Thursday, April 28, 2016

The Indie Road: No Man is an Island

I know, I know, I know.

"No man is an island" is horribly cliche.

But it is true.

I think there can be a tendency to go into indie publishing with a mindset of "OHMYGOODNESS I have to do this all by myself!!!"

And yeah... you kinda do. Kinda sorta anyway.

You are now your own publisher.

You make the decisions.

But just like any small-business, it is important not to rely on your strengths alone.

No, you don't have a corporation behind you. No, you don't have already built-in infrastructure and a bank account balance to support you.

But that doesn't mean you can, or should, do this by yourself.

What does a HEALTHY and SUCCESSFUL small business owner (which you are now...) do to overcome the island challenges?

1.) Network. They join groups with other small business owners so they can learn from each other and support each other. Networking in the writing business is SO IMPORTANT. I literally could not have indie published without the amazing support and help of fellow Indie authors. When I thought I was going to lose my mind, I could post on a Facebook group and instantly have responses of people who have been there, who have already traveled that road, who will give HONEST feedback, not "pat you on the back" fake encouragement. People who will tell you when your cover stinks. People who will talk you off a ledge when your KDP rejects your formatting. People who won't roll their eyes when you sheepishly ask what the heck KDP is anyway. There are a TON of these groups out there, you just have to network with other indies to find them. If you are serious about indie publishing, joining one or more of these groups, in my personal opinion, is the first step.

2.) Outsource. Instead of hiring staff that is costly, they do some of it themselves, and the rest they outsource. A big publisher has an accounting department, an editing department, a marketing department, a sales department. You have---well---you. You can't do it all, I hate to tell you. You can do a LOT of it though. Some of outsourcing will depend on your bank account, but remember that time is money too, as is quality. You may think covers should be super easy to do, I mean, YOU know what a good cover is, right? And some authors do a GREAT job of this. But if it takes you a month of work to design and format a cover--- and it is so-so and doesn't entice readers to buy it--- it might be worth a few hundred dollars to hire it out. In fact, it probably is. So you have to decide where YOUR strengths are and what you need help with.

3.) Listen. To those people who are criticizing you. Our culture today shouts that we need to ignore the haters and embrace our individuality. And maybe in some cases that is true... and that's fine if you want to. But just don't be surprised if you don't sell anything. The truth is, we are too close to our work. We NEED the input of others. We are not perfect, and whether you use beta readers or editors for the actual book, or hire an cover designer or do it yourself, listening for feedback is so important. YOU are the publisher. YOU make the final decision. But don't let that power go to your head. Don't let it make you think that your opinions are the only ones that matter--or are right. Would a small business owner tear up customer comment cards as stupid and ignorant? Not if they want to stay in business, they wouldn't.

4.) Observe. One of the best things a small business and an indie publisher can do is to study others. Study traditional publishers. What are they doing right? Study the successful indies. What are THEY doing right? Study the not-so-successful indies. What are they doing WRONG? This isn't being judgmental, it's being a good study and learning from those around you. It's called being wise and informed. Take some time to observe.

Let's chat!

Indie authors, how have you benefited from the help of other people on this journey? Do you have any points to add?

Prospective indie authors, any question? Anything surprise you or frustrate you? Have you thought about how you would need others, or were you excited about the whole "go-it-alone" idea of indie publishing?

Krista is a follower of Jesus, a wife, a mother, and writes romantic comedy. Her latest book A Side of Love, released February 29, 2016.  She blogs about finding JOY in the journey of LIFE at She is represented by Sarah Freese of Wordserve Literary.

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