In the article, “Intention of an Indie Author” I wrote about being laser-beam focused on my Weird Indie Publishing Project and what it cost me, personally. But the part of indie author life that also got dropped was “professional development” because I had over-extended myself following the “bling.”
Every Magpie knows the pull of that shiny thing over there that surely, must be, better than what he’s got now. Instead of “picking a lane” for keeping up while I was writing 10 hours/day, I was also doing every webinar and reading every newsletter that came my way. Overwhelmed, I had to draw a line: “The writing comes first because I have publicly shared the publishing deadlines!”
The Cosmic Thump of adrenal exhaustion reminded me that I was out of balance again. But keeping up, even when preoccupied with a massive project, didn’t have to be like that. Instead, I could have chosen one source and stuck with it until I finished the project and had time to explore the new shiny invitations.
Maybe that doesn’t make sense if you are new to indie publishing. But maybe you are someone who has just published a book — only one book — and that “baptism by fire” gave you a glimpse of the need to learn the business. Or, perhaps you’re like me, plodding along and learning as I go. Whoever you are, welcome to My Weird Indie Publishing Project!
Here’s a tiny sample of what has worked for me in my professional development, separated by media types.
Books and Blogs
I like the printed word. I can go at my pace, underline and write notes, and keep it forever if it’s valuable to me. Here are a few that I kept.
Dean Koontz introduced me to writing fiction with How to Write Best Selling Fiction in 1982. I love this book for many reasons, including the notion of “expanding the scope of genre plots to appeal to a wider audience.” Koontz books were not placed in a specific genre section of our bookstore. I also kept it for the last chapter, “Read, read, read!” in which he warns genre writers to read broadly and then offers a reading list to do it. Reviewers sometimes comment on my memoirs as reading like thrillers. LOL!
As a movie buff all my life, my writing began with a screenplay. Vicki King taught me about “story arc” in How to Write a Movie in 21 days. I attended her workshop in Denver, and when I couldn’t even begin one of the exercises because I had nothing to say, she whispered, “Write about that.” And my first screenplay, Hot Licks & the Bag Lady, was a finalist in the Telluride Indie Film festival.
Chris Fox, author of Write to Market, taught me what the numbers mean on Amazon and how to choose a topic that readers want to read. (Although I confess I’m not doing that when I’m writing memoirs!) Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright explained what they did and why in Write. Publish. Repeat. I appreciate learning from another’s experience.
Derek Murphy introduced me to my current book-cover designer on his blog, The Creative Indie.
But my mainstay mentor is Dave Chesson, author, blogger, and podcast guy who keeps me informed about “what’s happening now” on his blog, Kindlepreneur. That’s where I learned about book categories and how to use his constantly upgraded Kindle Rocket for the “heavy lifting” of keyword research.
Podcasts are less time-consuming than reading because you can listen to them everywhere. But I can read silently faster than anyone can talk, so I’ll stick with reading. However, if you’re one who prefers to listen, you can find successful indies sharing what they know on YouTube, like NY Times best-selling author Joanna Penn.
Dave Chesson, Kindlepreneur, covers all the bases: blog, podcast, and YouTube. Subscribe to the one that fits your preference. But for those who want a party atmosphere and the illusion of being part of the group, check out Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright at “The Smarter Artists.”
And then have a look at the blog by Smashwords Founder, Mark Coker: SMART AUTHOR. Coker is an aggregate publisher/distributor who has his own web page as do Amazon and Draft2Digital, but he’s been a leader in helping authors learn the publishing part of their business.
Earlier I mentioned that I don’t do podcasts. However, despite my preference for reading, I do use YouTube for the recorded classes purchased from Udemy, and for the various attempts by other authors to teach Scrivener. (It’s been on my list to learn, but I keep putting it off because it’s so confusing to me. Enter Facebook groups, where I learned I wasn’t “the only one…”)
My introduction to this concept was via Chandler Bolt’s Self-Publishing School. The benefits of such a group include: getting feedback for each step of the publishing process: your title, cover, description, and ideas for promotion. And, if you also subscribe to the “inner circle” SPS Facebook group ($50+/month), you’ll get weekly tutelage from the leaders as well as an opportunity to list your book’s launch date which might involve sales and/or people for your launch team.
Other Facebook groups I’ve joined are indie authors with a common purpose, like non-fiction, spiritual and self-help, and The Smarter Artists. I can drop in on my groups, offer support or an opinion on a poll, and get the same from them.
I’ve attended many webinars in the past five years. They are the current bling of professional development for everyone, not just indie authors. “The first one is free” is the current model; it’s typically a short program introducing the guest speaker’s course that will cost big bucks.
Two popular ones I attended in 2016 were Reader Magnets by author Nick Stephenson and Storyseller’s Boot Camp, a five-day intensive with Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and David Wright, the ones who do The Smarter Artist Summit in Austin, TX. I bought a ticket for the one this year not only as a carrot to finish the BURNOUT trilogy but also for the thrill of hanging out with people who are doing what I’m doing.
Doing My Blog
Someone recently asked, “Does blogging sell your books?” No. That’s not why I do it. Raking leaves doesn’t sell books, either, but I’m doing it in a few minutes.
One of the reasons I decided to continue blogging is for the self-imposed writing schedule. There’s a saying that the entry ticket to success in writing is writing a million words. Having blogged 1,000-word posts per week since November 2011, I’m getting closer to that figure (with my five published books so far). Blogging is practice in “fast writing” (draft) + learning more about editing + tweaking. It has been important enough for me to spend a minimum of four hours/post, 208 hours/year, sometimes much longer. But that can change…
Thanks, Heather Snow, for asking your thought-provoking question!
How about you?
How do you stay informed about your indie author writing business?
Till next time, please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi