Part of the Indie Authors Series
One great thing about the indie author community is the willingness to help each other out. A quick search on the KBoards Writers’ Cafe forum can often provide information from those in the trenches who are ahead of us on the indie publishing journey. Everywhere we look, authors share the pros and cons of methods they’ve tried and “what not to do” advice.
So it’s no surprise that many new indie authors choose “virtual” mentors. We can watch what successful authors are doing and try to emulate them.
That’s a great technique, and one I’ve followed as well. However, we need to keep in mind that there’s no one right path to success. Many indie authors are successful, and they didn’t all do the same things as far as pricing, release schedules, choosing vendors, etc.
To that end, I’m thrilled to join the faculty for Janice’s Indie Author series, where I’m starting a series that digs deeper into the various indie publishing options. There’s no one right way to be an indie author, and hopefully, with a little information, we’ll be able to find the right method for us.
What Path Is Best for Us?
Because there are so many paths to success, we don’t want to limit ourselves by focusing only on one path or one virtual mentor. If our virtual mentor or source of advice has different goals from us, their decision-making process won’t match ours.
We want our choices to be best for us and our goals. And the only way we can know what advice is a good match for us is to know what our goals are.
The first goal that many people think about is income. Throughout much of the developed world, income is how we determine success. A job promotion might not feel like a promotion unless it comes with a raise, etc.
So it’s not surprising that income is the default measuring stick for many authors. Many want to quit their day job or be able to improve their family’s lives.
However, that measurement doesn’t work for everyone. Some authors would be happy making enough from their books to recover their costs for editors, cover artists, and formatters. Others want income but rank other goals just as high—or higher.
How Do You Measure Success?
On my blog, I’ve talked about the two ends of the author spectrum:
- Artist-Author: They don’t measure success by income. They write for the joy of writing, and money is a bonus.
- Professional-Author: They measure success against typical business-oriented specifics—namely, income.
There is nothing wrong with either kind of author. Both types can take the writing craft seriously, or either could release crap. These labels have nothing to do with quality; they’re only focused on how each type measures success.
Personally, I’m a mix. (Remember what I said about not focusing only on one path? *smile*) I have many of the attitudes of a Professional-Author (setting up business plans, etc.), but I don’t measure success by income alone.
Once we know where we fit along the continuum, we might have an easier time knowing what advice and publishing paths won’t work for us. From there, understanding what else matters to us can help us know more about the path we should take.
What Are Our Goals?
So if generating income is only one way to measure success, we need to widen our ideas and discover what resonates with us. Other possibilities include:
- Having as many readers as possible
- Landing on a bestseller list
- Reaching a high Amazon ranking
- Seeing high-star reviews
- Receiving a professional or industry review
- Collecting x-number of reviews
- Building momentum for the long haul
- Reaching a sales milestone (1000 copies, etc.)
- Being invited to participate in an anthology (especially with a favorite author)
- Writing and releasing as many books as possible
- Releasing only the best quality books
- Staying top-of-mind with readers
- Increasing visibility with potential readers
- Receiving fan mail
- Reaching other success measurements without doing something we hate (having to promo all the time, etc.)
- Having our book available in as many places as possible
- Being able to hold a print version of our book
- Releasing multiple versions of our books (audio, translated, etc.)
- Receiving an award
- Being invited to an event (speak to a group, booksigning, etc.)
- Increasing name recognition with readers
- Seeing our book on a bookstore shelf
- Witnessing someone reading our book “in the wild”
I could go on, but hopefully that makes my point. Every one of us could have different priorities, so someone else’s plan or advice might not work for us. The choices we make need to be right for our goals.
As this series continues, I’ll try to include not only the pros and cons of the different indie publishing paths, but also how each option might match up with different success-goals. I hope you’ll join me and share your insights!
Fueled by chocolate, she writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy tales that range from dark to humorous, but one thing remains the same: Normal need not apply. Just ask her family—and zombie cat.
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About Unintended Guardian, the free short story introduction to The Mythos Legacy:
Sunlight shouldn’t be deadly to Griff Cyrus. Determined to break his curse, he follows an oracle’s bizarre instructions to have a magical package shipped to his apartment. Since when do brown trucks deliver mystical cures?
A lonely woman craving the spice of life…
Kala Kaneko’s social life couldn’t be more bland. When a strange parcel arrives at her door by mistake, she seizes the excuse to introduce herself to the intended recipient, her mysterious neighbor.
Fate has a twisted sense of humor…
Griff expects the package to free him from the curse, but opening the box unleashes a mythical creature bent on Kala’s death. Yet if Griff follows his instincts to protect her, he could sacrifice his last chance at freedom.
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