Monday 12 November 2018

The Trials Of An Indie Author: All The Hats


I've done a piece on this before about how as an indie author you wear a lot of different hats. (Found here). But it's been a good few years since then and I wanted to touch on it again under this series instead of just under the creative process. Because of course, I chose to do the indie route, but some people will choose to go traditional and I don't want it to appear that there's any right or wrong choice, because that's simply not true. Each patch appeals to different people for different reasons and both are valid. And when it comes to marketing, that's something the majority of authors will have to do whether they are indie or traditional. It's just how it works.

So, where do the hats come in to indie life? Well, marketing is one of those big ones. And as I said above, it's something that you'll have to do no matter which path you choose. While some traditional authors will have a little help with that, that's not the norm and they will be expected to do a lot of the hype-building and long term marketing on their own time. On top of that, the divide that has started, between those who are indie and self-pubbed and those who have gone the traditional route, is something that needs to stop. Authors working together can be a glorious thing and can lead to all of us feeling a little less stressed and a lot more included in the community.

But I digress, one of the big points I made in the original piece is that as an indie author, you are expected to wear a lot of hats, which is still true. The question is, which one of these you delegate and which ones you wear yourself. For every indie author, editing is one that needs to be delegated and for the majority of them, so is cover designing. By that I mean that no matter who you are, you need to hire an editor and when it comes to cover design, unless you yourself are a graphic artist, it's best to leave that to someone who is.

I could go over why on both of these points, but I feel like it's been said enough in regards to editing and covers, so instead I'm going to focus on the other hats and how working with other authors can be a good thing. It can help you grow your audience and also give you writing buddies which are always amazing to have. A lot of the time, I feel that too many places paint other authors as the "competition" and while I've talked about this before, I feel it bears repeating. Authors aren't your competition, they are your community. And being a part of that community is a very rewarding thing.

It's as simple as this. People read more than one book in their lifetime, they will read hundreds if not more. Buying someone else's book doesn't then mean they can't or won't buy yours. Lifting up and celebrating with people who have a similar audience to you is a good thing. It brings about connections and networks and also friends to rely on. For a long time, I was in the indie community on my own. I had other author friends... kinda. They had their ways of doing things and I had mine. We didn't talk unless one was going through a release and needed help and all of that stuff. It wasn't the right way to do things. But it was the only way I knew how.

I wore all the hats I needed to because I didn't know there was another way to do things. I did everything wrong. I went through my day spewing out blurbs and buy posts without really connecting with my readers. And that's basically why I'm still very much a small fish. You don't want to do that. You don't want to end up with thirteen books out and very little hype behind your name. I do well with the releases, I've learned over the years how to work them right, but for a long time I did that alone because I didn't realise that the writing community could be welcoming and working together.

And yes, I hold blame there because I didn't research and I didn't question the way that group of authors did things. I did eventually, but it got to the point where I felt so isolated by my work that I wondered if there was ever going to be any point in continuing. And then I started to see change because I was connecting with different people. I was actually engaging with people on Twitter instead of writing sales post after sales post. I started to communicate with other authors, starting doing the Friday posts which is solely about lifting up other authors within my community. And because of that, I realised that you don't have to wear all the hats, you can delegate but more than that, you can find your people. You can lift up other authors and know that shouting about how great they are, isn't going to hurt you.

So when people tell you that as an indie author you'll be isolated or doing everything yourself, realise that there is a grain of truth to that, but there's also something to be said for finding your people and growing with them, allowing yourself to cheer and be proud of other authors even if their success doesn't spur yours on. It's a hard business to be in, and you're gonna need friends. I know I do.

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