Sometimes a discussion between likeminded people can bring out the good, bad and ugly about a certain subject. Since this website is all about self-publishing our own books, I thought it would be nice to invite fellow Indie Authors and go over with them what it means to be an Indie Author, reading self-published work and anything else that comes up regarding self-publishing.
You’ve seen my mission: The Self-published Author = A Bestselling Author. The intention behind this mission is to let the world know there are more books, GREAT books, than just the ones that go through traditional publishers. It is not my intention to downgrade the traditional publishers, simply to make ANY book available for bestseller status.
This interview might interest you if you’re also an Indie Author, or if you’re curious about what it’s like for an Indie Author in the World of Books and Publishing. It’s just five Indies talking about their own Indie-adventures and getting you, the reader, excited to try out a book written by an Indie.
Ready? Let’s go!
Whitney: “I’m Whitney McGruder, I’m 28 years old, I’m a full-time editor, and I just published my debut novel Destiny Seeker: The Messenger in June! I’ve been working on this novel on and off for 15 years, so it’s amazing that it’s finally done! I’m currently working on part two of this series. Besides writing, I do freelance editing projects, play Pokemon Go, cross stitch, volunteer in my church congregation, host a book club, and too many other things!”
Ariël: “I’m Ariël, I’m 16, and I’m from Virginia. I’ve been writing for nine years, and at the beginning of this year I finally published a collection of short stories and one of those as a standalone (the latter of which got a lot more attention than I expected it to). At the beginning of next year I plan to publish my first novel, a high fantasy that I’ve been working on for about a year and a half. In addition to being a writer I’m also an editor and a homeschool student, and I love music and singing.”
Anne: “Hi everyone! I’m Anne, 39, and I live in the southeast US (Georgia for now). I only started writing in 2016, and knew immediately that I wanted to self-publish. I’ve since published two scifi/space opera novels: Asrian Skies and Unbroken Fire. They’re kind of niche (planet-based space opera with a faith twist), so right away there was a problem with traditional publishing. After I published the first, I looked at a few small presses just to reassurance myself that i made the right decision, and I found none that would have taken it. So I’m pretty happy.”
Teresa: “I’m Teresa, living in New Zealand. 43, and have been writing pretty much all my life. Still writing some of the novels I started back in the 80s. I’ve just published my first novel Mackerel Sky (under the penname S. Jade Castleton) which I actually started in 1996. The sequel (which used to actually be part of the first book) will come out in April next year (earlier if I can actually do some work on it). 90% of my writing these days (well, since the 90s) is with gay characters, but can be any other genre. I got onto the idea of self publishing in 2015 after the local library ran some workshops on the subject. At the very least it got me re-enthused about my novel.”
Alicia: “Hi, I’m Alicia and I turn 25 in September. I live in Texas with my husband, cats and dog, although we may move to Colorado in the next year or so. I have one book published: Predator or Prey was written in 2010. I’ve been writing since I was seven and always wanted to publish. I have two more in progress right now.”
Whitney: “For me, I queried for a literairy agent for roughly 1.5 years before committing fully to Indie Publishing. I just wanted to get my book out without waiting for someone else to make it happen.”
Ariël: “I’ve considered traditional publishing to some extent, but I prefer the control of Indie Publishing, both of content/design/etc. and of time. I don’t want to have to wait around to share my writing with others. Obviously, there is still a lot of time involved, and there’s a lot more money involved with Indie Publishing, but there’s no waiting for someone else to want your book published. And I like having the final say on something I’ve created. All that said, I would like to be traditionally published once at some point so that I have the experience and I can say I did it. I just don’t want to make that my primary focus and it’s not a priority for me.”
Anne: “I never considered traditional. I write niche fiction, so my traditional options were very, very limited. I could have probably found a small press to take my book, but you’re taking a real risk with editing and cover design there – I wanted full decision-making on all that. I also have a job that doesn’t allow me to be at an agent/publisher’s beck and call. My employer gets first dibs at my time and energy.”
Teresa: “I had always thought traditional but never really looked into it. Gay fiction still seems niche in a way if you don’t follow a secondary genre closely. Like you, Ariël, I’d love to be tradionally published at least once, but I love my own control. I’m happy editing and typesetting my own work, and I’ve got a good contact for covers. And I can do what I want and when.”
Alicia: “I’ve always wanted to do traditional publishing and I tried a few companies. One accepted (I think it was called Dorance) but I looked through and read the contract and discovered they were a vanity press and would accept anything so long as you can pay them. I was severely discouraged by that, and the fact that a few other companies I submitted to rejected it. I self-published because I was frustrated with the traditional route and I honestly had a free proof from doing NaNoWriMo.”
Ariël: “I’ve taken a few online classes, and now I can’t remember what almost any of them were to tell you, lol. I’ve taken several courses taught by Josiah DeGraaf, and I just had the opportunity to join the Young Writer’s Workshop put together by Alex Harris and Jaquelle Crowe, which I think is going to be a great learning opportunity. Other than that, I look to blogs and my writing friends for feedback. I have one self-published friend in particular who’s been a great help on writing-related stuff, and I tend to go back to her when I have big writing questions. It’s only been in the past one or maybe two years that I’ve had training of any sort aside from just going to friends for advice. Before that, I was entirely self-taught from reading blogs and trial-and-error. Books are an excellent tool. I first started writing because I wanted to imitate the books I loved, and I’ve kind of been doing the same thing ever since. We definitely get a lot just from reading and analyzing what we read.”
Anne: “No writing, editing, or publishing training. I taught myself everything (including cover design) and hired a professional editor and proofreader to do what I couldn’t. And while I haven’t had any writing training, I was a reader for 30+ years before writing a single word of fiction. I still maintain that reading is the best way to teach yourself to write.”
Teresa: “I have a Grad Dip in Publishing, from back in the early 2000s, so while it dealt with everything in the publishing industry, it was definitely traditional publishing oriented. My reason for doing it was because of my love of editing/proofreading, which I still enjoy, but it’s not my field of work. No training in writing, beyond what I picked up in that diploma and my UG studies. Concerning the self-publishing, I went along to workshops run by my local library, and we grew a writing/self-publishing group out of that that meets once a month. I learnt a lot from the workshops and general chatter. I do the editing myself but for my novel I did send it to a writing coach. I’d read and read and read it so much I wasn’t quite seeing the plot, and the coach was a great help. I’m definitely getting in touch with her again for the sequel.”
Alicia: “I’ve never done any training on any of it, truthfully. I had met a supernatural author on fictionpress who I discovered has multiple works published, I left a review on one of her stories and she read mine that I had, rather than reviewing in return she messaged me offering advice and assistance in the learning process. She said, ‘I see so much potential in your writing, but it is very raw. If you’re willing to take criticism and truly want to better your writing I would love to help.’ We went over each chapter about five times to get them right.”
Whitney: “If I didn’t hire someone, it was because I had competent experience. I didn’t hire editors because my husband is a professional. I also work for a marketing company, so I know a lot about the do’s and don’ts of self-marketing.”
Ariël: “I have published without the use of professionals.I wasn’t really focused on marketing my short stories at all, they were just kind of a fun bonus thing and a practice for future publishing, so I didn’t give them the same attention I’m giving my novel now. I wasn’t worried about them being perfect, and I knew that I could do those things (cover design, editing, etc.) on my own and with the help of family members. My whole family is really good with grammar and with spotting issues in a story, so I had my mom look over the short stories with me and that was it as far as editing goes. My mom and I designed the covers (and a number of people have talked about how beautiful the cover of Lost Girl is, or added them to Goodreads bookshelves that are dedicated to beautiful covers. Lost Girl was the first cover on one of those bookshelves, in fact.) And Lost Girl ended up getting a lot more attention than I’d even anticipated or been looking for. It’s gotten 3-star, 4-star, and 5-star reviews and has a 4-star average on Goodreads. I’ve found it shared on Pinterest boards and at least a dozen people, if not closer to 20, have added it as “to-read” on Goodreads. (Which I know is not a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but considering how little marketing I did and what my goals were with the story, it’s a lot.) All that to say, I didn’t get professionals because the story wasn’t a priority and I knew I could get good edits and cover design for free.”
Anne: “The only thing I did myself was my covers. Once I came close to finishing my second book, I knew it would be a series and since I write niche fiction, I can’t justify $500+ for a cover. So…I designed myself and had a graphic designer friend Photoshop wrangle a bit to smooth everything out. I did publish some short stories with covers I made in Word, though.”
Teresa: “I didn’t use any marketing because I didn’t publish to push myself as an author you just have to read. I published for myself first. Word of mouth is going fine and the reviews help too. Doubt I’ll ever use professional marketing. My mum and a writing friend beta-read, picked up some things I’d missed, and the writing coach did too, but I know how to edit so I’m not paying for it. I think you need another set of eyes on the story to see things you don’t, but they don’t have to be professional eyes at all.”
Alicia: “Well, until recently I didn’t have a professional editor and that was because all the professionals I could find were $2,000 or above for my novel and that is simply not in the budget. Cover design I actually had a friend do because I couldn’t, and I had no marketing because, again, simply no money for it.”
Petra is a published Indie author. She’s been writing all her life, but only dared to publish a book when she started writing the Somnia Series. She’s a motivational coach for (Fantasy) writers, offers all kinds of services on her own Dutch platform www.fantasyschrijfcoaching.nl, and uses her author’s website to help other writers achieve their writing goals. She loves using her platform to promote other Indie Authors who have the courage and determination to make their books worth your (reading) time.