When best-selling cozy mystery author Elizabeth Spann Craig transitioned to self-publishing from a trade contract, she found she was able to reach a much wider audience as well as increasing her income. Today she shares the secrets of her success for the benefit of other indie authors, including:
- the value of developing a writing equivalent to muscle memory, rather than waiting for inspiration
- the importance of lifelong learning to make the most of all the opportunities independent publishing offers
- the need to break down a huge writing and marketing workload into manageable chunks to avoid overwhelm
What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
I think I'm proudest of my character development, particularly in my Myrtle Clover series. When readers write customer reviews or email me, they talk about Myrtle and Miles as if they're personal friends of theirs. I love that I've been able to pass that feeling along to them.
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
The best decision I've made was taking back the character rights from my trade publishers and continuing to self-publish two series. I've been able to go wide with both series in format and distribution and gain a broader audience than I was able to acquire through traditional publishing.
I've also made far greater income self-publishing than when my income was being tapped by an agent and a publisher.
What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
How much I've had to learn and continue learning.
I figured, when I started, that I would learn everything I needed to know about putting together a production team and marketing a book and then the learning process would be over. Instead, new formats, outlets, opportunities and social media have cropped up regularly, and I've found myself continuing to learn and grow.
Although this can be frustrating at times, I feel as though it's helping me become a stronger author-publisher and afforded me more opportunities.
What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?
Burning out has been my greatest challenge: by this I mean both creative burnout and burnout relating to promo and the writing business.
I usually write several books a year and also keep up a strong social media and blog presence. Some days, it can all seem overwhelming.
When it does, I do a ‘brain dump' of every task that I can think of relating to an upcoming project, promotions, or learning something new. I break those tasks into smaller bits and load them onto my to-do lists over the course of a couple of weeks.
This takes the pressure off and helps keep me from that frenetic feeling of not knowing what to work on next.
How do you get/stay in a creative mood?
Although it sounds awful to say it, I'm rarely in a creative mood.
I write uninspired… and it turns out just fine.
If I had to wait for a muse, I'd be hanging out for a while. Being a mom and running a household, balanced that with all the responsibilities of publishing means that inspiration can be tough to come by.
My writing is almost muscle memory to me because I do it at the same time and place each day. And each day, when I pick up with my book, I fall back into it, relaxing into the story and characters and pulling it all together.
How do you remain productive/motivated?
My primary motivation is keeping my readers happy. That means offering them regular releases of books that are as high-quality as I can make them. That keeps me on my toes.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
- As an author, I love hearing from my readers. That's the most satisfying part of being a writer to me and the whole reason that I started.
- As a publisher, I love learning new things and then being able to immediately apply them to my business with the fleetness of self-publishing.
What are your top tips for other ALLis?
Set the bar low for your writing goals so that you can achieve them each day.
Can you manage five minutes a day? Ten? A consistent writing routine will help keep you motivated and a page a day of writing means a finished draft in less than a year.
What’s next for you?
I'm continuing to write two series (one of my three is discontinued), but considering starting a third. I'm also exploring opportunities in translated audio books (my Spanish translator has lots of ideas!)#Authors - read top tips about how to #selfpub successfully in our exclusive interview with bestselling #cozymystery writer @ElizabethSCraig Click To Tweet