I posted a funny graphic on Facebook a few days ago about what it takes to be an indie author. If you missed it, here it is.
While I laughed at the statement, it’s 100% true. This indie author thing isn’t simply putting words to the page and hitting publish and the cash flows in. If only. The writing is the easy part. It’s everything else that is hard for me to maintain.
For fun (or torture,) I thought I’d go over the list of things mentioned and let you know how much (if any) I do of each of the tasks assigned to an author (whether we want them or not.)
- Read-Yes, authors need to read. Not just their own books, but others in their genre to make sure they are on target with what readers are expecting, but also books outside of their genre to expand the mind and provide fuel for the muse. It’s hard to make time for it because so many other things are on the list, but I always try to have at least one fiction book by my bed.
- Write-That’s a no-brainer. A writer needs to write. Seems simple enough but you’d be surprised how hard that can be. Because I work a full-time job, I have carved out one hour a day before I log into work to write/edit, whatever needs to be done. An hour might not seem like a long time, but when it is focused and planned, I’ve found I”m able to keep up with the goals I’ve set for myself. Which is four book releases a year.
- Edit-While I do hire an editor for my books, I also do self-edits in the 4-5 drafts of a manuscript before it lands in the hands of my editor. As an indie author, you’ll read your own story so many times that you’ll get sick of it. That’s usually when I know it’s time to send it to the editor… before I delete the entire thing.
- Proofread- Once the editor is done with your book you still have to look over each and every suggestion they make to see if you agree or not. Simple punctuation may be an easy thing to accept, but oftentimes, editors will make suggestions about the dialogue or the plot, and you, as the author, have to decide whether to take those suggestions or not. Even if it means a substantial rewrite.
- Format the books-If you have a Mac, this is pretty easy, as there is an auto-generated formater you can use. If you’re stubborn or poor and can’t afford a Mac, (like me) you can pay for other services, or go old school and format it yourself in Word. Which is what I do. And that takes time. A good chunk of it. You have to format the ebook and the paperback because each of them have different requirements. Of course they do.
- Make Ads-Admittedly, this is where I suck. I know what I need to do, but it’s so time-consuming. I have the books, and I know about the courses, but making an ad shouldn’t be that hard on Facebook and Amazon! If you want people to pay for your services at least make it user-friendly and not this big mystery you have to figure out. Then again, I’m sure they make a decent profit on the idiots like me who don’t know what they are doing.
- Maintain Social Media Accounts-This was easier to do before the day job. At the end of the day, all I want to do is be a couch potato. So, another marketing fail. I know I need to get better. I’m trying to make a better plan for that. When I can find the time. Ha.
- Blog-What you’re reading right now. I tried for a while to do two posts a week but that has turned out to be too hard to maintain. Blogs are a good way to keep readers in the loop of weekly stuff that comes up, both with writing but also personal stuff. Blogs also serve a functional purpose. It keeps my name active in a search algorithm. It’s a necessary evil for me.
- Newsletter-A vital tool for the author. Newsletters can be sent monthly, weekly, or whatever you decide. I aim for 2-3 a month. Content for my newsletter is mostly book-related. Releases, sales, member perk stories, etc., but each author needs to decide for themselves how they want to utilize their Newsletter. Great. More things to think about! Ha.
- Graphics– You want to make ads for your books? You want to market them at all?Then, you need to learn how to do graphics. There are several places to use. PicMonkey, Canva, BookBrush… Find one and start practicing your graphic design. For each book release, I make anywhere from 50-100 graphics. No joke. That takes time to create, time to learn the platform and time for mistakes. So many mistakes.
- Craft books-An author essential. Writing is something that can always be improved. When I look back at my first suspenseful romance and compair it to my most recent suspenseful romance I can’t believe it is the same writer. The voice is still in both, I think, but my skill as a writer has only grown. That skill comes from practice, sure, but also the lessons I’ve learned from books I’ve read on the craft. I try to get in at least one or two craft books a year. These are the two I’ve been working through this year.
If you’re writing anything that requires research, like historical fiction, or you’re writing about a character who is say, a doctor, but you don’t know anything about what it’s like to be a doctor. That means you need to research that stuff. What hours would they work? What does their environment look like? How much do they make, ect. All of this stuff factors into the character and the world you are creating. And that research takes time. You guessed it.
There is also something missing from this list. And that is taking the time to live your life. See family, go out to movies, have dinner with friends… time to experience things so that you have some real-world experience to draw from. The pressure to do everything on the list can easily overwhelm you which can cause you to think that you’re failing. I’m a painful introvert, and even I know I need to get out of the house every once and a while.
Over the weekend, I’ll be losing an admin day (to write blogs, newsletters, make graphics, etc.) so I could take my daughter and her friend out to see a movie and grab dinner, then back here for a sleepover. The writing tasks will fall behind as a result of that outing. But that’s okay. Making memories takes priority. There will be time to write newsletters next Saturday.
Until next week, friends,