Life of an Indie Author

I’ve restarted the weekly live chats, and I am contemplating doing readings. Not live readings, but prerecorded teasers of older works, or upcoming ones. I have no idea whether either of those will lead to sales, but that’s really not the point of the weekly chats.

My son, who has been trying to help me with promo, has been urging me to do more audio and visual things in aid of that. I’ve been resisting, in no small part because I am a being of text. Also, because in spite of him saying he’ll do most of the work, I know better. I suspect my time would be better spent in taking a course on Amazon ads, as I have been debating for the better part of a year…

All this, and I’m not even thinking about the writing part. Life of an Indie Author – it’s more than the text. It’s the other stuff that makes it all up. But! I wouldn’t stop doing it for anything. Earlier this week I was listening to JL Curtis and Lawdog on one of their livestreams, and they were talking with their audience about self-publishing and how to do that. I pointed people at Mad Genius Club, and on the off chance any of them came over this direction, howdy.

If you want to be indie, there is a whole long checklist of Things to Do. Don’t let that scare you. It’s just like starting up with any business. Even if you were going to try and submit your manuscript to a tradtional publisher, be it a big one or small, I’d still urge you to treat it like a business from the get-go. It will save you a lot of time and heartache later. (voice of experience, and long-time observer of the community, speaking!)

I’ll also urge you to tap into that community I just mentioned. Making connections is going to be important in your career. You’re reading this, so you’re here already, but there are other places, and as fond as I am of the gang who writes here and comments here (comments on this blog are a safe space, always, and we work to keep it that way), you’ll be better served to get information from all over. Like the Passive Voice blog, which I highly recommend, for IP and other matters.

It will also serve you when you need to find an editor you can trust. Or a cover artist (I am not currently accepting new clients, sorry all) who knows how to represent your book. The cover of your book will be your single greatest marketing tool. This is not something that 99% of authors can or should do on their own. Don’t worry! We are here to help.

If you’d like to join in a small community where you can ask for help, there’s a discord server I run and it’s got helpful folks besides just me, too (link expires). This is me, taking away the excuses.

I keep telling my son two things this school year. One, and the first and foremost: Ask for help. I’ve told him, if the single lesson he takes away this semester is to learn how to communicate: with me, with his professors, with the college who has offered him free tutoring services, heck, even for help from his older sister who’d offered math helps… if that’s the only thing he learns to do, it’s been worth the money. The other thing? That perfect is the enemy of good enough. Which ties into his anxiety of having people see him fail. He’d been trying to learn how to ride a bike, and with the help of a trusted friend, managed that. But when I took him to a park to practice, so he learns how to safely ride before I turn him loose onto city streets? There were people, and he froze up. I can’t push him past that, he could potentially get more hurt through the fear making him do stupid stuff he wouldn’t do if he were paying attention to his own body and the bike than to his concern over the prying eyes of potential observers. He is pathologically afraid of failure in public. I see writers do that, too. They can’t bear the thought of failing somehow with their book, so they never put it out in the wild to wobble a bit before it gains enough momentum to have the next book, or the next, get onto an even keel.

Which probably means I really ought to record myself reading a bit of a book. Because learning new things is usually worth the effort, if not for the skill, than at the least, for the practice of learning.

9 thoughts on “Life of an Indie Author

  1. There is no one true way in indie writing. There are steps you need to follow, but no “one true story” or “one way to write.” Write your story, the best you can, in your voice. Those of us with more experience—painful and otherwise—can encourage, cajole, and occasionally warn, (“Um, you might want to check your formatting before you try to upload that to [place].”) but we can’t tell you the “one true path to success.”

    “There are nine and sixty ways of creating tribal lays,
    And every single one of them is right!” (R. Kipling)

    1. So much this. But that’s why the readers here should look at what works for others, because they can pick up a bit here, and a bit there… Much easier than making the same mistakes we’ve all made before. That’s more the after-writing than it is the story, though.

      1. “Learn from others’ mistakes – because you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” Said by an older and formerly bolder pilot-mentor.

  2. You’re an artist. You literally can’t be a creature of text. 🙂

    You have your art and your text in separate boxes, that’s all. And nothing wrong with that.

  3. A former boss went to an EST-like thing called The Forum. It very much impressed him so he volunteered to pay for any of us to go. I think those group therapy things are generally awful, but since it was free, why not?

    It was mostly as bad as I had expected, but there was one exercise that was illuminating. Very briefly, we all closed our eyes and the speaker went on and on about imagining vast crowds of people watching each of us as we imagined doing various things. He kept piling on about the criticisms of the crowd, raising the tension in the group higher and higher. Eventually, a few people started laughing, then a few more. It finally hit me: This is ridiculous none of these people care about me, at all. No one – or at least very, very few people – actually pay any attention whatsoever to what you are doing. That was the point of the exercise: Build tension until each person realizes how ridiculous it is. The laughter was the tension release.

    Concealed carry is a great example of this: You can “conceal” pretty badly and no one – or very, very few people – will ever notice.

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