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Self-publishing Success Stories: Clare Flynn, Historical Novelist

Self-publishing Success Stories: Clare Flynn, Historical Novelist

Clare Flynn headshot

Clare Flynn shares practical tips gleaned from her successful self-publishing career

After a first career globetrotting as an international marketing consultant, Clare Flynn is now enjoying a second career as a bestselling indie author of historical novels about women who travel the world. Her success has also landed her a contract with a trade publishing house. Her top tips for other self-publishing authors include:

  • managing the mass of admin tasks by treating a to-do list as a potential list of achievements
  • doing Orna Ross's meditation sessions to help stay creative
  • making the most of the many benefits of ALLi membership

What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?

I see it more as a series of achievements like building blocks in a wall, all helping create a firm foundation:  little triumphs on a road to building a solid career as an author.

When I set out, I didn’t expect to make a living as an indie writer and am thrilled that it’s now happened.

If I had to single out one thing, it’s probably getting headhunted by a traditional publisher (I’ve signed a two-book deal as an experiment in being hybrid, and to find out if I can learn anything on the ‘dark side’!). When they said they’d been tracking me for a while it was a big ego boost!

What’s the single best decision you ever made?

cover of The Gamekeeper's Wife by Clare FlynnDeciding to go indie in the first place. I wish I’d done it sooner. It was a hard slog at first but I was lucky enough to hear about ALLi early on, a couple of months after publishing my first book.

Being part of a supportive community made a massive difference. I learnt so much from my fellow members, many of whom I now count as firm friends.

What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?

Discovering how supportive the writer community is, both indie and trade published. I expected it to be more competitive but have found authors to be incredibly generous and open.

Maybe it’s because a lot of our time is spent working alone so we’re grateful for any opportunity to reach out and share experiences with like-minded individuals.

What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?

Keeping up with all the marketing and admin. I’ve tried various solutions including working with virtual assistants, but I’m a terrible control freak and seem to have forgotten the art of delegation somewhere along the line. As I'm an ex-marketing director, everyone thinks it must be a walk in the park for me, but it absolutely isn’t – I was always much stronger at strategy than execution and there’s so much detail to master.

How do you get/stay in a creative mood?

I try to do some physical activity or something creative with my hands every day.

I do Pilates and yoga, paint, play the piano and make patchwork quilts. I don’t excel at any of these pursuits, but they’re all immensely enjoyable and probably exercise a different part of my brain to the writing part. And going for a walk is a great creative problem-solver.

How do you remain productive/motivated?

cover of The Frozen River by Clare FlynnSometimes it’s really hard. Today, for example I’m struggling with doubt and indecision over my work in progress.

Ultimately though, the only way to get past this is to just sit down and force myself to write.

Once I start, the words usually flow, and even though they may feel wrong as I’m writing them, more often than not when I read them back they sound a lot better than expected. The worst thing is to let it slip and then it can be hard to get back in flow.

I try to write every day – mostly about 1500 words but I don’t beat myself up about it if I don’t manage it. And I do Orna Ross’s fabulous creative meditation session most mornings.

As to the admin and marketing, when it seems overwhelming I write up a long list on a flip chart in my study and attack it at speed.

Seeing things crossed off and ticked (I have to do both!) is a motivator to do more and what seemed like an insurmountable list of worries turns into a series of achievements.

What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?

Controlling my own destiny. As a control freak, used to getting my own way and holding leadership roles, being an authorpreneur suits me well. In my past career, after many years of corporate life in large global companies, I ran my own successful consulting business for fifteen years and I know which I preferred.

For me being indie has never been second-best – it’s a badge of honour and a means of liberation.

What are your top tips for other ALLis?

  • Use ALLi – especially the Facebook group [an exclusive privilege available to paid members of ALLi]. People are incredibly helpful and no matter how daft you may think your question is, there will be someone else wanting to ask exactly the same thing – and many others eager to offer you help and advice. Then, as you gain more knowledge and experience, make the effort to help others.
  • If at all possible, meet other authors face to face. Networking is so valuable and can open lots of doors as well as being the source of friendships and people you can turn to for help and advice. As well as subscribing to ALLi, I’m a member of other professional writers’ organisations, and I go to lots of conferences.

What’s next for you?

I am around one-third of the way through my first commissioned book. I need to get it done before the end of the year as from January I’ll be out of circulation for four months on a round-the-world cruise. I’m taking my laptop so I can work on another book whenever I need to hide away in my cabin – and I hope I’ll be picking up lots of ideas and inspiration.

#Indieauthors - pick up top tips & inspiration from our exclusive interview with #selfpublishing role model Clare Flynn, a bestselling historical novelist @ClareFly Click To Tweet

Author: Clare Flynn

Born in Liverpool, Clare Flynn writes historical fiction with a strong sense of time and place and compelling characters. After a career in international marketing, working on brands from disposable diapers to canned tuna and living in Paris, Milan, Brussels, London and Sydney, she ran her own company for 15 years and now lives in Eastbourne where she writes full-time – and can look out of her window and see the sea. When not writing and reading, Clare loves to paint and grabs any available opportunity to travel - sometimes under the guise of research. Find out more about Clare at her website: www.clareflynn.co.uk


This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. The things you don’t know about folk! Thank you for sharing your story, Clare. (And a personal encouragement – I need to finish a book around January – so when I’m procrastinating I shall think of your deadline and prod myself on!)

  2. Would have liked to have seen some advice and insight into promoting historical fiction. I’ve one finished and two on the go and while I’ve read various strategies, the authors talking about what helped them were sf, fantasy, or romance, not historical. Liked seeing the interview, though, historical fiction writers always seem quiet compared to authors of other genres.

  3. Aloha Clare,
    My name is Roxanne Pawai and I am from Hawaii, I love your books and I always wanted to write my own book but I have no idea where to start. I would love to hear some ways of where I may start. Please keep in touch, take care.

    Roxanne Pawai

    1. Aloa Roxanne, So pleased to know I have a fam in Hawaii! That’s made my day.
      There’s no easy advice about writing a book. You have to sit in front of that screen – or with a pen in your hand and write! Otherwise my best advice is to read as much as you can and as widely as you can and learn from other writers.
      Good luck and give it a go!

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