Wednesday 13 August 2014

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Spreading Yourself Too Thin

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Spreading Yourself Too Thin

The big difference between an indie author and someone who has been traditionally published is the amount of responsibility that falls at the author's feet. Traditionally published writers usually only have one thing they have to do and that's write. They have a team of people who will take care of the marketing, the promotion, deal with events and blog tours and all of that. However, when you're an indie author, the majority of that work will fall down to you. I've spoken about this before when I wrote a piece about the many hats of an indie author (found here) but I felt like it needs to be brought up again, with a different message in mind.

It's all too easy to take on too much and commit yourself to many different responsibilities, because as I said, YOU are the only one who can get your name out there. As an indie author, you'll be aware that your image is pretty much everything. I wrote a piece about how you have to sell your brand (found here) and this piece is relevant to that. In keeping an air of professionalism with your readers and other writers, you need to also understand that being unable to deliver on promises because you've oversold yourself doesn't help your overall image.

For some indie authors, it's a piece of cake and they know what they're doing straight out of the gate, but for others, like me, you make a few mistakes and you learn from them. When I was first starting out as an indie author, I made the mistake of spreading myself too thin. When you add in my health issues, it was only a matter of time before I had to pull out of something, and that's when the crap really hits the fan.

When someone has organised an event and asked you to take part, your initial response is "YES!" because someone, somewhere is taking a chance and believing in you to hold up your end of the bargain. It will hopefully lead to promotion and a chance to carve a name for yourself in the big world of authors. Now, sometimes it's far too easy to keep saying yes because you don't want to come across as uninterested or for people to think that you don't appreciate being asked. That was the trap I fell into. I said yes a few too many times and then the inevitable happened. I was over-booked, over-stretched and coming down with a chest infection. I had to cancel.

Now, as someone who has spent the majority of her adult life living with a chronic illness or two, I can tell you that the first time you cancel with someone, they're understanding. The second time, they're less so and by the third, they stop relying on you when you say yes. From the perspective of someone organising an event, it's slightly worse, because if they have planned for you to attend and you have to say no at the last minute, they could risk taking a financial hit, or they could stand to get flack from people who were only coming to see or speak with you. It makes them look bad as well as you.

Before you think that I'm saying that you should never cancel events, I'm not. I'm simply saying that as someone who's had to rebuild from the bottom up because of stretching myself too thin, be a little bit more careful with what you say yes to. You can find a piece I did about learning to say no here. Building a name for yourself takes time and the last thing you want to do is get a reputation as someone who is not reliable. Of course, your mileage may vary.

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.

Tuesday 5 August 2014

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Selling Your Image

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Selling Your Image

One of the things I have struggled with as an indie author is having to sell my image, or my "brand" as it were. Whilst the Bug Books label is my own, it's still something that I find difficult. Image is everything in the indie world, and that means keeping a certain level of professionalism with everyone you work with. Especially on social media, because all it takes is one slip up and you'll have to rebuild from scratch and hope that it sticks.

It's not just fans
that you need to sell your image to, but other authors, editors and assorted professionals in the indie world. Sometimes, you'll find it easier to market yourself to the readers of your books than to your fellow writers, especially when you come up against the traditional/indie divide. That's a barrier all on it's own and may one day earn it's own piece, but for now I'll develop it a little here.

There's always been a big divide between traditionally published authors and those who fall under the indie/self-publishing umbrella. With the rise of e-books and publishing options that are free and easier to distribute, there has been an increase in those of us writers who choose to go the indie route. As it states on my blog, I am a proud indie author, and while it may not be the right choice for everyone who goes into writing as a career, it's the path I chose and I'm happy with it.

However, for some people, the indie world is one to be avoided, which can be a difficult mindset to overcome. Independent authors have no reason to be ashamed of the fact that they're without a big publishing house. Some of us use small presses and others self-publish with their own press, like I have with Bug Books. When you step out into the world as an indie author, you've got to be ready to sell your image, show people why your books are worth buying, create your own fanbase, deal with your own giveaways and book tours and you've got to do it all while remaining professional. Some readers hear the word "self-published" and cringe. They think that because you haven't been lucky enough to be picked by the Big Six, you must not be that good an author. They think that your book will be littered with errors and that you just write and hit 'publish', with no additional steps in between.

While that may be true for some self-published authors (although I haven't come across any yet), the majority of us are just as talented as those who have landed contracts from big name publishers. The indie world is full of great writers who have a multitude of stories to tell, and as someone I know said recently, no one knew who Tom Clancy was at one stage either. Everyone has to start somewhere, and for indie authors, we have just as much of a battle as anyone else, because we have to start from scratch and build up a fanbase without the aid of a marketing department.

This is not a rub or a snub to traditionally published authors, they have just as much talent and have just as many wonderful stories to tell, but as an indie author, I know the struggle of having to personally sell your brand. In a sea of writers clamouring to be heard, sometimes you can make yourself hoarse trying to get your name out there. It's not easy, and while some of us wish to make our millions, the majority of us know that we'll be happy with just having our stories read. We can't do that without readers though and so the battle begins anew to sell our brand, our image and our work.

Follow Joey on Facebook or here on her blog to be kept up to date with the latest news regarding Joey and her books.