A Day in the Life: how being an indie author really works
A sneak peek behind the scenes of this whole fiasco.
I recently finished Billy Summers by Stephen King, and as all good Stephen King books go, the main character is a writer (in a way). At one point, someone says to him, "Oh, to have the life of a writer." It got me thinking, I used to have the same thought. Still do, sometimes, because the life of a writer - especially an indie writer - is not the glamour and peace that I think a lot of people think it is. So I thought I'd give you all a glimpse into the real life, just for funzies.
Monday: the alarm goes off at 5:45am. Sometimes I'm up naturally before that happens, sometimes I'm not. If I'm not, I know there's another alarm at 6:15am, and if it's a really rough morning, one at 7:15am. That's the last chance, and that means I'm probably not getting anything done that day. For this story, it's a good day, and I'm up a few minutes before the alarm, feeling good. I shuffle out of bed, hit the bathroom, and then crack an energy drink while the computer boots up. Once it's ready, I do my morning scan of things. Amazon author page for sales rankings (they haven't moved, or have dropped by about 20 thousand spots), Goodreads page (no new ratings, reviews, or want-to-reads), Wix for website traffic (the Google sponsored ad I'm running is bringing traffic but people only stay for about a minute), and Facebook (I've been interacting more on there, which has helped. I gained a follower and a few more likes on a post!). That's about 20-30 minutes, so now it's time to shower.
Out of the shower, check the weather. It's gonna be warm. Walking home from work will probably be gross, but there's not much I can do about that. I get dressed and do my ten pushups (recently I decided I'd work on my health a bit, cooking more at home, and doing ten pushups every morning. I used to be able to do them easily, but I'm older and fatter now, so they're a little rough. They get easier every day though), and then it's off to the living room to write. By now, it's hopefully 7am, or a little bit before.
I open the blinds to the sliding door of the balcony, to get some light in the room, not only for me but for the plants as well. Then I take up a spot at the small desk in the corner where my laptop sits. Power it on, open Atticus (amazing writing software if you're looking for something!) and open the new project. It doesn't even have a title yet, I need to work on that. I'm hoping it'll come to me when I'm finished. I read through the last chapter I wrote, remembering what I was planning next. I don't like the last few words I wrote, so they're gone and replaced with a new sentence. That's better. It's still the first draft anyway, I can work on it in the edit. Create the next chapter, stare at the blank page for a moment, and then turn to look out the balcony door. It's warm now, so I put the hummingbird feeder back out finally, and they're starting to show up! I watch one land and suck down some nectar before buzzing off. Nice. Ok, it's time to write.
The first paragraph is hard. I know where I want to end up, I know what character I'm following, and I have a vague idea of what they're doing to get from point A to point B, but the words to make that work are a struggle. It's always a struggle at the beginning. Each word feels forced, pushed out of my head and into my hands. Start with action, what he's doing. Don't write only action thought, give us some insight into his mind. We need thoughts. Get him down the road a bit. Wait, don't forget setting details, explain the temperature, the feeling of the car. Alright, that's one paragraph, 97 words. Not a bad start. It's all coming back to me.
Each paragraph gets easier and easier. My mind has settled into the writing zone, and the words come faster and smoother. The setting changes a bit, so the descriptions come easier as well. I've been in the characters head, so I know the thoughts that he's having, and can sprinkle them into the prose as we go. With occasional glances out the window to watch the hummingbirds or sip the energy drink, we chug right along. At a certain point, I hit what feels like a good place for a scene break. Toss one in, check the word count (980ish today, good stuff when my tentative goal every day is 1,000 words) and shut the laptop down. It's 7:50am, and I still have other things to do today.
With the writing done, I can move on. I made dinner last night, and I need to soak those dishes so I can clean them when I get home. When that's done, it's time to head back to the big computer. Monday morning mean blog post day, so I need to come up with a topic for that. Maybe I'll write about the life of the indie author. As long as I get the blog post done before I have to head to work at 9am. I should have time.
That was me this morning. I was going to do a whole week, but that might be too much to go day by day. I will give a few more insights into the life though. For one, I mentioned the Google ad I'm running. That's a $150 commitment that lasts a month, that I just wanted to test out. It's garnered 110 clicks on the site. I just finished a small Facebook/Instagram add campaign, $100 total on that, which gained me a few new followers of Facebook and a few likes on Instagram. When the book first released, I went on an Amazon ad binge, spending nearly $700 over the course of about a month. I also dropped nearly $200 on Facebook ads for release as well. This isn't counting the money for a cover or the beta reader or the editor I hired. I should be swimming in sales, right?
My largest royalties payment was last month, which was the royalties for release week. It was $110. Now, don't get me wrong, I LOVE THAT! That equates to about 30ish copies of the book sold, and is by FAR the best release I've had, and I was over the moon when I saw it. Last month, I was BEYOND EXCITED because I had a Kindle read of the first novella and then purchases of the other two books a few days later! A total of $7.77 in royalties from that. And once again, I was so stoked. Someone decided they wanted to read the stories! Mystical person who did that, I love you.
Now, back to the rest of the week: Each morning I'm shooting for 1,000 words in the book. Most days I get there, or really close. Some days, I hit a wall at around 300 and have to call it quits. Usually those days I try and spend time brainstorming at least, trying to figure out what I want to do so the next day comes easier. Then I think about social media. I really don't use Twitter that much anymore, except to share blog posts when they come out. Most of the followers I have on their are other authors looking to break through as well, and to be honest, I don't even really like Twitter. Instagram requires photos, and I'm a writer not a photographer. If something picture worthy comes up, I'll post it, but I'm not going out of my way to find photo opportunities. Facebook is my main focus, because it feels more personal, and because the writing community on there that I've found myself in is actually really freakin' cool! I even submitted my books (and got added) to another author's "Indie Reads" list he's building on his site (there's a link to it on the homepage, go check it out).
And I've decided to start supporting those authors as well, having grabbed a book from there yesterday to read! Because I know the joy I get from someone buying my books, so why not spread that joy around as well. If I can spend a ton of money for little return on trying to make my books known, what's twenty dollars to give someone else the shot of joy that a sale brings? It'll all come around in the end, and even if it doesn't I feel good about it.
There's so much more I could go into - how I need to make more posts on Facebook but don't like the feeling of being the annoying guy shilling my books, how I need to figure out how to schedule a book signing cause I'd like to do that for the release next year to try it out, how I need to start saving money for the cover/editor/all the things to do with the release for next year, how I need to actually finish the book and hopefully like it enough to share it to even have a release next year - but it's getting close to time to leave for work.
So I head to work, work all day (off at 6:30pm), come home and heat up the leftovers for dinner. It's been a long day (probably) and I veg on YouTube for an hour or two. If I'm feeling energetic I might play a video game or watch an actual movie, but most likely I'll just breeze through the new subscribed channels videos. By then, it's approaching 9pm, so I make the rounds to the Amazon Author page, Goodreads, and Facebook again, and then hit the hay.
Oh, to have the life of a writer.