Life as an Indie Author
What sort of creature is an indie author?
Indie Author is short for Independent Author. They’re also called Self-publishing Author.
An indie author is like a one-man publishing company. They have full control of their content and vast control of their royalties i.e. moolah. They’re responsible for everything about their book: editing, formatting, cover design, launching, marketing – you name it, they do it.
From about 2014 to this day, I’ve been an indie author.
Going indie reminded me of having a part-time job when I was still a student. Why? Because it taught me how the world worked; in this case, the publishing world. I learned everything there was to learn about book-making – all the neat and ho-hum jargon like ARC (Advance Reader’s Copy), front matter, back matter, TBR (To Be Read) list, DPI (Dots Per Inch), DRM (Digital Rights Management), hyperlinks and so on. I learned how to use various softwares (Calibre, GIMP, DIY cover-makers) and mastered how to add a Table of Contents and insert page numbers in MS Word (hint: not easy). I learned the various file formats – ePub, MOBI, PDF – and the various e-readers they are compatible for. In a word, I knew my books inside and out, from the spacing to embedded fonts to the code behind everything (ok, I don’t know code that much).
I met lots of people from various countries. Cover designers, reviewers, bloggers, coaches, advertisers. I knew the big distributors: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Google Books, Kobo, Ingram, Smashwords and sites like Goodreads (where authors go to get roasted) and Wattpad (where authors go to flex their writing muscles).
I designed my own website and brand (Phenomenal Pen), which are both proving indispensable. I also built a small mailing list of about a thousand readers.
Of course you could always opt to pay someone else to do all these things for you. But I guess the most important thing I want you to take away from this chapter is, being a published author doesn’t happen overnight. It’s just like any big project or business undertaking. You can’t put a fixed timeline on when your dream will come true. And like any other life goal, you can’t plot out your journey in a straight line from point A to point B.
No, like I said in the first chapter, the way is labyrinthine. It’s full of turns and somersaults like a rollercoaster. It’s almost as harrowing as an Agatha Christie novel because there’s a plot twist waiting for you at every corner.
Of course it’s business-smart to outsource things that you aren’t good at to other people e.g. editing, cover design, formatting etc. But that’s just it. If you’re gonna outsource everything from the get-go, what do you learn and where exactly do your measly profits go? No, you have to do your own homework – a lot – and shed the usual cliché: blood, sweat and tears.
When you finally see the big picture and have experienced every part of the assembly line, then that’s when you should decide whether you’re still gonna outsource anything.
The ironic thing about dreams is, as French poet Paul Valery once said, “The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.”
Go and reach for them. You’ve just got to give your best every single day and make sure that your heart’s in the right place. And if you’ve got the right stuff, magic will happen!
Up next: Traditional publishing and the modern-day author.