Saturday, May 10, 2014

A Day in the Life of an Indie Author


This morning I woke up thinking, "Maybe I shouldn't wrap the photo around to the back of the print cover." I got up out of bed and started pulling books off one of the bookshelves in my bedroom, turning them over to see what the back looked like. I'm sure it's because I spent five hours yesterday working in Gimp, a free open source graphics program, that I'm learning how to use by trying my hand at designing my own covers.

This isn't the first time I've done something like this. Once I decided to self-publish, I started looking a book covers differently. When I go into a bookstore or browse on Amazon, I ask myself whether I like or don't like a cover--unless I immediately go "Ooooo" because I love it. I ask myself specifically what I like and don't like. Can I read both the title and the author's name? What font did they use and would it be appropriate for one of my books? I might start out reading the back cover copy to see if I'm interested in reading the book, but I'm soon taking note of how the teaser was written and who gave the book review quotes. Oh, and what font did they use for those?

I spent another two or three hours working on the day's lesson for a class I'm taking on compiling in Scrivener with the incomparable Gwen Hernandez. Compiling is what Scrivener calls converting your manuscript to a proof copy, submission copy, Word document, ebook, or paperback novel. Now, I did this for Faith, Hope, and Murder last year, but it took a lot of hours and I'm sure there's lots I still don't know. Since I'm soon going to be publishing the sequel, taking this class seemed like a good idea. Except, after I spent the time working on the lesson, I learned there was an additional one hour video to watch.

Then there was Facebook and email time. Some of this is fun, but a lot of it is keeping up with industry news, learning if there have been changes at any of the retailers where I've published my book, connecting for promotional purposes.

It was 8:00 PM when I realized I hadn't had any dinner yet. Did you notice there wasn't any writing in that day? Me, too.

One of the first things I do each day is to make a list of what I want to accomplish as I drink my coffee and peruse email or the news or my lessons. I have a notebook next to my computer to do this. Most times each day gets a fresh page. Then, throughout the day, as I discover little tidbits I've learned or additional items that I should put on a list soon, I'll jot them down on the bottom of the page.

Two days ago I made my morning list. It has 12 things on it. That day, I accomplished four. Since that left eight more plus a repeat of "Scrivener lesson," I didn't make a new list yesterday. I did one more thing, the Gimp tutorial and experimentation. Usually "Write X" or "Revisions" is number one on my list each day, but Gimp had been on my list for over a week without doing anything, so I bumped that up for one day.

Margie Lawson, in her Defeat Self-Defeating Behaviors class, says you should only write down four goals each day. Two are what she calls "winner" goals, things you absolutely must accomplish. The other two are "superstar" goals, things you'd like to accomplish, but aren't sure if you'll be able to get to. If you do manage to do one or both of them, you're a superstar.

There are also distractions. While looking at my list notebook to write this blog, I saw one of those notes I made yesterday. That one was about a font that was recommended for a print book. Now, I've been on the hunt-through-the-notebook-for-something-I-wrote-down quest many times, so I detoured to store this somewhere on my computer where I'd be sure to find it. (Hah!) That led me to typing a few sentences not only in Georgia (the font I wrote down), but Garamond (which I used for my first print book) and Times New Roman (the old standby). I was lucky I stopped at three.

Then I went to bitly to get my short link to something in this post and found a big warning banner on the site saying information might have been compromised with instructions to change your password and API key immediately.

This stuff happens every day.

I'm sure all indie author lists read like mine. If you're an "authorpreneur", you wear many hats. You're not only the writer, you're the editor, the cover designer, the book formatter, the advertising department. Yes, you can hire professionals to do some of those tasks, but you're still involved.

Take my adventure into cover design. Last year I hired a cover designer. That meant researching what cover designers were out there, reviewing covers they'd done, contacting several whose work I liked to find out pricing and availability, communicating my ideas on the cover, reviewing multiple drafts until we were both satisfied, following up at every step. Now, I could just use the same designer for my new cover. I might still do that if I can't get the hang of creating my own cover so it looks professional. But I'd still have a lot of those steps for a new book.

The list doesn't only include author tasks. I've learned that, if I don't write something down so it's in front of me, I'm liable to forget to do it and have no clean underwear. So "do the laundry" and "walk" will often be on my daily list. "Clean office" has been on it for a week. I'll get to that someday.

And the best days? When I'm deep into writing or revisions, when I'm seeing my story unfold as I type it, when I manage to come up with a description that's fresh and vivid, when I see that I've sold another book or two, confirming that I'm a real author even if I'm not on the bestseller list. There's still time for that.

I love being an indie author. Yesterday, even though I didn't do any writing, was fun. I love learning new things, experimenting to see the results of "what happens if I do this?". I feel like every day is summer vacation. I'm doing what I want to do, whether it's writing blurbs or putting up promotional posts on Facebook or filling out my spreadsheet with monthly sales information or, yes, writing. I can't think of a better way to spend my time.

Photo Credit:
Image courtesy of cuteimage / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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