How to thrive as an Independent Author…

If you’re serious about self-publishing, you might already know that publishing books isn’t easy. Behind each book there are countless hours of writing, revising, producing and marketing. Most importantly, behind each book, there’s a piece of your bare soul. The world of publishing can be as rewarding and fertile as it can be ruthless and disheartening.

front cover copy I decided to pursue self-publishing in early 2012. A year after, I was the proud author of a beautiful children’s book called Tristan Wolf. I’ve done everything my Marketing 101 book said I should do. I’ve protected fiercely the quality of my books, and I’ve learned from the mistakes I’ve made (and I keep on learning). I’ve published four more books and released three of those in Spanish. It sounds exhausting, but it’s all part of my plan to take over the world one children’s book at a time 😀

As part of my journey I’ve visited hundreds of blogs and read thousands of articles, I’ve made new friendships and networked with some truly interesting people. I’ve also met some avid writers looking into self-publishing. One asked me the other day, what you need to do in order to self-publish. My answer was “Write a great story first, and then, just do it, as you’ll never find a perfect timing.” But also, this question lead me to think about what qualities you need to become a self-published author. After giving it some thought, these are the traits I consider most important to thrive as an indie author:

Perseverance: Needed in great amounts, because most likely, your first book won’t be an instant best-seller, and neither will be your second, third, or fourth. Maybe you’ll never produce a best-seller. But if you are in this because you love it, then you’ll find ways keep on trying. After all, success is not necessarily measured in book sales.

Talent: It’ll never be out fashion but undoubtedly, some have it in more quantities than others. Before I published my first book, I was intimidated by it. Why would I bother writing when I knew I’d never write like my favorite authors? I could never write like Hemingway or Garcia Marquez. It’s a fact, I’ll never write like them…because I’m not them. Once I embraced my uniqueness and my own talent as a writer, I knew I’d be alright. I write like a Mariana Llanos who always strives to learn from the best and write like herself.


Technology Literacy: You don’t have to be a sophisticated web developer, but if you’re a writer you’ll most likely will need technology to manage your online submissions, keep up with your fan base on social media, set up your blog or website, or even design your own books. The good thing is that it’s never late to catch up. I’ve always been good with computers, but I’ve pushed myself to learn even more. Now I can decently manage Photoshop and InDesign; work with illustrators who are in the other side of the world; network with teachers around the globe and set up virtual visits.



Self-Motivation: There will be some lonely moments in your writing career. And I’m not talking about those moments when you’re writing and need to be away to fully focus. I’m talking about blog posts that no one will read, twitter posts that’ll go unnoticed, book launches that’ll only excite a few, bad reviews that’ll make you double-guess your own abilities, slow sales that’ll make you wonder if any of this is worth it. The only person that’ll pick you up from the low moments is yourself. If you don’t have this capacity, then don’t even bother. You’ll only get hurt.

Decision Making Skills: In this career you have to make a lot of decisions, but first you’ll have to be a good listener: listen to your editors, to other authors, and writing experts. Then you’ll have to use your own filters to see what works for you. You’ll have to listen to your audience to find out who they are, where they are, and what they want. You’ll have to decide how you’re going to talk to them. You’ll have to find a balance, because it is not possible to please everybody. If you are an independent author, you are the boss of your own publishing company, so you’re going to have to own every decision and every single mistake. Don’t take it lightly and produce your best work.

I want to thank everyone who has supported me in this journey. These past two years have been a steep learning curve, and I’m sure it won’t stall. This time I’m riding it, like a bull-rider, fist up, and I know exactly where I want it to go: TO THE TOP.

Mariana Llanos-00182

Mariana Llanos is a writer and blogger. She’s been devouring books since she was very young and now she’s writing her own. She loves writing while facebooking (that’s totally a verb now). She also goes by the name of Mom. Contact her on:





56 thoughts on “How to thrive as an Independent Author…

  1. Since having a book make in in the market place, I decided back in 2014 to self-publish. I started with my childhood memoirs and since have done several poetry books and more. I post some on Amazon kindle. I get my books made at Office Max/Depot. The will make them half size and spiral bind them for around $10 each. I make about twenty to twenty-five at a time and pass them out to family and friends. It works for me. Your post is very well done!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Currently mid way through my first novel. Most excited I’ve ever been. I have started this blog because of my new path to becoming a self published author. I love finding any bit of advice I can on this matter. Appreciate the info. Any other beginner tips you may have, please feel free to share.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tech literacy is one of my weakest posts. I wish I knew how to upgrade quality/professional look of my cartoons but many suggest that hand drawn may have an appealing charm. I know I enjoy several cartoonists whose art style is primitive but still enjoyable and effective. Often it is the idea not the art that makes it work. Thanks visit my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Carl, it’s never late to take a class in something that interests you. So if you want to learn how to do something, then go for it. But also I agree that I like the hand draw look much better, and that’s a quality I look for when I hire an illustrator. Thanks for sharing!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Appreciate encouragement re hand draw. I think it does have a charm and the people feel I’m just a regular guy, not some big production apparatus. Even the uncolored single line sketch works as just right to deliver the gag. The gag is the subject not the art.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Great post! I appreciate the way you’ve emphasized the need to be able to pick yourself up when things don’t go well. This is the toughest part for some of us. I like the way you said that if you don’t have this kind of buoyancy and self-motivation, you shouldn’t self publish because you’ll only get hurt. It’s refreshing to hear the truth. Knowing that this is the most difficult part of the process, and knowing that it’s common, gives people like me a sense of renewed strength. Thank you!


    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome. I’m glad it gave you strength. Picking yourself up is definitely the toughest part, closely followed by rewriting you work. 😉

      Liked by 2 people


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