Did you see my piece on the ARRA blog page?

Guest blogger: ML Tompsett

Today’s blog is about what an indie author can and does go through—when they write, create, design, publish, and release a book.

How many of you know what an indie author is and what they do?

Indie authors are the sole person who does everything from the start, middle, and end. Writing, editing, copy editing (that is, before you hire someone to do the final editing process), cover design (if you have the know-how and skills, you can create your own book covers; otherwise, you hire a cover designer or purchase pre-made book covers), interior file design and creation (once again, if you have the skills and know-how, you can create the internal PDF and EPUB formats for your book baby). Then joining different book platforms to upload your digital book files to publish to the whole big world (Amazon, Ingram Spark, GooglePlay books, Draft2Digital, Kobo iBooks and several other platforms).

I am an indie author. And a digital file formatter (I create the interior digital files for other authors’ ebooks and print books). My background is in administration, accounts, secretarial, reception, sales, computer design and layout, web design and a few other areas.

Many years ago, in a time far, far away. At school, I was enjoying life creating teenage love stories. Then, several years later, everything changed, and I was mainly writing to relieve stress, anxiety and a lot of other reasons—as you do. Some people keep diaries or journals. Some people write for fun. My mind connected with my fingers, and a lot of what I wrote back then will never see the light of day. But, at the time, it was a physical release, and it helped mentally and emotionally.

Once I read an article on how JK Rowling had been knocked back multiple times before someone picked up her Harry Potter book. I didn’t want to go through that emotional stress and anguish of submitting to a big publishing house and continue to be knocked back. So instead, I learnt how to become an indie author. Cut out the middleman. I wanted to be a published author and for someone—anyone—to read my book and enjoy it, giving them the ability to escape their own lives and travel on a journey with my characters.

While I enjoyed the different courses in all things writing. I continued to write—anything and everything. I kept on reading print books, mainly from the library. Until one day, a book I had wanted to read only came as an ebook. Well. I had no idea what an ebook was! So off I went and learnt all about ebooks. I even purchased an ereader! My new ebook collection grew and grew.

I was so eager for ebooks, I learnt how to create them myself. In those early days, the ebooks and print book files were interesting, at the least, which was an understatement. Now with modern software and more know-how, I can create better-looking ebooks. The interior files are amazing. As with everything in life, you continue learning your craft and skills. Improve your writing and try different genres to submerge yourself in. Find your niche.

So, becoming an indie author can be challenging. But, you write to your own schedule. You are the one who says what your book title will be and how your cover will look. What genre you will write in. What words, paragraphs, and characters remain in your book.

As you can imagine, there is a downside. Yes, there really is a downside. People expect you to give away your hard work. Oh, yes. It happens all the time. Especially in ebooks. Even though you have worked thousands of hours, working hard with blood, sweat and tears and most likely paid too many hundreds of dollars for cover design, editing, formatting, advertising etc. People still expect to have a free copy of your book. It is distressing enough when you discover your book on pirate sites. The writing industry is not all lollipops, chocolate, wine and rainbows. It can be cruel and heartbreaking.

When it comes to an indie author—you have to do basically everything yourself. Including your own book printing (organising a company to print them, of course), creating your own merchandise and advertising (maybe through another business). It is hard work getting your name out there. You do not publish a book and expect that the next day your book will be a smash hit. There are several steps you have to take first.

Remember—do not rely on your family and friends to purchase and read your books. Most of them will be sick and tired of hearing you talk about your books. And what about your spouse? Most of them do not read their partner’s work. There are the odd few who are champions and will read the books and give their opinions. But most will not. Instead join writers groups that write in your genre.

The everyday author can be unaware of what costs are involved. You have to pay for everything, and it can be expensive. Editing, formatting, cover design, advertising, newsletters, social media ads are just a few expenses.

Don’t forget to reach out to your local library and newspaper to let them know you have a book out soon. Are they able to do a public piece on you and your book? Do not fall victim to one of those ‘you pay, and we’ll print your books and advertise and get your book out there’ scams. Most of these businesses are out for money. I have heard of victims handing over thousands of dollars, and their books failed. Please do not do it. No publishing company or business will ask you to pay money upfront to do everything for you.

As for printing my books, the ones I take to signings and other events, I go via Ingram Spark. They will print my books, but only the quantity I require. Plus, they will also distribute your books internationally (all you receive is the small royalty from the sale, as you do not pay for the printing or any other cost). It is always good to see other countries ordering your print books. Other companies can do the same thing, so please do your homework and don’t get your fingers burnt.

Being an indie author can be a good income, but remember: you only get out of it what you put in it first.

Since 2016, I have published eight individual books—these branch out from print books to ebooks and now audible books. I also have two different box sets. My writing has taken me in other areas and romance genres—from paranormal fantasy, urban fantasy and now contemporary, with varying genres of sub-paranormal contemporary with suspense.

My previously published books are: The Guy Next DoorDark SurprisesYou Never KnowIt’s YouKept in the Dark of Love and LustInsta Bride and The Bodyguard’s Convenient Marriage.

My latest release, Ghost of a Chance in Love, is contemporary with paranormal and suspense subgenres. The idea came out of nowhere while I was in the shower. A woman who had been seriously hurt. Her husband was dead or missing, and she must discover what happened. Of course, there was a lot more to it, but I think you get the gist of it.
I first published Ghost of a Chance in Love as an ebook, which has now gone wide (available at all good ebook stores). And very soon, it will be in print book and audible. The book genre is different and entirely out of the norm for me to write, especially when the two previous books in the series are contemporary romances. I enjoy not just the writing aspect but that of creating and designing the cover and creating and formatting the interior file so then you, the reader, can enjoy the end product.

Your writing can be what you want it to be. It is best to see what genres are selling and write and publish in those areas. Or write what is in your heart.

Becoming an indie author is a choice you have to think about carefully. It can lead to being picked up by one of the bigger publishing houses. Meet fabulous authors and make friends and join different author groups.

You can write as a hobby or as a business. Once you decide as a business, there are many rules and regulations to follow and abide by. Just like any other small business.

Once you jump through the hoops and cross your Ts and dot your Is, writing can be a fulfilling career. In addition, you can travel and meet fantastic people, and authors you have always dreamt of meeting.

A lifestyle in writing can open many doors. It is up to you, the individual, to step in the direction you want to take.

If I haven’t scared you off the idea of becoming an indie author, it might become something you can try years from now. Just think—those thoughts, ideas and characters demanding to be heard might one day be in print and loved by people worldwide.

See you at the Melbourne ARRA 2023 author signing. Drop by my table and say hello. I will have all my books there and other merchandise for you to take a look at.

Big hugs everyone and remember, you are awesome.

You can find ML Tompsett here: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


My first appearance as a blogger on ARRA
Of course, there is a lot more to being an indie author. But, you can only write so much as a guest blogger.

I never covered approaching your local book stores in person, or your local library so they can stock your books there.

Then there is the feeling most authors have when their brand new freshly printed books arrive in the box.

Slicing the tape and opening the flaps of the box. The first time you set your eyes on your book. All fresh and shiny. There is nothing like it. The relief, happiness, wow factor. The realisation you have a book in print!

The feeling – you are on your way to making it as a published author.

Just wait until the sales start – providing you have been advertising the book – ‘is now available to the public’. Then the down side when you have your ebook on amazon and see unsavory people purchase your book and days later return it! There are far too many people who do this. I have seen where a whole book series has been purchased and days later each book is returned within a certain number of days. Indicating the purchaser had read your book and returned them for a refund. Why don’t these people go to the library?

Life is not fair. Until Amazon fixes the problem which might be sometime this year or next year, these thieves will continue to abuse the authors.

Life as an indie author can be fulfilling. Keep writing your ideas. Keep taking notes. Keep updating your skills and craft. In time you do improve and wonder how your first book was ever allowed to be released. And as an indie author you can update that book and fix it.

Enjoy and take care.

Allow those fingers to fly over the keyboard and the creative juices to flow.

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