Friday, 15 March 2013

A Year in the Life of an Indie Author ...

By Gillian Hamer

When Triskele Books celebrates its first official birthday in June, I shall take a moment or two (probably over a glass of fizzy stuff) to consider the rollercoaster journey I’ve been on since the inception of this mad idea over posh tea and equally posh cakes in a scarily posh hotel in Park Lane, London two Christmases ago.

Since then, everyone involved with Triskele has come one hell of a long way, and experienced the delight, or the imminent delight, of getting their books published. The feel of holding your novel in your hand for the first time is something that probably never leaves you. It makes up for all the traumas of … ISBNS, formatting, editing, paper colour, web design and marketing … combined.

There have been numerous highs – and yes, a few lows. But independent publishing has been a rewarding and worthwhile experience for me and I do not regret one single moment.
I thought it may make interesting reading to find out if other authors agree. And discover what we have actually learned over those first critical twelve months, starting with Triskele members … but also opening up the question to members of ALLiA (the Alliance of Independent Authors) and getting their thoughts also.
The first batch are below, more to follow …



Quality. Good writing will find its audience. Marketing sleight-of-hand works, to a point. But no matter how slick your promotion is, people can tell the difference between snake oil and story. Good books find good readers who tell other readers ...

Flexibility. 'Published' previously meant set-in-stone, unalterable, liable to date, and every mistake an eternal albatross. Not so now. E-books can be updated, corrected and tweaked to reflect the Zeitgeist.

The author is in control.


Last year at this time I knew nothing about indie publishing, a big fat zero. I came onboard the SS Triskele rather later in the journey than Jill and Gilly; only three months before our launch. So, I had to learn everything in a tearing hurry. The result was a vague idea about all aspects of self-publishing, but a lot of confusion remained.

A year on, I have had more time to learn about it. I'm still far from an expert, but I have learned SO much about all the aspects of the process in one short year, and feel far more confident than I did a year ago.


I know how important it is to work together as a team.

ALLiA Members :


It’s not as easy as it looks …BUT… After a zillion publishers said “We love your writing but…” I was thinking of taking up knitting - socks perhaps, for Antarctic explorers. But we’re short of Antarctic explorers in Ireland. Then I read about AlliA, joined up, went to a meeting and Wheeeee, I can publish myself. Suddenly I had a huge surge of creative energy.
The learning curve is incredibly steep. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out Internetty things. At times I felt like curling up in a virtual corner and weeping… Still do. BUT… Next time will be a lot faster.

It is easy to get overwhelmed … BUT… After one of my internet meltdowns I remembered my father’s advice. “The way the monkey fought the bees on the Naas road…one by one” I focused on the next step and ignored everything else. Now most of those bees are back in the hive.
When you know for sure that you’re going to be published a wealth of ideas leap into your head.
When you know for sure that you’re going to be published you discover that you can write a lot faster than you thought you could.

Would I do it again? Absolutely.


That it's both surprisingly easy and incredibly hard, and that this constant contradiction is something you just have to get used to! I'm not sure how useful that is to someone starting out, though; it's kind of like a mum telling her teenage daughter there are plenty more fish in the sea - there are some things you just have to find out for yourself. 

What I know now is that there is no excuse for not diving right in - and I wonder why any decent author would bother hanging around waiting to be 'discovered' by an agent or publisher when there is a whole world of readers out there just waiting for you. 

But - and it's a big but - the work is overwhelmingly multi-faceted. You become everything all at once: writer, editor, marketer, promotions manager, cover designer, blurb writer, distribution manager, IT professional, webmaster, PR consultant, project manager - plus you have to actually get on and write the next book. 

Many indie authors have jobs, and families, and lives (!) as well. I wouldn't change a thing about the last twelve months, but I do wish there were a few more hours in the day. The biggest contradiction of all: Indie publishing puts out some of the most amazing reads around, but still we have to fight to be taken seriously.

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