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.

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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.

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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:

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

  1. Great stuff, Mariana!! Indie publishing is a tough slog. You win some, you lose some, and along the journey, you learn some important lessons (if you’re paying attention). You obviously have learned many about what it takes to carve out success in today’s publishing landscape.

    I’ve been at it for more than a decade and I’ve cobbled together many similar ideas and lessons from personal experience and being dogged when others might have quit.

    Thanks for sharing these great lessons with others, many at a different place along the way.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Mariana, this was really well done. Many self-published authors think the book goes up on CreateSpace (or whatever company they used as the Print on Demand) and poof. I can assure everybody that I also was grossly naive. I have a lot of technical know-how from my software business, and writing and grammar skills from my English degree, but the learning curve is tremendous. Just think of all that a traditional publisher is doing – all the skills and personnel involved – and realize that we need to do all that, and more, by ourselves – and still there is no guarantee that a book will be a commercial success. Of course it all begins with a great story and an honest evaluation of its potential in the big market. Well done, Mariana.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thank you! And right, books don’t just poof! They take lots of work before and after, and I think that’s the way it should be. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Wonderful post, Chris and Mariana! Congrats on your journey and success! I enjoyed your book very much. You have a talent that is God given. Good for you that you use it to the best of your abilities by persevering and sharing. Blessings and hugs!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This is such helpful advice, Mariana. Thank you for this post. I have been exploring the world of self-publishing lately, and looking for good advice. I can see that even a small children’s book becomes a huge project. Congratulations on all you have accomplished 😉 WG

    Liked by 2 people

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