Prolific British novelist and poet Sue Johnson is both self-published and trade-published, and also finds time to help many other authors and poets find their voice and reach readers. Here she shares the secrets of her success from which three key takeaway points stand out:
- Don't allow anyone to discourage you: if you like an idea, go for it!
- Cutting loose from technology can help feed your creative process.
- Setting deadlines boosts productivity.
What is your proudest achievement to date as an indie author?
There have been so many proudest moments over the last few years that it's difficult to pick just one. I class myself as a hybrid author so some of my work is with conventional publishers and some is self-published. Two of my recent self-published projects – my second poetry collection Curious Women and my self-help guide – Writing Success: poetry, flash fiction and short story exercises had better sales in their first week than two similar projects did with conventional publishers. My third novel Fortune's Promise, published on Kindle by Endeavour Press – reached number 1 in the free Kindle charts and at the time of writing is still in the top 100 of the paid Kindle ebooks.
What’s the single best decision you ever made?
The best decision I made was to ignore the gloom and doom merchants who told me not to bother because a) there are already too many books in the world and b) people don't buy self-published work. Things changed when I stopped worrying about the ‘right' way to do things and what everyone else was doing and concentrated on what I wanted and what felt right for me.
What has been your biggest surprise as an indie author?
My biggest surprise was discovering that most readers don't care who published the book as long as it's well-presented, enjoyable and a reasonable price.
What has been your greatest challenge as an indie author and how have you dealt with it?
My greatest challenge was the publishing process itself on Create Space and Kindle. I learned a massive amount in a short space of time and am still learning. The Help Desks were very good and responded quickly to all my queries, so I'd say to anyone hesitating on the brink just go for it, you never know what might happen.
How do you get and stay in a creative mood?
I have no trouble staying in a creative mood. I cut loose from technology whenever I can and pay attention to what is around me. I carry a notebook and a camera. Since 1st January 2013 I've written a poem a day every day and many of these have morphed into flash fiction and longer stories.
How do you remain productive and motivated?
I remain productive and motivated by setting deadlines and making sure I do something creative everyday. I have a three year plan and review this regularly as new ideas occur to me. I also have a network of writers I connect with, and we encourage each other towards the goals we have set.
What’s your favourite thing about being an author–publisher?
My favourite thing about being an author-publisher is that I can just get on and do something. I have spent years waiting for conventional publishers to get back to me with a decision on a piece of work. There is also more freedom where promoting your work is concerned and the only ‘company policy' it has to fit in with is yours!
What are your top tips for other ALLi authors?
- Believe in yourself.
- Create the best work you can.
- Ignore anyone who treats you in a negative way.
- Keep going – don't stop until you achieve your own goals.
- Encourage other people along the way.
What’s next for you?
I have a list of projects I'm looking forward to completing – including novel number four and a flash fiction novella. I will probably self-publish these. I'm working on another regency novel for Endeavour Press. I'm sure there will also be a book aimed at helping other writers emerging soon too because they sell well at workshops.
Read more about Sue Johnson on her website: www.writers-toolkit.co.uk.3 key tips for aspiring #selfpub authors from @SueJohnson9 Click To Tweet