Tomorrow I am officially launching my third novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon. I might be an Aussie girl in England, but it seems pretty appropriate to give birth to my literary baby on Independence Day.
Being an independent author means freedom, but it also means taking responsibility for everything to do with your work. Responsibility is one of those heavily loaded words that often has people running for the hills, and yet if we embrace it then it changes its hold on us. We become the captain of our ship, rather than a hapless passenger at the mercy of the nautical conditions. We don’t have the luxury of waiting for someone to rescue us. It’s sail or sink.
As an independent author, you’re not just a writer, but a business person. Most writers would agree that all we want to do is write…but the truth is simple: if you want to be an independent author you have to do more than show up at the laptop. You have to do mind-numbing jobs like annual accounts or deal with the tax office regarding overseas royalties on foreign translations. Independence means building an author platform, and not relying on a marketing team to get your work into the hands of would-be readers. To thrive on being an indie author means you live your life outside of any boxes. You aren’t confined, unless you choose to be. It’s not a job for the weak of mind.
One of the most powerful things my dad ever said to me (he was an atheist), was that he believed in himself.
If, like me, you don’t want the limelight for yourself but for your work, then putting yourself ‘out there’ can feel like a daily chore. If you’re an author, you must promote yourself as an author/novelist/writer as equally and as passionately as you do any of your literary work. You MUST believe in yourself. Without that conviction, you may as well give up. Readers tune into authors. If you believe in yourself, and your writing, then readers will be drawn to you. (You still have to market yourself!) To understand your target audience means understanding yourself.
Who are you?
What has meaning to you?
What are your passions?
Who are you when no one is watching?
Do you live authentically?
Whether you like it or not, who you are is energetically imprinted into everything you put out into the world. If you don’t like yourself, change. Change now. Change every day. You have the power to be the best you can be.
One of my favourite quotes of all time is: “Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.”
Independence means you have the pleasure and pain of choosing the right image for your book. A picture paints a thousand words and you want to be sure the image on your book says as much as it possibly can about what is inside. It must be heartbreaking to write a great book only to have a publisher slap a generic or bland cover on the front. My pet hate is when I’ve picked up a romance novel and the guy on the front doesn’t remotely match the description the author has given. This would NEVER happen with an indie author.
The publishing world is changing with astonishing speed in ways we would never have once imagined. Even big-name authors are leaving traditional publishing houses in exchange for self-publishing and marketing themselves. That speaks volumes!
And while, for the average person on the street, the idea of being accepted by a big publisher means you’re a ‘real writer’, for those of us who work independently we have come to know and cherish all the benefits of autonomy even if our books aren’t sold in every bookstore chain.
One of my guiding beliefs (for my fiction and non-fiction writing) is that the right readers will find my publications. I know that most of my books have proved life-changing for many people, and so I trust (yet I still do the leg work) that books will always find their way into the hands of those who will appreciate them.
Writing is often described as a lonely business. I’m not someone who gets lonely. And, I love being alone. A lot. However, as an independent author it means that I need to step out of the writing room (or garden!) and ‘meet’ my readers. I thrive on solitude, and it is this rich inner world that lends itself so perfectly to the writing life.
My author tour starts this Saturday with a book launch right here in my reading room (aka The Barn). The following weekend I’ll be reading and speaking in Lincolnshire and Harrogate. There’ll be other venues throughout the Summer, too. I’m really looking forward to sharing my new novel, and also meeting my devoted readers as well as meeting new readers.
My writing style is evolving, but the themes which are important to me will always remain regardless of whether I write fiction or non-fiction: Nature, friendships, love, family, food, home, symbolism, metaphysics and so on. Being an independent author means I get to explore and experiment with my voice and my passions without censure. I value freedom, as much as learning from my ‘mistakes’ and seeing how I can improve.
On Twitter the other day, a reader said to me: “Your books are unlike any others I’ve read in terms of themes and references.” I really must paste that onto the notice board in my writing room. It truly made my day. Why? Because when I’ve approached traditional publishers in the past they’ve wanted to know which writer my writing was like. I wanted to yell: I’m not like other writers! Don’t box me in.
So, here’s to Independence Day, and tomorrow I’ll be sipping champagne and eating chocolate-dipped strawberries with friends as my new novel, Sisters of the Silver Moon, is officially launched. Here’s to freedom! Available in paperback and Kindle. Amazon, other online retailers, good bookshops, UK libraries, and signed copies www.veronikarobinson.com