Are You Tough Enough To Be Indie?

In days not so long past – well only a few years ago – being an indie author meant getting your books printed and shipped and then flogging them as best you could at local bookstores, coffee shops, tearooms, markets, writer groups or evenTupperware parties. It was hard going, but you got out to meet people and stayed fit carrying all those tomes with you wherever you went. And you sold some books.

Then the world turned upside down when the ebook and in particular the Kindle changed what it meant to be an indie author. I’ll skip all the work that has to be done in between the actual writing and publishing now as we all know about the hours, days, weeks and months of grunt work that must be done by an indie to get a book ready for ebook publication.

What has changed the most is how an indie author sells books. As an ebook is really just a little electronic file that can be transmitted in an instant to anywhere in the world, (or perhaps even as far as Gloth) it necessitates being online, engaged and becoming a rabid internet, blog, website, and social media user. You really need to ‘sell your soul for rock ‘n roll’ as the saying goes, because this is the new book marketing world – and it’s 24/7!

If you’re not committed, you’ll fail. Simple as that. You have to believe in yourself, take a lot of knocks and keep climbing up an ever-changing learning curve. If you’re satisfied with publishing a book on Amazon Kindle and selling a few books to family and friends, that’s fine, and a great new opportunity for many writers.

But if you want to succeed as an indie and be taken seriously and read by enough readers to put food on your table, you’ll need to be patient, tough, determined and have a bit of marketing mongrel about yourself. Are you ready?

Are You Tough Enough To Be Indie?
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20 thoughts on “Are You Tough Enough To Be Indie?

  • 04/06/2011 at 4:37 pm
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    I've said it before and I'll say it again Derek – Sage Advice. :)

  • 04/06/2011 at 5:29 pm
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    I'm in a quandary over exactly that qstn : am i writer or an entrepreneur? Is it possible to be both? Any sites I can look up about ppl who've actually pulled it off? Thanks in advance.

  • 04/06/2011 at 9:30 pm
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    There are no rules or sites to guide Icyhighs. It's a matter of finding what works for you and your potential readers. You just need to keep looking for opportunities to increase your exposure. Little by little I'm afraid. Some blogs have ideas, but in the end, it is normally takes 20 years to become an overnight success.

  • 04/06/2011 at 11:03 pm
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    thanks for responding man. i should say i belatedly checked your amazon page and see you're somewhat of a self-pub stalwart yourself (unless i'm thoroughly mistaken, didn't see any 'published by' thingys on your book covers) and clearly you're going great guns, so good on you and yes i'm a little embarassed about asking if u know anybody who's done it and succeeded!

  • 04/06/2011 at 11:21 pm
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    Yes, I'm a fully paid up member or the Indie writers masochists club Icyhighs! But by choice. Mainly because I'm not locked into one genre or horrid formula writing. I like the freedom to write what I want to write, when I want to write it. I'd love to have the support network of say J.K Rowlings, but I wouldn't want to write about Harry Potter all my life.

  • 04/06/2011 at 11:42 pm
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    Wise words. I was published in the bad old days before ebooks by a library publisher in the UK. Print runs of 400. Cover price of £18. How was it possible to promote them and have any hope of getting anyone, other than your nearest and dearest, to cough up that amount for a romance? This way is tons better, even if I do spend half my life on twitter, Facebook and heaven knows where else.

  • 04/06/2011 at 11:53 pm
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    I'm not that tough. It's just that I can do naught else. Letting go of the day job Nov 1 to go indie full-time. Like Leonard Cohen (sort of) sings, "There ain't no cure for love."

  • 05/06/2011 at 12:17 am
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    Respect man! I just don't understand how people afford it you know? I'd love to take the risk, if I had the money! Good luck with all your endeavors though. I'd like to say I'll buy one of your books to support the cause etc but fuck man 1 dollar = 50 Rupees. That's a pack of cigarettes and mints. You know? Good work though- it's great you're living the dream, and it's even better you worked your ass off (clearly) to get there.

  • 05/06/2011 at 1:21 am
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    Great post, Derek. Thanks! I was inspired to go the indie route by John Sundman. His work can be found here: http://www.wetmachine.com/

    I also find Christopher Meek's blog and newsletter jam-packed with valuable info for us "members of the Indie writers masochists club." His site is here: http://christophermeeks.weebly.com/

    Best of luck!

  • 05/06/2011 at 7:10 am
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    I still want a mainline publisher and a book made of paper(sorry tree if I will have to chop you down). Out of desperation I went for partnership publishing for a book last year and this has turned out such a bad experience that I will not do it again. Therefore, I've put all my trust in an agent now.

  • 05/06/2011 at 9:00 am
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    Good luck Chazz. The only problem with being an Indie is that you find you have very little time to actually write. The perversity of it!

    • 27/08/2011 at 1:26 am
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      Absolutely! Between tweets, blogs, facebooking, blog hopping, etc, who has time to write? Ack!

  • 05/06/2011 at 9:02 am
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    I know the story well Wendy. Yes, it's much better now, but it takes a lot of energy to keep at at it day in and day out. But we're tough huh? :)

  • 05/06/2011 at 10:30 am
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    Twenty years to become an overnight success? It's the Rip Van Winkle rule of publishing. I've only got two years to go, hooray!

    But it's fun along the way.

    Love marketing mongrel, how about a hashtag for that?

  • 05/06/2011 at 11:39 am
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    You are amazing Derek… I absolutely love your blog!!

  • 05/06/2011 at 12:59 pm
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    Well ~ rilzy ~ , what can I say? Thank you indeed, but it seems awfully inadequate after your fantastic comment. :))) The best I can do is:

    THANK YOU !!! THANK YOU !!! THANK YOU !!!

  • 05/06/2011 at 5:45 pm
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    Good blog. I don't know if people realize the work involved. My friends and I started a blog, hoping to provide readers with great reads they might've otherwise not picked up. We're reviewing lots of good stuff, some not so good, but hopefully the good will get to readers looking to try someone new. Best of luck to everyone. http://readyaimhookme.blogspot.com

  • 05/06/2011 at 9:03 pm
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    Couldn't agree more. Self-publishing my book has been a second job. I almost gave up just trying to format the stinkin' thing for print, ebook and Kindle. I know more about Word than I ever wanted to.

    I think marketing is not only time-consuming, but can be an uphill battle as we're combating the stigma of self-publishing. I wrote a guest post for BooksByWomen.org about how I respond when someone asks who published my book.

    http://booksbywomen.org/published-does-it-matter-how/

    Cyndi Tefft

  • 06/06/2011 at 9:28 pm
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    Thanks for all your great comments. Proof there are many self confident believers out there! Go for it. :))

Comments are closed.