Reasons for going the indie route vary from author to author. Some prefer the freedoms it provides, such as choice of cover art and final say on the story material, while others may pursue its quicker publication methods as opposed to the lengthy process for which trad publishing is known. It’s a personal decision, and one that authors don’t make lightly. It comes with its own hurdles and challenges.
Just as the reasons for indie publishing vary, so do the journeys to publication for such authors. Some will come with their own marketing expertise, and dazzle their audience with catchy launches and big press spotlights. Others will pump out books one after another, keeping their readers engaged and their appetites satiated. Indie publishing demands a lot of the author on the marketing front, and this is with the given assumption that the book marketed is a well-written one and has an eye-catching cover. If either of those are lacking, then the marketing becomes even more of a nightmare.
All this to say, I can only write here about my own experience, which will certainly differ from other indie authors. I’m new to the scene, and have a lot to learn from seasoned authors. This lends a mindset that perhaps I have little to teach others despite my debut, but I think the below advise is beneficial for all authors struggling to find their voice in the sea of stories vying for reader attention.
And that advise starts with this: keep a defined perspective of why you write. Its unlikely you went the indie route for the money (research should have quickly informed you that this authorship business is not where easy, high-paying money is at). I know for myself, writing my book came from a love of reading and an inescapable need to tell my own stories. Yet this perspective can easily be diminished upon release of a book. I found myself constantly comparing myself to both fellow indie authors as well as contemporary debuting trad authors. It’s not inherently wrong to do so, but if such comparisons are not kept in balance with the original purpose of writing the story, one can get discouraged and fall into a pit of despair.
More than likely, a debuting indie author is just not going to get the same amount of press or reviews as a trad author, no matter how great the book. So, this would be where that perspective of writing the story comes into play. Rather than comparing how many reviews your book gets to another, relish the reviews you do get. A debuting indie author shouldn’t expect hundreds upon hundreds of reviews (it can happen, but my experience is that this is rare). Rather, the goal should be to get into the hands of one reader at a time, and celebrate when those readers express their enjoyment of the story.
I know for myself that the positive reviews I’ve received each mean their weight in gold to me. Every time I see a new review that demonstrates the reader understood and enjoyed all the elements I worked so hard to imbue in the book, I remember that this isn’t entirely about profit or fame. It’s about sharing a story with another person. It’s about creation of adventure and danger and conflict in a way that others can relate to and perhaps even escape to.
Debuting as an indie author has been a challenge. Many days I feel like I’m yelling into a void, and I know most authors, indie or trad, feel like that. It can get discouraging, but only if you play the comparison game too much. In those moments, I recall those few readers who have deeply enjoyed my story. I remember why it is I wrote that story to begin with, and remind myself that it wasn’t for fame or money. It was for those few readers—those readers that enjoyed the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.
About the Author
Enthralled by the magic that written stories contain, Jesse Nolan Bailey has always wanted to be an author. With his debut novel, THE JEALOUSY OF JALICE, and his shorter fiction, AMETHYST (coming late 2020), released to the masses, he can now claim such title with relief. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, where he has embraced the equally-gratifying lifework of hosting a trio of spoiled cats.
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