The Business of Being an Author: Taking the Advice That Feels Right to Me

In Leo Babauta’s post about how he conducts his business, he talks about the mistakes he’s made as he’s built his business. I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes as well. I learned that I need to stop worrying so much about what others say or do, and I learned that I had to take the advice that feels right and forget the rest.

There are a lot of proclamations out there about the right way to be an indie author. Do this! Don’t do that! Your book will die a slow and violent death if you even consider the other thing over there! Like other authors, I’ve read voraciously about publishing and marketing, and when I began my journey as an indie author in 2011, I tried to do everything I read about, which only made me hyperventilate with the sheer abundance of all the information.

There are so many rules to follow when you’re an author. I had to have an author platform. I had to be discoverable. I had to find where my readers hang out online and comment on blogs where I wanted to be noticed, though I had to be careful how I commented so I wouldn’t offend anybody. I had to blog 3-4 times a week, or two times a week, or once a week, depending on whose advice I was reading. I had to have a static landing page on my website and not the most recent blog post (oops!). I had to understand Amazon’s algorithms. I had to understand Google search engines and keyword searches and SEO (which, to be honest, I still don’t understand). I had to follow the ten steps to a perfect book launch. I had to succeed (whatever that means) at social media, and I had to conduct my social media accounts just so. I had to become an expert in something. I had to market to readers, not writers. I read that one way to gain readers is to create classes and booklets and freebies to give away, so I wracked my brain trying to think of something I could create or sell that hasn’t been done to death and came up empty-handed and frustrated. I read about ads and affiliate marketing. Don’t get me started on book pricing. First I read an article that said 99 cents is the right price for indie books so I changed the prices to 99 cents. Then a few days later I read something that said $2.99 was the correct price point so I changed the price to $2.99. Then I read an article that said something else all together and I changed the prices again. And again.

After making myself crazy for months, maybe even a year, I realized I couldn’t do everything I read about because, first, a lot of the so-called rules are contradictory, and, second, some of it simply didn’t feel right to me (Leo’s rule #11: Do what feels right). I stopped reading everything about being an indie publisher in favor of sticking with the blogs I trust (see my #1). I gave up on the platform idea a long time ago. I don’t imagine I’ll be seen as an expert in anything any time soon. From time to time I pretend to know a thing or two about writing, though I’m merely sharing what’s worked for me in hopes that it will be helpful to others. I post, pin, and tweet what I want. I now set my e-book prices based on my own trial and error, not because someone else proclaimed the correct price. I’ve learned to do what feels right for my books, and for me, and I no longer allow proclamations to rule my decisions. I’m no longer looking to others for the answer to how to be an indie author. I’m making those decisions for myself, which, after all, is one of the joys of being indie.

5 thoughts on “The Business of Being an Author: Taking the Advice That Feels Right to Me

  1. Reblogged this on Tea Talks and commented:
    Some great advice here. A voice of reason in a choppy sea of advice. I log on and sometimes feel I’m drowning it. I’ve self published a collection of short stories and my first book will be out later next month. I blog about things that interest me, try to engage with people that interest me, work to a marketing plan that works for me, utilising my strengths and my resources. In an ideal world I’m sure there’s more I could do, but I strongly suspect that much of the pleasure might be sucked out of it… After all isn’t that why I still log in and grind out there in the real world with my day job?

  2. Thank you so much for this. A voice of reason in a choppy sea of advice. I log on and sometimes feel I’m drowning it. I’ve self published a collection of short stories and my first book will be out later next month. I blog about things that interest me, try to engage with people that interest me, work to a marketing plan that works for me, utilising my strengths and my resources. In an ideal world I’m sure there’s more I could do, but I strongly suspect that much of the pleasure might be sucked out of it… After all isn’t that why I still log in and grind out there in the real world with my day job?

    • I’m so glad you mentioned still having a day job, because so do I. I think having a steady primary income is the reason I don’t feel weighted down by the business aspect of being an author. In fact, I’m going to talk a bit about that in a later post. I’m so glad you found this useful. Best of luck with your collection of short stories and your first book. How exciting!