Indie publishing (or self publishing) has come a long way since I launched my first book nine years ago. But there are some things that remain constant. Whether you’re just starting out on this career, or you’re thigh-deep in backlist, there are some nuggets here for you…
1. Don’t compare yourself to other people, and that should stay true throughout your career. Comparison gets you nowhere, and eats your brain alive. Nobody wants that.
2. You don’t have to write every day, but you do have to write. Don’t get caught up in running your business. Remember why you started in the first place. Writing. Don’t forget to keep writing, because that’s where the joy lives. Also the pain. But it’s alive, juicy, delicious pain. And you’ll always be glad you did.
3. Work out the kind of writer you are. Fast & often? Three-week burst? Slow & steady? Also remember, this changes all the time. If the blank page scares you, use a writing prompt. Also, writing sprints are your friend. Set a time, and show up. Get the words done.
4. Live life. Refill your creative well. You can’t be a creative without doing things that you love, or seeing places and making connections that could inspire your next project. If you’re just sat in a room staring at your screen, dreaming up new scenarios will be that much harder.
5. If you’re going into doing this full time, you will not have as much writing time as you think. Because you are also running a business and connecting with readers. That is all part of it. Accept that. New full-time writers often think they will write eight hours a day, treating it like a day job. You won’t. But if you want to be successful, you will work harder than you ever have for anyone else.
6. Decide whether to go wide or go into Kindle Unlimited. Do the research on your genre, and make the decision. Go into it informed, and stick to your plan for at least six months, perhaps longer. If it’s not working, you can always change your mind. Nobody is watching you. This is your career. Do what you want to do.
7. Make friends with other writers who are at the same stage of the journey as you so that you can help each other and moan about writing. We all like a good moan about writing. Do this via local or online writer groups, and at conferences and events. Follow writers who are a few steps ahead to learn from them. Have an open mind. Take advice from those who’ve done it already. Especially the ones who make you smile.
8. Make sure you set up a proper business bank account and keep your receipts. You’re running a business now, it ain’t no hobby, put those drinks and dinners through the books. Listen to podcasts and don’t be afraid to try new things. Change is constant, so being able to learn and adapt is crucial in publishing, just as it is in life.
9. Get a proper editor and a proper cover designer. You will never regret these decisions. You cannot do your own editing and cover design, even if you think you can. Trust me on this. Lean into the skills you have: writing and producing books. Outsource the other key ingredients. Your readers will appreciate it, as will you.
10. Don’t get caught up in perfection. There is no such thing. Once your book is written and edited, release it into the world. Whenever you start a new book, you have a vision of it in your head. What you end up with is never the same. It’s different. That’s okay. Finish it, publish it, move onto the next book. Perfection isn’t a real thing. It only exists in your head. Push it away, move on, just keep going.
My 11th tip? Hydrate. Sleep. Daydream. Write. It’s a simple plan, but it’s all about the execution. Most of all, have fun. Good luck!