Guest Post: Four things to consider before going Indie

I’d like to extend a huge welcome to our second guest for the month of July, MJ Stevens. Not only is she a fabulous YA writer, she’s an Aussie to boot, so we’re super excited to have her here today. ~Stacey

“Being independently published is fun, exciting and … terrifying.” – M.J.

I’m M.J. an indie author from Brisbane, Australia. I currently write YA. I’m finishing up the final book in my Guardians trilogy, Liberated in November this year. My debut novel Bound released in January 2014 and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.

I have had some great success over the last few years … and some really stupid, face-palm-moment failures.

So listen up all ye wishful authors, it’s time to get serious and nix the dreaming. Being indie is more work than it sounds…




Unlike being published through traditional means, everything falls to you. Oh yes, and I mean everything. Writing your manuscript is only one part. What about the editing? What about the cover, the design work, the promotion, and the (sometimes dreaded) events?

That’s right: all you.

Now, I’m not trying to scare you off being indie, far from it. I’m here today with some helpful tips to get you started on the right foot.

1)   What are your skills?

And if you say writing, then I might have to karate kick you in the head because, duh!

I’m talking about other skills, important ones. Are you an editor by trade? Do you have a bachelor in design? Is social media is a breeze for you? Cool.

If not, don’t freak out!

Independently published authors don’t instantly have a network to help them become successful. There are things you need to think about before you go hitting PUBLISH on your computers or tablets.

  • Even if you are a grammar whiz, having an editor is a very good idea, nay vital! Having a fresh perceptive on your work will help you see errors and plot holes. It’s better that someone who is kind (because you’re paying them) tells you something you can fix, rather than having a reviewer smash you … and then you have to sit and cry. Save yourself the trouble and heartache; get a second opinion, even if it’s just for a spell check.
  • Whoever said “don’t judge a book by its cover” was an absolute twat, excuse the French. Let’s get real, we all do it. If something has a boring, badly edited, Microsoft Paint designed cover, you’re going to question the quality of the work. It doesn’t matter if you’re the next J.K. if your book never gets read. Presentation matters!
  • You need to research and decide on what your brand is going to be as an author. Are you a dark romance gal, or a fun children’s author? Make sure your entire collection of business related online channels match the image you want to project. Whether or not people need a Facebook page as an author is actually quite a debateable topic. So this is just me speaking here: GET ONE. Personally it irks me when authors have pages where they add people as friends, rather than having a business page with likes. To me, it says unprofessional, even if your little page only has 20 likes for the first few months. And they’re family members.

You don’t need to have friends; it’s time to have fans! Let them adore you!

2)   Can you afford the costs?

Editing, covers, printing … it’s not free. If you’re planning on doing a paperback, costs stack up in the blink of an eye. Keep in mind that your first book order is going to sell well. Friends and family are going to want them, and chances are word has spread around your community. Places like Amazon Createspace are great for printing on-demand, but remember that prices are often in US dollars and that means your quotes are wrong (for us here in AUS). Make sure you’re not spending more than you can make back, at least not at first.

3)   Are you in this for the money?

Then refer to point 2. If you are very, super-duper successful in the start, then I wish you all the best. However, over half indie authors out there will tell you they hardly make any money, and an even sadder amount will say that they are still in the red, unlikely to recover their costs … ever. It’s a great goal to be rich, but don’t expect it to happen straight away.

4)   Long term promotion

Don’t get disheartened if it’s been one year and your Facebook is STUCK on 78 likes. (I’m speaking from personal experience!) It takes time for things to get traction, especially online. The world is saturated with info, so take the time to read up on good ways to promote and stick with them. Research reputable bloggers, who have paid services, (note: not overpriced services, beware of scams) and will do things like: promote your book by contacting other bloggers, do cover reveals, review tours and help get your name out there! The import thing is to keep up with what’s new and do it if you can. Keep your own blog, even if no one reads it at first. Later down the track it will help your reputation build.

I hope this has been helpful. I can’t wait to read your book!

M.J. xoxo


M.J. Stevens thinks of herself not only as an author, but a true storyteller.

M.J. has been writing tales of action, adventure, and love since she was a child. For so long she tried all of the creative arts, trying to find a way to make her stories heard, and writing became the lead way that she could share her ideas with the world. Today, it is her number one passion in life.


  1. #4 is one of the big reasons I’ve always decided against going indie. Because of uni, particularly as I’ll be going into my final year after the summer, I barely have time to sit down and write/edit, let alone spend several hours a day on promotion. Plus, I don’t think I’d have the confidence to contact people and be like “yo, you wanna read the thing I did?” 😉



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