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Successful Indie Authors Share Their Secrets. How I Do It by Terry Tyler

Terry Tyler head and shoulders out of doors

Indie novelist Terry Tyler

Over the last few years, British novelist Terry Tyler has built an effective and much-admired brand for her self-published novels, underpinned by a lively and approachable presence on Twitter and an active role writing for a national arts blog. Always supportive of other indie authors, here she shares her top tips for self-publishing success.

What is the secret of your success?

Well, I’m not a huge bestseller or anything, but I do have a fairly established readership and over three hundred good reviews, for which I am hugely grateful. I suppose it’s hard work, mostly, and attention to detail. Being aware of my weak points and trying to improve upon them all the time. Not taking anything for granted; the people who buy my books as soon as they come out, then read and take the trouble to review them, are to be treasured! I hope I’ll never get blasé about that.

What was the single best thing you ever did?

Cover of Dream On by Terry TylerYou mean to do with writing? It’s either getting out my old typewriter in 1993 and thinking, hmm, I wonder if I could write a novel, or reading an article my sister sent me in the summer of 2011, about John Locke and Kindle publishing; I didn’t know such a thing existed before. If I hadn’t done the first (I wrote around ten novels in the 1990s), I don’t think You Wish, which I wrote in 2010, would have been good enough to publish.

How do you get/stay in a creative mood?

By sitting down and opening my laptop. If I waited until I felt ‘creative’ I’d never have written the amount I have! I’m always thinking about the next scene, or the next novel, or working out little plot twists. Much of the work involved in producing a novel isn’t creative, as such, anyway; it’s down to the painstaking rearranging of sentences and paragraphs until the story reads just right. Each morning I make coffee and catch up on Twitter, then open up the current work in progress – though I do sometimes have a game of spider solitaire first!

How do you prioritise?

Cover of Nine Lives by Terry TylerWhat, you mean after spider solitaire?! Aside from family, writing always comes first. It’s just what I do. It comes before television, socialising (apart from Twitter!), reading, shopping, and, I have to admit, housework! It often comes before getting dressed, too – no, I don’t mean I write in my birthday suit, I mean that it is not unusual for the pyjamas to stay on all day!

What’s next?

I’m currently working on a 35K word novella, for release in July. Sophie Heron is unhappy with her life, looks back to a time in her twenties when she had the choice of four men, and wonders what would have happened if she’d chosen one of the others. It’s a little sidestep for me, as there is a ghost in it! I’ve never done anything paranormal before, and it’s been quite difficult. After Round and Round (working title), I shall begin the research for the sequel to my latest novel, Kings and Queens.

What’s the highlight of being an author – publisher for you?

Cover of Kings and Queens by Terry TylerI think the best part is when someone I don’t know gets in touch with me to tell me that they sat up all night reading one of my books because they couldn’t put it down ~ knowing how much I have to love a book to do that, it’s wonderful to think that I can write something that entertains someone that much. The biggest compliment is when someone tells me they’ve read one twice!

What are your top tips for other indie authors?

Ooh, how long have you got?! I’ll try not to go on too much!

  1. Get your work properly proofread before publication, and choose your proofreader with care. Ask other writers for recommendations, and check out the proofreader’s previous work, and testimonials. Don’t get ripped off by cowboys – there are a lot of them abou
  2. Do your own thing. Before about two or three years ago, writers just wrote. Now, it seems, new authors become bogged down with a hundred and one articles about how many POVs their story should have, whether first or third person, how much back story is ‘acceptable’, making sure the first paragraph starts with a punch, etc etc. This isn’t school, you don’t have to abide by ‘the rules’. Write your story how you think it should be written.
  3. Realise that it’s a long game. You might not start to find a readership until your third book. Regular readers come one by one, much of the time.
  4. Don’t rush to publish. Better to spend another month doing two more re-writes, even if you’re fed up with the sight of it, than publish a book that doesn’t flow properly, or hasn’t had the superfluous edited out.

Thanks so much for asking me onto the site, and I hope this has been of some interest/help to some people.

Here’s our suggested tweet to share this post: “How I Do It – indie author @TerryTyler4 shares the secrets of her #selfpublishing success http://selfpublishingadvice.org/terrytyler/ via@IndieAuthorALLi”

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9 Responses to Successful Indie Authors Share Their Secrets. How I Do It by Terry Tyler

  1. Terry Tyler July 10, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Hi Antara, I’m so sorry for the late reply; I’ve been on a lot of blogs lately and I forget to check back for comments!

    I think you’re probably right, actually – so much is down to not only the marketing, but also the genre. Some genres (for instance chick lit and light romance) are much easier to market than others. I doubt many of the best sellers on Amazon will be around or relevant in 50 years time – mine included, probably!

  2. Antara Man June 20, 2014 at 1:15 pm #

    Very useful advice, Terry! I’m gonna use your suggestions for choosing a translator (my upcoming novel wasn’t written in English) and editor as well. I am wondering, regarding the “long game” rule, a lot of indie writers confirm your point if view. And yet there are a lot of anecdotes out there – I read from HUgh Howey’s post in salon about a writer which debut novel earned above 600 k. dollars. No doubt with more books out there is easier and that’s why I consider to self publish a short crime story before my novel. I still think a novel – be it first, second or a third one, will gain readers due to its quality, promotion and distribution. It’s no secret that 95% of all books are in fact not very interesting or exceptional. As everything in life. What do you think?

  3. rc1ryan June 10, 2014 at 7:34 pm #

    Thanks, Terry, for the plug on doing your own thing. Books aren’t written by committee; they’re written by one person putting their story down word by word. Not that we all can’t use advice and improvement, but we need to begin by capturing what’s running around in our hearts and in our heads, and putting that on paper as best we can. Don’t let anyone tell you how to do this. It’s your voice. Cherish and celebrate it!

    • Terry Tyler June 11, 2014 at 10:00 am #

      Thanks, rc1ryan for reading, and agreeing with that! I actually went on and on about it for much longer in my original answer, but then I realised I had to keep it to a limited number of words, ha ha! I feel very strongly about it – I hate the ‘creative writing group’ mentality, where people feel entitled to say what is the ‘right’ way to write a novel. I went to the Newcastle Writers Conference last year, and when the agents and publishers were asked how they felt about creative writing courses they all laughed. They said you can always tell the submissions from the people who’d been on courses, because they were technically ‘by the book’, but usually without spark. Says a lot!

  4. Terry Tyler June 9, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    Please can you tell people not to use the tweet above? The link doesn’t work! Thanks to all those who have done so, anyway 🙂

  5. Terry Tyler June 9, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    Thanks so much for reading, replying and posting the article, dear Nancy! And thanks re the covers – I shall pass it on! xxx

  6. Nancy Jill Thames June 8, 2014 at 11:44 pm #

    Awesome and funny post, Terry – but I’ve known your’re an awesome writer from when you interviewed on Queen of Afternoon Tea!

    I must tell you what fabulous covers you have now – great job, my friend.

    Keep up the good work and best success!

    Cheers –

    ~Nancy Jill

  7. Peter Prasad June 8, 2014 at 5:50 pm #

    Love it. Love it. Love it. Better than a Sunday sermon. Communing with the wit and wisdom of what works. OK, back to work. THANKS.

    • Terry Tyler June 9, 2014 at 7:33 am #

      Thanks so much, Peter! Well, I try…!

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