I’m pretty sure everyone around here knows I’m an indie author, I write Urban Fantasy. For those who’re new here, Hi! I’m Holly, I write Urban Fantasy, and I have a thing for shifters, hellhounds, vicious fae, and blades.
I’m also a freelance developmental editor, but I’m working on doing this whole indie author thing full time. I know that that’s a dream for a lot of people, I thought you’d appreciate a peek behind the scenes.
In the last twelve months I’ve written five books. I’ve published four. I’ve also written over 80,000 words on various fun projects that were just for me.
This year, 2016, I edited and published the first three of my Infernal Hunt books. I edited all three over three months, it was insane, but we did it. We’re now coming into October and I’ve had a chat with my editor about his schedule, my schedule, and all of that. I will have forty-eight hours to do the developmental edits on Infernal Alliances. That’s the final book in my Infernal Hunt series. That has to be polished and up for pre-order on Amazon, by Samhain (Halloween). I also need to get Stolen Ink, book one in my tattoo magician series, Ink Born, written by Samhain. Then, if I want to do 2017 right, which I really do, I’ll need to get another book written by Christmas. Oh and Stolen Ink has to be edited by Christmas too.
Because I want to do this indie author thing full time.
I’ve done a lot of research into this whole indie author thing. The big thing that comes around again and again, is the need to be prolific. Well that and writing to market. You see there are things called the thirty day cliff, and the ninety day cliff.
Thirty days after the release of a new book, the reads and sales are very likely to drop off noticeably. Amazon is more interested in the new releases, and with so much competition, people move on pretty quickly. The ninety day cliff is the same, just after ninety days.
This means that if you want to keep any sort of momentum and make enough money to pay your bills, you need to release a book at least every ninety days.
Now I’m slow compared to a lot of successful indies. They’re putting out a book a month. I can’t do that because of my aphasia. My books require too many copy editing runs to be able to do that. So I’m releasing them as quickly as I can, with a maximum of ninety days between them.
It takes around about six weeks to do all the edits on one of my books. They average 65,000 words, some are a touch shorter, some are a bit longer. I also like to do pre-orders, I’ve found they help me build interest. You must upload the final draft of your book to Amazon a minimum of 10 days before the release date if you’re using a pre-order. Between that and the editing time, that means I have around about a month to write each novel.
Due to the way it worked out with my Infernal Hunt books, I’ve had a bit of time to relax through summer and have had more time with Stolen Ink. Still, realistically, I have about a month.
From here on out, I’m going to be writing one book, and editing another, at the same time. I’ll also need to be planning the book that comes next, all while keeping up with the paperwork, marketing, and my own freelance editing.
If you really want to do this indie author thing full time, you need to do the research. You also have to be willing and able to do the work. This is not the easy route.
Oh and you have to be patient. The chances of you making five figures your first month, are pretty slim. I am paying some of my bills with my Infernal Hunt books, but they’re not my first crack at this. I devoted a year to researching my genre, the market, how to market and promote them, and generally how to really do this right. I was also publishing books in two other genres through that year, all the time learning about the market, seeing what did and didn’t work.
Like any small business, being an indie author is hard. It’s complicated. And at times it’s heartbreaking. You have to be prepared for that. I have marketing plans and back-up plans coming out of my ears. I put time in every day to keep up to date with the publishing industry, with marketing and promotion methods, with my genre, to make sure I don’t get left behind. I’m not an expert. I’m probably doing a whole bunch of things wrong, but I’m doing my best and learning everything I can.
If you’re dreaming of putting out a book you adore once a year and raking in the cash, I’m sorry to tell you that it really doesn’t work like that. If you really want to be full time, you’re going to have to work your ass off and even then you’d best hope luck’s on your side.
It’s not all doom and gloom. If this really is your dream, like it is mine, then the highs will far outshine the lows. The absolute pure glee when you hit a milestone is unlike anything else. Sitting there and looking at your books, knowing you did that, is incredible. I wouldn’t choose another career. I can’t imagine devoting my time and energy to anything else. In the end, all of the heartache, the lost sleep, the blood, and tears, are worth it. Nothing compares to this insane journey.
If you are an Urban Fantasy reader you can find my Infernal Hunt series on Amazon.