the princess. And the genie, for its part, can give Aladdin the opportunity to secure his goals, but he has to seal the deal on his own.

The cave is writing life before the internet. It’s what being unpublished used to be. Thanks to the genie of the internet, we can all be published now—we just might not be read. The princess, for us, is the public. Our goal as Aladdin is to make her fall in love and commit to a lifelong relationship.

The genie can’t make the princess fall in love. All it can do is provide Aladdin with the tools he needs to have a chance with her…he’s on his own for the actual wooing. The genie gives Aladdin rich clothes and an entourage to get him in the door. Once there, he has to catch the princess’s eye on his own; he has to be worth falling in love with.

Apply this principle to indie writing. The internet gives you all the tools you need: the opportunities to find great covers for your books, a plethora of advice from authors and agents and editors to tell you how (not) to write, social networks to join and enrich and benefit from, places to put your work out into the world (be it your own blog or website, or actual self-publishing in ebook or POD format).

Having the tools isn’t enough. You also have to be engaging. Insert your preferred positive adjectives here. Some princesses want brains, others want brawn, just like some readers want deep, thought-provoking books and others want light, entertaining books. And anything, or everything, in between.

The part that matters is being worth their time.

When Aladdin went to woo the princess, he didn’t wear a wrinkled vest and uncombed hair. Neither should you, indie author. Put your best foot forward. You’re courting the public. Don’t disrespect them by offering unpolished, unprofessional work. They’ll notice.

And then they will shun you.

The Vandal’s guest blogger today: Lily White LeFevre
Lily’s Blog
Lily on Twitter
Lily on Amazon

If the Internet’s the Genie and You’re Aladdin, What’s the Lamp?
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