Being a Small Business Owner is Tough

I wish I could say I started out in indie publishing as part of a carefully coordinated plan to jump from being a traditionally published author to being an indie author. Truth is, I did it on a bet—another writer challenged people to write an 80,000 word book, get it professionally edited and covered, and publish it in six months. I said, “I’ll do it in six weeks” and that became Empress of Storms, still my most successful book to date by orders of magnitude.

And Empress took off like a freaking rocket. I now realize that I was surfing the last months of indie publishing’s golden age; if I could go back in time to 2011 or so I would skip working with my original publisher entirely and publish all my books myself because people were making bank on ebooks back then. In three months Empress made more than all of my books with Evernight had combined. As I am not stupid and would like the Brit to be able to retire someday, I decided to jump into indie publishing and turned that bet of a book into a series while I waited for the Olympic Cove books to age out of my contract with Evernight.

Empress was the only book that earned me five figures, however. That golden age of indie books raking in tons of money is long gone and nowadays the market is glutted with indie books. If you want to make a career out of indie publishing, you have to realize that you are now a small business owner who needs a good, solid business plan to manage all the hats you have to wear.

As such, I’ve paid for courses on how to make Amazon and FB ads work for me, I have an accountant who tracks my assorted income streams and is worth her weight in gold come tax time, I’m on social media mainly to promote my work (and chat with people at the same time because an account that is only about SELL SELL SELL quickly gets ignored), I keep an eye on marketing trends and how to recognize the next big thing, I’m constantly tweaking blurbs and SEO terms to get better visibility, I read Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s business of writing blogs religiously and joined 20 Books to 50K™ in order to learn how to improve my business acumen and sell more books (don’t get me started on registering copyrights, designating a executor for my literary estate, and all the legal paperwork that comes along with this gig)…

…and man, I’m tired. I’m hoping to get to the point eventually where I can afford a virtual PA who can help me with promotion and social media, but at the moment I’m doing it all myself plus all of the other things I have to do (cleaning, cooking, shopping, laundry, budgeting, managing JJ’s needs, etc.). I’ve been able to streamline some processes, and clawing back weekends so that I only do bookwork instead of writing then has helped, but I really need a nice break at some point where I can sit around somewhere warm and drink margaritas.

That being said, I wouldn’t trade this for traditional publishing. Yes, indie is a ton more work but with all the effort I put into it I also reap all of the rewards. The bulk of the purchase price of a ebook goes to me, not to some publishing company in NYC who may or may not be showing me my actual royalty numbers. And when I start selling audiobooks (coming soon, I promise), I’m not going through ACX. I’ll most likely use BookFunnel as my fulfillment app and sell them via some sort of storefront app (I really want to sell ebooks, print books, and audiobooks directly from my website and use PayPal as the payment app but apparently PP is wickedly difficult to implement that way. I may need to find a PP wizard to help me out with that).

So yeah, lots of work, lots of tiredness, but in the end I believe the payoff will be worth it. Still want a vacation and a margarita, though…

About Nicola Cameron

Nicola Cameron has had some interesting adventures in her life -- ask her sometime about dressing up as Tietania, Queen of the Bondage Fairies. When not writing, she wrangles cats, makes dolls of dubious and questionable identity, and thanks almighty Cthulhu that she doesn’t have to work for a major telecommunications company any more (because there’s BDSM, and then there’s just plain torture...).

Posted on January 25, 2023, in Publishing. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Being a Small Business Owner is Tough.

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