I saw that advice on an indie author forum after a discouraged writer complained about having to get a part-time job to support herself while she worked on her "Great American Novel." I laughed to myself, because hell yeah, it would be great if artists, musicians, writers, ceramicists, sculptors, jewelry makers, etc never, ever had to work a day job. But like my ceramics professor in college warned us from day one, "If you're going to be an artist, you're going to be poor. Marry rich!" At least he didn't sugarcoat anything.
I've always lived within my means while aspiring to create, to write, and to find a way to monetize my art. One of my dreams in life is to earn my income with my art. That's not currently the situation, so I've invested a lot of energy into getting to that point. I've written 3 fat & juicy novels and am 2/3 done with another one. I work full time. I co-host a podcast. I still have a social life. And I somehow find the time to listen to podcasts and read articles about the self-publishing industry. For as much as I've studied, I feel like I've earned at least an associates in marketing and one in business. I'm never asleep at the wheel. In fact, I've stopped taking baths because I don't make the time—but I still shower, don't worry! I'm just one of those people who always has to have a project they're working on (or lots of projects they're working on).
Last week I came across an article about well-designed websites. I'd just created mine a little over a month ago, and I wanted to see if mine ticked all the right boxes. TheCreativePenn.com was mentioned, so I went and had a look to compare. It's sharp. And because it's so sharp, I quickly saw that Joanna Penn has a podcast, so I downloaded enough episodes to get me through the rest of the work week. One of those episodes featured an interview with Mark Coker from Smashwords, and it totally rocked my world when he explained how his company's eBook distribution operated, and how indie authors could benefit.
I'd taken my books out of Amazon's KDP Select a couple months ago because they require exclusivity and I wanted to expand my reach to other booksellers and even libraries if possible. I wanted to be able to give away my first in series for free, but KDP doesn't make it easy even if you aren't enrolled in Select (an exclusive agreement). My books are still on Amazon, To be honest, I don't particularly care if I make a crap load of money. Yes, it would be super fabulous to make a crap load of money, but mostly I want to build a bigger audience to share my stories with. I already have some enthusiastic, supportive, overall awesome fans, and I'm sure there are others out there who would enjoy my stories as well. It looks like I'm well on my way to reaching them...finally!
After years of trying to build my audience, this most recent and virtually huge step happened relatively fast. Last weekend I had ebooklaunch.com convert my book files to the preferred format for Smashwords. I didn't have the skills or patience to do it myself, but I had the money to outsource it because I have that full time job. ;) They were worth every penny and their turnaround was crazy fast (Thanks Adrian!). Tuesday before work I uploaded The Misadventures of Annika Brisby, the free starter in my series. Tuesday night I uploaded the sequel. Wednesday morning they were available at a couple retailers like Kobo, Scribd, and Oyster and were already being downloaded by potential readers on Smashwords. Thursday I was on Barnes & Noble, and still being downloaded on Smashwords. Friday I changed my settings to make my books free for libraries. That was pretty fantastic, because libraries rock. But today might have been the most thrilling day for me yet. I've spent it feeling like a kid waiting up on Christmas Eve for Santa to make a debut. Except for me as an indie author, Santa looked more like seeing my novels available on Apple iBooks. Can you believe it? Can I? I didn't at first. I double checked the links, and then I checked them a third time. I closed the iBooks app on my iPhone and opened it again just to be sure I was still listed. Yep. It's official. My series starter is free on friggin' Apple iBooks!
I know this is totally corny, but I feel like I've finally arrived. Hey, it's better to show up late to the party than to not show up at all.