An Indie Author’s List of Things to be Thankful For

It’s that time of the year, when we Americans stop rushing around like idiots trying to conquer everything we see and take a moment, however short, to be thankful for the things we have. It’s kind of a special moment in a culture that is driven by the need to acquire, and it’s terribly ironic that the day after we pause to appreciate what we have, we run out and elbow other people out of the way to get more stuff we don’t really need.

But that’s America for you.

As I mentioned in Tuesday’s blog, I’m now a year into my journey as an independent author. After a year of trials and errors, of learning and maturing, I’ve got a few things I’m thankful for. So, in case you need to get away from family and turkey for a few minutes and want to spend it perusing the internet, here’s an indie author’s list of things to be thankful for.

My fiancee: My entire career is possible because of her. She supports me, cheers for me, and is proud of me. Not only does she have faith that it’s just a matter of time before I become a hugely successful author, she really likes what I write. Everyone needs someone to believe in him or her, and, when you’re on the lonely side of a computer screen, wishing people would start buying your books in significant quantities, you need someone who has faith when you don’t.

Microsoft Word: Yeah, I hate Microsoft as much as the next guy, and this program often makes things harder than it seems like it should be, but MS Word is an incredibly powerful program. It lets me do everything I want to and more. When I first set out to become a self-published author, I was awed not only by how much Word could do but how much I didn’t know that it could do.

Amazon.com: They’re a monolithic beast that is positioning themselves for (publishing) world domination, but Amazon makes my career possible. Their Kindle made e-readers popular and affordable. There’d been a lot of talk about books going digital, but it didn’t become a viable business model until the Kindle became popular. They also helped pioneer giving authors a sizeable royalty, and that’s good for little guys like me and the wildly successful authors alike.

Smashwords.com: Over the past few months, I’ve been moving more and more of my business away from Smashwords and over to Amazon’s KDP Select. But I’m still grateful to Smashwords for a number of reasons. Most importantly, a good chunk of my understanding of formatting manuscripts for electronic publication comes from The Smashwords Style Guide. Mark Coker demystifies the process in simple language and taking you step by step through each part of formatting. I learned so much about MS Word and electronic publishing by reading this book, and going through Smashwords’s Meatgrinder helped me understand how to format books for Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Michael Jasper: Jasper decided, out of the goodness of his heart, to write an incredibly informative series of articles about formatting manuscripts over on his website, www.michaeljasper.net. He covered each of the major publishing sites and PoD. He even discussed how to market eBooks. Then he collected the whole thing into a book, which is now one of my go-to reference resources. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t stumbled across his website last year. I know how to do what I do because of him.

Other Indie Authors: This is a hard, hard business. It’s an incredibly competitive world out there trying to get your book noticed, bought, and read by people. You would think the indie community wouldn’t be very tight-knit, because we have to compete with each other. The opposite is true. Indie authors are incredibly generous with their time and support. We retweet each other. We write blogs about what’s worked for us. We give advice when it’s asked for and often when it’s not. I’m truly thankful for all the good advice and time I’ve gotten from my fellow indies, and I try to pay it forward with blog posts that divulge what worked and what didn’t for marketing purposes and by featuring members of the Independent Author Network in my tweets.

Readers: This is the most important one of all. To everyone who has ever bought or read one of my books, thank you. I hope it was worth the experience and the money. I am able to do what I love, because you support me.

So that’s what I’m thankful for as an author this Thanksgiving. What are you thankful for? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

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