Sunday 12 May 2013

Guest Post - Three Marks of a Successful Independent Author

Three Marks of a Successful Independent Author
By Tim Ouellette

What does it take to be a successful independent author?

Is it talent? Luck? Or a combination of the two?

I’m not a big believer in the concept of ‘luck’. While there are plenty of instances where being in the “right place at the right time” has resulted in some sort of positive advance in a person’s career I believe you essentially make your own way; your success or failure is a direct result of your response to both external and internal situations. It can be hard work, but it’s worth it.

And talent?

Talent is somewhat like beauty: it exists; people strive after it and hope that they “have” it; yet it can be applied in a pretty subjective way. Let’s assume for the moment that “talent”, for the writer, means “the ability to evoke an emotional response”. I would say that it is required in order for an author to advance, and is assumed in the serious indie author who knows what they’re doing and is taking steps to increase their knowledge and ability, both in the craft of writing and the manner in which they market their work.

But talent alone does not a successful indie author make.

So…what is it that makes a successful indie author?

Initially, three things: Attitude, Fortitude…and Inspiration.

Let’s tackle each one.


How is your attitude as an independent author?

Your attitude is essentially the way you approach a particular person, place or thing. For the writer it’s the way one approaches the application of craft, putting into practice the things one has learned. Do you have a positive attitude or a negative one? Is the glass half-empty or half-full?

Does the glass even exist?

We do that sometimes, don’t we? We receive a not-so-stellar review, or rejection slip after submitting work we’ve been toiling over and think: do I even have what it takes? Am I truly a writer?

These are those moments of self-doubt that can dampen a prospective author’s creative spark if said self-doubt is not dealt with in a positive manner. Doubt and uncertainty are part and parcel of the freelancer’s life; understanding that these things will happen and having a positive attitude when they do can help you to come out of these rough patches relatively unscathed.

Having a positive attitude allows one to embrace both the positive and negative aspects of the craft and enables one to view them as stepping stones to growing as a writer and producing top-notch, quality work.


This one’s a bit tougher.

Fortitude is not something that’s easy to come by; it indicates strength in the face of adversity. As a writer, fortitude is something you’ll need to carry you along on those days when the words just don’t seem to want to come. When used in conjunction with a positive, winning attitude, fortitude is that part of your character that will keep your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard…long after any sane person would normally have given up.

Lacking in the fortitude department, you say? Not sure you have what it takes to see this thing through to the end?

This is where your fellow-indie authors come in.

Independent authors seem to thrive on helping their fellow writer. I have seen on numerous occasions established indie authors purchase, read and review the works of relatively unknown authors in order to show their support for what is currently viewed as a “non-traditional” publishing route. These more established authors know that it takes hard work and stamina in order to see a writing project through to possible publication; interacting with them through social media (such as Twitter and Facebook) and reading/commenting on their articles will help you to develop the confidence needed to complete your own writing project.

Fortitude is a tough characteristic to cultivate; it requires preparation on the part of the writer. One must have a goal in mind, a plan to succeed, and the emotional/psychological chutzpah to work one’s way through bad reviews, slow sales, and that ever-present fear of writer’s block. If you surround yourself with like-minded individuals striving for (essentially) the same goal you can’t help but begin to feel that same pull forward, that inexorable need to write that next line, to boldly go where no writer…

Well, you get the picture.


I like this word: inspiration. It just has a nice feel to it.

Take a moment to say this word out loud: inspiration.

Go ahead; I’ll wait for you.

Felt good, didn’t it? Let’s face it: inspiration is one of those “feel good” words. It’s right up there with “Exclamation!” and “Salutation!” and evokes a sense of possibilities and potentialities.

Unlike attitude and fortitude, inspiration is not a characteristic the writer fosters from within; rather, it’s the act of being influenced, of having the mind and heart stimulated. From the Latin inspirare, “to inflame, to breathe”, inspiration is the creative breath behind virtually all our work as writers.
One may be inspired by a fellow author; the beginning writer, having read a particular piece of fiction or poetry and taken the time to mull it over, often matches seemingly disparate words and phrases and “creates” a concomitant work. A good stepping stone and the natural progression from reader to writer, it must not stop there. Having been inspired to create, the writer must eventually choose their own path; find their own voice; write their own story.

Inspiration allows one to view themselves and their surroundings as they once did: as a child. The innocence of childhood: all those wonderful, thrilling, scary and exciting years when anything was possible; when each day started in anticipation and ended with the same.

Inspiration: the creative breath, the driving force behind all you do as a writer.

There’s obviously so much more involved: from the theoretical and creative (passion, dedication) to the practical and mechanical (marketing, networking)…but the writer who begins with Attitude, fortitude, and inspiration will have begun their career with the building-blocks of success.

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Tim Ouellette is the author of “Fractured”, a collection of dark fiction and poetry  and is at work on his first full-length novel “Fallen”.

Demonic children. A man on the verge of insanity. A woman's obsession that brings her back from the dead...night after night.

"Fractured" is a collection of horror fiction and poetry that seeks to penetrate the dark recesses of the human mind.

Buy now from Amazon (US) | Buy now from Amazon (UK)

Tim can be found at the following sites:

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