We love a Q & A here at ALLi which is why we are introducing a regular Sunday interview, How I Do It: Indie Authors Share the Secrets of Their Success. The series will highlight and celebrate indie authors who are doing great things, and not just in terms of sales.
First up is award-winning, international best-selling indie author Sibel Hodge. Sibel says she writes from the heart – perfect for our Valentine's Day slot. She also embraces the opportunity to cross and combine genres, in a way that is open only to the self-published author. Her positive take on the indie author's lot is truly inspirational, and one that all of us might benefit from adopting, if we're not already dancing to that empowering tune.
How do you do it, Sibel, and what’s the secret of your success?
I don’t know! I’ve never taken a creative writing course, and I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so I don’t really know what’s going to come out of my head until I start typing. I usually know the beginning, the theme, and the ending, but that’s it. But I’ve always read a lot, and, of course, I always wanted to write.
I think the power to be a success is in everyone right here, right now. If you constantly think you’re going to be a success, you WILL be. We’re all going to have self-doubts and fears, of course. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t, but it’s how we deal with them that will affect whether those doubts become our reality. Whatever your goals are, you don’t necessarily have to know how you’re going to achieve them, you just have to believe that you will achieve them, and the how will get taken care of. One thing will always lead to another, and that’s how amazing opportunities happen. How often do you hear of people overcoming amazing odds to gain success or beat incurable health problems? These people knew they could achieve what they wanted and had no doubt whatsoever – that’s the power of positive thinking.
I used to be a really negative person. No matter how much I wanted to succeed, deep down I never thought I was worthy of it, and that, in turn, affected the outcome. Now I know different, and I repeat positive mantras to myself every day. Mantras and affirmations are simply thoughts, too, and the more you repeat them, the more they get programmed into your subconscious (your own hard drive) and the more they become your belief system. It’s that simple! We’re writers, after all, everything we put into our books are our thoughts. We can think up happy, successful lives for our characters, why not do it for ourselves?
The naked truth is that success is just a state of mind, and we have all the power to succeed!
What was the single best thing you ever did?
Wrote my first book and published it! Then I wrote the next one, and the next. Being an indie means you can be prolific, bold, be trans-genre, explore ideas and themes that aren’t tackled in mainstream publishing. It means you can be different and stand out from the crowd.
I started my writing journey with quirky chicklit, but my writing journey led me on a new life journey, and I realised I didn’t have to be put into a box. The more I wrote, the more I learned and grew as an author and a person, which meant I could tackle issues that I felt were important and didn’t get talked about much, particularly human and animal rights issues, and domestic violence and abuse.
Being trans-genre can increase your readership. For me, it stopped me getting stale and complacent. And it made me realize that there’s more to me and my books than one type of genre. Just like actors don’t want to get stereotyped, we don’t have to be trapped in a genre box for the rest of our careers. We’re free to write whatever inspires us, or what we want to share with the world, whether it’s under a pen name or our own.
Did you get lucky? What happened?
I was in the right place at the right time, when e-books were taking off, and sellers like Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Smashwords, and Kobo were looking for new ebook content. Back then you could experiment with things like pricing to gain leverage and get your books in front of more readers. Now, with more authors publishing, it obviously means more content, which makes it harder for an author’s works to be found.
Ultimately, though, I think luck is something that’s attracted to you (see above re success!) And if you don’t write that first book, you’ll never know!
How do you get/stay in creative mode?
Sometimes I get an idea and write the book a year later, sometimes I get an idea and start on it the next week. What’s important to me is writing the book I’m most ‘feeling’ at that time. When my characters start talking to each other in my head, I know it’s the right one! Except sometimes I wish they’d shut up, especially when I’m trying to sleep!
How do you prioritise?
I’m completely blinkered when I’m writing a novel. I aim for 3000-5000 words a day when I’m doing a first draft. When I’m editing I’ll work for about six hours plus a day on it. It’s a job, like any other, so you have to treat it like one.
What’s next for you?
I’ve just finished a psychological thriller, Untouchable, and I’m starting work on a new psychological thriller, Duplicity. After that, who knows? An idea may strike at any moment.
What’s your top tip for other indie authors?
Write from the heart. Write what you love. Write what you’re passionate about. It will always shine through in your work. And most of all, believe in yourself. It’s not a race, it’s a journey, so have fun, live in the moment, and enjoy the process!
Bio: Sibel Hodge is the author of No. 1 Bestseller Look Behind You. Her books are International Bestsellers in UK, USA, Australia, and Germany. She writes an eclectic mix of genres, and she's a passionate human and animal rights advocate. Her work has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Prize 2008, Highly Commended by the Yeovil Literary Prize 2009, Runner Up in the Chapter One Promotions Novel Comp 2009, nominated Best Novel with Romantic Elements in 2010 by The Romance Reviews, Runner Up in the Best Indie Books of 2012 by Indie Book Bargains, Winner of Best Children's Book by eFestival of Words 2013, Winner of Crime, Thrillers & Mystery | Book from a series in the SpaSpa Book Awards 2013, Nominated for the 2015 Big Al's Books and Pals Young Adult Readers' Choice Award, Readers' Favourite Young Adult – Coming of Age Honourable Award Winner 2015, and New Adult Finalist in the Oklahoma Romance Writers of America's International Digital Awards 2015. Her novella Trafficked: The Diary of a Sex Slave has been listed as one of the Top 40 Books About Human Rights by Accredited Online Colleges.How does she do it? @sibelhodge shares the secrets of her #selfpub success Click To Tweet