When indie authors start out, we think we know more than we do. We do our research, we insist that our story and our cover are good enough to make thousands of dollars straight away, we even dismiss some of the big sellers advice, thinking that it's no good for us. That may be true for a lot of things, but the one thing that changed it for me, after three and a half years of publishing, was this... I took a hard look at myself.
We come into this game thinking we know what we want. We write because we're passionate, so that means readers will feel that passion too. Well, yes and no. A reader knows what they love. They tend to read books with a similar feel because they know that they're going to enjoy it. Which means, we, as indie authors, need to write what they love, as well as what we love.
After three years of full time publishing, I realised that I couldn't keep doing it. I had to start making a living at this job. Yes, it is my passion. Writing comes naturally. I've overcome dyslexia to produce books that readers like to read. However, I wasn't earning enough to live on. And, that was destroying my soul.
I can't remember exactly what triggered it, but one day in August last year, something clicked in my head. If I wanted to sell enough books to make a living, I had to write what readers wanted. I had written stories that had just flowed from me. Sometimes, I'd tried to write a bit to market, but it inevitably ended up a genre that didn't quite fit into marketable. So, what could I do?
Taking a month off writing gave me time. Time to research what was marketable. Time to work out what I loved reading and writing. Time to see what covers were selling books. In that time, I came up with a new book series. The Hunted Witch Agency.
From the moment I saw the first cover, I knew that this series would be the one to change my writing world. I invested in a cover made my Lou Harper, an extremely talented designer. Yes, it was more expensive than I was used to paying, but do you know what? I quickly earned it back when the book was released.
Something about my believe in the series made others believe in me too. I wrote a marketable book that hit the tropes that urban fantasy readers enjoyed. However, I also added my own unique twist. I made the story my own.
The reason for this post isn't to just tell me my story, but to inspire other indies. I have 23 books published, and most of my sales come from the first two in my witch urban fantasy series. The series that I made an effort to research. The sales have dropped off this month, meaning I'm only just making a full livable wage, so it's not like I had a ton of luck to propel the book high so I'm forever making thousands of pounds. However, getting book 3 out at the end of this month will help boost it again. I'm still working hard at this business. I may have seen a but of success, but I'm not sitting back and assuming it's going to roll on from here. Achievements are only profound when you've worked for them. It really is in the journey, not the destination.
If you're struggling or doubting yourself on this journey, the best thing to do is to take a break from pushing hard and look at yourself. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, and then plan accordingly. Take the advice of others and see if it works for you. If it doesn't, that's fine. If it does, that's great. Either way, never give up on your dreams.