Life As An Indie Author

Easter is a great time for considering renewal. Traditionally, throughout the history of many spiritual practices, the bursting forth of spring energy has been accompanied by personal reflections on, and communal celebrations of, new life, transformation and the possibility of something utterly ground-breaking in its paradigm shift of reality.

Every year, I get to ponder anew on the ridiculous possibility of the tiny seeds in my hand becoming six-foot-tall tomato plants with rich, red fruits hanging in bunches, and the ‘dust’ in my brightly coloured packets turning into cascades of tumbling, cheerful, blue and white lobelia. What a miracle!

This year, the timing of the festival, arriving much later than usual, has coincided unexpectedly with the arrival of my new identity. I am now an author. No longer just a writer – a person with dreams, hopes and ambitions, someone who fills their spare time with scribbling words on a page for fun – now I’m an actual author. This changes things.

For a start, I now find I have to consider the strange and mysterious worlds of publicity and marketing. These are worlds which do not come naturally to me and which present many difficult challenges I had never expected to face. It looks as though I may have to venture into my ‘dark side’ to understand how to negotiate my way.

I read an article somewhere – when I was still in the world of possibilities – that suggested people should not become indie authors because they no longer make good friends. Apparently, they turn into self-proclaiming, money-grabbing bores, who cannot avoid viewing their companions as potential customers and end up constantly regaling everyone they know with requests for reviews, checks on purchases and reminders to pass on book information to others.

I can see how this might happen, but I suspect the writers who go down this route were pretty mercenary to begin with, and I’m not convinced that conventionally-published authors would necessarily be immune to the ‘seller-virus’, anyway.

You might guess that the acquisition of money is not high on my list of priorities for a good life. I have been relatively poor for the vast majority of my time so far, and it has not escaped my notice that my happiest times have usually coincided with less financially prosperous periods. The one segment of my life where I had easy access to plenty of funds was probably my most miserable. Nevertheless, it has taken many years for me to discover the sense of abundance that comes irrelevant of monetary income.

This is the place I find myself in now, but I am conscious, too, that my particular circumstances cannot be sustained beyond another few years without a substantial input of cash. That is, ‘substantial’ for me. Which means that I need to learn to navigate this otherworld of promotion, sales and ranking tables. Yet another unexpected learning curve, I guess – but one which is more deeply challenging for me than understanding formatting and the newest version of Word.

Uploading my book via the internet may have been a huge venture, but I  knew I could rely on my intelligence, my ability to learn and mental characteristics such as perseverance and determination which I have developed steadily over a long period of time.

Deliberately trying to manipulate a marketplace to my benefit is not just a matter of invoking these skills but also involves me in confronting my deepest beliefs about commerce and the financial world. All this, at the same time as maintaining a light touch on my life, so that my very real sense of abundance does not evaporate and my creativity is not squeezed to one side.

I guess like every other vision quest I have engaged in, I need to tie myself securely to the guiding thread, be ready to negotiate with dragons and do my best to follow the path my soul lays out before me.

Does that sound fanciful? Well, that’s the joy of being an indie author!

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