Anna Belfrage, the prolific and award-winning Swedish historical novelist, now diversifying into contemporary fiction, shares the story of her journey as an indie author and her top tips for other self-publishing authors, including
- write what you love, even if it means writing across multiple genres
- never stint on editing, no matter how much you self-edit
- don't worry about readers' concern that you're self-published – they don't care, as long as your book is good
What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
What a difficult question! In many ways, every book I publish is my greatest achievement. However, I am very, very proud of my HNS (Historical Novel Society) Indie Book of the Year Award, which I won back in 2015. Competition was tough, and that moment when I heard my name called… A real WOW moment. I am also very proud of the fact that all my published books (bar the last one which has just come out) have been awarded an Indie BRAG Medallion.
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
To take a deep breath and go ahead and self-publish, thereby stepping out of that soul-draining and rather vicious hunt for an agent/publisher. I do very well on my own, but back when I took this decision I had no idea how things would go. Did I have butterfly in my stomach? Oh, yes – enough to create a major climatic catastrophe should they all have chosen to flutter their wings simultaneously.
What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
- first, that so many authors—both indie and trad—are so supportive
- secondly, that readers frankly do not care whether you’re traditionally published or not—they judge you by your work
What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?
Believing in myself. Writing is always a lonely endeavour, but maybe more so for an indie author. So there are moments of extreme self-doubt, days when I consider whether the effort is worth it, whether the effort is good enough, whether anyone really wants to read what I write.
How do you get/stay in a creative mood?
Ha! I am always in a creative mood. My main issue is that sometimes I am too creative, with far too many stories/characters vying for space in my over-crowded brain. From a writing perspective, I used to be very, very frightened of forgetting fabulous plotlines, witty dialogues, great descriptions if I didn’t jot them down immediately. These days, I assume my muse, Ms Inspiration, will ensure I remember what is worth remembering while the rest is forever lost in some murky corner or other of my mind.
How do you stay motivated?
I don't have a problem with motivation. Productivity, however, can be an issue.
This is especially true when life in general gets in the way. Becoming stressed due to this reduces output to zero, so what I do when things become too much is to take a time-out for a week or so, expending what free time I have on reading and being outdoors instead.
It always helps, and one of the benefits of being indie is that we can set our own deadlines.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
That I decide everything. I use editors (of course!), and I listen carefully to what they say/suggest, but ultimately I make the final call, just as it is I who decides what the cover will look like and whether or not I want to write in a new genre.
Which, it turns out, I do, seeing as my latest book is definitely not historical fiction as my previous books are.
What are your top tips for other ALLis?
- Write what you love. I write my books very much for myself, trying to present a story and characters I would like to read about.
- Never, ever stint on editing. Self-editing doesn’t work. Yes, it can deliver a basic polish, but all of us need that second pair of eyes.
- Use a professional cover designer. These days, you need a visually attractive package to garner interest.
- And while you’re at it, have your cover designer make you some social media pics so that you can promote your work using professional images.
What’s next for you?
Well, I have the second and third books in my latest series to publish, and then I am working on four WIPs. One is set in the 13th century, another is set in the very early 18th century (not a century I ever imagined writing about), the third is set in the 17th century, and I have a new contemporary WIP as well in which, for some reason, my male MC is something of a baking whizz. Makes me hungry every time I stop by to add another chapter or two…#Indieauthors - learn the secrets of award-winning #Swedish author @abelfrageauthor's #selfpublishing success in our exclusive interview with her here Click To Tweet