My guest today is author Sharon Hamilton, who writes paranormal romance and contemporary SEAL romance in Northern California.
Is this Indie craze for you? Are you too late?
There are so many wonderful opportunities today for authors, especially with the rise of the Indie publishing wave. At the recent RWA Convention in NYC, I heard it said that this phenomenon is broadening the window a bit, giving readers more variety, and therefore expanding the numbers of authors who can participate. Indie has not only changed the lives of authors, but it has changed strategy for literary agents, and for publishers as well. The reader is now getting a plethora of new authors to explore, getting these books faster and cheaper. Will more books be sold? Are readers reading more than before? I don’t know the answer to those questions.
As with any changing market trend, there are pros and cons. Just when we think we’ve learned how it all works, everything changes again. Authors who never made much money on their books that languished out of print can resurrect them, dust them off, edit and re-launched in eBook format, where they can keep the lion’s share of the profits. This new life has brought instant riches for not only NYC best-selling authors, but mid-list authors as well. Author’s backlists are paying some serious bills, and allowing some to look forward to an actual retirement. Every week we are flooded with names of people making mega six figure incomes. It all looks so easy.
But this is only happening to some authors. In fact, most authors are not having this kind of success. And that’s what I want to talk about today.
I’ve already heard the grumbling about what way is the right way: traditional publishing vs. Indie publishing, and whether or not you can or can’t do both. It is an individual decision, and a hot ongoing debate. Not everyone likes to do self-promotion, multiple blog hopping. Not everyone wants to hire an editor or design their own covers. Some people lack confidence and others are fearless. Both of these groups will have failures, and successes.
With all the blogs and loop news, it’s pretty hard not to feel, if you haven’t tried Indie publishing, that perhaps you have missed the boat already. Or, if you have, and your sales are not phenomenal, like other author’s sales, that perhaps you aren’t a good writer.
I’m happy for the successes I read about. But some days I have to work to remind myself, “Don’t compare your insides with someone else’s outsides.” Now that sales and rankings are so public, it’s harder to ignore the boisterous whoo hoo’s on our loops. For some writers, all this good news can be debilitating. We question ourselves, when we should be doing the opposite. And who said a top-ranked book on Amazon is any better than a non-top-ranked? Haven’t we all read some real NYT- Best-Selling stinkers?
What I say is just let go of all that chatter going on inside your head. Just focus on telling the story you were born to tell (thank you, Brenda Novak for that jewel). Be the best writer you can be. Expand and try something new, but do it your way. Your way may not be the way everyone else does it. AND THAT’S JUST FINE.
If you are new to this, try putting something up Indie and dip your toe in the water. It’s like eating the elephant one bit at a time. You can’t do it all at once, or you’ll spread yourself too thin. But if you jump in, just a little, you’ll find it not as scary as it seems at first. If you’ve been a successful traditionally published author and don’t want to try the Indie craze, don’t. Stick with what works.
Be realistic about your craft level and your ability and desire to promote yourself and your books.
Remember, most Indie published authors don’t get the home run the first time they hit the market. It often takes 3-5 books before sales start increasing. And I’ve talked to authors that had to get 8 up before they saw their sales figures start to spike. We all know the authors who wrote a dozen or more books before they sold their first one. Guess what? Some things never change!
It can be discouraging if you haven’t sold lots of books, either traditionally published or Indie. No one knows the answer, or has the monopoly on all the good ideas. Most of it is trial and error.
I say don’t let the success or failure of those around you, or even your own ego get in the way. Tackle a few new things and incorporate what you comfortably can into your writing lifestyle, and run with it. Don’t try to do it all. Ask for help, but don’t expect you’ll be able to duplicate what they do.
We always overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can achieve in a year. Give yourself the time to grow into the writer you want to be.
Mark Twain said the difference between a published author and a non-published author is that a published author kept writing until he got published.
Becoming a great writer takes focus and the desire to be great. It doesn’t happen by accident. And it has little to do with natural talent, and everything to do with stamina. Other authors might make it look easy. But the reality is, becoming a successful author is still a lot of work.
I leave you with one of my favorite quotes, from G. Eliot: It’s never too late to be what you could have been.
For more about Sharon, you can find her at her blog and at her website. Her debut novel, ANGEL, is available in eformat.