Welcome my guest, indie author Tammy Salyer!
The term “indie author” is a misnomer. Why? Because, as we all know, once you cover your keyboard for the day, your work is only 1/10 finished. Making the conscious effort to become a self-published indie author also means taking on the challenge of becoming your own marketer, publisher, art director, editor, and numerous other variations on these.
Along with learning the ins-and-outs of, well, EVERYTHING, we inevitably make mistakes. Today, I’ll share a few that I made or almost made last year that I have all good intentions of avoiding this year. My greatest hope, dear readers, is that my experiences can be chalked up to taking one (or five) for the team.
1. Failing to do due diligence.
Prior to the release of my second Spectras Arise novel last month, I decided to hire a new artist to revamp my first book’s cover and create the second’s. Failing to take my own advice when I last guest posted for Molly and ask around for recommendations from friends and colleagues, I found another author’s post that linked to a number of artists (though didn’t specifically endorse any). Long story short, I picked an artist whose work matched my own creative vision and hired them.
After they failed to meet the terms of our agreement, I started poking around the web and discovered that several others had experienced what I was going through. The good news is, Paypal, which I had used to pay the artist, has very clear grievance and claims processes. Upon calling on these, I was able to resolve the issue without any loss of money, and only minimal loss of time. The big takeaways from this experience are: Don’t pick a name of out of a hat; rely on word of mouth and seek out experts to engage and learn from. Paypal is your friend. And use Kindle Boards to assist your research.
2. Going it alone.
Some of us are stubborn and controlling (like our mothers). Let’s face it, if we weren’t, we wouldn’t be so adamant about embracing all the work of being an indie author. The thing is, the indie community is AMAZING! Just by reaching out to a few friends when we’re stumped, lonely, confused, or simply at wit’s end, we can find the answers and support we need to pass the current hurdle and resolve whatever is holding us back. Trust me on this. Don’t feel weird about asking for what you need.
3. Thinking, “I’m done! Now I can sit back and wait for sales.”
There is no such thing as being done. Once the book is written and unleashed unto the universe, your job is to do three things: Write your next book; spend every spare minute of the day promoting the one(s) you have written; and keep learning and innovating on new ways to get the word out and become a better writer.
4. Not planning ahead.
I found that after I’d put out my first novel and a short story collection, I had no idea what my next steps were. I fumbled around for months with a giant question mark hanging over my head about what I needed to do to make number three above happen. Sure, I kept writing, but it seemed as if I were only doing it because I didn’t know what else to do (which is not a bad thing). This year, I’m trying something new. I made a plan. And I put it on a calendar. Incredible! Just by identifying next steps and putting them in black and white, we can shed that confused and wandering feeling and have the sense that, yes, this is a career, and it has a very tangible trajectory for success.
5. Not maintaining balance.
What’s the most important thing a writer can do every day? Easy. Write. But it actually isn’t that easy, is it? Sometimes we become overwhelmed with our “real lives,” discouraged by a sense of not being creative enough or certain enough about our prospects, and easily distracted. As a full-time editor, I find it’s sometimes just plain simpler to stay head down in a client’s project than it is to jump into my own. When you find yourself doing something like this, remind yourself how important writing is to you and let yourself do it instead. Balancing everything in your life takes practice, but if writing is in your blood, you must always remember to include it as one of the elements you’re balancing. And always, always, always: Believe in yourself.
Tammy is a professional writer and editor. Contract of Defiance is the first book in her military science fiction Spectras Arise trilogy and was released to acclaim in Spring 2012. The followup, Contract of Betrayal, came out in February. Stop by Inspired Ink Editing, her blog, or follow her on Twitter and say hi. And if you follow procycling, one word: Wiggo.
Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my blog and you’ll never miss my weekly posts! It’s easy: Just enter your email address in the upper right corner of this page. I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information. That’s a promise!