Am I a Real Author?

Depositphotos_66273009_s-2015When I jumped into the indie author scene, it was a calculated risk. Like I do with a lot of decisions, I looked at the pros and cons.

Pros and Cons


  • There are a number of platforms that are easy to publish your work on for little or no cost (Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, etc.).
  • The royalties for sales are pretty decent. If you price a book on Amazon over $2.99, for instance, you will get 70% of what you sell.
  • You can write at your own pace in whatever style you want.
  • You can directly interact with your readers through many vehicles (blogs, mailing, lists, social media, author signing events).
  • There is a fairly organized community of independent authors and you can learn from others and help others that are just getting started.
  • My writing would be judged directly by the readers and not some low-on-the-totem-pole publishing house employee looking for the flavor of the month.
  • Trend-setters like Hugh Howey and Mark Dawson are putting independent authors on the map ranking higher than some traditional best-selling authors.
  • You have creative control over everything! You can select your own cover, hire an editor (or not), title your book, and write in whatever genre you want to.


  • Just like with the indie music world, there is a lot of variety out there. There is also good and bad. The key component that differentiates here is quality. Poor spelling, grammar, and formatting occurs at a much higher frequency in the work of indie authors.
  • Getting recognized is hard work. There is no publishing house promoting your book, issuing press releases, and setting up interviews. You are your own social media and blogger.
  • You have creative control over everything! There is no one to point out if the emperor is not wearing clothes. There are no focus groups to select your cover for you or advise you on a title or a genre to write in. You are it.

Obviously, the pros outweighed the cons for me. The main factor was my age. Becoming a novelist after age 50 is daunting enough without the rejection letters and constant queries to publishing houses that don’t want unproven ‘seasoned’ authors. I wanted to get my writing out there and let the readers tell me if it stunk or not. Of course, my first reader was my wife of 30 years. I knew that she would not ‘blow smoke’ if she didn’t like my writing. She liked the first book and that gave me the confidence to move to the next step.

I hired a very intelligent, long-time friend of mine to be my editor. When I say ‘hired’, that’s a bit of a stretch. She edited the book for free with the promise of whatever I could pay her as the book made profits. I knew that, as a friend, this wouldn’t just be a job for her, she would also tell me if the book had weak points, which it did, and be honest about it’s viability, which she was.

In the end, it all worked out. I am now ten books in and I still have the same passion I did in the beginning. Am I ready to quit my day job? Not yet. Although, my earnings from writing have doubled each year since I started. Each book I release seems to outperform the previous one. I must be doing some things right.


The one piece that still is elusive is getting that recognition. I’m doing what I can, but it’s still a challenge. Two years ago, I created a street team. I honestly didn’t think that anyone would be interested in promoting my books. I solicited interest from my mailing list and immediately got responses. Instead of the two or three I expected, I got 30 volunteers in the first several hours and cut off the street team membership at that number. They have been a loyal group trudging out to bookstores and libraries loyally with the promise of signed copies of my latest book. I owe them tremendously.

So, I may write more about this in the future. This has been somewhat cathartic. I would love to have this blog start off a discussion. What journey did you go through as an independent author? What has worked and what hasn’t? Let’s help each other.

As always, your comments are most welcome.

66 thoughts on “Am I a Real Author?

  1. I’m with you Don, though you’re a street team or ten ahead of me promot8ng sales. Just trying to make a Sensible stab at a Emil list seems beyond me. But it’s for the love of the game that I write and I really don’t expect material rewards… probably just as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great advice, Don. I started a street team but it sort of fizzled out for me. One thing that has worked well is a review team. I ask my newsletter subscribers if they’re interested in joining in exchange for free books 🙂 and have had a nice return in reviews.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Even getting traditionally published is no guarantee of success. Plus you still must promote your work. There are more traditionally published books that failed rather than succeeded. I’m going indie with my first romance novella. I’m not interested in waiting for rejections or querying until I’m blue in the face. I do it for the passion so whether it gets downloaded is not important. With enough books out there, someone will take notice.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Don,
    I thought this was a great post and it identifies the struggles we are faced with if we choose to be an indie author. The last two of my books were memoirs that I promised my best friends and myself I would write. They weren’t intended to be published. After the editing process, I took a chance and took the leap. One sells, the other doesn’t. But that is another subject for another day. I don’t write for the income, although the little I make is nice. I’m retired and do this as a hobby and to keep the brain active. It’s a learning process and individuals like yourself who I have followed has helped with the learning curve. Whether you realize it or not, you and others here on WP have formed a supportive network. Thanks for your support and sharing post like this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m a pro-and-con list-maker, too. I love your assessment, and I hope you continue writing on this topic. Most specifically, I’d love to hear how you grew your mailing list.

    Congratulations on the ever-increasing sales. That’s huge!

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Hi Don,

    50, huh. You’re still a kid, brother.
    Truth be told, I rather enjoy being an indie author. You’re right, there is no pressure. But I think I’ve finally got something worth saying, and I wonder if I would be able to say it if I had a publisher and so on.

    Incidentally, great post.



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      • It depends, but yes, there are some sharks swimming in those waters. I find using ads, if they are well-placed, to be effective. Mark Dawson, a very successful indie author, has a series of classes and podcasts on this subject that are quite insightful.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Well, in truth, it was not my intention to be “an indy author”. It is true that I have put out one thing that way. It seems I started earlier but haven’t written as much as you have. You are welcome to check out my blog….where I share some more of this type of info. I searched authors and found your post.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I keep going back and forth. That pro/con list is perfect. I see another pro is not dealing with an agent. So many on Twitter come across as so condescending towards writers–some openly mocking them. Why would anyone want to work with someone like that?

    Liked by 1 person

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