Indie Epublishing Requires Lots of Decision-Making, So Grab Your “Whine” and Cheese!

I need to whine. I hate making decisions!

I know this isn’t a popular stance among Indie authors. We value our freedom and independence.

And I do. When I was traditionally published, I had my share of aggravation over decisions made about my work while I stood by timid and powerless, just grateful to have gotten through the magic door.

But in another month I’ll be reaching my one year mark as a self-published author and I have to say the one thing I hate about it is the constant weighing of how to use my time and money. And the constant barrage of information and opinions that all require . . .

a decision.

Pinterest will be bigger than Facebook!

You’ll get sued if you use Pinterest!

New readers found me through Pinterest!

Don’t waste money on ads!

I sold 500 books the day I ran this ad!

Blog three times a week!

Readers don’t care about blogs!

Go cheap or free to find new readers!

Raise your prices so you don’t look like an amateur!

Keep the same author name for all your books!

Change your name if you write in a different genre!

Don’t bother with promotion. Just write more books!

No one will know your books are there if you don’t promote them!

I could go on. And on.

But I’m sure you already know what I’m talking about. So tell me, WG2E-Land, how do you make the constant decisions we Indie authors are faced with daily? Research? A mentor? Instinct?

And if it drives you as crazy as it does me, then go ahead . . . whine a little.

The Best of Indie Epublishing Decision-Making Wishes — Alicia Street

Alicia Street is the author of Kiss Me, DancerTouch Me and TangoSnow Danceand Aphrodisiac. Alicia is proud to be a part of the WG2E family. Connect with Alicia at herwebsite and on Facebook.
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Comments

  1. elle strauss says:

    This is so true! lol

    I think you have to try a few things to determine what works for you.

  2. I hear you. Sometimes I just go with the gut and what fits with my personality and hope for the best.

  3. Tamara Ward says:

    Hi, Alicia! While it’s crazy, the choices and the contradicting advice, it’s also encouraging. To me it means there are so many different paths to success. But making choices is stressful! I talk with my husband, who doesn’t know much about indie publishing, but who is great at logical thinking and reasoning, and who also is fantastic at listening. Sometimes talking about my choice is all I need to figure out which way my gut is leaning.

    • Hi, Tamara! Yes, I talk things over with my DH all the time. Of course, we write together, but I do most of the social networking, so on certain issues he really is no help! But he also has good logic skills (male genes?) so he’s good at getting down to a decision.

  4. I just entered the Indie publishing world. I’m traditionally published but wanted the freedom of making my own choices. It took me a while–and a lot of encouragement–to finally take the step. Now I have, I find myself faced with all of the decisions you mentioned. It’s hard to know what to do, so I’m going with the flow.

    One thing I’ve discovered is that it has become almost impossible to find time to write between all the decision-making! :)

    • Welcome, Monique! Yes, finding time to write between all the decision-making (which usually includes a hefty time-suck of information gathering) is definitely the most frustrating part of it all!

  5. I sometimes whine and complain to the folks around me, but I take it all in stride. After all, I’m doing what I love: writing!

    My decisions are made by gut feeling, capabilities and research. Sure, I’d love to run ads, but I can’t afford them, so brush those aside without further thought. Sure I’d like to be on every social network going, but I can’t afford the time, so I chose two and do them well as oppose to doing six poorly.

    Most times I aim somewhere in the middle: I do a wee bit of promoting, but I’d never do a 100-blog tour in a month to promote my book. That’s too much for me.

    The contradicting advice does make me second guess if what I’m doing is right. When it starts to drive me crazy, I fall back to what I love to do: write. And I forget about it all until the next round. I strongly agree with the writers who provide this advice: the best thing you can do for your career and your book is to write the next book. That’s what I follow, the rest of the decisions change as new information comes in.

  6. Sibel Hodge says:

    I think it’s a bit of research and a bit of instinct. What works for one person won’t work for you, and what works for one of your books won’t work for another. Go with your gut and your heart, and if it doesn’t work, don’t waste energy blaming yourself, move on to the next thing and try again. :)

  7. Oh, how I relate! I’m already a champion second-guesser–I could second-guess on a nationally competitive level, LOL–so these decisions can really gnaw at me if I let them.

    Mostly I do what Diane, above, seems to: try to keep my writing itself the highest priority, and be selective about the rest. I’m investing my money in good cover art and design and in a professional voice actress for the audiobook, rather than advertising; I’d rather have a really strong product out there before starting to think about investing in ads. But the doubts do creep in. And social media–there’s a place where I feel like I come up short. But I’m writing–and I’m learning as I go!

  8. As with everything else, one thing can work for one very well can turn out to be a complete dud for someone else. I guess it’s all about trial and error.

    For example, I’ve fallen for the KDP Select trap and I haven’t had a single copy of my latest paranormal romantica novel, “Blood, Lust & Spawns” loaned out. I have, though, sold copies of it. But now it’s kind of stuck on KDP Select until November 22nd! Oh well, I won’t do that again.

  9. PJ Sharon says:

    This made me laugh out loud, Alicia. I’m at my one year mark as well, and spending some time reassessing…everything! Have I met my goals? What worked and what didn’t? What can I let go of to free up my time? Much of my reassessing has to do with knowing my limits and going a little easier on myself in the coming year. I had an aggressive production schedule my first year, knowing I wanted to jump in with both feet and get a good start out of the gate. After an exhausting four books and a short story later, I’ve come to realize what D.D. Scott has said from the beginning…”It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I’m done with throwing everything out there and seeing what sticks in terms of social media and promotion. I choose one promo opportunity a month, focus my social media efforts on FB and Twitter, and have learned to say “NO” to doing more than will keep me happy and sane.

    When I began this journey, I committed myself to two years of dedicated time and effort to seeing if this was the writing life I wanted for myself and to see if I could be successful at Indie-publishing. As much as I appreciate the value of hard work, I want to enjoy the process, and I’ve discovered that I won’t enjoy it if I’m stressed out, over-committed, and resenting the fact that I have too little time to write. So in this second year, I am dedicated to finding balance–come hell or high water. The only real decision I need to make every day is whether I will keep writing…and that, for me, is a no-brainer. Everything else is a crap-shoot in this industry.

    • Hi, PJ! Congrats on accomplishing your work plan! Your incredible schedule this year has several times put me in awe. And I agree that there are so many unknown and out-of-our-control factors involved in this business, that we have to make our sanity top priority. But I’m glad you’ll continue writing your fantastic books!

      • D.D. Scott says:

        Atta girl, PJ…it’s definitely a marathon and not a sprint.

        And that means you’ve got to take time to keep yourself and your muses “hydrated” with tasks that make you dance like nobody’s watching…whatever that magic elixir is for you and your muses!!! :-)

    • Diana Layne says:

      Yes!

  10. Julie Day says:

    I too am coming up to my one year journey. I mostly go with what DD has done in her journey, esp the free ebook to start with. It worked for me as it has come up to over 5000 downloads so far, and goes up gradually now and then. I was thinking of raising my prices after reading Dean Wesley Smith’s blog but then read DD’s post here, and changed my mind and will be going with her prices. Blogging – used to blog once a week and now and then on a second blog I own, but then read Kristen Lamb’s ebooks and now blog twice a week on my first blog. It seems to work. Promo – I’m more FB and Twitter, now and then PInterest. Oh, and will be creating a business plan for next year, after reading Denise Grover Swank’s post here the other day. I also might start selling merchandise connected with my two series’ next year.

  11. I too recently passed the one-year mark for self-publishing. Oof! Never in my life have I consistently worked so many hours (not even in my day job) for such a long, non-stop period of time as I have been doing juggling writing, editing, self-publishing, and promoting my own work! And with very little financial compensation to show for it!!!

    But I’ve begun to finally get some traction. The nuts-and-bolts of converting your manuscript becomes second nature (and you learn to format your new drafts as you write so it takes less time). You learn to shrug and take it in stride as some subtle shift in an Amazon or Google algorithm means you have to revamp your metadata, shift delivery platforms, or revamp your website to optimize your SEO. And you learn that the only way you can accomplish all of this is to be sociable with other authors to find out what is working for them because you don’t have an army of computer experts, editors, or a marketing staff to help you get your work out there!

    As for my whine … I’ll have some white zinfandel and gorgonzola cheese with mine, please!!!

  12. Alicia, sounds like we all understand the feeling. I feel like I am only ever trying to keep up in this game, never with the rest or EVER ahead of the pack. My stress also rises when I’ve got too many decisions to make and not sure which is best. So far, I’m just doing what I can, when I can and the rest of the time I write. Denise’s business plan series convinced me I need to get one in place for myself, but then I fear it’ll take me months just to come up with something. I’ll have to remember to KISS (keep it simple stupid) and move on from there.

    • Hi, Stacey! Yep, sounds like we’re on the same page. And KISS is a great one to remember. I love your books and just know that you will find your readers soon. :)

  13. Wonderful post! I’m just starting my indie journey and I’m definitely finding the decision-making I face each day can be paralyzing. I have to say one thing, though, that discovering THIS venue has helped tremendously. Everyone’s generosity and candor has been a balm to my wounds! One thing I’m working on right now is lessening the “noise” — finding resources and sources that feel “right” and unsubscribing to the others. Having less in my inbox helps. I’ve got a lot to learn but I still wake up each morning glad I’m an indie author! Thank you to everyone for sharing so much!!

    • Thanks so much, Janet! Authors helping authors is the motto D.D. started here at WG2E. I have found so many generous and wonderful friends among Indie authors. And yes, the cyber-world can get very “noisy.” I try to keep that at a minimum, too.

  14. As someone just starting out, the information and “advice” out there is overwhelming. It’s hard to know what to do. I have my good friends at the WG2E Street Team to bounce things off of and seek advice. Thank goodness for all you! But basically, I think I’ll have to just trust my gut, experiment and be flexible and willing to change.

    • Hi, Rhonda! I’d think you’ve already made a great start with the Tales from the Mist anthology. And I say a big YES to friends, intuition, experimentation and flexibility!

  15. Diane Capri says:

    Alicia, while all you say here and everyone’s similar experiences are true, I’ve been in business for myself for years. To me, this is just the joy of owning my own business, not answering to a boss, having control over my life. Do I make mistakes and wrong choices? Sure! But that doesn’t bother me as long as I’m making some good ones, too. I like the responsiveness of the Indie life — I can decide today, make the change in 10 minutes, and get something going right away to see whether it works or not. In the trad world where I was (and still am) for years and years, absolutely everything takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r. So if some decision is “wrong” it also takes f-o-r-e-v-e-r to change it. Indie is better, IMHO! LOL!

    • Absolutely, Diane! When I had a horrendous cover on a trad book, I had to just live it. And when I worked in the non-profit performing arts field, the choices and mistakes were ever present. I also agree that being an Indie author is great, but I do think the rapidly changing environment in both publishing and the cyber-world adds a dizzying speed to the whole experience.

  16. You are not alone!
    I’m dizzy with decisions!
    But I love it all anyway. At least with all the contradictory advice and anecdotes of success no matter which way you decide–it feels like you can’t go wrong–except the part about writing the books–that has to be number 1!

  17. Dale Amidei says:

    It seems to me that there is an indefinable threshold past which readers assign an author a level of legitimacy worthy of their time. The criteria, doubtless, are as diverse as our readership.

    My instinct tells me that an author (at a worthwhile price point) needs a certain number of available well-rated titles—properly presented as to cover art and description—to be perceived as someone who has “been at it for a while.” That author’s work will therefore be seen as worth the investment of time to read.

    Add to the above appeal the availability of a “loss leader” in a 99-cent or free title to further entice a trial run from a new fan, and one may have the makings of a successful marketing plan. Authors who have five, six or seven novels in them—plus the patience and dedication to bear their emotional load for the length of time necessary to produce such—will reach and cross that invisible threshold of reader perception more often than the individual marketing only his or her debut.

    It’s just a theory. I’ve now seen enough examples of success, however, to have made it my own strategy.

  18. D.D. Scott says:

    I totally rely on my gut as a business owner first! :-)

    And I give that gut the gusto it needs to “feel” my way through the decisions by first and foremost spending time with and getting to know my readers and potential readers. Readers will show you the way. And if you make your decisions based on what’s best for them, you always win too!!! :-)

    Happy customers come back for more. And it’s because you have something that triggers an emotional response in them to begin with that they even try you the first time. You’ve got to figure out what you offer them that first brings them in and then keeps ‘em coming back for more.

    I’m limiting my time spent with other writers, although I spend each and every day here on The WG2E with all of you superfab peeps, and hangin’ with my readers.

    • Hey, D.D.! Great point! I totally agree that as artists we can often ‘feel’ our way, and I have found what my readers like is usually what also satisfies me as a reader. But you’ve also done a whole lot of experimenting and research in the past, and shared it with authors like me who count you as an inspiration and a source of knowledge and sound guidance. Thanks, Girlfriend!

  19. J.D. Faver says:

    Hi Alicia! Very interesting post. I’ve been an indie for almost a year-and-a-half. I still feel like I fell through the rabbit hole. I was not traditionally published before going off rez, so I had no readership at all. I’m still shaking my head over what works and what doesn’t. For instance, I find that the B&N readers buy one type of book and Amazon readers go for another. I have had some luck with the KDP select program and I re-enrolled some of my books at the end of the 3 months. I have changed covers and in one instance, changed the title. I certainly know more at this point, but it gets curiouser and curiouser every day. I do Facebook and Twitter, but that’s about all. You have to have time to write. BTW, today makes the 1,143rd straight day that I have written at least 100 words. That doesn’t sound like much, but the commitment to write daily, keeps me in the story and I end up writing much more. The one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t count on anything, because just when you think you’ve got it figured out, everything changes.

  20. You’re so right that it’s confusing and the advice is often contradictory. I agree with J. D. Faver above; “The one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t count on anything, because just when you think you’ve got it figured out, everything changes.”

    I just had Amazon discount one of my titles to 99 cents without any warning. Now I guess I’ll find out if a cheaper price makes a difference, but it sure would have been nice to know they were going to do it.

    And you can’t forget the competing rules: “you must use a pseudonym if you write in different genres” vs.”you should never diffuse your brand with multiple names.” I’m discussing that subject on my blog today and I’d love to have people weigh in on that too. http://bit.ly/RfrA7i

    • Hi, Anne! I’ve heard about Amazon doing that with pricing. Zheesh! And thanks for the link to your post. (They never get to my email until Sunday night.) I’m starting a series in a different genre, so I’m pondering that subject. I’ll surely hop over to your blog. You always have smart stuff to say!

  21. I feel a lot like I’m just starting, because with only short stories out there, I am simply scraping the surface. I also think that with one novel alone, it’s hard to assess what works and what doesn’t. In the beginning, perhaps writing and producing more is key. From then on, the decision making process becomes trickier. I don’t think I’ve ever been more confused in my life as I’ve been in this business, lol, but I think it’s just one of those things where you have to sort of allow yourself to make a few mistakes before you find out what works for you. I just hope I don’t make too many!