What I have learned this year #18 – Indie Publishing

So, so, so much about writing and independent publishing, but clearly not enough to know I should never begin a sentence with so…

If you are on the indie-publishing journey my points below might help.

  1. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Seek out information that is relevant to your current stage, and add a little more to which you can aspire. There’s little point joining a 20Booksto50k group if you’re still writing your first novel except to inspire you occasionally.
  2. Despite the number of people who have told me that you still have to do all the marketing with a traditional publishing ‘deal’ I still want one. Just for the bragging rights.
  3. The word memento is spelled just like that, with an e where I thought an o should go. There you go.
  4. Most independent writers/publishers I have met are far more honest than visual artists about their sales. I’ve met a lot of both and my research has shown that visual artists, with rare exceptions, can lie like pigs in the mud about their sales while the writers I’ve met are brutally honest. Correct me if I’m wrong. Maybe, and I suspect this could be true, that I am meeting the right kinds of people now. And I am talking about social media here. If you are talking face to face with a visual artist they will tell you the grim reality while their social media is flooded with upbeat stories about their latest sales. Humans!
  5. Neil Gaiman breaks most of Stephen King’s writing rules. As does Dan Brown. Steve breaks them himself. I struggled through the first 8 chapters of Dan Brown’s latest epic. It has all the Id stuff I love but holy shit did it bore me to tears. Too much foreshadowing and not enough story.
  6. People will beg you to put out a paperback but they still might not buy it. Pace yourself.
  7. Writing good books is really hard. Selling them is hard too. I had advice from various channels this year that the better the book, the easier it is to sell. No shit, Sherlock, but then this advice has been the best advice I’ve had all year.
  8. When you write a blog and want people to pin it, add a cute little graphic somewhere with your blog details. ta-daaaa

9. Despite what some already well-established writers say, indie writers need a platform. The bigger and more engaged the better. I started the I Love Paris Facebook page (search @ParisTimeTravel) nearly 7 years ago while I had a very child-like memoir written and nothing else. It plodded along and has doubled in membership to over 3000 Paris Lovers since I clicked publish on my first book in March this year. They are highly engaged and I don’t bullshit them! Some of them have read the novel, others are just there for the pretty pictures which is great too. Yes, I get the occasional weirdo who contacts me using a direct message but I have an excellent spiel saved in Notes that thanks them for their interest in my book and mentions quite prominently that I do not live in Paris and that I am married. Works every time!

10. Spending two hours a day developing said platform and ‘networking’ in writer’s groups on Facebook is NOT a good use of my time.

11. Printing out your manuscript and having it bound is a great way to find errors etc. I re-wrote the first two chapters after reading them in print form. The story had distracting elements that I feared would turn people off. As I’ve mentioned here before, at the end of the day, I want to entertain people and sell books

12. Joining the Gold Coast Writer’s Association was one of the best things I have done. I have met so many lovely people who are on the same path.

13. I don’t NEED to write a biography but a memoir or a couple of them, are quietly brewing inside me. The first is called Remembering Paris and is going to be creative non-fiction or memoir in chapters. I have so much of it written in a notebook that I started last time I was in Paris, I just need to work out what I am trying to say with it.

14. Joanna Penn’s podcast The Creative Penn is AWESOME. Sometimes I feel as though some of it is over my head, but for the most part I am so inspired by her indie story. I also love the Beautiful Writer’s podcast but they rarely release an episode. 

15. The trick to writing is exactly that; daily writing. Make a habit of writing. Nothing else will get the work done. As the saying goes, holes are dug with shovel-loads of dirt.

16. Learning to write in high-school is not enough, especially if it’s been decades since you sat in a classroom. My craft has improved this year because I’ve read books on how to write and attended talks. I read a lot, but unfortunately craft is something we must consciously work on.

17. Nanowrimo can be a bit of a head-fuck. Don’t take it too seriously when people brag in forums about finishing their 50K words in 5 days. See point #4. I’ve done 40K in April for Camp Nanowrimo and scraped by my 50K in November. I’m so glad I did it, but I will approach Camp in April and Nanowrimo in November 2019 from a very different perspective.

18. Making an Id list was a great idea. 

19. The break times between writing sessions are where the ideas are formed. Keep a notebook on hand.

20. Being messy is something I need to embrace. Maybe next year…

21. I don’t know where my ideas form, but I suspect it has something to do with the daily writing. I definitely have writer’s diarrhea not writer’s block!

22. Medium is great and I have no idea why I ignore it. 

23. I am not an editor. sigh…

24. Writing about an imagined future is easier than writing about the past. I.e. Making stuff up is easier than writing about actual events.

25. The main reason people want a trad publishing deal is because they think it will be easier, but you still have to do all your own marketing and most agents/publishers want to see an existing platform before they’ll take you on. Of course, I am sure all that goes out the window if you’ve written the most amazing book they’ve ever read.

That’s probably enough for now. It’s been a huge learning curve this year and I am very much looking forward to learning more in 2019.