Feisty words here from Australian cozy mystery writer Morgana Best will inspire indie authors everywhere. Her key points include:
- how going wide builds long-term sales and avoids the peaks and troughs created by Kindle's notorious 30-day dip
- how focusing on the financial side can be a positive force for creativity
- how taking time out can become a key problem for busy authorpreneurs
What’s your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
Not being sued by Scarlett Johansson. I hope she doesn't read this and change her mind.
My proudest achievement is that I support myself, one of my kids, both my dogs, and my irritating cat by being an indie author, and all with fiction.
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
Divorcing my husband. Apart from that, it was to go indie, and to go wide.
What’s been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
The time that stripper jumped out of a birthday cake. It was also my biggest surprise as a person.
I'm surprised many authors don't consider going wide to be a viable option.
Kindle has become the Norm, and wide, the Other, so wide is often viewed through the lens of Kindle. This doesn't work, at least not well. What works for Kindle won't necessarily work for wide. It's a whole different ball game.
It does take time to gain traction wide, but there's no cliff. Typically, Kindle books rank well for thirty days, and then sales fall away. It's the opposite with wide; sales continue to build.
Kindle will produce money immediately, and authors are often discouraged when wide retailers don't produce that sudden money. This can lead to the perception that there is no money to be made wide, but it's a choice between money now that drops away or steadily building money that continues to stick.
What’s your greatest challenge – and how do you deal with it?
Time – or lack thereof. As a single woman, I don't have a partner to make me a cup of tea, run to the shops, fix stuff around the house, go and buy coffee and wine, do photoshop, check my royalties.
Oh wait – that's a PA? I actually don't have time to have a PA or VA as it would take longer to explain what I wanted than to do it myself.
I deal with it by being super-organised.
How do you get/stay in a creative mood?
Coffee, chocolate, and then more coffee. When I'm inspired, I'm creative. I think about my plucky friends who've been dumped and wonder how they'd go solving a murder. Or committing one.
I'm always creative and have many ideas buzzing around my head. Everything is copy.
When someone irritates me, maybe that telecommunications rep, I put them in a book and kill them. As I'm not a people person, I have no lack of creative ideas.
How do you remain productive/motivated?
Money! I like money!
I know you're not supposed to admit that, especially not as a woman, but I love being financially stable. It means I can buy all those coffees. It'll also come in handy if Scarlett Johansson does change her mind.
I'm a driven personality, so my problem is making myself take time out from being productive/motivated. I find it difficult to be bored or inactive.
Importantly, it's a business, and remaining productive/motivated is necessary in any business.
I laughed at fellow Aussie author Clare Kauter's response to writer's block. She said that dentists don't get dentist's block, and that is true.
If I don't work, I don't get paid. It's that simple.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
I love being my own boss. I've had my fair share of mean, unjust, underpaying, and/or incompetent bosses – haven't we all? Being my own boss is refreshing.
Being an authorpreneur bypasses issues with traditional publishing such as low pay, long time to market, creative decisions contrary to an author's wishes, and possible issues between publishing houses. I'm also not tied to lengthy time frames, and I have full creative control and more security.
Ok, I admit it; I'm a control freak. Author–publishing is an ideal business for control freaks.
What are your top tips for other ALLis?
- Think money and security.
- Own and develop your own real estate. You own your website, but you don't own your stuff on social media. Generic link sites, for example, are becoming more popular, but in my view it's preferable to send readers to your own website or your own app – to anything you own. Why built your empire on rented land?
- Consider going wide. Unless you're making six-figures a month on KU, I suggest going wide, and going international.
- Go direct where possible. Sure, it will take longer to upload, but it will be worth it in the end.
- If you really want to or have to use an aggregator (I have to as B&N Press still won't allow Aussies direct), check the royalty your aggregator takes and compare with others. And all aggregators are not created equal as far as sending metadata to retailers. It really does make a significant dollar difference.
- Keep an eye on change and watch for trends. We have all seen how quickly things can change in this industry.
What’s next for you?
I'm pushing more into international markets, and am going to focus on my audio books. I've recently started selling direct from my website. I'm going to set up a Patreon account.