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.
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