The Secret Life of an Indie Author

When I first decided to pursue novel writing, I had no idea what it entailed.

As most Indie Authors, I started by pursuing the “Traditional Publishing” route. I had lofty dreams and no idea what I was getting into.

I had this idea for a novel swimming around in my brain for about fifteen years before I pulled my notes out of the drawer and put keystroke to keyboard. The kids were finally old enough to entertain themselves for a few hours while I pecked away at the next great novel. I was able to finish it in about six months. I was impressed with myself, I must say. I didn’t think I could do it, but the words just sort of came tumbling out of me. After all, only something like 30% of people ever finish the novel they start out to write. I was ahead of the game.

I tried the traditional route, not knowing that first novels should NEVER see the light of day. But at least I got rejections. The worst is when you send your blood, sweat and tears off in an email and all you get back is the sound of crickets. The not-knowing is the worst, I think.

Fast forward a few years and a couple novels later (also not in print), and I decided to go the “Indie Publishing” route. I had done a lot of research and read countless blogs and agent advice. I didn’t expect to become an overnight success, but I, again, had no idea what I was in for.

The Biggest Secret? The Indie Author wears many hats.

An Indie Author is first and foremost a writer. That’s a no-brainer, right? You would think so, but it isn’t. Again, I turned to research and the internet to write the best novel I could. There were terms I had never heard before, and I was an English major. “Head hopping?” What the heck was that! It’s when you change point of view mid paragraph. But even editors and authors can’t agree on what exactly head-hopping is. Give the same paragraph to several different people and you’ll get several different responses as to whether it’s head-hopping or not.

An Indie Author also plays the role of “Marketer.” Most writers are NOT cut out for marketing. They are the creatives, the idea makers. But marketing? To a lot of us it’s like speaking a different language. Not to mention, in my case, my last job was in marketing and I’m somewhat traumatized by being on the end of rudeness and cursing and yelling by the people I was approaching. And I was one of the nicest people you could talk to. So, the thought of pandering to my “friends” to purchase my books strikes fear in my heart. It’s something akin to a pyramid scheme where your friends are your victims…uh, clients. I can’t do it. It’s physically and emotionally painful for me.

But it doesn’t stop there. The Indie Author is also the Head of Advertising. If they want to be seen among the 750,000 books listed on amazon.com (and I’m sure that’s a conservative statistic), they must engage in some sort of advertising: GoogleAds, Facebook ads, BookBub campaigns…the list goes on forever. And all those things cost money. You’re already dipping into reserves that you haven’t made yet and may never make. I know that sometimes you have to put something in to get a return, but I truly wonder how many Indie Authors NEVER see a return. I don’t have that money to invest. I just don’t.

The Indie Author is also a Social Media Expert. Again, to be noticed, they need to engage with potential readers on Twitter, Facebook, their own website (if they have one – another investment), Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn…and I’m sure I forgot something. All of this “engagement” takes time away from writing. Because for most Indie Authors, writing is not their day job. Even a lot of traditionally published authors don’t write a book and watch the profits roll in. They make a lot of their money from speaking engagements. But people want to hear from “famous authors.” From the Indie Author? Not so much.

The Indie Author must also be the Gatekeeper. What do I mean by that? I mean that there are a whole lot of scammers out there wanting to “help” with your marketing. The scammers have figured out how to sell “10,000 books their first year without even trying” and they’re willing to show you how…for a small fee or for the price of their e-book. Yeah, I’m not falling for it.

The Gatekeeper also screens out bad advice. The truth is there is no “right” answer. It’s hard work. There is no “quick fix.” It’s a long and arduous endeavor.

Some Indie Authors are also Graphic Designers. They have mastered formatting of their novels. They’ve learned the rules to make their books compete with the traditionally published counterparts. The talented ones can make covers that look professional.

So why do I do it?

Because I love to write. I love my fellow human beings. I want to connect with them. I want my stories to say to them “I get you. I’ve been there.” I want people to find a little bit of themselves or their friends or family members in my characters. I want to leave a legacy of some sort, an imprint on the world for when I’m gone. Even if only five people read my novels, I’m okay with that. I don’t plan on getting rich from them, that isn’t my intention. I know I should do more to put myself out there. I should make a bigger financial investment than I have up until now. And maybe when I don’t have to budget for braces or college or car repairs, and I’ve managed to retire on the MidAtlantic coast in my tiny paid-for home then I’ll have that option. But until I’m living the dream, I will continue to write and write and write. And I’m eternally grateful for every reader I’ve had.

What about my fellow Indie Authors – what’s your Indie Author Secret Life look like?

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Kasey Hunter has lived a lifetime and she’s only 25 years old. Her strength is what has helped her survive, but it’s also what’s kept her alone.

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Giving Twitter Another Chance

I’m going to try again.

About a year ago, maybe longer, I had a Twitter account, but I shut it down, because it got so snarky.

On social media, I’m all about finding my happy place, and Twitter, at that point, was definitely NOT my happy place.

Pinterest? Happy.

Instagram? Happy.

WordPress? Mostly happy, you just have to know how to use it and avoid the trolls.

But I couldn’t seem to navigate the Twitter World without running into snark. Every where I turned, and it didn’t seem to matter who I followed. So, I closed my account. It was just too much.

But now that I am an officially published author, I figured I’d dip my toe in the Twitter pond one more time and see what comes of it.

Through Instagram and WordPress, I’ve managed to find a fairly docile community. It seems we’re all trying to connect on in a positive manner, and I can get into that.

If you have an account that you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. I’d be happy to find some friendly people to follow. Just click on the Twitter icon to follow me.

Here’s to holding my breath. Any advice for a Twitter newbie?

NaNoWriMo…Here We Go!

 

Today marks the first day of #NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The goal is to write a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 on November 30th.

So, here we go…

 

The Either Or Bookstore was a twisty maze of shelves that went from floor to ceiling. It was only about twenty foot wide but about fifty foot deep. There were a few new books, mostly from independent authors, but it was comprised mostly of used books. There were books piled on the floor in front of the shelves and boxes of books that hadn’t been gone through yet. Audra wasn’t sure how Roy made any money being so disorganized. But somehow, he’d managed to keep the store open for about thirty years, from what she understood.

She walked past the fantasy section and grimaced. She didn’t see how anyone could read that drivel. She stopped in the self-help section and looked around to make sure she was alone. She sat down in the ‘relationship’ section. There were books about catching a man, saving a marriage, taming a woman, etc. One with a bright blue cover caught her eye: “When You Don’t Have Time for a Man.” She sat down against the shelves, pulled it out, and began to thumb through it.

It was as though she was reading her own life right there in black and white. All her excuses were there in the chapter titles: No Time No Way, Let Go of Your Past, Putting Your Career Ahead of Him, When He Doesn’t Show Up

Someone appeared at the edge of the tiny aisle, and it startled her.

“Oh!” she said and dropped the book.

The tall stranger bent down to pick it up. She was mortified as he read the title.

“Do you recommend this one?” he asked and smiled.

She stood awkwardly and reached for the book. “Oh, uh…I’m not…I just…I haven’t read it.” She was sure she was bright red.

He laughed a little.

“I didn’t mean to startle you,” he said.

The guy was handsome, and she tried desperately to cover the smear of red strawberry jam on her tank top. She also fumbled with her hair and tucked a strand behind her ear, hoping to look a little better. But she knew there was no hope.

“Ethan! Are you here?!” a woman called.

“Back here mom!” he said, his tall, lean stature stepping back to wave to the woman.

Dotty ran up and hugged his waist tightly. She was only as tall as his shoulder.

Mom? Dotty’s your Mom? Audra thought to herself.

“Oh, Audra! I see you met my Ethan!” Dotty said. “Isn’t it wonderful? He’s home!” she squealed and hugged him tighter.

He pried himself away from her grip and reached for Audra’s hand.

“It’s nice to meet you…Audra, was it?” he asked.

Audra smiled and shook his hand. “Yes.”

Dotty pushed her way between them. “Audra, this is my Ethan! Isn’t he handsome?” Then Dotty turned back to Ethan, “Oh, I just can’t believe you’re home! And for good!”

“Now, Mom. I’m not sure for how long, okay?” Ethan corrected.

“Yes, well. Look at you! You’re so skinny! First thing you need is a home-cooked meal. Come on!” she said and dragged him out of the store by the hand.

He looked over his shoulder. “See you again?” he called to Audra.

She waved. “Maybe!” she said.

When they left the store, Audra said to herself, “He belongs to Roy and Dotty? But how?”

She also realized how homely she looked and knew he was way out of her league. Why did she always meet the good ones when she was a mess?

 

to be continued…

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, best of luck! Happy writing!