Historical novelist Jane Steen shares the story of her rise to Professional Member of ALLi as a historical novelist, encouraging fellow indie authors to emulate her success. Her top tips include:
- keeping calm and carrying on, no matter how daunting each task as an indie author may seem
- reading voraciously to stimulate ideas for your own books
- recognising that you don't need to be writing numerous books a year to be successful
(Jane Steen is always very generous with her advice to other authors and has written many previous guest posts for ALLi n the past, some of which we link to at the foot of this page.)
What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
I’m proud of having earned my first £100,000! Not all in one year, but I can certainly say that the hard work’s paid off.
Of course being an author is about a lot more than the money, but being able to say that you’ve earned a “proper” wage from writing is a great way of getting people to take you seriously.
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
Obviously the decision to go indie, especially as I made it just after a couple of agents had requested a full manuscript. Nothing ever came of those requests, but I could so easily have used that “encouragement” to keep me on the hamster wheel of submissions. I weighed the options and saw that the indie route suited my personality and life choices better, and never doubted I could succeed even in the years when I seemed to be getting nowhere.
What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
How easy some aspects of indie publishing are.
However daunting a project looks, I’ve found that if I just keep calm and tackle the issues one step at a time I’ll get there.
What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?
My two greatest challenges are (non-writing-related) stress and managing time. I don’t deal with stress well, so anything out of the ordinary can just shut me down as a writer, and of course dealing with the stressful situation sucks up my time. I’ve learned, though, that once I’ve dealt with the situation, my writing mojo will return, and in the meantime there are plenty of things to do in an indie business that don’t involve actually writing.
How do you get/stay in a creative mood?
I try to read as much as I can, since reading always gives me ideas and inspirations I can feed into my writing. I also find that exercise helps, and getting out into my garden. And just not pushing myself too hard.
I’ve accepted that I can only manage one or two books a year.
How do you remain productive/motivated?
I think one of the joys of indie life is that you don’t have to be constantly productive or motivated.
Some days I’m definitely unproductive and unmotivated! But I write at my own schedule, so I know that switching off for a couple of days isn’t a disaster. I think it’s a normal part of creative life to crave change and variety.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
The readers, of course! I write to entertain people,and I’m always imagining them there on the other side of the page. I love it when readers write to me or contact me on social media or leave lovely reviews.
I don’t even mind the unflattering reviews, because they’ve at least allowed me to take up a few hours of their life.
What are your top tips for other ALLis?
Don’t worry if nothing seems to be happening in your writing career. Very little happened in mine for the first five years.
Study up: there’s a ton of good advice and examples out there, and everything I’ve learned has come from reading blogs and books and listening to podcasts.
I’ve realized, though, that success builds upon itself, so at the beginning you’re not going to get the amazing results that those other writers achieved because they’ve built those results on top of previous, smaller successes. So set your initial goals low and celebrate the small wins.
What’s next for you?
At the moment I’m not expecting to do anything more than:
- consolidate the gains I’ve made
- write more books
- gradually improve everything I do
I’m very committed to being an indie fiction writer so I don’t see myself jumping off in another direction.
My 2019 goals are to continue pursuing increased non-Amazon, non-US sales so that I’m less exposed to just one market, and to work on more income streams and new ways of expressing my creativity within the fictional worlds I’ve created.
I love new challenges.#Indieauthors - like to hear top tips from one #selfpub writer to inspire you to emulate her success? (£100K income!!) Catch our exclusive interview with @JaneSteen here Click To Tweet
OTHER POSTS BY JANE STEEN
From the ALLi Author Advice Center Archive