So you’ve been thinking about jumping into this whole indie author thing. Starting a successful indie author business is another thing altogether. But you’re here, so that must be your goal. AWESOME!
For writers who want to make a living from self-publishing their novels, indie authorship can be an amazing experience but I would absolutely recommend that anyone thinking about taking that first step do their due diligence beforehand.
Maybe you are an avid writer and you want to marry your love of writing with one of your passions. Maybe you are a creative entrepreneur and you are wanting to expand your income by writing and publishing fiction novels. Or maybe you just want to write about fictional worlds in your head and connect with other people through that.
No matter what your reasons for thinking about starting your indie author career, there are a few things that you will want to consider when you are in the planning stages to give you the best shot at success.
7 Things Indie Authors Should Know When Just Getting Started
Are you writing for passion or for money?
You can, of course, write for both. But the thing is, every author is different and therefore their paths will vary as well. I've been coaching authors long enough to know that those writing to build a career and those writing for fun have very different needs. So, you will want to be very honest with yourself when you ask these questions: Where do you see yourself in authorship in your future? What are you trying to accomplish with it?
This is an important thing to have clarity around because it allows you to filter the advice you follow and the actions you take in your journey. Let's say you're interested in writing for the fun of it. You write for you. If that's the case, then your main focus will be writing a story you love. You may not worry about market research, platform building, or making sure your book is marketable. However, if you are in authorship for business (we call ourselves authorpreneurs around here), then you'll want to pay attention to all of those things.
what are you writing and who are you writing to?
Next, you'll want to determine who you are writing for. This part may seem really easy for some people and depending on your reasons for writing. Sometimes, it takes a bit more thought, reflection, and investigation.
For instance, if you are writing a women's romantic comedy novel, you're likely going to be writing for adult women and your marketing would reflect that.
We call this person an ideal reader in author-land.
Deciding on who your personal ideal reader is can help you focus on your writing, branding, and marketing more clearly and you will be able to build a solid tribe of readers that will come back for more.
Do you need an author platform?
For most authorpreneurs, the answer is yes. What's an author platform? Simply put - it's the ways in which you attract, connect, and engage with your audience (which is hopefully filled with your ideal readers ).
This can include an author website, email list, social media, and more.
If I made a dollar for every time that an author said: "I don't need those things." , I would already be rich.
The fact is, as an author, your books are products. But a business is more than it's products, right? Your books aren't your whole business. They are just a piece of that overarching personal brand. And after someone reads your book and loves it, the last thing you want to happen is that they completely forget you exist because there was no way for them to connect with you after the fact.
A strong platform also allows you to set up a reader funnel. Don’t know what that is? Just read this blog post for a better explanation.
how much time can and will you invest into authorship?
Authorship all about the long-game. Whether you’re writing for hobby or business, building a personal brand that people want to follow and come back to will take some time and effort. You’ll want to consider in the beginning how much time do you want to or can you invest in it. The reality is it’s a fairly large learning curve in the beginning, especially if you've never managed a business before. Once your book is written and you are ready to push publish, there is still so much more that goes on behind-the-scenes.
To make the most out of a book launch you’ll need to invest time in a variety of different things.
- You will need to be consistently marketing your books and brand through different venues. This could look like social media marketing, book promos, advertizing through Amazon or Facebook, author collaborations like newsletter swaps, and more.
- You’ll need to create and maintain an email list which is critical in building your readership, creating your tribe of fan-readers, and making consistent sales.
- A huge part of authorpreneurship is actually in the "preneur" part. There will be business legalities, finances, taxes, platform development and maintenance, marketing, and more to devote time to.
- You’ll also need to spend some time with what I like to call - your CEO hat on. Thinking, developing, and assessing plans to grow your business, reach new readers, and hit your big dreamy authorship goals.
And you’ll want to be consistent about all of these things. This is critical if you want your business to find success and thrive as an author.
And now you can see how some authors make this their full-time job.
who will make your Indie Publishing team?
Just with the things I mentioned above your head might be spinning. I get it. But there is also book developmentand more.
So how does one author manage to do all of this alone? It's simple. They don't.
There are some things most authors can't do efficiently enough by themselves like professional editing and cover design. Other's are time-sucks and can be delegated or hired out like book formatting and ad management. And others are just nice to be able to have the support so that you can grow. Some members of your author team may include:
- Virtual Assistants
- Social Media Management
- Web Developers
- Ads Manager
- Book Coach
- Critique Partners
- Beta Readers
- Interior Formatters
- Cover Designers
- ARC Team Members
- CPA or Bookkeeper
I know. It looks like a lot and you can't imagine hiring out all of this right now, right? The truth is, most authors start out juggling all of these hats at once and add in one or two as a time as they grow. That's how we all start. Which leads me to...
what do you need to learn?
Expanding on the two points above, if you've got to do it in a productive way and you aren't at the point of outsourcing it, it's important to understand your weaknesses and where you can improve. Nobody knows everything about everything. One of my personal and professional goals is to always be learning.
- Have no idea about marketing?
- Can't seem to figure out how to build a website?
- Do you struggle to stay organized, on-task, and productive?
It's time to get learning. Buy a book. Invest in a course. Ask your coach. Reach out to another author.
Everything is figure-outable.
Are you prepared to be the CEO?
When you are an authorpreneur, you are in charge of your own business. There is no boss to answer to. No manager to keep tabs on you. It's all up to you.
That means that aside from writing and publishing the books, building a brand, doing all the publicity and marketing, it'll be your job as the CEO to:
- Define what your vision is and take inspired action toward that vision
- Create a strategic plan of action - what are your long term goals? What are the short term goals that will get you to those long term goals?
- Manage the day-to-day tasks. Long term goals will quickly become never-term goals if you aren't doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done.
- Invest in your success. When you get to a certain point, you are going to hit a glass ceiling. It's inevitable. Every entrepreneur out there hits blocks on their journey. And sometimes breaking that glass ceiling means putting the peddle to the metal and working through but other times that means investing in yourself and your growth. Hiring a coach. Joining a mastermind. Attending a conference.
- Assess the data and made the hard decisions. Sometimes things aren't working and when that happens, it's going to be your job to figure out why and pivot from there. Other times, things are doing great and it's your job to figure out why that is and how you can keep it that way or better yet, improve those results.
And there you go! 7 things indie authors should know when just getting started!