We go through several stages as authors. The indie author journey is certainly special and along with it comes some personal growth. I thought it would be fun to talk about my phases of being an indie author and what I’ve learned through each one.
New Author (2009-2012): This was the beginning stage for me. I had written my first novel ever in 2009 – a fantasy story. I started reading up on how to query literary agents on my breaks at work. After a year of trying to break into the traditional publishing industry, I decided to take the indie author path. I was new to writing and publishing so I had a lot to learn! WordPress and Twitter were really helpful for me because there were several people paving the way in the self-publishing industry. I wrote a couple other books during this time, but they aren’t the ones I published. They were, however, great exercises in creating something from nothing.
I asked a lot of questions about book marketing at this phase and this is where I started to develop as an author. At the time, I wanted to do everything right and play by the rules when it came to building an audience. I also had unrealistic expectations. Like many new authors, you might think you’re an exception and your writing will make a lot of money and many people will love your books. I think I figured I could achieve this if I followed all the required steps (Write ten books, build an audience, interact with readers, etc.). Hey, I was in my late 20’s and mentally much younger than my age, so I don’t feel guilty for thinking the way I did. When you’re new at something, you’re willing to learn from those who have been doing it much longer than you have. It was that passion and self-belief that led me to write so many novels following this stage.
Getting The Hang Of Writing & Publishing (2013-2015): After finishing a couple of stories and starting a few others, I caught the travel bug and felt a great need for change in my life. I moved to Western Canada and travelled around to different towns. I wrote two short stories while living in the Bow Valley of Alberta and published one without an editor. My sister designed the cover for it – and it was perfect. To me, it really captures the story of Eve & Adam. I figured since it was a shorter story it didn’t need the full range of editing that a novel would. I grew a lot as a person during my time traveling. I needed time to be on my own, make my own choices, and follow my heart. It was so freeing, but I also had to work through many personal issues. This in turn helped influence my writing a lot. At this stage of being a writer, you transition from being impressionable and clueless to becoming more curious about yourself and where you want your writing to go. It’s a huge stage for creative development and it will often manifest itself in your personal life – you may feel restless or hungry for a change. You might want to move or take up a new hobby or change up your lifestyle. It’s quite a fascinating time and it’s important for your own self-awareness.
My Prime Writing Time (2016-2020): I’d experienced starting over in a new places, I’d travelled on my own, and successfully moved to my dream city. This type of experience builds a lot of confidence in your own capabilities. I never missed a bus. I never got lost. I even survived being broke at one point and found a hostel where I could work for stay while I looked for jobs. I’m an independent person to begin with so I started to grow tired of all the rules writers have to follow in order to be considered good. I think it’s good to know the rules first before breaking them and this is what I did. This is a typical characteristic of the “teenager” creative phase – you have this need to rebel against the parts of the system you don’t like as you continue to develop and become the person you really are.
I also became aware of how much marketing is needed to sell a few books. My first novel made about 5 sales and the following year, I made a sale here and there. It brought a new awareness to how much work it would take to promote myself and it isn’t fair to expect self-published authors to pay a high price for editing services (Unless you’re rich). It just won’t pay off for the first several years and you need a more reasonable budget. Instead of paying full price for editors and cover designers, I started searching for more affordable services that fit my budget. I wrote A LOT after I’d settled in Vancouver and this is where the large part of my writing career really began. I felt a buzz from this productivity. It was a literal dream come true – having a stable job, getting all dressed up to write at a café, and write to my heart’s content. I wrote what I wanted to write instead of following market trends and I believed I’d find an audience through my unique writing style. This was one of the most exciting phases of my writing journey, because it wasn’t so new anymore and I was able to run with what I’d learned and become the type of author I wanted to be.
Settling In (2021-2022): These last two years, I’ve been continuing to build on what I’ve learned. I’ve moved from seeing it as a creative product to art. This is what I want it to be. I believe writing, like any art, should be exactly what the creative envisions. I went through a brief period last year where I questioned everything (The classic young adult existential crisis thing) about writing and publishing. It felt like I had worked so hard, devoted so many hours and funds to my craft, only to make a few sales here and there. The whole “Work hard and you’ll reap the rewards in 10 years” value doesn’t always play out in real life. I came to the conclusion that I’m still only 10 years in and while I’ve published a number of books, it’s going to take more time for people to find my work – and that’s okay.
I’m at the point in my writing career where I want it to be untouched by other hands. My hope is that my work will reach the eyes of those who are meant to see it. I’ve come to realize that self-publishing is something you build on. Most people won’t get success quickly and you have to be patient. Even if it never makes you a solid income, what matters most is that people read and enjoy what you’ve written. Not everyone will like it, some will even hate what you write, but those who connected with the story you shared are the reason why you wrote in the first place.
Thank you so much for reading today. ❤
Fun fact: Did you know that I still love swinging on the swings? It’s something I still do to this day (assuming the playground is empty).
Photo by jasmin chew: https://www.pexels.com
“I’m an independent person to begin with so I started to grow tired of all the rules writers have to follow in order to be considered good. I think it’s good to know the rules first before breaking them and this is what I did.” … I’ve always just done my own thing. But I agree with you that it’s probably best to know the rules before you follow your own star. I’ve read great classics that broke all the modern writing rules. And yet, they’re classics! I think you’re on the right track!
Yes that’s always the thing about classics. The authors back then never had any rules to follow. I’ve never read any classics.
I was referring moreso to the marketing aspect. than the story writing – I didn’t know any rules prior to writing nor did I read them . It was other people started telling me the rules when they’d read my writing, and I’d always rebel against it. LOL Now I just feel less guilty about it.
You’re definitely on the right track!
It’s just unfortunate that so much can be taken out of context, such as the quote you dissected. -.- I never followed any rules for my actual stories. I was referring to the marketing aspect.
I apologize for taking that out of context. Thanks for setting me straight!
It’s okie. ;P I guess it’s not too big of a deal. I guess I’m not always super detailed when I write.
My writing phase is now complete. I’m just paying a homage to my wonderful journey. 🙂
That was a very interesting read and I think it will be helpful to many. It certainly was a wonderful journey.
Aw thank you Thomas. 🙂
Thanks for sharing your journey. It was an interesting read and I really enjoyed it! 🙂
Thank you so much Sophie. 😊❤️
Some excellent points you’ve raised here! 🙂 Can definitely identify with your unfolding writer’s journey, especially getting the hang of it & settling into your preferred genre. Hope 2023 gives you some lucky breaks! ❤
I’ve always been a multi genre author. I never could settle.
I’m glad you could relate to alot of it. 😊
Definitely – good that your long-term writing plans have mellowed out & you’re pleased where it’s heading! 🙂
I’m done writing books for awhile, but I’ll continue marketing them every so often. I had lots of things I wanted to say, and stories to write, now I can focus on other arts.
Always interesting to read someone’s writing history and how they’ve arrived at the point they’re now at—best of luck to you in 2023.
Thank you so much! 🙏 I’m wishing you the best for 2023 too!
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Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experience! Helpful read!
Thank you so much for reading. I really appreciate it! 🙂
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