Apr 5, 2016

6 Things I Wish People Knew About Independent Authors


I am quite sure I have yet to live up to my self-appointed title of Self-Published Independent Author. But I keep running into people who ask me what I'm doing these days and I feel like I do not explain myself very well when I tell them I'm a writer. Let alone an independent author

In reality, they see someone leisurely staying at home all the time and not having to worry about getting into the daily grind of a 9 to 5. They only see one thing - Someone sitting around all day, every day, scribbling madly at stories. Ah, the life.

I won't lie, this is what we do. But only about 25% of the time. I get really frustrated when I have to tell people I'm a writer because they must be thinking I have a grand, romantic life. And my life does have some semblance of romance to it, it's just a lot harder than even I thought it would be in the beginning.

Below is a list of things I wish I could tell people about the reality of a writer.

1. We only get to spend two to three hours a day actually writing
If I can get 1,000 words in on my story in two hours my day is made. Some people do get to write all day, and I'm truly happy for them. Some days I don't get to write at all. It's hard just to jump into writing, you have to abide by a process that will melt your resistance and get the creative cauldrons burning. I would love to read a book for two hours before I start writing, but I only get the luxury of a half hour, if that. Some days I have to edit and editing takes awhile, too. It's mentally demanding work.

2. The rest of our day is spent building our platforms
This one is a doozy, and I've yet to come up with a one sentence explanation of this, let alone try to explain it to anyone. But it entails:
  • Figuring out how to promote and market my book, that will help grow my platform
  • Networking with other writes, to meet new people and become new friends
  • Writing blog posts, posting to social media to help grow my audience
  • Creating graphics for my blog and social media
  • Taking photographs
  • Reading books on my craft, literally studying
  • Sharing what I learned in writing blog posts to help other writers
  • Running Cover Contests, letting people know what I'm doing and that I need their help
  • Reading and implementing books on Self-Publishing and figuring out how they apply to me
  • Researching - everything
  • Giveaways . . . 
Each one of these things has a dozen sub categories to their names, it's not just one thing.

3. We take care of our health & families
We work out. 
We cook and eat.
We walk our pets.
We pick up kids from school.
Take little brothers to class and Civil Air Patrol.
When our spouse, brother, sister, mom, dad, roommate gets home from work we pause in our day to say hello, to ask them how their day was, and listen to them if their stories take longer than five minutes.
We socialize with friends on weekends.
We do every normal thing you do. We just make our money differently. And it's a daily twelve hour shift sometimes.

4. We're constantly thinking about helping our readers 
Most of the Self-published authors I know and learn from are constantly doing this. They have courses which range from self-editing to self-publishing to book launching. They are ALWAYS thinking of ways to help other people, readers and writers and professionals alike. And they LOVE it. Independent Authors are rarely ever just fiction authors. They always have something else going, and usually it's non-fiction. As artists, we bring new things into the world, or show people how glorious the old things are by what we write. We love to write, but if our writing doesn't help or inspire someone else, it's useless to us. 

5. We're running a business
We really are. Independent authors are running a business. It's how they stay alive, how they thrive. They've chosen not to go through a big publishing house or an agent. They've used the hundreds of thousands of resources and freelancers out there, made possible by the Internet, and they've gone into business for themselves, doing what they love. They are entrepreneurs. And they're pretty brave.

Me, I don't feel brave. I haven't even begun to do some of the things the big self-publishers have done. I'm still feeling my way through this strange, new, terrifying, wonderful territory.

6. We want to be equal with you
I don't want to be more or less. I want us to be equal. Because we are equal. And no one can tell us different. There is no one job better or worse than the other. If you are working, if you are contributing to the whole, then we are equal. 'Nough said.

The writer does not have a better or worse life than you. It is equally hard and equally enjoyable. I will say that if the writer loves being a writer and they get to do what they love every single day, no matter how hard it is, they have a slight edge on everyone else. But the Independent Author is not better than you, nor are they less than you because their job looks starkly different than yours. They get up in the morning same as you, they go to work in the morning same as you, they create things for the world, same as you. They are a cog and a gear in the rolling life of this world, contributing their part to society, same as you.

So next time you're talking to a writer, any writer, remember they're not just sitting there all day dreaming up lovely things to write about. They're working. They're troubling over their problems, their income, their bills, their books, their marketing, their business. They're doing lots more than they've gotten credit for.

Let's chat! What are some troubles you've run into during your journey as an independent author?

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