I self-published my debut novel in 2012, so I’ve been an indie author for almost 10 years now! I thought it would be fun to talk about how I’ve progressed and what I’ve learned since the day I officially became an indie author. Grab yourself a hot beverage (or a cool drink), sit back, and enjoy me babbling on about my path as an indie author. 🙂
2012 – I followed the rules I learned from other author’s blog posts and articles, spent $1200 on an editor, $80 on a book cover, and $50 on a formatter. I published By The Sword in March of 2012 and a couple of friends bought it. I realized how much marketing needs to be done to get a few sales. The journey began!
(My first book is available in print only now. You can download it here)
2013 – I had a great book idea about four young people who thought they were living in the Regency era, but were a part of a mind experiment at a research facility. The concept was amazing to me, but I listened to the advice of a beta reader, which sabotaged the original concept. I published Followed then ended up taking it down since the story didn’t feel like mine anymore (Classic rookie indie author move: Publishing a book when it doesn’t feel right). I found more affordable editors and used the same cover designer, Najla Qamber (She’s great and you should definitely check her out if you want a nice cover! You can find her here).
I also published a short story called The Red Coat & The Redhead. It was based on a flash fiction piece called Brave that became a semi-finalist in a short story contest. Due to its length, I didn’t hire an editor and I just created my own cover. It’s a gem you might enjoy if you love historical fiction and short stories.
2014 – In 2012-2014, I was on a major self-exploration adventure. I got a lot of writing done, moved around, traveled, worked, and somehow found the time to publish! It was the year that I published my short story, Eve & Adam. It was received well by a few friends and beta readers, so I thought it was time to publish it. I didn’t spend any money on editing or formatting, as it was good to me as is, and my sister designed the amazing cover. I wrote the first draft of Eve & Adam while living in Kananaskis, Alberta and it was as dreamy as it sounds. I’d sit on a ledge overlooking the gorgeous valley surrounded by mountains and sing, then I’d come home and write. Sometimes, I’d hike down and walk by the river. Those moments were some of the best ones in my life.
2015 – I published my Gothic novella, The Suicides, which I wrote fully at the library since I had to sell my laptop to help pay for bills. The trip out to the library every day after work was an amazing experience. I’d been living in my dream city of Vancouver for under a year at this point and everything was still so new and magical. Sometimes it’s better to be flexible when something doesn’t go your way (such as having to sell your laptop) as it allows you to create new opportunities. I didn’t pay for an editor for The Suicides either, nor did I hire a formatter. My sister designed the cover and I love it! It’s sold better than some of the covers I paid decent money for, so it goes to show that you don’t need an expensive cover to make some money off your books.
2017 – I did a lot of writing in 2016, but I didn’t publish my Western, The Broken & The Foolish, until this year. I enjoyed writing and editing it so much that I held onto it longer. I hired a professional editor that cost around $250 (Much more affordable for an indie author), but got suckered into a book cover that cost $300. I was making stable income so I could afford it, but it was an OUCH considering I didn’t make that money back on the book. That said, it’s a great cover. My book release day gave me one sale, which was a little discouraging, but a few days later it built some momentum and more people bought it – many of the readers prefer it in paperback which is cool.
2018 – I published another Western called Sally. I’d hired an editor for $250 and a friend on Twitter helped me format it for free. You’ll find that connecting with authors online can sometimes turn into a great opportunity to help others or receive help in return. A lot of people are here to help you. Sally was fun to write, but it gets so dark in parts that I felt emotionally heavy afterward. I set out to write something more upbeat and fun after I published it, but this new story turned into a tale about a sexy 30-something who wanted to eat the guys who played her. I didn’t publish that one LOL. To this day, I still haven’t written something light and funny, try as I may, buy maybe one day I will! If you read Sally, let me know if you found it as dark as I did when I wrote it.
I then published a seafaring novella called The Pup & The Pianist. I hired an editor for this one for $200 and my sister designed the amazing cover. I always wanted to write something set during the Napoleonic Wars and I used a flash fiction (Found in my short story collection She & The Wolf) piece as inspiration. I’d say this story is the dearest one to my heart.
I also published a collection of my short stories called She & The Wolf. I thought it would be cool to transfer the short pieces I wrote into a book. I chose the cover from a pre-made design and didn’t hire an editor.
2019 – This is the year I finally published my young adult fantasy novel inspired by the lives of my four grandparents, A Season To Fight. I’d worked on that book since 2012! It’s one of those manuscripts that needed more time and age before it was ready. It’s meant to be the first book in a series, but I was in a weird head space when I published it; I admit that the story wasn’t polished and I forgot to write that it’s Book One in the series (I need to remember to do it later). My sister designed the amazing cover and I didn’t hire any editors or formatters for this one.
2020 – This was *the* year of writing and publishing for me! The strange energy created by last year combined with my gypsy-ish lifestyle (moving to different areas of the city) inspired me to write some cool things. I pushed my own creative boundaries and wrote a book of poetry – Write To Survive – and I said weeks before that I wasn’t a poet! Marie was written right before the pandemic hit and it was something I’d always wanted to write – a portrait of a sociopath who starts to feel remorse and guilt. Voice Of A Story Teller was written when I lived in a woodsy area in Burnaby. It’s a blend of post-apocalyptic with very primal undertones. It was inspired by some of the trolls I’d attracted since having an online presence, and it was an attempt to get into the head of someone who would hate a woman for simply wanting to share her stories with the world. I’m so happy with how well those three turned out! I didn’t hire an editor or formatter for any of them (I’ve started to feel that art shouldn’t be edited – that’s just my opinion). I created my own cover for Voice Of A Story Teller so it was completely free to publish. I bought two pre-made covers for Marie & Write To Survive. Pre-mades can save time and a lot of them are affordable, so they’re worth checking out if that’s your thing.
So, there we have it! It’s been quite a journey. I hope to publish at least one book this year, maybe two. 🙂
If you’d like to check out my published works, I’ll include the link here.
(Photo by Анастасия Беккер from Pexels)
What tremendous progress you’ve been making all these years, Sara! Giving people a look into what it truly takes to self publish will certainly make them rethink if they need to. There’s plenty of articles that explain this stuff but not nearly enough of them come from personal experience like yours. Great post!
Thank you, Dalen. 🙂 Yes, when I started out all I had were articles, but no one gave any real first hand experience after years of trying it. It’s something that you just have to jump into and see what works, as everyone has their own niche. I’m glad you enjoyed this post. 🙂
I’d be pretty terrified to jump into something like that or wing it as such, but it’s reassuring knowing how well it worked out for you 🙂 Your posts are always top notch 🙂
Thank you. I found it really exciting. 🙂 I believed in my books and I still do, but I no longer expect to make a full time income in the near future. lol
You’ve achieved more than most, Sara
Thanks, Rian. That is nice of you to say.
Way to go, Sara!
Thank you, Christine. 🙂
Keep on writing, Sara 🙂
You may also consider selling your books online. If interested, you may visit my site.
Thank you, skipread. I will have to check it out. 😀
Wow, what a journey.
Thank you! ❤ 🙂
How do you find an editor? Can you recommend anyone? Thank you.
Thanks for asking! 🙂 I always looked on Cragislist for editors willing to work with my budget and it turned out pretty well.
Interesting! I have been trying a google search and came up with FIVERR. I have beta readers and am looking for line editors.
Ooh yes Fiverr is probably a better resource. I might actually give them a try on my next book. 🙂
I will check out your books on Amazon.
Thank you so much, cupcake. 🙂 Hope you have a nice rest of your day.
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