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My Two Cents on The Unseen Struggle of Being An Indie Author

Good morning Lovelies! I know I’ve been completely inconsistent in writing this blog lately, and for that I’m sorry. But, for the reason why, I can’t completely apologize. And with that in mind, today I’m giving you My Two Cents on the unseen struggle of being an indie author. Some of it people talk about, but A LOT of it is things you don’t uncover until you’re too far in to turn back.


Have you ever wondered to yourself, is it worth it? I know you’re not all authors, so I know you probably haven’t thought this about writing. But I’m sure, in general, most of you have asked yourself that question at one point or another in your lives.


And this is a question I have been asking myself lately.


A LOT.


In case I haven’t said this before, being an indie author is INCREDIBLY hard. I mean, the writing/editing/publishing part is hard, and I’ve talked about that before. But that’s actually not exactly what I mean today. What I mean is, trying to keep up with all the different platforms where you can potentially gain readers feels impossible some days.


And I know you may be already thinking, “Well, that’s what you signed up for.” But I’m here to tell you it isn’t. I thought writing a book would be fun. So I did. And we’ve talked before about all the work involved in making said “fun” writing exercise ready for publication, so I won’t go into that. But I also didn’t realize exactly HOW MUCH stuff went into creating an author profile and managing and staying on top of those things.


But, don’t take my word for it.


I want you to get a feel for all the things it takes to be an author these days. I don’t do it to complain (okay, maybe a little bit to complain). But I also want you to be aware of what all your favorite indie authors are juggling ALL BY THEMSELVES so that you can be aware and maybe give them grace when everything isn’t quite as perfect as other traditionally published authors (who have help). Also, so that you can understand why (when they’re juggling all of this, plus 100 other things outside of being an author) it takes what feels like 1000 years for book 2 in the series to come out.


So, just so you get an idea of what I mean, here’s just a quick breakdown of all the places I am responsible for managing Rose Rayne River’s online profile:


Instagram

Obviously, there is a TON of pressure placed on social media presence. And if you’ve ever tried to traditionally publish, you know a lot of stock is placed in how active you are on social media, and how much of a following you already have.


But this pressure gets amplified by 1000% when social media becomes a main contributing factor of your marketing strategy (which it is for most indie authors). You might think “managing social media” is pretty self-explanatory, but let’s break it down a bit so you can understand just SOME of the things indie authors struggle to do on a day-to-day basis:

  1. Create content

  2. Make interesting Reels (that stop people from scrolling past you and might be something they share/interact with).

  3. Create promos/teasers about upcoming releases, while toeing the line of reminding readers about already-released books

  4. Try not to be “Selling” all the time, so make content that isn’t ONLY about your book (relate to your readers on a personal level)

  5. Upload daily/weekly/posts

  6. Stay on top of timelines

  7. Decide/learn the best time to release the above-created content, while thinking about–when your release is happening, what else is happening on BookTok, other author’s releases, and what’s happening in the world (i.e. if it’s a summer book–release in summer, if it’s a baseball book–release during baseball season, etc).

  8. Be your “authentic self” so that your readers like you as a person, but also don’t do/say anything that will “alienate” or get you “canceled.”

  9. Interact/comment on reader’s posts

  10. Help promote/support other indie authors (because you know how they feel, and we all need to help each other, right?)

  11. Create a network of readers/street team

  12. Create content for them to help promote you

  13. Keep active with them so they don’t forget about you in between releases

  14. Learn about your readers, and help tailor your content to them

15. Figure out the “Algorithm” so you don’t get lost in social media purgatory forever (I have not yet achieved this)

TikTok/X/Threads/Facebook, etc

1. Recycle, rinse repeat everything I said above, but cater to the audience that prefers that type of social media content

Author Website (here's mine btw: www.roseraynerivers.com )

Okay, I KNOW I’m going to miss stuff, but here are just a few of the MOST important things I do related to the WEBSITE itself:

  1. Home page/intro 

  2. Constantly update the important things I want readers to know about and make sure to prioritize them on the home page

  3. Links Page

  4. Keep up-to-date descriptions/links to everything readers need to be able to get to easily from one place

  5. Make sure they are organized correctly (because I know as a consumer I’m short-sighted, and if it’s not at the top, I likely won’t see it so I assume everyone else is the same).

  6. Items for sale page

  7. Keep products in stock

  8. Monitor sales

  9. Make/package/mail products sold on that page

  10. Stay up to date on what I am selling, how much it costs, and if it’s in stock/I have the necessary items to sell said product

  11. Current Projects

  12. Make sure to take off/put on new/old projects (plus have time in the day/mental energy to actually BE WORKING on said projects)

  13. Newsletters

  14. First, create new newsletters (and mail them/send them out–More on this later)

  15. Then, link to all the newsletters on this page, so that potential readers who don’t get it/new readers who want to read all the historical ones

Amazon KDP/Bookshelf

  1. Seek out new subscribers (via different methods)

  2. Run promotions to entice new subscribers

  3. Keep on top of all the things that readers “get” for subscribing (i.e free book promos, free bonus content promos, etc)

Okay, so there is so much here, but let's just go over the potential things you COULD need to do related to keeping your books updated online (this won’t include all the work that goes into creating them in the first place, that’s a post for a different day).

  1. Create an Amazon author profile

  2. Stay on top of it and make sure it links to all the right places/helps draw in potential readers

  3. Update the book if/when you spot any edits you missed (which you will, trust me)

  4. Run Amazon promos

  5. Budget

  6. Create

  7. Figure out how it did/worked

  8. Stay on top of any changes needed to your book

IDK, I know I’m on this page ALL THE TIME, but my brain is tired, and I can’t think of anything else

Blog/Newsletter

I’m going to put these two into one bullet point to save time because basically, the steps for creating them are the same. But TRUST ME they both require A LOT and they can’t generally be shortcutted because you make one or the other. What I mean is, just because I write a blog doesn’t save me any time on Newsletters, or vice versa.


But, here are SOME of the steps that go into creating consistent blogs AND newsletters.


  1. Come up with ideas (this is often the most difficult part when your brain is exhausted from everything else).

  2. Write

  3. Edit

  4. Post

  5. Link

  6. Share

  7. Create promotional content

  8. Send them to readers

  9. Read again, find more errors, edit, send them again/update them, and hope everyone forgives the fact that you didn’t realize you put the wrong date, the wrong link, or the wrong book (No, FOR SURE this isn’t from personal experience 😂)

NetGalley

NetGalley is a GREAT Platform. It’s a good way to connect with readers you might not otherwise find, but it takes A LOT of work to create, promote, maintain, and approve readers to read your book FOR FREE and hope that they’ll actually leave reviews.

  1. Book time on NetGalley to provide ARCs (My friend Katie wrote a great blog post where she talks about how she time-shared Netgalley, and that’s what I did too, so if you’re interested in this, go check out that post)

  2. Share your book with the NetGalley Coop

  3. Promote it on social media

  4. Approve readers

  5. Read their past reviews

  6. Check their review percentage

  7. Check how many books they already have

  8. Check if your book is in line with their reading tastes

  9. Decide if they’re a good fit for reviewing your book (and/or if they will actually provide a review)

Goodreads

Basically, repeat everything from the website/Amazon author page

  1. Keep all your links up-to-date

  2. Keep your profile up-to-date

  3. Stay on top of your releases/promos

  4. Etc, etc, etc.

Bookfunnel

I used Bookfunnel for The Cupcake Cowboy to send out ARCs, in addition to NetGalley. But I’ve stayed on it to send out bonus content for The Cupcake Cowboy. It is a great resource for gaining more subscribers, and I know I’ve yet to harness the full power of its capabilities but here are a few of the things I’ve done SO FAR.

  1. Create bonus content

  2. Edit

  3. Share Bookfunnel links

  4. Link in Kindle ebook


So, I know I’ve missed some, but these are just a few of the places I visit on a daily/weekly/monthly basis to stay even SLIGHTLY up-to-date and relevant online. I know I’m not doing a great job of being consistent, and I’m POSITIVE I could be doing better. But, ultimately, being an author isn’t my top priority right now. It’s just a “hobby” that I hope to someday turn into something more.


Right now, my focus goes like this:

  1. My family

  2. Kids

  3. Keeping them alive

  4. Food, water, day-to-day needs

  5. Keeping them healthy

  6. Doctors, therapy, baths, clean house, etc

  7. Keeping them happy

  8. Fun outings, activities, toys, games, their hobbies/goals (which let’s be real takes a big chunk of time, money and resources)

  9. Husband

  10. Keeping our relationship healthy

  11. Dates, special time, etc

  12. Keeping his needs front-and-center

  13. Sharing the household duties, making sure he knows he’s a priority, sharing in the resources/helping him when he’s short on energy/time

  14. Supporting his hobbies

  15. My Full-time job

I’m a finance manager at a high-volume, corporate retailer so that looks like a lot of things on a lot of different days, and takes A LOT of mental energy and time. It’s my “day job” but takes WAY MORE time than 9-5 M-F, and is the main source of income for my family so I make it a priority

  1. My Part-time job

This job takes a lower priority than it should, but is used to pay for EVERYONE’s hobbies and all the “fun stuff” we’re able to do

  1. All the stuff I'm forgetting I do

  2. Writing/editing

  3. Maintaining my author profile

  4. Sometime in here I also have to find time to care for myself (Eating, sleeping, guarding my mental health, doing other things that make me happy, etc.)


As you can see, SO MUCH comes before me being an author. And a lot of authors have “people” who help them with some/all of the stuff that happens outside of writing. And again, this post isn’t just me complaining (though I do accept I’m complaining a LITTLE BIT). But I just want readers to understand what their favorite authors are up against. They’re often juggling a million things in their lives before they even have time to carve out to maintain their author stuff. Then there is another level of juggling that comes when trying to prioritize ALL THE THINGS that need to be accomplished to become a successful indie author. 


Ultimately, all this is to demonstrate that if your favorite author takes a long time to come out with book 2, give them grace. You don’t know what they’re dealing with.


If they aren’t that active on social media, don’t forget them. Try to check in and see when they do post.


If they don’t write their blog every week, just try to remember to check in on the posts they do make.


If they don’t seem that invested, trust me, they probably are. It’s just A LOT. And while we all kind of joke about how much it is, there really is no understanding until you’re in it.


It’s kind of how your parents warn you when you’re a kid that you’re going to miss being a kid but you can’t understand it until you’re an adult. Or when people tell you your kids are going to grow up so fast, but you can’t understand it until they are already heading off to college, or getting married, or having babies.


The point is, it's hard. Life is hard, being an indie author is hard, and not just because writing can sometimes be hard. Not only because the editing/publishing part is brutal. But the process by which you have to go about marketing, promoting, and engaging with readers is HARD.


And some days, the amount of unseen stuff involved with self-publishing seems impossible to complete and it can be easy to wonder if it's all worth it.


So that’s if friends, that My Two Cents on the unseen struggle of being an indie author. It’s hard. Life is hard. Have grace and don’t forget us, my friends!


Happy Sunday, hope you have an amazing week!



XOXO

-Rose Rayne Rivers


Let me know if you have any topics you want me to cover in the upcoming weeks!




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