Indie Success –10 things that really matter

Hans Christian Andersen by Anne Grahame Johnstone

Hans Christian Andersen by Anne Grahame Johnstone

There are a lot of articles and reports out there giving various and often conflicting figures about the Indie book market. All seem to agree, however, that the percentage of Indie writers and publishers is huge and growing. You only have to read a few Indie books to realise there is some seriously good stuff out there and marvel at the ingenuity and diversity of the imaginations from which they were born.

Yet there is still a stigma attached to independently published work. There are those, it is true, who see it only as a way to make a fast buck and churn out little more than rubbish. These are not writers in my opinion and it is not of their books I speak, they are little more than opportunists; marketeers who, seeing a potentially lucrative product throw together a cheap imitation that will not last. No, I speak of those writers who work hard to produce the best they can.

It is also true that there has historically been a percentage of poorly produced books, both in physical terms and with regard to presentation and content, but over recent years it has become increasingly difficult to tell a well-produced self-pub from a traditionally published tome. And you might want to google ‘famous authors who self published’…

There is still a certain snobbery about books. I overheard a woman in a bookshop reject a novel she had just been enthusing over as she browsed, purely because she realised it was a self-published book. Many writers feel that their work somehow lacks a seal of approval if they fail to get a publisher to offer them a book deal. Others feel a certain satisfaction that by self-publishing they have circumvented a system that often feels like a closed shop. Some feel that they are never going to be able to break through the barrier and actually sell their books once published. There are so many new books being published every day!

We would all like to be successful… we would like our work to be read. We wouldn’t mind at all if they brought in an income. In fact, we’d quite like it! It is easy to despair when sales are low, especially when you are seeing others reach people and, apparently enjoying success, climbing the rankings and getting enough reviews to decorate a Christmas tree. They may simply be good at promotion… or at creating an illusion! Either way, I have seen a fair few writers run the gamut of negative emotions.

But there is one thing that all self-published and independent writers should feel when they have poured heart and soul into a book… and that is pride.

1. You have created something unique.
It doesn’t matter if your book doesn’t make the bestsellers list. In fact it doesn’t matter whether it sells at all. You may be a magnificent writer… and lousy at promotion! Regardless of sales, you have accomplished something special.

2. You actually did it.
You have picked up a pen, real or metaphorical and allowed the creative process to stream through your days… and often your nights too. You have had the discipline to sit and write. To craft a fictional tale, or share a personal history. You have pored over research for both fact and fantasy. And you have written a book. Not started it, or talked about ‘one day’… you have done it.

3. You learned.
You have then gone back to edit and proof your work to the best of your ability. If you have been writing a while, your earlier efforts will show how the learning curve climbed… you will not have sat on your laurels! Or perhaps you have paid for professional services… paid with your own hard-earned cash in order to make sure the end product was as good as you could get it. Either way, every step teaches you something new.

4. You believe in your work.
Which is why you have burned the midnight oil polishing it. Why you have thrown yourself into trying to promote the book. Why you learned how to use the technology to get it published. Why you hit that publish button in the first place.

5. You are an artist.
If art can be defined as a created work that conveys a message from one heart or mind to another, then it does not matter what genre you write… you have created something that will come to life on the page. And that is without the cover… It doesn’t matter how you did it…or even what anyone else thinks of it… you had a vision and brought it into being.

6. You are an entertainer.
Not all stories will appeal to all people. There are many styles, many genres and as many tastes in books and writing styles. One thing is certain though… if the right person reads it at the right time, they will be entertained. And look at the fun you had writing it…!

7. You are a teacher.
You may share your knowledge of ‘how to’ with other writers… deliberately or not. Sometimes we learn simply by reading… a style, a word, a phrase may help us improve what we ourselves write. But more than that, the world of books contain within their pages all of human experience and endeavour, all emotion, all transmittable wisdom and knowledge. Even the simplest story can echo the human journey, shedding light on the way we move through the world… and we can never know how our words may touch or reach another’s heart.

8. You are an inspiration.
“Well, if he/she did it… maybe I can too!” Your example may be the catalyst for someone else to start, persevere, or finish… and who knows what may be born from that?

9. You have added to the pages of history.
While the print on demand and ebook phenomena do permit anyone to publish anything, they also allow each of us to have a voice and tell a story. Not all storytellers are good with grammar, but every story is worth the telling. With the increasing lack of paper records, letters and journals these tales are being preserved to be voices from the past one day… a social record and a chronicle of human emotion,as much as works of art.

10. You have realised a dream.
Most of us have dreams. Many will never make them happen.

You did.

No one writes a book who has not dreamed it first. You have made your dream a reality.

If you are proud of your book… judge your success not by how many copies you have sold, judge it instead by what you have achieved. Every Indie author who has pressed that publish button is a success.

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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22 Responses to Indie Success –10 things that really matter

  1. Reblogged this on lucinda E Clarke and commented:
    Sometime we are so busy frantically checking to see how many sale we’ve made and we forget the real reason for writing and we must remember to be proud of what we’ve done.


  2. Awesomeness, Sue. Plus all the creative fun of writing in the first place!


  3. Mary Smith says:

    Well said, Sue. I think the stigma attached to self-published books is disappearing, though it has still not entirely gone.
    There is nothing in this world like holding your book – the book you wrote. I remember when my first one came out I took a copy from room to room as if introducing a baby to its new home!


    • Sue Vincent says:

      There may …or may not… have been wild whooping when my first copy came too 😀
      But yes, there is still a certain amount of pub v. self pub snobbery around that completely disregards the quality of many self published works these days and the impact they have had on the future of publishing as a whole.


  4. If we are going to self-publish, we might as well enjoy it rather than dwelling on what didn’t happen. I knew from the get-go that my book wasn’t going to be a bestseller. It wasn’t that kind of book. Yet I’ve never regretted publishing it — except for wishing that I could go back and rewrite some of the sections that make my brain itch. In a totally transient world, publishing a book in which you believe, however it is accomplished is a “real thing.” It adds something and that, by itself, is good.


  5. Love this. 💖 Thank you for writing and sharing.


  6. rixlibris says:

    Thanks for a great post. If I may, I would like to interject a caveat. A universe as large as that of the indie author will attract opportunists. Most indie authors, myself included, will readily admit to a lack of marketing skills and this creates a vacuum which will be filled by a great many people offering to market for us. The unfortunate truth is that it is exceeding difficult to vet these offers and so there is the danger of being scammed rather than being helped. As an extreme example, a friend spent in the neighborhood of $10,000 promoting her book worldwide with the assurance that she would be the next hottest thing on the New York Times best seller list, a shoo-in for Hollywood attention. Her book is no longer being listed for sale. I have personally traveled a few of those rabbit holes and while I don’t have an answer, I do have canceled checks to commemorate the journey.


    • Sue Vincent says:

      There are always opportunists ready to capitalise on the dreams of others. My opinion of them is probably unprintable on a family-friendly blog.Every author needs to be aware of the statistics…how many Indie books are published every year versus how many actually make money at all, let alone make it big. We also need to be aware that this doesn’t just apply to Indie books… traditionally published authors mostly need to have a day job too.
      That doesn’t mean that the dream of success can’t be realised, but it does mean being aware of the odds and the unlikelihood of that level of success. There is still a snobbery within the publishing arena and the majority of Indie books will sell no more than a few hundred copies in total. Many will sell far fewer than that.

      If you believe in your work then you will pull out the stops to give it the best chance you can and there is plenty of sensible advice out there on how to do so. Paying for help promoting books may not be a bad thing, but investing huge amounts of money, especially when someone else is offering to do all that work for you, is unlikely to be a realistic approach. Even the traditional publishing houses expect their authors to work their proverbial socks off promoting their own books.

      I can only advocate caution and the usual advice of doing your own research to see what, if any, results have been obtained by those offering to work wonders.


  7. dgkaye says:

    Great article Sue. I think the stigma is slowly subsiding. A few years ago many want to be writers were going wild thinking it was so easy to publish, just write and hit publish without caring for editing, nice book covers, etc. They helped contribute to the stigma, which of course categorizes us all in one boat. Nowadays many trad published authors are realizing the value in self pubbing. If we have to do all the work, why share the royalties. I have no desire to self validate by sweating to go traditional. I’m used to the work now and the gratification. 🙂 xo


  8. TamrahJo says:

    Reblogged this on The Good, Bad and Ludicrous and commented:
    This topic has come up, BIG-Time on my local radar – through friends, co-workers, colleagues as I walk in the world of my local library – re-visit topics with local artisans, writer’s, those who feel held back by this or that – Thank you, Sue, for, I can now focus on other ‘to-do’s’ with a simple re-blog or email link share, “Take Heart – Here ya go – What Sue said…” – 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. TamrahJo says:

    Timely missive I immediately shared with some local-to-me folks, as this topic has been increasingly high upon my radar recently – thanks, for the eloquent share for me to say, “Hmm-Hmm – what Sue said…” – – 🙂


  10. Wonderful post Sue and it give those of us who have yet to decide to step upon that self publishing ladder the encouragement to make that leap of faith. 🙂


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