In the previous posts, 12 Tips for New Indie Authors Part One and Part Two, these were the eight things I shared from my first year as an Indie Author:

1. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun!
2. Figure out what you have the bandwidth to do
3. Trial and Error
4. Building an Audience Takes Time
5. Build a small but strong support group
6. Time or money?
7. Watch out for scams
8. Play the long game

And now here’s four more things I learned this year!

9. Do this for yourself

To quote my first blog post, what does success mean to you?

When I set out to write my first novel, I did it utterly and completely for my own happiness. I wrote a book I enjoyed writing. I didn’t try to game the system, trick readers, or anticipate trends to write an instant bestseller. It wasn’t to get famous or sell a certain number of copies. I did it because I wanted to, and I enjoyed it. 

12 Tips: Do this for yourself

Now, I realize my reasons may not be the same as your reasons, but the one thing I’ve always tried to remember is that I’m doing this for myself. That makes it a lot easier to do the work, to handle the rejection letters, to cope with the mean reviews, to find joy in each step of the process. 

I knew I was writing a book I enjoyed, and I trusted that if I enjoyed it, at least one other person out there would enjoy it too, and that was enough for me. 

Obviously I did hope a lot of people would like it. I even entertained the occasional fame daydreams – I’m only human – and yes, I strove to produce a quality book that would sell a good number of copies and make me some money. But the root goal always remained the same: to have fun writing and publishing a book. Everything else after that was just a bonus. 

I recommend you do this for yourself. Be authentic, have fun, make mistakes, and enjoy every step of the messy process.

10. Don’t let people tear you down 

12 Tips: Don't let negative reviews tear you down

I got my first 1-star reviews recently. Actually a few not-so nice reviews arrived in a row. Hopefully one day I’ll have so many reviews coming in that I won’t have time to read them all, but for now, I like reading them – even the mean ones. I like to see if people have any good suggestions or valid critiques. 

Some reviewers are great, they offer positives and negatives, and give actionable feedback. But most people just get off on tearing other people down. They like to be vitriolic and act as if your book personally affronted them. That’s fine, I guess. If that’s who they are – people who like being nasty because it makes them feel better. I mean, there’s a word for people like that – in fact, there are several great words… But I’ll save them for my next villainous character descriptions.

Early on in the publishing process, I actually challenged myself to tear apart my book and envision all the mean critiques someone could lodge against me. I think it was a good exercise, because a) it actually prompted me to address a few issues before I published, and b) it helped me develop a coping strategy. Now I have a ready response to make myself feel better in case a reviewer hates my book. I can shrug them off, or I can say, “yeah they have a point, but here’s the reason why I decided not to address that issue in this book”. 

There will always be people who don’t like your book, or who don’t like you. It’s a rite of passage to get nasty reviews, but as long as YOU like your book and you’re proud of your work, that’s all that matters.

11. Read a LOT

Another tip you see a lot in the Indie Author vlog-blog-o-sphere is that you need to read. Admittedly, this is a tip I didn’t believe at first. I was arrogant, and completely convinced that I was already a super awesome writer, who didn’t need to work on her craft. Reading more books would only take my time and distract me from writing my own books.

It’s true, reading takes time. Everyone is always saying “I wish I had time to read” while sitting and binging TV (admittedly, also a good way to learn about storytelling). But, trust me, you have time to read. You just need to prioritize it a bit more.

12 Tips: read a lot!

There’s a difference between reading to read, and reading to learn how to write. When I read fantasy books now, my mind works in a different way than it did before. It analyzes the plot, characters, and world building, trying to see why I find some books more satisfying than others. I revel in beautiful language, taking note of unique vocabulary and stylistic choices. 

More than anything, I use reading as a way to give my brain a break. When I feel creatively drained or just unenthused about my own work, but I don’t want to be “unproductive”, I immerse myself in someone else’s story. It’s a respite from the responsibilities of my own creative world for a while. And getting excited about someone else’s creative project is often enough to jumpstart my own creative engine. And you might discover an author who’s voice inspires you or challenges you to be better. I especially encourage you to read other Indie Authors. It’s good to support each other! And it’s good to see what other people are doing in your niche.

12. Take it seriously

This might be one of the most important things I’ve discovered in my life. Take your dreams seriously. As a musician, author, and all around artsy weirdo who doesn’t fit into society’s cookie cutters, I have encountered endless streams of doubters and naysayers, as well as artistic aspirationals who are full of excuses about why they don’t do the art they claim is important to them.

When I was in grade 12, heading off to do my undergrad in music, the number one question people asked me (with skepticism and a healthy dose of pity on their face) was “oh, what are you going to do with that degree?” 


Limited, imaginationless, pessimistic, poopoo brains!

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do with it: WHATEVER I WANT! Whatever I dare to dream is possible!

Okay… calming down now…

You know what I’ve realized, I absolutely do NOT need to justify my dreams to anyone else. They are my dreams and if I want to achieve them, I will. It all begins with me taking them seriously, because nobody is going to take them seriously unless I do it first. 

I believe in my dreams. I believe they have value and worth and I believe I can achieve them. My dreams deserve my time, they deserve my effort. 

This dream I had, of publishing my own books, well I took it VERY seriously. I wasn’t content to just crank out the first draft and be done with it. My dreams deserve the best of what I can offer them. Absolutely nothing less. Yes, it’s a lot of hard work, but I don’t see any other option. My dreams deserve to be taken seriously. And yours do too.

12 Tips for New Indie Authors – Part two

In the previous post, 12 Tips for New Indie Authors – Part One, these were the four things I shared from my first year as an Indie Author:

1. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun!
2. Figure out what you have the bandwidth to do
3. Trial and Error
4. Building an Audience Takes Time

And now here’s four more things I learned this year!

5. Build a small but strong support group

Helpful Tips: Acknowledge thee people who help you

You know the list of acknowledgements at the end of every book? The whole part where the author lists people, gushing like they’re delivering a dramatic Oscar acceptance speech: “I couldn’t have done this without you” and “your support means so much to me” etc. Well, there’s a reason every book has that part. And it’s not just because every author has already secretly written their Oscar acceptance speeches. 

Just because you’re an indie author, doesn’t mean you have to do everything all by yourself. Make use of the community around you, especially at the beginning. Most of your friends and family will be super excited for you when you publish your first book, but that excitement will dwindle a bit as the books go on, and that’s normal and fair. It doesn’t mean they’re not still supportive, it just means they don’t have the bandwidth to maintain the same level of enthusiasm after the novelty has worn off a bit.

So ask yourself, who are the people who are 100% invested in this for you? The people who want to beta read every single draft, who want to listen to you talk about the book for hours. The people who offer feedback and immediately buy 6 copies of the book to give to other people.

Those are the people you need the most. Cheerleaders, critique partners, beta readers etc. Rely on those people, and make sure they know how important they are!

6. Time or Money?

Ah yes, the money question. I could probably write an entire blog just on budgeting and the money aspect of being an Indie Author, but right now I’ll keep it simple. If you’re worrying about how much this endeavour will cost you, the answer is: it’s up to you. 

Helpful Tips: what do you have more of, time or money?

Ask yourself what you have more of, time or money? If you have more time, then you can take on more tasks yourself, thereby reducing your expenses. If you have no time, you may find yourself outsourcing and paying people to do other tasks. Neither of these is right or wrong. It completely depends on you, your budget, and your time. Make the decision that’s right for you.

I spent a fair bit of money on publishing book one, and then reduced my expenses on book two and three because I knew what I was doing and I could do it more efficiently. This goes back to trial and error and bandwidth a bit. What do you have the time/bandwidth to do? And what expenses are most likely to have a good Return on Investment (that return could be literal cash income, or fans/followers, or it could be new skills or knowledge you acquire).

My advice is: respect your own time and try not to spend money unless it has a good ROI. Easier said than done, I know. But if you keep these things in mind as you move forward, hopefully it will help you. And remember to pace yourself. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

7. Watch out for scams

Okay so this is pretty obvious. But what’s not obvious, is how these scams present themselves. There’s an awful lot of blind trust expected in this industry. Instances where you’re asked to pay upfront for a service, with no concrete guarantee of a good ROI. Or people reaching out on social media to offer you their “expert” services.

My advice is to just be wary. Do a lot of research before spending your money. Some scams are malicious, designed to drain your wallet. Other scams are just genuine services that frankly don’t work. So you might try them once, realize they suck and then never do them again.

Helpful Tips: watch out for scams

There are a lot of people out there who like to prey on people trying to follow their dreams. Things like Vanity Presses. I submitted my manuscript to one before I realized it was a vanity press. When they responded, I got excited that someone wanted to publish my book. Then I did some more research and realized it was a bad, bad, bad idea and I didn’t follow up with them. 

At the end of the day, the more successful you are, the more scammers will come crawling out of the woodwork. So in a way, it’s kind of nice to get a lot of scuzzy messages. It means they think you have a level of success they can glom on to. So try to take that as a win, and just don’t let them actually glom on.

There are a lot of support groups on facebook and other platforms where authors share their experiences. Definitely join as many of those as you can. You don’t have to interact with anyone on them really. But you can benefit from access to their knowledge and learn from other authors’ mistakes. 

8. Play the Long Game

It’s easy to get discouraged in the first year when you don’t immediately achieve bestseller success, or when you realize you worked insane hours and earned pennies, so your hourly pay rate amounted to something like $0.50/hour. 

But I realized something very important. I realized that I will be a published author for the rest of my life, earning income in a gentle trickle for the rest of my life. And the bulk of the work involved in publishing the first book is over now. It’s a HUGE investment of time upfront, but the payoff is indeterminate.

Helpful Tips: calculate your success over the long term

Hypothetically, let’s say I earn $1000 per year that the book is published, and let’s say I live for another 60 years. That means the book could earn me $60,000, which is a fairly respectable salary for one year of work. And that’s only one book. The insane amount of work I did was actually to publish three books.

So let’s be simplistic and multiply that number by 3. Now I’ve earned $180,000 for one year of work. Which is a very nice amount, I think. The only drawback is that I have to accept it on a weird fluctuating payment plan, determined by other people’s whims and interests. And of course, I will keep doing marketing work in future years, so it’s not quite this cut and dry. 

But the bottom line is that I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not going to evaluate my success after one year. It’s a lifelong journey and I’m going to reap the rewards of being a published author for the rest of my life, and then my estate will reap the rewards until my copyright expires 50 years after I die. Yay! 


12 Tips for New Indie Authors – Part One

(As with my first novel, this post kept creeping up there in word count, so I’ve split it into three posts! Haha I do that a lot!)

It’s been a year!

Alright so technically it has been a year and a half, but as we bid farewell to 2022, I have achieved the initial goal I set for myself: to publish three books in the span of 12 months.

I thought it would be nice to share 12 things I learned in my first year as an Indie Author. One for each month of the year, or one for each of the 12 days of Christmas… whatever you prefer!

1. It’s a lot of work, but a lot of fun!

It probably goes without saying that being an Indie Author is a lot of work. You have to be the writer, the editor, the typesetter, the marketer, the salesperson, and everything in-between. There is a reason why the traditional publishing industry exists – most writers don’t have the time or the resources to wear all of these different hats.

Of course, me, I love wearing hats – the more the merrier. Bring on the hats. 

The important thing to remember is that this will be an unbelievable amount of work. But if you’re anything like me, you will simply adore all of it. You won’t mind putting in 16-hour days, in fact, you’ll actually want to put in those hours!

But if you’re not really jazzed about the prospect of wearing so many hats it makes your head sweat, you might prefer to pursue traditional publishing. Or, if you’re in a strong financial position, you could still go the indie route and just outsource lots of work. However, one of my favourite perks of being an indie author is that it gives me all the power (POWER MUAHAHAH!). I like having all the control, and frankly, outsourcing work means giving up bits of control…

(Don’t touch my hats!)

Yeah, I’m not a great delegator, but maybe you are. I hope so, for your sake.

I can tell you, though, that having this much control over my creative dreams and investing my time and money in myself is the most satisfying, rewarding, engaging, and exciting work I have ever done. And as you may recall, I love to work, so this is saying a lot.

2. Figure out what you have the bandwidth to do

So, given that being an Indie Author is an unbelievable amount of work, you also need to be practical about how you spend your time. I like to pretend I can do all the work all the time, and all by my lonesome.

Wrong. So wrong!

It is impossible to do everything all the time. I know I’m only human and I know I can’t do everything. All through this process I’ve made decisions about what I do and don’t have the bandwidth to undertake myself. For example, cover design is not a skill I have. My stupid workaholic control freak brain wanted me to go get training and become an amazing cover designer, but my practical brain put its foot down. (I know, right? My brain has feet. So cool!) So I hired a cover designer, and she is amazing!

Another example is typesetting. I researched how to properly typeset a book and I was all prepared to do it myself, but that would have taken a lot of time and likely led to a lot of frustration and nit-picky work. So, I decided to invest in Vellum instead.

So, my advice to you is to figure out what your own limitations are. Definitely push yourself to try new things! But be strategic in how you spend your time (and money). What can you do and what can’t you do? Or no, not “can’t” I don’t like that word. So, let’s say, what should you do and what shouldn’t you do?

And remember that this is a long journey. You may end up doing different tasks as you get better and more efficient at this.

3. Trial and Error

There are a lot of vloggers, bloggers and Indie Author authorities out there who will tell you the right way and the wrong way to do something (I guess I am guilty of that too… sigh… sorry). But it can be quite stressful trying to follow everyone else’s guides and rules. I got all worked up about trying to make sure I did it the “right way” and then I was disappointed when I didn’t immediately sell a gazillion books. 

Over time I realized that some of the “surefire” tips I was following simply didn’t work for me. Maybe they will work later or maybe they only work for people who publish in a very specific niche genre. Who knows, really? But I realized that there is no guaranteed, surefire strategy. So all you can do is trial and error. 

Try a little bit of everything (within reason and still respecting your budget), assess its success and adjust. Keep researching new strategies, and keep trying new things. And remember that everything will change as you publish more books. What didn’t work on book one, when no one knew who you were, might work amazingly well on book 3 or 4. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be afraid to stop doing something if it isn’t working right now. 

4. Building an Audience Takes Time

The number one recommendation I encountered on the Indie Author vlog-blog-o-sphere was to “build my author platform and audience”. It was always presented to me as if it were step 1, the crucial starting point, without which you could not hope to be successful. 

But here’s the thing. Nobody wants to follow you if you have nothing to show them. Nobody cares about an author who hasn’t authored a book. So how the heck are you supposed to build a following before publishing your book?

But if I can’t sell books if I don’t have a following, and I can’t have a following if I don’t have books, then gah! Where do I start?!

Well, I realize now that it was my error to assume that “building an audience” was step 1. In fact, it isn’t really a step. It’s not a task you accomplish, it’s an ongoing development and conversation with a growing, changing community. It takes time to get your name out there, to find your readers and to get reviews.

It. Takes. TIME.

So don’t worry about it too much. Just have fun. Do some more trial and error. Be authentic and cherish the members of your audience that already exist. Who are they? Why do they care about you? Maybe these questions will help you to find more of them.

12 Tips for new Indie Authors – Part Two Coming Soon