Last night, I got to see two of my good friends whom I haven’t seen in ages. They also happen to be independent artists. We had a good long talk and several laughs about the self-employed life. I realized that all the weird things I experience in my day-to-day life aren’t exclusive to authors. All independent artists go through ups and downs on their way to establishing a career.
That conversation got me thinking, “Hey… I could write a blog post about this.” So without further ado, here are the ten best and worst things about being an independent author/artist.
The Ten Best Things About Being An Independent Author/Artist
- You work for yourself! You get to work from home or wherever you want! You are your own boss! You make your own schedule! This is pretty much the best gig ever.
- You keep all creative and legal rights to your work. Forever. Done.
- No deadlines! Okay, well, you need to make your own deadlines and it is VERY important that you keep them. But still! I’d rather set my own deadline than abide by someone else’s!
- You’re able to give every project the love and attention that it deserves. This isn’t about the money for you. You’re not looking at your manuscript and thinking, “Will this make me a lot of money?” You’re looking at it and thinking, “This is worth it no matter what, because it’s a great story.”
- You get the opportunity to learn a LOT. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d be essentially running a business for myself. I certainly never thought I’d be publishing books. But I’ve learned and grown so much in the past two years and you know what? I’m really proud of myself. It’s a great feeling.
- Have I mentioned the royalties that you will be getting for the rest of your life? Unlike in the traditional world, you don’t just get paid once for one book. One book can make you money every month of every year.
- You get to write what you love. You don’t have to wait for an agent’s or publisher’s approval. If you know that you want to write a book, and you know that you can write it well, go for it.
- The independent community is WONDERFUL. I’ve met so many amazing and supportive people through my career as an independent author. You want to know these people. And not just fellow authors. I’ve made so many amazing friends all around the world who are book reviewers and they’re just the best. Again, you would not believe the overwhelming love and support.
- You learn that nothing is impossible, that you are capable of so much more than you think you are. Those barriers and obstacles that you think exist? All in your mind. Nothing is insurmountable if you set your mind to it. Believe me. I’ve been there.
- You are making your dreams come true. And that’s incredible.
Now that I’ve made the life of an independent author seem like the bee’s knees, here are…
The Ten Worst Things About Being An Independent Author/Artist
- You work for yourself. I know, that was a good thing too, but hear me out. You have to have a LOT of self-discipline to make this work. That’s something I’ve really struggled with. I get distracted so easily. I’m a procrastinator. I can be incredibly lazy. I get addicted to Netflix. I’m the world’s easiest-going boss, because let’s face it, I’m not going to fire myself. I can do whatever I want. And that’s a really dangerous mindset to have when you’re in business for yourself, especially when you’re just starting out.
- The age old, “Oh, you didn’t want to go with a real publisher?” To which my response is this.
- Self-marketing. I hate it. It’s the worst. Do I think everyone should read my books? Of course I do. Do I like telling people to do so? No. I really don’t.
- You wouldn’t believe how many people will come up to you and say, “I have this great idea for a book. You should write it!” That might not be an indie thing though. That might just be a writer in general thing.
- Because you’re self-employed, you will meet people who think that you’re free all the time because “you don’t actually work.” This is a hard one because yes, technically, you can take time off whenever you want, but you’re going to have to make the lost time up later. Just because you work for yourself and work from home it doesn’t mean you’re not working. In fact, you can be working all the time and you still probably wouldn’t get everything done that you wanted to. Working for yourself is crazy hard because it’s just you.
- People will ask if they can buy your book at Barnes and Noble, to which the answer is, “No, but you can buy it on BarnesAndNoble.com.” Hopefully, sometime in the near future, Barnes and Noble will stock independent books. In fact, I think if you go through Lightning Source, they will. But most indies are not in bookstores. And that’s a bummer.
- Money. I know I said that you’re not doing this for money, but the truth is going into business for yourself is an investment. You need money. I worked for two years in a dental office all the while trying to write and get my little company up and going. And money will be tight. For a LONG time. I’m about to publish my fourth book and money is still tight. But I’m hanging in there. I’m saving and I’m investing. Hopefully, in the long run, it will be worth it. I think it will be.
- Self-Marketing gets another mention because I just really hate it.
- You know, I actually can’t think of anything else.
- Being an independent author/artist is awesome.
What do y’all think? Did I leave anything out?
PS – Go read my books. Self-Marketing. Blegh.