Behind the Scenes of Indie Publishing
Welcome to YABC's behind the scenes look at the world of indie publishing. Independent publishing and self-publishing have had a bad rap in the past, but exciting things are happening within the industry and we're going to be talking about everything you never knew about indie publishing. In the past self-pubbing was kind of a back-up plan. An option to take when every other avenue to publishing was closed after your exhaustive efforts to "get published." Now, self-publishing is a viable option many authors choose to pursue. Check us out every month for more on what it means to be indie.
This month, staff reviewer and indie author, Sarah Wathen ponders the question of getting down to the brass tacks and putting pen to paper.
Melissa A. Craven
YABC Indie Manager and Staff Reviewer
When it comes to publishing a book, whether you’re an indie author or a traditionally published author, forget marketing, ignore social media, and pretend you won’t need to give an editor half your paycheck. Don’t think of the book cover, your author headshot, or the HBO series you know your story is destined to become. First, you have to write the book. You can take classes, you can read theory, you can draft outlines … but sometimes the words flow and sometimes they don’t. What makes the difference? I decided to ask some of my author friends, whom I think of as quite prolific, “How do you get down to the business of actually writing? How do you get all those words out of your head and onto paper, book after book?”
B.L. Pride writes suspenseful, dark romances, with supernatural plot twists that always keep me craving the next one. I found her writing habits dovetailed with my experience of reading her books perfectly. She says, “I only have one golden rule I go by. Write. Anytime. Anywhere. If there is even the tiniest opportunity, which means a minute or two and my Mac, I write.” Since she’s a mother and works a fulltime job apart from being an author, that means she’s scribbling down thoughts as she’s cooking or waiting for her kids at school, and she’s plotting her stories while driving to music lessons or on work breaks. Time constraints seem to work in her favor, because the passion of a mad scientist comes across in her books. In her series, The Farthest Islands, B.L. Pride has created an intense mystery that begs to be satisfied—so very like her desire to write!
On the other end of the spectrum, Daniel Barnett maintains a strict writing schedule, and even went so far as to insist that eating healthy food and exercising regularly is part of the deal. I guess you would need it, if you work like he does: he won’t even take a day off if he can avoid it. He says part of that is simple math. The person who writes thirty days a month produces more than the person who takes off one day a week. Also, he describes what he calls the hidden factor of momentum. “If I'm taking off Sundays, Mondays instantly become harder. The downhill rush of Saturday turns into an uphill crawl, and sometimes I'm still trying to recover speed on Tuesday or even Wednesday. If, however, I'm writing every day, there's no chance to stall out. The engine of the story stays chugging, and each writing day is a better writing day. All of a sudden, my monthly output clocks out at 35k words instead of 20k.” In his latest novel, Poor Things, Barnett’s ability to conjure stomach-turning horror in the midst of meticulously crafted language is testament to a successful writing practice.
The biggest thing for Michelle Lynn is discipline and she treats writing a book like a normal job, even writing around the same time each day. But she warns against overworking: pace yourself, take breaks, and recharge your brain in between books. “The key is not to put too much pressure on yourself while at the same time making sure you're getting it done. It's a difficult balance, but one that is necessary to putting your best work out there and making sure there's a lot of it.” Not only is Lynn a productive novelist—her fourth book, Choices, came out this year and I hear books five and six are already underway—but I’d guess that she spends almost as much time reading and writing reviews for other authors. A pastime for others, constant immersion in the world of fiction keeps an author charged at the right frequency to keep writing.
My answers were as varied as my authors. Surprisingly, each questioned whether he or she was prolific, though each has written and published many books within a short time span. So, if you’re just getting started writing, remember that even successful writers wonder if it’s ever enough sometimes. Maybe that’s because writing often doesn’t feel like work, despite long hours spent devoted to the craft. If you put in the time and effort—in whatever way works for your unique personality—the writing itself will become your reward.
—Contributed by: Sarah Wathen, Staff Reviewer and Indie Author