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Opinion: 4 Top Tips To Avoid Indie Author Stress – By The Author Of 7 Self-published Books

Opinion: 4 Top Tips to Avoid Indie Author Stress – by the Author of 7 Self-published Books

icon-2015-smaller Wherever you are in your self-publishing journey, from beginner to bestseller, stress is one of the biggest obstacles for authors – and it's often at least partly self-imposed. On the eve of launching his seventh self-published novel, British writer Dave Sivers shares his top tactics for bypassing such anxiety using free and simple techniques.

Being an independently published author is the best job in the world for me. It’s like being a one-person publishing house with only one client – me.

I love it, because all the decisions are mine. The business model I’ve evolved over the last five and a half years perfectly suits my personality. It’s my business and my brand.

Of course, the potential downside of being free to set my own deadline could be that I find it too easy to coast along. But that doesn’t happen, because I do have one major external pressure – the readers who keep asking when that next book will be!

Headshot of smiling Dave Sivers

Poised for a stress-free launch: Dave Sivers' seventh self-published novel

My seventh book, and the fourth in the Archer and Baines series, The Blood That Binds, launches in ebook form on 4 April 2017, and it’s always an exciting time.

But the actual writing of the book is less stressful for me than getting it down that final straight to publication.

There’s a lot of blood, sweat, tears and occasional self-doubt along the way, and showing the work to others for feedback always brings its tensions. But the business of orchestrating a good launch, with so many things to be done, on top of the demands of my other job and from daily life, could easily be overwhelming.

What keeps me focused, and makes it all seem a lot less daunting, is to have a plan.

Drawing on Day-job Experience

In a former life, I did my fair share of project manager and project director roles, and I draw on that experience to treat the publication phase as a project.

I don’t use any fancy software. I have a standard Word template with all the tasks I need to complete, from sending the book to my editor, through publication to the end of the blog tour. Each task is broken down into its elements.

format of Dave's checklist

Dave's not-so-cunning plan

It’s not a one size fits all approach, but most of what I need to get done is there.

All I have to do is take a shot at how long each element will take, set a target date, and everything on a version of the template for that particular book.

The plan will show each task element, when it needs to be done by, who else (if anyone) is involved, and how long to go to publication date after that element is completed. It gives me confidence that the publication date I settle on is achievable, and I know what I need to do in any given week.

To Plan or Not to Plan?

Without the plan, I’d likely be charging at everything at once in a not very scientific way. This way, I just set the time for each task element aside at the right time and cross them off as they get done – which is very satisfying.

It works for me. I can see at a glance where I am in the overall scheme of things, and I also know how much time I have available for other aspects of my life.

By the way, it’s really, really important to me not just to lock myself in my office for the duration.

I think much better when I’m doing something more mundane, like jobs on my allotment, or in the garden, or going for a walk.

So, for example, I am able to draft blog posts (like this one) in my head, so that when I sit at my keyboard I already know what I’m going to do.

That’s it, really. So, my four tips for combatting stress as an indie author:

  1. Have realistic, achievable goals.
  2. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself by offering up publication dates before you’re certain you can meet them.
  3. Have a plan.
  4. Make sure you have a work/life balance that forces you to step away from the pressures of the indie role.

(A more detailed version of this post appears on Dave's blog here.)

OVER TO YOU What is your favourite tip for fending off indie author stress? Please feel free to share it in a comment.

Indie authors - under #stress? Axe the anxiety of #selfpub by following @DaveSivers top tips here: Click To Tweet


Author: Dave Sivers

As a lifelong scribbler, Dave Sivers' work includes stage material, short fiction, and newspaper and magazine articles. He has seven Indie books under his belt and is currently working on the fifth in his popular Archer and Baines crime series, set in Buckinghamshire's Aylesbury Vale. Find out more about Dave Sivers at his website: www.davesivers.co.uk.


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I think it’s important to keep to a schedule, however loose, to avoid stress. (And mine is very elastic indeed!)
    I have a rough schedule for every day: I write in the mornings, until about 11-12am, and do marketing and other tasks like formatting, writing newsletters and blogs in the afternoon. I try to fit in a meditation or two each week, as well as listen to some podcasts and online courses.
    I have a ‘Master To Do List’ on Evernote, which I refer to from time to time and a rough time schedule for how many books per year I need to publish (two), a target which I don’t always hit.
    I have a daily word target, which again I don’t always hit, but I don’t worry about it too much because I have several ‘word sprints’ during the year! I keep a spreadsheet of my word count which helps to motivate and calm me down in equal measure.
    I blog once per week on Fridays, and I try to get that written by Thursday evening.
    I try to keep to office hours, although I generally work from 6am to 6pm, but when I compare that to my old day job, it’s not that different because I used to leave home at 8am and be back by 8pm.
    I do spend a lot of time on social media during my ‘down time’ in the evenings, but I don’t really find that too stressful. My aim is to schedule all my social posts, but I’m not quite there yet.
    My author brand keywords, pinned to my office wall, help me keep my messages on track.
    I think if you can develop targets and a schedule to suit you, and remember not to work ALL the hours, you can manage your stress levels.

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