Monday 29 July 2019

The Trials Of An Indie Author: Revisiting The Hats


When I first started doing advice pieces, I did one that talked about the many hats of an indie author (found here) and in the years since then I've thought about talking about it again. Especially since it wasn't included under this sub-topic and I feel I've learned a lot since then. The general consensus when it comes to being indie is that you'll be doing, or paying for, a lot of the work yourself. You're not just in charge of writing the book, but editing, promoting, paying for the cover design, getting the word out, paying for your editor and such and all that goes into publishing.

So how have things changed in the many years since I wrote that first piece? Well for a start, I've grown as both a writer and an author. I now see things that I didn't back then - like the fact that a good cover is better than the worst one you can ever dream of. I've also done some signings and as such gotten the word out about my books in a different way. I've won two awards for my books and I've gotten more comfortable in this whole job as an indie author.

When I first talked about the hats, I was thinking too small. I only labelled the jobs that I personally had done. I didn't think beyond that and what it meant for me as an indie author, or for anyone else looking to take this path over the traditional one (though even traditional authors pay for a lot of their own marketing). I didn't look into things like pre-orders, because they weren't possible on KDP back then. And I didn't know how much of this author life I would come to see as my full time job.

So what hats do I wear now? I'm going to break them down so that you can see what I mean by things having changed.

This one is slightly obvious and I don't think it needs any explanation. I write the books, so I get to reap the rewards from them.


This should also be obvious. I am an employer in that I employ a team of editors and proof readers to work on my manuscripts before they go for publication. I don't recommend skipping this step or even thinking that you can do it yourself - spoiler: you can't.


Again, I'm an employer of the person who does my cover designs. I get a lot of say in how it looks, but at the end of the day, I don't have those skills. And unless you're a graphic designer, you don't either. So do not skimp in covers. Trust me, I know how that blows your career up in the wrong way!

Unless I pay them, no one else is going to be picking up my books and promoting them. I have to do all of that myself. I have managed to make connections and through them have worked out a few ways to keep on top of this without it getting too overwhelming, but I do have to do this and it's hard work starting from nothing.

I could pay someone to do this, but personally I feel like I have a good idea what to do and so far, it's all worked in my favour, but if you're not sure, there are people who will do it for you. So don't assume that you also have to do it.

This means everything from a cover reveal to a release date to a giveaway or anything else that works alongside being a promoter. I have to do all of that myself, and if I miss a step, then it's me who pays for it. This can eat away at your time and you find yourself stuck with no time to get it done. It's not something to take for granted.

Because I'm pretty much self-employed, I'm the one that has to make sure that I both get paid, but also pay my taxes and all of that. I have someone I employ who keeps track of what I owe and when. You don't have to pay someone, but personally it took a lot off my own shoulders to have someone who knew what they were doing cover that.

This one may seem frivolous, but it's not. There are days when I really struggle and days when I exceed my expectations. On the days when it's hard, I need to be my own cheerleader, to remind myself why I do this. It helps to have me in my corner.

When I first started writing there wasn't really any social media. In the time since I've been published, it's started to creep up and now I find myself juggling several different platforms and trying to stay on top of the tweets and messages and all the rest. I may not be an expert, but I'm doing the best I can.

And finally, #10 GENERAL ADMIN
This is for things like emails and chasing up reviews and the like. I spend a lot of time writing blog posts and vlog scripts, recording videos, and editing and captioning them. It's all stuff that benefits me as a writer but it's still one of the jobs that needs to be mentioned.

So there we have it, the ten hats that an indie author (and a lot of other authors) wear. I find it hard some days, but others it seems to be a breeze. Today is a mix of the two. Hopefully tomorrow will be better. Happy Monday everyone!

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