As a full time self-published author, I work from home and am self-employed. I met someone at the weekend, at an author event, who told me she could never work for herself, she’d get too lonely. She’d miss conversations by the water cooler, talking about what was happening in the business, and the general camaraderie of socialising with her work colleagues.
I agreed that it can sometimes be a lonely profession, but I have work colleagues. I gestured around the room at all the other authors manning their tables. “They are my work colleagues,” I said. “We just don’t share an office. It’s a bit like an international company, some colleagues you speak to every day, some once a year.”
The reader chuckled and leaned in close. “They’re your competition,” she whispered.
I leaned in close. “How many books did you buy last month?” I asked.
She thought about it for a few moments. “I read about eight on Kindle Unlimited, bought three paperbacks, and another three ebooks.”
“Exactly,” I replied. “Readers don’t buy one book a year. Most buy more than one book a month. Other authors aren’t my competition, we work together. In the author business.”
Being an author can be as quiet or as noisy as you want it to be. If you want to be the kind of author who locks yourself in a room and turns off the Internet and hammers out a book, you can be. If you want to spend the day talking to your work colleagues and getting their advice on your latest project, or marketing tips, or event information… then you can do that, too.
But there is a difference between a networker, and a lone wolf.
A networker has a network to help carry the load. A lone wolf does not.
Indie authors more than most know the importance of networking. You see, you can write the best damn book in the world… but if it doesn’t get traction then no one will ever find it. You can be absolutely sure that there are plenty of award-worthy books that have been published and fallen down the charts like a stone into a lake. Most of these were probably written by lone wolves.
A networker generally views other authors as colleagues and not competition. They will share advice, be it craft or marketing based, they will help newcomers to the genre, chat to the debut author as well as the multiple best-seller, they will share posts on social media, boost new releases that are not their own, they will engage with the community when it benefits others and not just them.
I love my Indie author networker friends. They are always up for a new challenge, a new collaboration, a new event, a new award scheme, a new not-for-profit project. Quite often I unfortunately have to turn opportunities down because I’m so busy working on various ventures and don’t have time to be involved in all of them.
I’m a member of many groups of like-minded authors. When someone has a new release, they let us all know and they ask if we will share their social media posts with our own audiences. And we do. People ask for help finding an editor, guidance on cover design, and information on upcoming events. I, and others, have helped new authors into the market, and assisted traditionally published authors become Indie authors when we have been asked. On the other side of the coin, I’ve helped new authors approach publishing houses when that would be the better fit for them.
You see, some people seem to struggle to see the bigger picture.
If a new author wants to publish their book and they have no idea how to do it… it doesn’t take much for us to give them advice and help them to produce a really good quality product. And if we help them to market it; then they will help us later on. It’s like a new starter coming into the office. They may be a bit new and not know how to use the photocopier, but if we show them… then later they’ll get us a tea when they do a drinks run.
The more authors there are, the more books, the bigger our genre. And the bigger our genre, the better for everyone. There are still so many potential readers who have no idea that sapphic literature exists. So, the more of us out there shouting about it, the better.
I’ve said it since day one… authors are not in competition with each other. I love working with my colleagues and I am ecstatic for their success, when I look at the charts and I see my colleagues sitting at #1, I’m happy for them. When I see they have been nominated for an award, I want them to win. When they have a new release, I’ll share the news.
So, yes, I’m self-employed and I spend most of my time in my home office. But I feel like I’m a cog helping all the other cogs to create a huge, successful company.