December 19, 2016

The Many Hats of an Indie Author

Writing for me has very much transformed from just a hobby into something much more. In the back of my mind, I knew that there would be more to being an author than just writing books. But as I'm gearing up for the release of my first book, I'm very much realizing how much work is entailed in being an author.

I've had to readjust my perspective. If I want to be successful in indie publishing, I need to treat it as my job. I thought I'd make a rough list of all the 'hats' I've worn so far as a writer to let others who are considering self-publishing know how much an indie author does.

Idea Generator

Sometimes you get lucky and an idea pops into your head and won't let go until you follow through. And sometimes it's a dry spell with no ideas in sight. I can't just wait for inspiration to come to me. I need to seek it out. I've already written a post on how I find inspiration. You can read it here.


Any writer's research includes reading lots of books in their genre. At least that's what I tell my husband when I buy yet another sci-fi dystopian strong female protagonist novel. It helps to know what's been done, what's been done too many times, and what readers tend to expect.

Once I have an idea pinned down, I get into more specific research. How do other stories handle warp travel? What's the structural integrity of concrete? What's all the folklore associated with unicorns? How does cloud storage actually work? Once I have all the information collected, I can switch hats to:


My favorite part. Writing. Sit down with a scene or two in mind, and let them flow from my fingers to the keyboard and on the computer screen. I hope everyone gets that gut gripping feeling that need to create something beautiful. Just that feeling makes the whole writing thing worth it to me.


"You're your own worst critic." Nothing I make will be perfect, but I can at least find most of the plot holes and pave them over along with a spelling and grammar check.


This is really where I feel the differentiation between hobby and business lies: eliciting help from other people. Some people have gladly helped with my novel for just the chance to read my work (even though it was still pretty rough). But for other things, I wanted professional help. That meant seeking out businesses and freelancers, weeding through potential services to hire, and making sure everyone I do hire does their job. Some do an amazing job (I highly recommend Bublish) and some can be stinkers (I'm looking at you fiverr). In the end, it's my name on my book, so I want to make sure I have good help backing me.


I've used so many programs to get the most beautiful print and ebook I could make. Scrivener, Komodo Edit 10, Sigil, KindleGen, and Word (I have a tenuous relationship with Word-- you can read more about it on this post). Not to mention all the fonts I downloaded, coding I learned, and hours spent trying to get Kindle Direct Publishing to accept the formatting on my ebook. I guess the idea was that if I learned to do all of this myself, I wouldn't ever need to hire someone to format for me.

I probably should have hired someone.

Graphic Designer

Around 10 years ago when I was a student at Georgia Tech (was it really that long ago?) there were photoshop classes every week in the library. Since I attended several of those classes and knew what layers were, I figured I was a good candidate to make my own cover. I'm very proud of the cover I've made for The End of Refuge, but it was a heck of a lot of work to get there. (If anyone wants to hear about how I came up with the cover, let me know!) I've learned the pros and cons of stock photos along with what elements make a good cover vs a bad one.


I never thought about distribution being a big deal. Just sling an eBook on Amazon and be done with it, right? When looking back at my reading habits, choosing just one store for my book didn't make sense. iBooks is so easy to use with iPhones and iPads. Readers can read books for free on Nook while at a Barnes & Nobles. These are great features I need to take advantage of. I'm hoping that selling on multiple platforms will pay off in the end.


By public relations, I mean social media. This was one of those things I needed help with. I use to only occasionally post on facebook, but now I've found a community of writers and readers on twitter and Instagram as well. I'm making myself visible and approachable, and hopefully entertaining as well.


Since The End of Refuge hasn't released yet, I haven't really delved into marketing, but at some point, I'll have to consider running ads to help make my books visible to readers.


Being a former banker, you'd think I'd enjoy this part. But, no, I do not. Since I'm treating my writing as a business, I need to keep in mind the fiscal and tax implications of that. I'm keeping track of receipts and calculating the taxes I'll need to pay on royalties. As soon as I'm selling my creation, I'm operating a business and need to treat it as such.

We'll see if I need to take on even more hats in the future. Like I said, these are just the roles I've taken on before my first book release. My journey is far from over.

Since my next post will be after Christmas, I want to wish you all a happy holiday. Surround yourself with friends, family, and loved ones. That's what I'll be doing!

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