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Moving From Associate  To Author: ALLi Member Top Tips For Levelling Up

Moving from Associate to Author: ALLi Member Top Tips for Levelling Up

Today’s post brings together top tips from members of our indie author community at the Alliance of Independent Authors. We'll share the experiences of those who have successfully levelled up from an associate – when you are just starting out on your writing journey – to a fully-fledged author.

What does it feel like, how do things change, and how did people move to the next level? We’ll share the experiences of Alli team and community members based on stories shared through our member forums on Facebook and SelfPubConnect.

Before you read on, if you aren’t an ALLi member yet, you can find out what the member levels mean as you grow your author business here: ALLi Membership Levels.

Author Shanaya Wagh

Shanaya Wagh

We’ll start with a reflection on growing your author business from our ALLi Publication Manager and award-winning mystery author, Shanaya Wagh, who writes under her pen name Shana Frost. Shanaya shares her story of how moving forward in her career felt the first time around and how she’s found herself there again. A great example of how an author journey is rarely straight forward, but always rewarding.

My self-publishing journey hasn’t been linear (like most people!). I began writing novels during lockdown. The first novel was exciting to write, and it flowed like a waterfall after monsoon! The second novel (which ended up becoming my debut) was also fun to write, but I educated myself on story structure and plotted it out. However, I was still so naive back then, I didn’t know about the publishing industry at all, let alone ALLi. I researched, and as a former blogger & Wattpad/Radish reader, decided to go indie. It was only after I had my second book out that I really found ALLi.

My top tip for moving to the next level (associate to author) is to write the story. Focus on the premise, plot, and character (if you’re writing in genre fiction) and think about everything else: the editing, a perfect story/novel, processes of publishing next. The story is the most important part. And only if you enjoy the words, the first book you write (cause you’re naive only once!), think about everything else. The publishing world is overwhelming, especially being an indie author, and you don’t need to have all those tasks in mind when writing your first novel.

When you take the next step on your publishing journey, I’d recommend (although authors don’t like hearing it), keeping an eye on the finances. The Pay Yourself First system is great, and it also helps to think about having a fixed amount of capital to begin with. Initially, I was frugal, and never let myself get into debt (exceed the capital or, later, spend more than what was in the bank account). There is a lot of advice that points to the various services/courses you can buy. Not sure if this was a good choice, but I had more time than money, so I spent time learning ancillary skills to cut costs. The best thing about indie is, you can go back and always change, and you get a learn a new skill or two on the way!

After the release of my 6th novel that was a step up again. I took a year and half long break from my publishing (although I was interning with ALLi) to study a masters degree. After the course, I realised I might never write again! All the craft I had learned was like sludge under the tyres. I felt like I was back as an associate member (still do as I make my way onto a drive-able road) but this time, going back to publishing certainly helped. Speaking to readers always gives me a boost. This time it helped me get back in the chair and take to the keyboard. In the last year, I have come to understand what running a business entails—and that when you have a proof on concept, you need to think about scaling up. So that’s where I am right now, hoping to scale up again and bring my books back to where they were (sales-wise) pre hiatus.

Keep on reading for more tips to make the move up from associate to author…

Michael La Ronn, ALLi Outreach Manager and Author:

Michael LaRonn

When I started out as an associate, I…

  1. Focused strictly on writing my book initially and left the major business and marketing tasks for when the book was finished.
  2. Invested in courses to help me learn the apps I used every day
    (Scrivener, Microsoft Word, etc.)
  3. Joined writing communities and got an accountability partner. This
    helped me stay focused on writing.
  4. Listened to podcasts such as The Creative Penn and took notes about
    things I didn't understand or wanted to learn later.
  5. Read a ton of books!

These five tips helped get Michael on the right path to moving up to becoming a fully-fledged author.

Robin Phillips’ top tip:

“Find stores that cater explicitly to your niche. Learn how to sell on those stores. For me, that's Wargame Vault and more recently DriveThruRPG. I make about as much on those as I do on Amazon, and some months they outsell Amazon. Wargame Vault has always made more for me than Kobo, Nook, Apple, and Google Play combined.”

Enni Tuomisalo’s top tip:

“If you're not too afraid of Tiktok, find a way to do it easily. You don't have to be on camera. Just publishing ‘slides' can work. I've recently discovered that I can significantly shorten the time I spend on posting (and convince myself to post more frequently) if I just create a few simple slides on Canva and upload them to whatever music TT recommends. I'm keeping it simple, using lines from my book blurb, cover art, character art, etc. And remember that TT feeds content more locally, so if your story is more relevant to locals, make sure you mention that.”

Eden Gruger’s top tip:

“Don't let anyone who doesn't read your genre read and influence your work. If they read it after publishing fine. But before? Big no.”

Dayna Reidenouer’s top tip:

“Today's publishing environment is different than it was two years ago, and it's majorly different than ten years ago. What worked back then likely won't work now. Becca Syme has a great presentation about doing what makes most sense for you, your personality, and your preferences because that's where you and your business will thrive.”

Melissa Addey

Melissa Addey, ALLi Campaigns Manager and Author, top tip:

“Keep writing. I see so many indie authors publish their first book, then stop to market it, then get very frustrated because nothing's happening. Write more books, do a little bit of marketing along the way but don't go all in till you have a few books behind you, it will make the marketing a lot easier if you have read through.”

Mark Hayden's top tip: 

“Gather future tips from relevant successful authors. A good friend wrote a memoir and I had absolutely nothing to offer because I have never even read a memoir let alone written or published one. Whatever your field, look at what the successful authors in your field are saying. What succeeds for one genre may well not work for others.”

Are you moving up to the next stage of your career?

If you are at the next stage, and perhaps even moving from Author to Authorpreneur, look out for a future post we are currently working on to gather top tips for taking that next step up in your career.

And if you are a member who has already made that move, get in touch to share your tips or stories, so we can share them with our wider community by emailing: [email protected].

Find out more

Embracing a positive money mindsetFor anyone building your author business, there are lots of posts and podcasts that will support you to set up your author business on the ALLi Blog, you can go straight to the full Business Planning selection by clicking here: Business Posts and podcasts from ALLi.

Or, to get started, why not try out the Money Mindset post, which helps get your mind in the right space to build your author career: Embracing a Positive Money Mindset 

And finally, if you are at the beginning of your journey and you're preparing your first book for publishing, you can look through the steps to publish an ebook for free: How to Publish and Ebook for Free: A Step-by-Step Guide.

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