Having faith in your own potential is half the battle.
I often have people who want my advice on how to indie publish. Sometimes, they offer to pay me for it, like that will be the inducement that will work (THEM: “Do you do consulting?” ME: “No.” THEM: “How about if I pay you for it?” ME: “Still no.”). I’ve spent a lot of time helping people over the years so it’s not unreasonable for them to ask–it’s just that I’ve resolutely NOT wanted to be in that as a paying business. My business is fiction. But I can hear the desperation in their voices (or their texts)–they’re stuck and can’t see how to move forward on their own and if they could just PAY SOMEONE to help them, they’re certain they could be successful in this indie publishing business.
But this misses something critical: they’re the only ones who can do this.
Universally, people think I have secret knowledge that is a mystery to them. There is some truth to this. I can (often, not always) judge with a glance whether a cover is targeting a market well. I understand the romance market as well or better than the SF market. I’ve never written a thriller or mystery, but I have passing knowledge of those markets as well. I can decode a blurb, tell you how to relaunch a book/series, say which advertisers are best for wide vs. KU, the relative advantages of those platforms, and how to build a successful business from the ground up.
That’s a lot of knowledge and/or skills.
What almost never happens? People asking HOW I know all this. People want to know how to fix their covers or their sales or their market targeting.
No one asks “Sue, how do I become like YOU? How do I train myself to do this? How did YOU learn to do this?”
I didn’t start with a checklist.
I didn’t start with a handy handbook like my now-unpublished BOOT CAMP or FLOM. I *wrote* those books because they didn’t exist.
I started with zero and built everything by observing, asking questions, finding answers, experimenting, learning, trying, learning again, trying again.
I still do this today. I never stop doing this.
I don’t listen to podcasts. I don’t read blogs. I’ll occasionally read books by fellow indie publishing “experts” but mostly to see if they’ve stumbled upon something I haven’t already. But mostly, month after month, I’m brainstorming ways to improve my business, trying them out, learning from the results, and building my empire even more.
I talk a lot about experimentation, but this inquiry-based learning that I do isn’t just about figuring out if 99cents or free is the latest go-to model for selling books. It’s how I acquire all that “secret knowledge” that helps me succeed.
I can hear you saying “But Sue! I’m not a rocket surgeon like you! I can’t do this!”
And that right there is the problem. OF COURSE you can do this. I won’t say every person can solve differential equations (although, I’ll bet a lot of you can). I won’t say every person could build complex physical-chemical models of aerosols in the upper atmosphere (if you can, we should talk). Those are specific areas of expertise that require a lot of schooling and some math-inclination to master.
Everyone can learn how to indie publish.
(Whether you *want* to is another story. See the people above who want to short cut and pay me to do it for them.)
Learning the basics from other people can get you started. There are plenty of resources out there for that (which is one reason I unpublished the books–they were becoming obsolete). But make no mistake: not only CAN you acquire the knowledge you need to be successful, you MUST.
You. Right there. In the peanut gallery seats. YOU have to take charge of your own empire-building and make it happen.
(I have a book to write this morning)