I’ve been a freelancer for 37 years. During this time I wrote 36 books, thousands of print/electronic articles, and hundreds of posts for websites. Some of my books were published by traditional publishers, others by a Print on Demand Publisher, and others published by an Indie publisher.
Right now I’m with an Indie publisher. Working with the owner and CEO is a joy because I constantly learn from her. I think Indie authors need six things to be successful.
- You need the drive and will to write. Nobody is going to write books for you; the work is yours. An Indie author’s life is rife with twists, turns, detours, disappointments, obstacles, and successes. Disappointment can’t stop you from working toward your goal. If you fail, accept the fact, change course, and try again.
- You need to develop good work habits. Finding a schedule that suits your lifestyle is the first step. I write new copy in the morning, and keep up with the book publishing industry in the afternoon. This involves email and print correspondence, research, and posting on social media, an ongoing task.
- You need to be professional. To do this, you submit your work to suitable publishers, follow publishing guidelines, format manuscripts correctly, format business letters correctly, send courteous emails, and cooperate with editors. In my experience, Indie authors are kind and always willing to help each other.
- You need to believe in yourself and market our work. Whether traditional, Indie, or Hybrid, these days publishers ask authors to help with marketing. So you need to keep abreast of trends, market nationally, market locally, and use social media. I give free talks and workshops to get the word out about my books. Personally, I think marketing books is harder than writing them.
- You need to be willing to change. Because I have a graduate degree in art, my publisher is interested in my cover suggestions. I have a book in production now, and looked at thousands of royalty-free photos for the cover. I winnowed my choices, and sent them to the CEO. She sent them to the distributor, and he didn’t like any of the photos. However, he shared suggestions with us, and we heeded his input. The cover is done and it’s perfect.
- You need to begin again. After a book is published, you continue to market it month after month, year after year. This can be a challenge if you’ve written several books. You may feel like you’ve living a dual life—author and marketer. Well, you are, and when you add spouse and parent to the list, life becomes super-busy.
Just as Charles Schultz’s cartoon says, good writing is hard work. Being an Indie author is doubly hard. What’s more, the work never seems to get easier. Remember, Indie authors have tough bosses—themselves.