I have yet to meet a writer who didn’t want build a sustainable writing business (unless they already were) but many writers don’t think it’s possible. Including myself from time to time.
I have doubts every week. It’s normal.
Since 2nd grade, I knew I wanted a writing career. But it took me 30 years to start the path to that dream. Because I, like many of you, didn’t feel it was possible and was quite skilled at coming up with a million reasons to support that impossible theory.
Then starting in 2007 the ebook became a force to be reckoned with and publishing as we knew it changed becoming much more possible. Today, 10 years later (wow, I’ve been doing this a long time), it’s not as easy as it once was because there are so many other people chasing their dreams of being writers.
But it’s not impossible. You CAN build a sustainable writing business as an author.
When you are thinking about HOW you might accomplish this goal keep these 10 things in mind:
- Never stop writing. This should really be 1 through 10. The more you write, the better you get, the more books you put out, and the more people have the chance to buy your work. Write consistently, so it’s a habit. You are a writer after all. So WRITE!
- Have a holistic approach to your indie author business. You can’t just focus on just the writing or just the marketing. Working on what you like while ignoring what you don’t. You need to invest your time in ALL aspects of running your empire. It’s the hardest part about being an entrepreneur. Keeping all your balls in the air.
- Don’t waste your time on things you’re not good at. This can be a hard one for a couple reasons. Us entrepreneurs tend to be type A’s and that can often translate into control freak. You don’t want to give up any part of your baby to someone else which is completely understandable. Money also is a factor. When it’s a bootstrapping effort to get the business going there isn’t a lot of extra money and thinking about paying out when not much (if anything) is coming in, is scary.
But keep in mind that TIME is MONEY. If you spend time on things you aren’t good at and therefore they take 10 times longer, you’re really spending more than if you paid someone good at it to do it. You need to look at the return on investment (ROI). If your time is better spent elsewhere…then maybe spend it there.
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I like to say, “do what you do best and outsource the rest.”
- Find your tribe. Writing is a solitary business. If you don’t seek out people to surround yourself with who understand what you’re trying to accomplish it can get very lonely. And you might start talking to yourself which my daughter says I do all the time. I didn’t believe her until she pointed it out to me in the middle of a good conversation I was having. Hand gestures and all. She’s now worried about my sanity, but that’s an entirely different blog post.
When you feel like you’re working in a vacuum, it can lead to frustration when you hit an obstacle and don’t have anyone to talk to. That’s not a good work environment.
- Be consistent. I’ve talked a lot about Steven Pressfield and his quote on how a professional shows up every day. I say it all the time because I don’t feel I could say it enough. Sometimes I have to say it every day to remind myself. When I wake up and check my blog stats, and my book sales, and I didn’t hit the numbers I felt I should, I sometimes feel like giving up. Which makes me want to watch Netflix and eat. Not keep working. But I can’t let that self-defeating behavior get to me. Because if I allow myself a pity party one day turns into two and then three and all of a sudden a week has gone by, and I haven’t done a damn thing. Then I get even more depressed over what a failure I am.
If you work toward your goal every day, you can take pride in that. In the steps, you’re taking every day to realize your dream.
- Take time off. Yes, I know I just told you that to be a professional you need to work consistently, but you also need time to rest and recharge your batteries. There is a difference between taking the time to rejuvenate your mind and body versus taking time off to feel sorry for yourself and binge watch TV.
It can be hard for entrepreneurs to find that balance. We think we have to work 24/7 and while it’s true, we don’t work a traditional 40 hour week with lunch breaks and a 5 pm quitting time (but really does anyone these days) there has to be boundaries or burn out will be inevitable.
- Invest in yourself. Always be learning. There are many different creative and business elements that will be part of your indie authorpreneur life. There will always be new things that will come up all the time that you didn’t expect. It seems to happen almost daily especially in the area of social media. Three new social media platforms probably popped up since I started writing this post.
Now I say this with caution because it’s also very easy to get all excited about every single new thing that comes up and you go down the rabbit hole for hours and get nothing important done. Busy doesn’t always equal productive so chose your activities wisely. I would recommend setting aside time each week for professional development. Then as you come across things you want to look into you can write it down for that scheduled time.
- Have a vision/mission statement. If you read this blog at all you probably know preach having tangible goals and a plan to achieve them if you want to make any progress. You also want to have a clear vision and mission. I spent 3 hours last weekend re-writing my mission statement. Now you might be thinking 3 hours on one sentence. Really? Isn’t THAT a waste of time? Especially, if you’re a company of 1. Who even cares? Not at all because what I was able to accomplish in that 3 hours was to create a very impactful, one-sentence statement that completely embodies what I want to accomplish from my blog writing. I am now working on doing the same thing with my fiction writing mission statement.I was so excited when I finally hit on the perfect words to convey my feeling that it pumped me up. It motivated me to work harder. I sold myself on the mission of what I want to do. That is what made the investment of time worth it.
- Work your plan. The best plan in the world will fail if you don’t execute it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written out a healthy eating and workout plan for the week just to crack open a bottle of wine on the first night and it all goes down the tubes. Same with your writing plan. You actually have to follow it.
I realize that not all indie authors like to have a set schedule, but you need to have at least an idea of when you’re going to do your work and stick to it. Or I promise you, you won’t see the results you want.
- Treat your business like a business. You’ve got to walk the talk. The proof is in your actions and then your results. All businesses take time to grow, and most fail in the first 5 years. This industry is no exception. Probably even has a higher failure rate. I don’t want to look up the statistic and get us all depressed, so I won’t, but it’s not an easy business to start or sustain. But it can be done, and it is worth it. Believe in you and your writing business. You got this!
Now start writing!!
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