Indie Author Tools – Write The Book!
You can find the video version of this blog on my YouTube Channel. Check it out here!
As you can see from the below pic, indie authors basically go around in shiny clothing and straw hats, begging people to take their picture. Or maybe that’s just me….
When I’ve done book readings, I’ve noticed that most people don’t understand what indie authors do. They also don’t know what the difference is between indie publishing and publishing with a publishing house. For this series of blog posts, I’m not going to focus on the differences between the two. Instead, I’m going to focus on what an indie author does. Or rather, what I do as an indie author, which I guess is pretty similar to most. I’m also going to talk about how I’m working to mimic successful indie authors.
First, and most important, an indie author writes books. Just like any other author, indie authors spend the bulk of their creative time planning stories, making time to write (yes, we have to make the time to do it), and editing. A lot of time, energy, and passion goes into writing a book. Some writers are prolific, like Stephen King and Nora Roberts, other writers take a few years to tell a story, like JK Rowling and Dan Brown. The nature of indie publishing means indies have to be prolific. Well, let me qualify that. They have to be prolific if they want to make a living at writing stories. Indie authors get anywhere from 50 – 70% of the sale price of their books. That’s significantly higher than authors make when they publish with a publishing house. This difference in royalty rate is what makes it possible for an indie author to have a lucrative career as a writer, while not being a household name like Stephen King or JK Rowling. Increased production (sorry if that sounds too cold and businessy) means an indie is putting out more books, and that hopefully leads to increased sales and money in the pocket.
But for money to go into the pocket, an indie has to do a lot more than write books. Independent publishing is essentially running a small business. To make money, you have to look at it like a business. The creative side and the business side are two completely different beasts. You can be the best writer on the planet, but if you don’t have a good head for business, chances are, you won’t be financially successful. The good news is that you don’t have to be born with business acumen. You can learn it. There are a lot of uber successful indie authors out there who share their knowledge. Let me add an important note. By uber successful, I mean they earn six figures a year or more. There are some who make seven figures a year. And I’d bet you’ve never heard of them! Three of my favorite, uber successes who share their knowledge are, Joanna Penn (The Creative Penn), Chris Fox, and Mark Dawson (Self Publishing Formula). Check out their websites! You can thank me later.
Back to the writing. Would you believe me if I told you there are indie authors who put out upwards of six books a year? It’s true. And they don’t do it by magic. They’re very focused, business minded people who have decided what they wanted to achieve in life and made a plan to achieve it. And they stuck to that plan.
Chris Fox has a book out on productivity. It’s called, 5,000 Words an Hour. And he really can write 5,000 words an hour! In the book, he explains how he does it, so you can do it too. (he also did a YouTube series of videos on how he does it. Click the link below)
Two major ingredients are:
- Extensive book plotting (which he has examples of on his YouTube channel)
- Writing in sprints, with zero distractions
I’ve read the book and learned a lot from it. I don’t write 5,000 words an hour. Probably because I don’t follow his sprint method, but I do write 1,000 words an hour. I typically write for two hours every night. That comes to 10,000 words a week. At that pace, I’d have an 80,000 word novel in 8 weeks (or two months). This is a first draft, though. More time has to go into the book to make it publishable.
A novel in two months is doable. I know, because I did it this year. My first draft was a little under 63,000 words, but I wrote it in about a month and a half. And it’s a solid story.
Another important ingredient in writing is the tool you use to write with. A lot of authors use Word. I did, too. That is, until I discovered Scrivener (from a Joanna Penn podcast). Now, I can’t imagine writing without it. It does everything Word did and more. And it stores everything I need in one document.
Why should you consider using Scrivener?
- It tells me how many times I use words. For instance, I’m constantly making my characters stare at each other. With Scrivener, I can find out exactly how many times I use the word “stare” in each chapter. If it’s excessive (and it always is), I can go back and make changes.
- You can drag and drop your chapters. Seriously! No copying and pasting needed. If you realize Chapter Five should really go after Chapter Two, just drag the Chapter Five tab to the spot after Chapter Two, and voila! It takes seconds!
- Outlining – I do all of my outlining in Scrivener, and I use part of the outline as chapter headings while I write. This helps me to remember exactly what is supposed to happen in each chapter. This goes back to being as productive as possible. If I know what I’m writing that day, I don’t waste time trying to figure it out.
- Research – All of my research links go in this document. If I have location pictures, I save these here, too.
- Character Charts – I do it all in one document. I don’t have to open another document for quick character reminders. I just go to my character binder and get the information I need.
- When it’s time to publish, Scrivener allows me to format my story for every online retailer.
If you want to find out more about Scrivener, check out these links:
- 30 Days with Scrivener (pros and cons)
- Jumpstart Your Next Writing Project with Scrivener
- 3 Scrivener Tips to Become a Master Outliner
Okay. It’s late and I have to go to bed. And that’s all I can think of for now. But there are a lot of great links here.
There’s lots more to cover, so I hope you check back soon.
Until next time…Happy Reading & Writing!