This indie author thing is a steep learning curve for a lot of people. In my experience the thing that most people don’t realise, or don’t understand, is being an indie author means being an entrepreneur. You are starting up a business. Running a business by yourself is incredibly stressful, there’s so much pressure there.
Let’s just break it down a bit shall we?
You need to organise your own cover art, editing, formatting, and marketing.
You have to research and understand your market.
You need to hit self-imposed deadliness.
Your income, is entirely dependent on you. There are no sick days, no paid vacation. If you and your books don’t perform, you don’t get paid that month.
You have to do the paperwork associated with a business, those wonderful taxes we all love so much /sarcasm.
It’d be pretty nice if you managed to keep your home nice, eat, and sleep once in a while.
That’s a lot of pressure, a lot of stress.
This is something that I’ve been really feeling as of late. I’m a freelance editor so I have to keep on top of that business, the associated work, paperwork, PR, etc. I have to do all the usual house stuff, all the cooking, cleaning, etc. Then I’m also trying to get these new series written and prepped, while keeping an eye on my other books under other names. There’s also the constant nagging reminder in the back of my mind that I really want this new series to do well, that I’ve put two years into this series. That I really want to be a full-time indie author within a year.
Juggling all of this, is hard.
It can feel like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.
I have some ways that can help though, because I know I’m not alone in this. I know that there are many of you out there who are feeling this same pressure and fear that I am.
Step one: Remember that you’re not alone. I’m fortunate to have a very supportive and wonderful husband. It’s ok if you don’t, there are so many amazing writers out there who are in the same boat as you. We will help you. We’ll send you that kitten picture that makes you smile and snaps you out of the ennui, we’ll crack that awful joke, we’ll remind you of the line we thought was absolutely incredible. You’re not alone.
Step two: Break it down into two groups. Things you can control, and things you can’t control. Stress is caused by a lack of control, a feeling of helplessness. This is a hard step but you need to let go of the things you can’t control. Focus on the things that you can control. Making progress on those things will make you feel a million times better and get you to where you need to be so much quicker.
Step three: Cut out inefficiency. Time is precious, you need to understand how you work so that you can make the most of what time you do have. I recommend using something like Toggl or Kaban Flow. They are free in-browser time-tracking thingymabobs. Toggl can be used to track how long you spent doing what – great for freelancers who charge by the hour. Kaban Flow is more of a to do list, and it has a pomodoro timer built in that can be used to again, see how much time everything takes and where your day goes. Seeing what you spend your time on, and where you can streamline is fantastic and will help with step four.
Step four: Take time for yourself and set limits on your work hours. You need time to wind down, switch off, and completely relax. Give yourself a minimum of an hour before bed to watch awful tv, listen to classical music, drink bourbon, whatever you do that puts you into that wonderfully mellow chilled-out state. Shrug off any guilt you might feel and remind yourself that if you don’t do that, you’re going to burn out. You’re going to snap, and that will put you back at square one. We are not machines.
Step five: Have back-up plans in place. If Amazon suddenly goes under, or decides it’s going to drop its royalty rate to 10%, what are you going to do? If your cover artist contracts a previously unknown alien virus, what are you going to do? One of the big benefits of being an indie author is the freedom to move quickly. Make the most of that. Knowing that you have plans in place should the world implode will make you feel so much better, and put you in a stronger position.
Step six: Write down goals. You need a whole list of goals, small ones up to big ones. Every time you achieve one of those goals, be it writing 10,000 words on a romance, or editing 2,000 words in an hour, whatever works for you. Every time you achieve one of them, give yourself a reward. Celebrate it. I don’t care how foolish you might feel dancing around your flat for twenty minutes because you finally wrote a kiss scene you like. Do it anyway. It can be so, so, easy to get lost in the quagmire of never-ending stuff. You need to remind yourself of your achievements, of your successes.
Step seven: Finally. Step back and remember why you chose this crazy route. At least once a week step back, take a deep breath, and remind yourself why you decided to become an indie author. I’d recommend taking a moment to compile a list. Much like a happiness jar. Write down a reason once a week, or once a day, whatever works for you. Then put the reason in a jar. When the darkness strikes, when the pressure builds, pull out the reasons and read them. Remember why you’re in this. Reignite that passion.
Being an indie author is really hard. In my opinion, it’s also worth every agonising second. There is no other role for me, and I know you feel the same.
Remember; we’re in this together.