Monday, August 22, 2016

5 Important Skills for the Indie Writer


At some point in time, every writer has to decide whether writing will remain a hobby or become a business. For the business-minded indie writer, there is always the task of figuring out what to outsource and what to continue doing. For those with knowhow and are diehard do-it-yourselfers, some things are must-dos and some, not so much.

·         If you're a graphic artist by trade, creating your own covers will make life a lot easier and negate the expense of paying someone else to do this for you. If creating graphics is not an area in which you shine, leave it to the professionals.

·         The ability to make banners and promotional material for your books for online use (think Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) is another handy skill in the indie's arsenal. Promo pics are fun to make and you can switch these up to prevent them from getting stale. 

·         Formatting is a good skill to have. I’ve read various books on this subject, including the free Kindle and Smashwords formatting guides and now do this for my books, which prevents me from having to pay to make changes. If this is beyond you though, don't waste time trying to figure it out. Pay for the service and avoid a headache.

·         Converting files to various formats might not be helpful to every writer, but it's an advantage when it comes time for a final read through of each book. There are free downloadable programmes such as Calibre or online versions, like Zamzar that convert word files to Mobi, which can be loaded on a Kindle for that last read before you ship your baby off to the editor.

·         Learning how to navigate social media is important. While it is not the place for a hard sell, many writers are successful in reaching readers on various social media platforms. Don't be afraid, dive in and learn as you go.

While time is always in short supply, I like having the option of knowing that I can do some things in a crunch. If I can't, there's the option of paying for these services. If you're on a restricted budget, it may suit you to learn as much as you can about the tasks that are required again and again in the publishing process.


So, have you added to your skill set lately? If not, do you plan to learn to do any of the things discussed?

21 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

That's why networking is so important. Then you can find people to do the things you can't.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That last one is big for any author. And something we do have to learn on our own.

Pat Hatt said...

Social media one needs to learn for sure, while it can be outsourced, it won't have your voice. The rest learn or outsource, whatever the best option is for you I'd say.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

There are so many professionals willing to do the work but some are really expensive too. The more you can learn to do yourself the better.

Christine Rains said...

I think these are great skills to have! I can do basic formatting, but I'm lucky to have a CP that's awesome at it. I've also been working on my graphics skills. Little by little, I'm getting better.

Bish Denham said...

I'd like to learn more about formatting and doing my own covers, but I'm chicken... *bawk, bawk, bawk!*

J.L. Campbell said...

So true, Diane. That's how I've come to find the right people to do the jobs I couldn't do.

Alex, I find that anything that takes a little time to learn is usually worth doing.

You're so right. Nobody can be you but you.

Susan, things can become really expensive if you have to pay for them all.

Good going, Christine and it doesn't hurt to have good friends with skills!

Don't pressure yourself, Bish. Inch by inch, it's a cinch.

Sandee said...

There is much to learn to be a good writer. There are many skills that are necessary too.

Have a fabulous day. ☺

Chemist Ken said...

Learning to format sounds like fun, but only if it doesn't become a timesink. There's no question that book covers are way out of my league.

diedre Knight said...

I've already learned much more than I ever thought I'd want to - and enjoyed doing it! I think that's the key, keep learning. And networking plays a huge role in that process when you come across something that you're just not going to be as good at. I've played around with cover ideas, though I'm much better at bookmarks and banners ;-)

cleemckenzie said...

I never catch up with what I should know about this business.

Feather Stone said...

Being I'm a novice in the self-pub world, this advice is exactly what I need. I thought I could design my own book cover; what I created is okay, sort of. It's not a 'grab the reader' image. I've hired a pro. I haven't decided if I will get a team to get the manuscript ready for Amazon, etc. Frankly, I'd rather just get back to writing the next novel. I think planing the launch and post launch marketing is going to take a lot of time without having to fret over conversions and downloads and whatever. Maybe on the third novel, I'll get braver. Thanks for the advice.

Michelle Wallace said...

Navigate social media? At the moment, that's the one getting my attention.
Creating your own covers? That's the scariest one. First impressions...

Patricia Lynne said...

Banners and promo material was something I recently learned how to do thanks to Canva. I have Gimp, but I'm really bad at using it, so there was so little I could do.

J.L. Campbell said...

Sandee, I don't believe we ever stop learning. Hope you've enjoyed your day!

Ken, since I've learned how to do it, I kept a MS Word file that converts seamlessly for the kindle and type in it each time.

Diedre, we all have something we excell at so what you say makes a lot of sense.

Lee, you and me both. I always seem to be catching up.

Feather, yes! Writers do want to get on with the next book. It helps to have a budget for all the other stuff.

Michelle, Instagram is the latest thing i've taken on. I understand it a lot better than I did a month ago.

Patricia, I love me some Canva too. It's fun to work with. GIMP, not so much. :)

Juneta Key said...

Great tips thanks
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Diane Burton said...

I'm a DIY girl so I do as much as I can. But I also know my limits. Cover art is beyond me. I have a great cover designer who is so willing to revise until we come up with a cover that is just right. One thing I won't do is the editing. While errors in other's work jumps out at me, my own do not, no matter how many times I read the ms. I always hire a professional editor.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thank you for this very important post, Joy. This is essential information for every writer regardless of whether they self-publish or not. Today we have to step up and take control of our careers.

J.L. Campbell said...

Thanks for dropping in, Juneta.

Smart move, Diane.

You're welcome, Joylene. We do need to take responsibility for our businesses and careers.

Robert Bennett said...

Cover Arts and Marketing. My Achilles heel. UGH!

Toinette Thomas said...

I've been a diehard DIY girl for a while, but I'm ready to start outsourcing some things. It's still good to be up to date on how to do these things in case I need to.