This is the second chapter in an ongoing series following my indie publishing journey. You can read all posts by clicking here
As my research into indie publishing continues, I realise how much I have learned. From starting out as a sceptic, a snob even, thinking that self-publishing was a lesser form of publishing, I have come full circle. You see, taking on a career in indie publishing isn’t the ‘easy’ way out. In fact, in most ways, it’s the much harder path.
Not everyone is cut out for a career in indie publishing. Sure, you could self-publish a book or two and be done with it, but if you want a career as an independent author, it takes a particular type of person.
Here’s my list of 6 things to ask yourself to find out if you’re cut out for a career as an indie author.
Do you like to be in control?
This is one of the key points that has driven me towards indie publishing; I like to be in control. I’m impatient, I like structure, order, and schedules and I value hard work, professionalism, time-management, and well, being in control.
As an indie author, you have full control over your career. Which yes, sounds great right? But, that also means you are responsible for writing the book, engaging professionals (editors, cover designers, formatters), marketing, promotion and selling, social media, mailing lists, managing your brand and running your business as an independent author.
So if all that sounds not only workable to you but inciting, well then, a career as an indie may well be for you. However, if you began to glaze over or are now curled up in the foetal position, then run now!
Do you have the money to invest in your writing career?
While you don’t need to invest a lot of money to begin your indie author career, you do need a budget. Sure, you can forge ahead, write the book, self-edit and whack it up on Amazon with little cost, but if you want it to be the best book it can be, and give it the best chance at selling – you need to spend money. As a minimum a budget for editors, book designers & formatting, and marketing is necessary.
Self/indie publishing received its negative reputation thanks to early adopters who published poorly edited and designed books. Nowadays you want your indie published book to be indistinguishable from a traditionally published book. You want it to be of at least the same quality in terms of look and content. And you need to get it out there which means a marketing budget. If you’re serious about being an indie author, you need to invest in your future.
Do you want to run a business and be an entrepreneur?
There are no two ways about it – as an independent author you are the publisher, you are running a business. And with that entails all manner of things from building your brand and mailing list (customer base/readership), to marketing and promotion, and handling the financials. You will need to call on your time-management and scheduling skills, as well as your analytical skills to see what’s working and what’s not.
A career as an indie author is so much more than just writing. So, if your vision is spending your days blissfully writing possibly throwing in a dash of social media promotion for good measure, then indie publishing probably isn’t for you.
Are you willing to continue learning and evolving as an indie author?
The publishing landscape has changed so much in the last fifty years and is changing more and more rapidly each and every year. As the publisher (remember as an indie that’s you!), you need to be on top of these changes. You need to keep up with the latest developments from trends in publishing (both indie & traditional) through to advancements in technology.
On the writing and marketing side of things, you need to constantly advance your skills and knowledge. Evolve with new and better ways of doing things to be more productive and successful. Thankfully, there are loads of resources available for this.
Are you a fast writer?
Oh, to have two, three, or four years to work on a manuscript. To write, edit, rewrite, tease and preen it to perfection in readiness for publication. Unfortunately, that vision of being an author is very much archaic -, especially in the self-publishing world.
Independent authors need books. Many books. You don’t become a successful indie author on one book. Or a book every few years. It’s no surprise that the most successful indie authors are also the most prolific. You need to be productive and streamline your processes to become efficient at producing high-quality stories that leave readers wanting more. And then, you have to give them more. Again and again.
If you’re not great at slamming out a first draft, not confident in your editing (and don’t have a brilliant editor to back you up), then this is something you need to work on before stepping into indie waters.
There’s so much to learn about the self-publishing industry. And when you skim the surface off and really delve deep into the facts and intricacies you realise it takes a certain type of writer to fit the indie mould. So before diving in, ask yourself – do you fit the mould?