Biggest Challenge of Being an Indie Author

I recently had a very good question posed to me.  “What is the biggest challenge you face as an indie writer?”

I had to think over this one for a while, but it finally came to me: the biggest challenge indie writers face is taking over the role of a publisher.

Writing is the easy part.  (And yet, it has its own challenges because you have those times when the story isn’t “coming” to you because the characters are silent or you are going in a direction the characters don’t want you to go in.  There are also days when you don’t feel like writing but have to anyway.)

But the hardest part is playing the role of publisher.  I’ll give you an example of what tasks I have on my list to take care of in the next two weeks.

Marketing and Promoting: I need to get ads scheduled for The Viscount’s Runaway Bride and If It Takes A Scandal.  If It Takes A Scandal is due out soon, and I want to maximize potential effectiveness in launching the book by promoting it via Facebook through an author assistant who helps to promote romance authors.  She’s very effective and knows the right groups to hit with the promos.  I’m not sure if I can say her name, so I’m not going to.  But The Viscount’s Runway Bride is the first book in the Marriage by Bargain Series.  When that goes to free, I can then run a Bargain Booksy ad (via Freebooksy) that promotes an entire series.  Since If It Takes A Scandal is the fourth and final book in the series, now is the optimal time to promote the entire series.  This method has worked well in the past, so I’m doing it again.

Thank you gifts to the people who take time out of their busy days to help me out: I need to send out paperback copies of Taming The Viscountess to my beta readers.  I finally got the paperback approved, and the books are sitting on my desk waiting to be signed and mailed out.

Publishing: I need to make the paperback version of Forced Into Marriage now that my formatter has gotten it back to me.

Editing: I need to edit The Bride Price.  I just finished the first draft yesterday, so I’m onto the edits.  Once I finish the initial edits, I send it off to my editing team which composes of two editors and some beta readers.

Formatting and Publishing: I need to reformat Shotgun Groom so it’s ready when The Bride Price is out.  Sep Wilson is Joel Larson’s younger brother-in-law in Shotgun Groom.  Now that I have written Sep Wilson’s romance in The Bride Price, I need to go back and give Shotgun Groom a table of contents so that Smashwords will approve it for wide distribution.  While I do that, I’m going to advertise The Bride Price at the end of it.  I also need to do a Kindle version and upload it to Amazon.

Copyright Registration: I need to register the copyright to my latest books.  I have to send in the paperback versions because the US Copyright Office wants the very best version, and they have written to me in the past telling me they want the paperbacks.

Marketing and Promoting: I need to update my website and blog to reflect the new books I’m going to be writing soon and to announce when If It Takes A Scandal is released.

Cover Design and Description and Setting Up Pre-Orders: I need to get three covers and descriptions done for three upcoming books.  Now that I know what the titles will be to Books 2 and 3 in the Misled Mail Order Bride Series and I know what the stories will be about, I can move through with getting the books set up for pre-order.  I also finally figured out what to do with Book 3 in the Marriage by Fate Series.  So I’m going to be working on those things as well.  Usually, I hire out for covers, but in this case, I’m doing these myself because I bought the fonts and images and want the same look for the entire series.

Hiring Cover Artist: I want to give the Marriage by Scandal Series (a series that has been out for years) new covers since they need a facelift.  I have already contacted someone about this.

Formatting: Once I get If It Takes A Scandal back from a couple more people, I can move ahead with formatting the ebook version and putting it on Smashwords and Amazon.

Social Networking (which is really marketing and promoting that a writer would usually do anyway): I also have about 60 emails to go through, some of which are from Wattpad and Facebook.  So I have to get that all answered.  I do try to get to people as soon as I can, but the work above can get overwhelming, and with four kids and a husband, it’s hard to get around to all of the social media stuff in a day.  I answer a couple of emails at a time and then come back to answer more the next day.

I won’t be writing for the next two weeks so I can get caught up on the stuff I’ve been putting off for the last month in order to get The Bride Price finished.

Some authors get personal assistants to help with the stuff I mentioned.  I do hire out for editing and (sometimes) covers and formatting.  Lately, I’ve been hiring out for book descriptions.  I also pay for ads.  I also have an accountant and payroll service.  So I have people helping me for key things, but I do most of the stuff myself.  Some people will say I’m nuts, but I enjoy having my hands in these other details.  I love the writing, but the aspect of controlling the publishing process and setting up deadlines are fun, too.

About Ruth Ann Nordin

Ruth Ann Nordin mainly writes historical western romances and Regencies. From time to time, she branches out to other genres, but her first love is historical romance. She lives in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and a couple of children. To find out more about her books, go to
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7 Responses to Biggest Challenge of Being an Indie Author

    • Every time I hear someone say $0.99-$4.99 is too much to spend on an ebook, I think of all the work that goes on with making the book happen. Considering the amount of work authors put into their books, $0.99-$4.99 is a great deal.

  1. dm yates says:

    I reblogged. A really helpful article. Thank you.

    • A lot of people seem to think self-publishing is easy, but it is not. There are many things that go on behind the scenes. Listing out what I had to do over the past two weeks made me realize how crazy my To Do list was. 🙂

  2. I actually like the business end of publishing (and also for my editing business). The thing I don’t like is marketing. I just can’t seem to make anything work. But I do like to crunch numbers, format, edit, etc. I can’t even imagine having a publisher doing everything and telling ME what to do. LOL

    • I like it, too. I enjoy controlling all the aspects of the business. The difficult part about marketing is that it’s not really in our control. We can do our part, but whether or not people buy the books is out of our hands. I think that’s why marketing is such a mystery.

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