Can an Indie Author SEO her way to the Bestseller lists?

“The digital revolution has blown open the distribution of books–now it’s all about visibility,” and with that remark–among others–David Gaughran, author of Amazon bestseller Let’s get Digital, sent the audience at The Literary Consultancy (TLC’s), Writing in a Digital Age 2013 conference into a tizzy.
A sentiment echoed by Chris McVeigh– he runs FourFiftyOne a digital publishing consultancy as well as seoforbooks–who said, “SEO is a huge opportunity for Indie authors to become discoverable” adding “it is not a discoverability but a visibility problem for many authors.
Which raises the question, does author success come down purely to the algorithm of discoverability?
The great thing about technology democratizing the publishing world is that size matters less than it once did. So does this mean Indie authors can SEO their way to the top of that Google search result or that Amazon bestseller list?
Well, it is not that simple.
You have to make sure your book is top notch – stand out stuff. So you have to pay attention to detail to make sure it’s good quality, well edited content. No less than any commercial book published by a mainstream publisher.
Then you have to invest behind an eye-catching cover and a cut through blurb which resonates with your target audience.
But once you have a great product, and you’ve pressed that button and sent your book skimming across the electronic waves, what then?
Well then the visibility game starts.
In today’s digitally plugged in age, where an average adult in the UK spends just under 17 hours per week online, and where readers discover eBooks mainly through online browsing, an Indie author cannot ignore optimising her online presence.
Which means, alongside setting up an effective online author-brand presence, you need to have a strong, implementable SEO strategy–i.e. feed the biggest discoverability engine which ever existed–Google. So that the next time a reader searches for the genre you write in, your book comes up (50,000 monthly searches for crime fiction alone.)
It’s the first step–a real step in developing a direct relationship with your reader, which is crucial in driving sales.
There is no escaping a links based economy, but as an authorpreneur, I hold out hope for a passion driven economy intertwining with this too.
So, with my inner geekess completely in thrall, I am resolved to feed that algorithm monster, mind my metadata and make sure my online digital presence is seamless while complimenting my real world footprint.
But I am still going to have to write that damn book first!
Laxmi Hariharan is a content branding strategist & multi genre author. Find her at LAXMIwrites or @laxmi


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2 thoughts on “Can an Indie Author SEO her way to the Bestseller lists?

  1. Laxmi, I don't think it is that simple. There are two aspects which need to be taken care of, in the digital world. One of course is SEO and discoverability. And having a controlled online presence makes all the difference. The other is for authors to create a family of readers who follow you, who love you, who talk about you and who promote you.Some times, I think that most of this stuff should be obvious to most people, but the more I interact with authors, the more I realize how much work all this entails.

  2. Ritesh — you hit the nail on the head. Building a community is lot of work, and slow burn, a brick at a time. SEO as well has to be optimised slowly — as long as it does not take you away from the actual writing 🙂

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