As an independent author-publisher, I have to consider my career much like any small business owner, and that means looking back at what did—and did not—work well for me in the past. It also means planning for the future. Too often, I hear authors complain of a lack of control over their career. While there are certain market vagaries for which no one can plan, if you intend to see your idea for a book become a published reality, then you must work for it.
In case you haven’t heard, indie publishing no longer carries the same stigma of vanity publishing. We’ll talk about the difference next week, but the media have caught on that there are some very successful indie authors making a LOT of money. The Kindle millionaire isn’t exactly a myth, but well…then there’s the rest of us. Mid-listers or lower.
Obviously, some are more successful than others, some are working on their first manuscripts, and still others, thinking about getting started. If you’re inclined to think about getting started, then this probably isn’t a blog series for you. Because first and foremost, this is about turning a dream into a goal, and then working your tail off to reach each objective along the path to indie publishing success.
Every Wednesday, I’ll be sharing a few of the lessons I’ve learned as I traveled the path to become an indie author-publisher of romance.
Will you make a million dollars? I sure hope so—it would be great to say I knew you when. Truthfully, in this new age of digital first publishing, there is no telling what you’ll accomplish when you combine your talent, hard work, and luck.
Luck? Yes, luck. That’s part of those market vagaries I mentioned earlier. Before you worry about luck, though, you have to be ready—which means you need a book. Otherwise, it’s like trying to win the lottery without buying a ticket.
No amount of luck will put an unwritten book on a best seller list.
Which Comes First? Chicken or the Egg…
Actually, when it comes to writing, the question isn’t worthy of any philosophical debate. If you want to get published and stay published you have to write a book. Seems pretty basic, doesn’t it?
There are a lot of wannabe writers in the world, but very few actually ever write a complete book. (NanoWriMo, anyone?) Even fewer actually become published—fewer still make their living writing fiction.
Yes, I know my blog post is about indie publishing, but if you don’t take care of that pesky book-writing detail first, you don’t need to be asking anyone about self-publishing. Or about promotion, websites, editors, royalties, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.
Even if you ignore every other piece of advice I offer—pay attention to this:
Write your damned book.
Writing must become your priority. Don’t tell me that you have an every day job, kids, spouse, laundry…if you came here looking for advice on how to live a balanced life as a writer, boy are you in the wrong place. My workday starts at 3:30…yes, that’s AM. I don’t have weekends off or sick days. I rarely go anywhere without something to write on, not even to my son’s baseball games. Does that make me a bad mom? I don’t think so…I still watch and cheer, but it does allow me to work in those down times between innings or while I’m waiting for the game to start.
When I started writing my first book, I had an every-day job (EDJ), so I got up two or three hours early, every day, just to make sure I got my writing done. That was way before I had an inkling about becoming published—all I knew was a driving passion to finish my book.
You have the same 1,440 minutes in your day as every other person on the planet. I’ll say again, if you want to be a writer you have to write a book. So writer resolution #1 has to be make time to write.
How? That’s up to you. I quit sleeping. I’m not kidding. I rarely get more than six hours of sleep, and I can’t say any longer whether that’s habit or natural, but it’s just a fact of my life. I need to write early in the morning or it just never actually gets finished. Before I started writing I had a few favorite shows I looked forward to each week, plus I was a news junkie. Now, I find I don’t watch much news, and I’m not currently watching any series television. I may again some day—it’s not any great philosophical objection—I’d just rather spend my time writing, working to achieve my goals.
So if you’re still waiting to finish that first book, start here…
Make a list of the daily “Must-dos” and put writing on your list before you add anything else. I don’t care if your goal is a page a day, 1,000 words a day, or an hour a day, writing goes to the top of the list. Then add the other obligations in your life—and look for opportunities to be creative with your time.
If you don’t think you have the time to make the commitment to writing right now, first check what you’re actually spending time on. Do you Facebook? Watch television? Play video games? Sleep? Look for the recreational minutes that slip away without accomplishing anything and decide if you want to watch that next episode of Dancing With The Stars more than you want to finish your book.
If you’ve finished that all important first book, congratulations! Now, lather, rinse, repeat, because you need to have a backlist, if you’re going to make this a career.
Thanks for stopping by my blog, I’d love to hear from you. If you add writing to your list of things to do this week, what’s your daily writing goal? And how will you make sure you achieve that goal?
Next Wednesday: Indie Publishing WIIFM (What’s in it for me…)