By Raine Thomas
I was reflecting on my writing journey the other day as I prepared for my BookBub ad promoting the sale of my New Adult romance, Meant for Her. Since I first released Meant for Her, the writing industry has changed in some dramatic ways…ways that changed the lives of many indie authors. My internal reflection was on whether those changes were for the better.
I published my first three books in July of 2011. At that time, the decision about whether to go indie or traditional was a hot button among writers everywhere. Then some pioneering indie authors proved themselves by making bestseller lists and gaining avid followings, earning them publishing deals from major houses. A number of traditionally published authors have since published books independently, many with great success. The hard line between indies and traditionals back in 2011 has definitely blurred.
This has opened the door to many more authors who have dreamed of being published and who are now following in the footsteps of the indie authors before them, uploading their work onto retail sites that are now inundated with available books. On the plus side, readers now have more choices than ever. As a reader myself, I rejoice over this! As an author, however, I spend part of every day wondering how I’m going to get my books seen among the masses. It’s a challenge that many of us are facing.
That’s hardly the only challenge about being an indie author today. Not so long ago, I was making enough income from my books that I gave serious thought to writing full time. Now, I consider it lucky if my royalties cover the cost of what it takes to publish my books. All of my author friends who actually did quit their jobs to write have had to go back to work, so I’m not alone in my struggles.
More difficult to face, though, is the reduction in reader engagement. When I first published the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy, I received regular e-mails and social media messages from readers telling me how much they enjoyed the books or asking when my next book would be released. That interest kept me motivated and encouraged me to write seven books in that series when I only intended to write three. Any writer will tell you that fan feedback is the number one thing that keeps us writing. Once that interest fades, our passion can fade along with it.
It occurred to me in my musings last week that I’m rarely contacted by fans these days. The thought was deflating, making me question why I continued to try and breathe life into a fading writing career. Then just this morning I received an e-mail asking when my next book was going to be released, as the fan couldn’t wait to read it.
It was like a sign from the universe, and it inspired me to write this post. Whether or not they’re for the better, there have been notable changes in the publishing industry over the past few years. We indie authors shouldn’t allow those changes to impact the writers we are today. Instead, we need to focus on the future, on honing our craft and figuring out how to adapt to today’s reader culture.
Looking back on the publishing path that brought me to where I am now is helpful in that it laid the foundation for my writing career. Now I need to move forward and work on overcoming the struggles faced by today’s indie authors. I hope all of the other indies out there remember the passion that got them started. We need to remind ourselves that we’re doing something we love…and that makes it all worth it.
Raine Thomas is the award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction. Known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination, Raine has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen. She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream.
When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.