I realize that not everyone is participating in NaNoWriMo. Maybe you have a manuscript that needs one last edit before you’re ready to send out your query. Maybe you’re just not a masochist.
Whatever your reason, I have asked S.M. Boyce from Boyce’s Writing Corner, an Amazon bestseller and author of the Grimoire Saga, to help you by discussing
Things NOT To Do as an Indie Author:
You know, I was hesitant to use this title. It’s better to focus on the positive aspects of life, especially since we’re creative types who make art with words. But there is value in understanding what not to do, so I’m here to share a few mistakes I’ve seen others make (and a few which I’ve done myself).
I’m going to write this out of order, with no timeline in mind. Approach this from the mindset of a published author with at least one book published (in stores, not in the works). Even if you’re not there yet, it’s important to know where you’re going and learn some important lessons that will make you more professional when you get there.
Lesson One—Don’t Cut Corners
You should not publish as an indie author if you haven’t first done this:
Had a critique circle or group of beta readers read your manuscript.
Hired a professional editor to comb through your work. Look for a copyeditor. I recommend Chase Editing.
Researched distribution, marketing, and business best practices so that you start with your best foot forward.
Anyone can publish a book nowadays—all you need is an internet connection, an Amazon KDP account, and a Word document with text in it. But successful authors have the drive, the attention to detail, and the dedication to quality that cannot be matched. It’s hard work. It’s grueling. And it’s so worth it.
If you want some insight on my process, look at this post on my editing schedule. It’s intense—you don’t have to go this far. But I strive to release only high-quality novels, and this is how I do it. While you’re there, look at the other posts I have on editing, too.
Lesson Two—Do Not Read Reviews
…unless you can do so with really thick skin. And even then… don’t. And I’m a hypocrite, because I totally do.
Here’s the thing with reviews: positive or negative, a review is an opinion. What’s more, it’s an opinion of your work. That is called criticism. And as an author, you’d better learn to accept criticism before, during, and after publication. It’s not going to go away because you’re published.
If you can’t handle someone telling the internet in an Amazon review that your book sucked, do not read reviews. If you can—because you realize that this is just an opinion to which everyone is entitled—then I applaud your thick skin. But let’s be honest. It still stung a little.
Not everyone will enjoy your novel, and some people will be pretty vocal about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’re a bad writer; if you hired a proper editor and take pride in the quality of your work, it means they don’t like your style or characters. And that’s okay. It’s important to learn when to take negative criticism and when to pass. Hopefully, you’ve already learned this from your critique circles (mentioned above).
Here are some more tips and posts about reviews and how to handle them.
I read reviews on distribution sites so that I can monitor my books’ review health. Reviews play into sales, after all, and it’s important to know your average ratings and “most helpful” reviews. But if it will ruin your day to see a one star in the “most recent” section, ask a friend to monitor for you. Being an author isn’t all hot coffee and raving fans.
Lesson Three—Don’t Lose the Passion
If you forget to have fun, you’ll forget why you enjoy writing. Indies wear all the hats of a business: accountant, cover designer, business manager, marketer, and goodness forbid it, the author too. If you get lost in the piles of papers and let the stress consume your life, all of your hard work and endless hours spent at your keyboard will lose their meaning.
Last year, I was so caught up in my writing business I hated being pulled away from my computer to do “tiresome” things like eating and visiting real people face-to-face. I felt guilted into going places or spend time with my own family (who I adore and who light up my life). It wasn’t until my mom and I had a painful heart-to-heart that I realized I’d become too focused. I didn’t even think that was a thing. I’ve lightened up since then, to say the least.
It is so important to laugh at yourself. To have fun. Live in the now. I know that sounds hippy-dippy, but enjoy where you are, right now. Take a look around. Are you at your desk? The train? Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and remember the last wonderful thing that happened to you—something that just made you smile, even if it isn’t writing related. Hold onto it for a second. Really feel and savor the joy that comes with that memory.
If you need some inspiration or a pick-me-up, check out this thread of posts on the subject or visit one of my Pinterest boards for some inspirational quotes to get you moving. Your life is not 100% about your writing. Will the successful put in countless hours and work tirelessly to get stuff done? Yes. But they’re allowed to enjoy life, too.
Lesson Four—Do Not Be a Victim
Grow thick skin. I can’t stress this enough.
Our writing is art: it’s subjective. Your novel may inspire one person and deeply insult another. Our differences make us who we are, and our opinion of a novel is an expression of ourselves.
You can cry at home over a glass of wine and some chocolate if you feel a reviewer dug her nails into you. But by no means should you mount a counter-attack against her, nor should you smear her name on social media in some twisted version of “justice.”
The moment you hit publish, you become a public figure. People will watch you. Some people will love you. Some people will dislike you. Some people will shrug and keep walking. But no matter what, your internet presence and courtesy will affect your public image and your sales. You are a professional, not a victim.
Lesson Five—Don’t Do This Alone
You can’t. It’s a slow, painful road if you try it that way.
To do well, you must network, and you must build a tribe of like-minded lovelies who support each other. It’s usually best to find authors on your level, or some above who want to mentor others. And when you find them, support them however they need to be supported—tweeted, consoled, treated, facebooked, blogged. You get the idea.
A tribe is a family that you love and support. When you have a solid tribe, you’ll have a community that’s there for you when you need them—and vice versa. It’s a powerful force.
Lesson Six—Don’t Take Your Fans for Granted
Fans are the reason writers become authors. Fans are an author’s lifeblood. I revere my fans. I adore my readers. They are royalty to me. I have entire photo albums dedicated to their awesomeness.
I will take photos with my readers, sign anything they ask me to, and treat them with the respect they deserve. If my novel inspires someone enough to seek me out like that, I will treat them like the gods and goddesses they are—they fuel me, and fans are one of the best parts of my writing career.
Do not ignore them. Do not dismiss them. Do not be rude to them. They will lose interest in you, and you will realize too late how beautiful and crucial they are in your success.
The Bottom Line
I could go on for ages, here. The writing world is ever-changing and crazy, but it’s so much fun. If you would like a digital mentor and guide, check out my Writer’s Corner. It’s a fun, free place where we host discussions, trends, reviews, and more.
And of course, if you have a specific question that hasn’t been answered, feel free to post it in the comments of an existing post. I’ll work out an answer and connect with you to see how I can help.
About S. M. Boyce
International Amazon Bestseller. Fantasy Author. Twitter addict. Book Blogger. Geek. Sarcastic. Gooey. Odd. Author of the action-packed Grimoire Saga.
S.M. Boyce is a novelist who loves ghosts, magic, and spooky things. She prefers loose-leaf tea, reads far too many books, and is always cold. She’s married to her soul mate and couldn’t be happier. Her B.A. in Creative Writing qualifies her to serve you french fries.
Boyce likes to update her blog a few times each week so that you have something to wake you up in the morning.
About Lichgates (Grimoire Saga #1)
Lichgates is free right now on all major platforms. Grab your copy while you can!
Kara Magari is about to discover a beautiful world full of terrifying things—Ourea.
Kara, a college student still reeling from her mother’s recent death, has no idea the hidden world of Ourea even exists until a freak storm traps her in a sunken library. With no way out, she opens an ancient book of magic called the Grimoire and unwittingly becomes its master, which means Kara now wields the cursed book’s untamed power. Discovered by Ourea’s royalty, she becomes an unwilling pawn in a generations-old conflict—a war intensified by her arrival. In this world of chilling creatures and betrayal, Kara shouldn’t trust anyone… but she’s being hunted and can’t survive on her own. She drops her guard when Braeden, a native soldier with a dark secret, vows to keep her safe. And though she doesn’t know it, her growing attraction to him may just be her undoing.
For twelve years, Braeden Drakonin has lived a lie. The Grimoire is his one chance at redemption, and it lands in his lap when Kara Magari comes into his life. Though he begins to care for this human girl, there is something he wants more. He wants the Grimoire.
Welcome to Ourea, where only the cunning survive.