High Endurance Required to be an Indie Author

Being a writer — particularly an independent author — requires a lot of important skills. You need to be able to drink a lot of coffee, overcome a crushing sense of self-doubt on a regular basis, overcome a debilitating sense of your own greatness on a regular basis, be comfortable with your spouse making more money than you, and maybe you want to be clever at stringing words together in engaging stories.

But there’s something else. You also need endurance. One day, perhaps, I’ll have Stephen King-like success, where I can churn out a book a year and make millions in the first few months without a whole lot of promotional effort.

Until then, my life as an author is roughly akin to running three marathons  that begin and end at different times but that all overlap. I’m not always in maximum motion, but I’m never at rest.

Consider:

The second draft of GHOST OF A CHANCE is now in editing.

The second draft of GHOST OF A CHANCE is now in editing.

Yesterday, I finished the second draft of Ghost of a Chance, the fourth Wolf Dasher novel. The sense of relief was tremendous. I finished the first draft two weeks ago (after months of writing) and then read and rewrote the book in the space of a fortnight. I have been so buried in that manuscript, it’s been difficult to think about anything else.

Ghost of a Chance is now with my editor. She’ll read it and mark it up and send it back to me for a third draft. If she is on schedule, I’ll have the book back in another two weeks.

In the meantime, I can’t just sit idly (much as I’d really like to). I’m submitting an older short story for a collection to be published in October on a horror theme. The good news is the story is written and edited. There shouldn’t be too much work involved. The bad news is I last worked on it three-and-a-half years ago. I’ve grown as a writer since then, so I’m betting I’ll want to clean up some of the prose. I’m also guessing that it is dated, since it is set in the present and the world and technology have changed. My bet is it’ll need some tech-tweaking.

I’m printing a draft of that story today and will be reading, editing, and rewriting it this week, so that it will be in the best possible shape for acceptance.

I’m also making a change to my business plan for 2014. I had originally planned to publish the third installment in my Modern Fairy Tales series, The Secret Thief, in the fourth quarter of this year. But as it often does, the market has changed.

As you may have read, Amazon.com unveiled its Kindle Unlimited program, allowing subscribers to pay a monthly fee to download and read as many books as they like. Essentially, Amazon is copying other subscription services like Scribd and Oyster to try to create a Netflix for eBooks. We indies have discussed this new service extensively (as we are wont to do), and I agree with many of my colleagues that this is going to be a boon for shorter works.

The nice thing about being an indie author is you can adapt quickly to changes in the market. I had planned to write a memoir next year that I would publish in installments. Because the memoir is written as a series of interconnected humorous essays, it seemed to me it was worth experimenting with publishing it in pieces and then collecting the whole thing.

With the launch of Kindle Unlimited, I’m now convinced it is indeed a viable publishing model, and I want to catch the early wave of the new program if at all possible. I’ve therefore shifted my publication schedule to accommodate this.

In late September/early October, I’ll release Ghost of a Chance. In November, I’ll publish the first installment of the memoir, and in December, I’ll release the second. January will see the publication of The Secret Thief, while February features Part 3 of the memoir.

That’s an aggressive schedule, but the works are either all short or, in the case of The Secret Thief, already have a first draft written. Fourth- and first quarter are good months for publishing, so heavily loading them with new books works in my favor (in theory).

But that means I’m running those three marathons. I’ll be stacking projects so that I always have something I am writing or rewriting, and my editor is going to have a manuscript in front of her on a regular basis for most of the rest of the year. Hopefully, she won’t kill me.

Endurance is a key trait for the independent author. Without it, I won’t have a chance of pulling this off and capitalizing on the market opportunity in front of me.

Of course, it’s possible another important trait of an indie author is insanity. The coming weeks and months will demonstrate whether that’s true.

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5 thoughts on “High Endurance Required to be an Indie Author

    • There’s been a lot of predictions of the sky falling since Amazon announced Kindle Unlimited. Some of it may be warranted.

      The fact is, though, this is the direction things have been headed. Amazon is going to do what is in its best interest. Smart authors are diversifying their work and their distribution channels. I haven’t fully determined what my strategy will be going forward, but I do think this is going to revive the viability of short works. I had thought it was pretty well dead with the downward pressure of eBook pricing, but it now makes sense again.

      There’s a lot to think about. I for one am looking at this development as an opportunity. I find that broadens my perspective considerably. 😉

      And, yes, I will be mindful of my health. Ever since last December’s crash, I’ve been careful to pace myself. I’m looking forward to August, when all the children will be here on a more or less permanent basis, school starts, and we can get down to something approximating a normal routine. That’ll help a lot.

      Thanks for the comment, Allan!

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