9 Tips for Indie Writers

I’ve learned things since becoming an indie writer. A lot of it I learned on my own, as I went, as I navigated the vast wasteland that is Indie Land. There’s always more to learn. Trends changes. The industry changes and evolves.

Here are some bullet points of things every indie writer needs to know:

1 – be optimistic. Yeah, the odds are not in your favor when it comes to throwing your self-published book into the waters. There are millions of other books out there, from well-known writers, from writers with huge marketing budgets, from the constantly flowing indie machine. Don’t let those odds weigh you down. You’ve got to stay positive or you’ll lose your mind.

2 – be realistic. This doesn’t mean “be pessimistic.” It means to be real about what you’re doing. You are not going to write the next Harry Potter. No one is. Writing a book is hard. Writer a good book is harder. Marketing is a nightmare and a half. Pushing your book is hard. Waiting for the sales to come in – and when they don’t – is torture. All lot of readers turn up their nose at indie books. You are selling a product; not everyone will want that product. Most traditionally published writers still have day jobs.

3 – be persistent. Publication is not the end-all destination. It’s a way point. If you self-published your first book, query agents for your second book. You never know. Many traditionally published authors didn’t published their “first” book. Always be on the lookout for book bloggers, possible avenues for getting your name out there (book fairs, events at libraries, giveaways, etc.)

4 – writing advice is cheap. Everyone and their sister can tell you how to writer. No adverbs. No dialog tags. Don’t use the word “got.” Take in all the writing advice you can, and from the mess of it all, form your writing style. Best way to do this is to READ. See how your favorite writers write.

5 – be humble. An arrogant author with “a book I know you’ll love,” is a turn off.

6 – take a break after each draft and revision. One you’ve finished a draft, set it aside for at least a month, maybe two, until you feel separated enough that you can return to it with fresh, unbiased eyes. You’ll see things you didn’t before.

7 – find beta readers. Strangers on the internet will likely tell you exactly what they don’t like about your novel. It’s better to hear it before you rush to publish than in the low-star reviews.

8 – don’t rush. This might be the most important thing I’ve learned. Don’t rush to get your book out there as fast as possible. Maybe when you thought you were in the final draft, you discovered a plot hole. Don’t shrug it off and publish it anyway. Fix that hole, even if it means doing a whole face lift of your novel. It’s better to wait and do it right than do it quick and regret. Readers are smart and unforgiving.

9 – Read. Seriously, if you want to be a published writer, you need to be reading. You need to know what is being published, what’s been published, and what has been done a thousand times. By reading, you’ll see tropes that reappear in your genre; by reading, you’ll get a better feel for how language works to create stories and plots and people. By reading, you’ll see how other writers hold the tension and create drama and unfurl magical adventures.

That’s all that I can think of. Anyone out there got advice they learned the hard way?

Oh, and all the other stuff like getting a profession cover done and finding an editor and formatting. That stuff’s important to.

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