Saturday, September 22, 2012

Indie Writer Overload...and what to do about it.


As an independent writer, the last couple of years have been extremely exciting. If you do a Google search or visit any one of the multitude of blogs out there you will find a plethora of enthusiastic articles about how great it is for indie writers these days, the many options, avenues and tools that are at their disposal.

And it’s true! This is indeed an exciting time for writers whose work is out of the ordinary or transcends genres. With the global economic crisis, many mainstream publishers have shored up the defences, preferring to exercise restraint rather than risk. Unless you were the next Dan Brown, chances are you would have a long wait ahead of you.

I myself have not been at this for a very long time, indie publishing that is. I’ve been writing for many years, creating, improving. I’m still at the beginning of my indie campaign to recruit legions of readers. With this post, I just wanted to share some of the thoughts I have to this point, some little insights. You will find articles like this all over the place, virtual pages where writers have outlined their thoughts. Well, these are mine. I’m still learning of course, but it is always a good idea to take stock with my mental quartermaster.

When I set about doing this, I thought Well, what do I have to lose? The publishing is free (depending on who you go with). No sense being armed with a novel or two and not marching out!

Little did I know how much work it would turn into. More options and avenues means more choices which means more work. And that’s fine since anything having to do with my writing doesn’t really feel like work in the usual sense. But there are times when my mind is spinning and no amount of list making or spreadsheet creation will help me get things in order. A bottle of Chianti is more likely to help.

There is no end to the tools at an indie writer’s disposal. You’ve got a host of self-publishing sites, blogs and do-it-yourself websites, reader-writer interactive websites like Goodreads and of course, the social media fortresses of Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and many more. Storming each of these can spread you pretty thinly. But that is not all.

Just because the book is written doesn’t mean you are finished. Some say that is the hardest part but I’m not sure I agree anymore. Being an ‘indie’ writer means that you are just that, ‘independent’; which means that unless you have some extra cash flow or a small money tree in your backyard, you will be going it alone.

So, on to formatting and cover creation, ISBN assignments and book trailer creation, book launches, guest blogs (here is mine), deadlines and endless revisions of critical paths. And then there is the marketing which involves all of the above avenues, online, offline, in person, on walls and well, in your sleep, because you rarely stop thinking about all of it. I never really knew about marketing before my indie campaign and I am still learning but it is a whole new world that every indie author needs to become familiar with. One site I have found particularly helpful is www.thecreativepenn.com . Check it out.

Most writers are solitary people, inward, but if you want to achieve success you must have a Caesar-like PRESENCE! and maintain that presence or else be forgotten.

Add to all this the ever-important family life, day job (which I have), exercise and general activity of living then, well, you are surrounded. The indie writer life is like trying to plan Rome’s invasion of Germania: it’s big, there are many variables, it is an uphill battle and if you leave your flank exposed, you’re dead.

There will be times when you think you have signed on to the Project Management School of “I’m insane and like to torture myself!”

Hold it! I forgot one detail, one activity on which the success of the campaign all hangs – THE WRITING! Is that not why we are doing this in the first place, because that’s what we are, writers who love to write? When does that happen?

For me the writing happens at every opportunity, every day, whenever I can get at it with my notepad or laptop. I love to get into the past, to write about it, to bring my own characters to life in a world long gone but certainly not forgotten.

These stolen moments of creativity are what keep me going.

But when the indie writer life does get to be too much, as it inevitably does, here are some random tips that might help.

  •         Stop. Take some deep breaths.
  •         Make a list – Prioritize
  •         Pick 1-3 social media and focus on those. This is an important one as there are so many out there. All you need are a couple to be effective. Social media and marketing can easily suck up your time.
  •         Create a weekly agenda for activities and stick to it. I’ve noticed that far fewer people are on social media from Tuesday to Thursday. Why not use those days for writing, editing or formatting?
  •         Meet with other writers to exchange ideas, enthusiasm and understanding. Therapy for the independently-minded!
  •         Build up your cava. (I threw that one in for fun!)
  •         Be patient! It all takes time and very few see overnight success. Stick to it, keep marching and you will see success eventually.
  •         Have fun! There is so much to learn, so many people to meet. The indie community is helpful and friendly.
  •         Keep Writing! This last because, of course, that’s the best art of it all. As long as the creativity and ideas are flowing, get the stories down on paper and Word.doc.

Be sure to give into your creative flow as often as possible. The more material you have, the better armed you will be.

That’s it for me. I’m tapped and there are other things to do. In the last two years I’ve learned so much and at the same time I have grown as a writer. My legions are marching forward and I’m taking on new recruits along the way. I’m battered and exhausted but, at the end of the day, I do so love it!
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