It is often emphasized that writers need to have a multitude of skills if they are looking to get into self-publishing. For indie authors, unlike for traditionally published authors, the skills that need to be cultivated do not begin and end with writing—there is so much more that happens behind the scenes.
Let’s face it: rarely do we have the need to dabble in graphic designing or editing when we first start our writing careers. Everything looks effortless and easy—until you have to do the real work. While it would indeed be time-consuming, and sometimes even exhausting, learning these new skills will benefit you in the long term, and in many other aspects of life.
Here are some skills indie authors should cultivate before they dive into the competitive world of self-publishing.
This first skill is absolutely essential, even if you’re planning to hire a professional editor. Learning how to recognize major errors (whether grammatical or plot-wise) will be of great help when you next hire an editor. Avoid submitting your very first draft to your editor or beta reader—do the self-editing, correct the glaring mistakes and submit your best work.
2. Book Formatting/Designing
Creating staggering book ads and posters for your upcoming release can be challenging, especially if you have no prior experience in graphic designing, or have no means of hiring a professional graphic designer if you’re working under a low budget. But cultivating this skill and learning to design eye-catching content related to your book is necessary to attract your audience.
Although the popular saying goes, “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” how many of us have returned books to their shelves because we just didn’t like how it looked? There are plenty of free and affordable sites for beginners for designing content, like Canva, RelayThat, etc. To compare the services provided by different sites, read our article here.
3. Budgeting and Resource Management
Being an indie author usually means you’re working under a limited budget. Therefore, you need to be aware of the costs that will be incurred during every aspect of your self-publishing journey. You don’t develop the skills to recognize what is more important from what is not: you need to know what to compromise on, and what to spend on.
Things like hiring a professional editor and selecting the best printing services (so your book’s paper quality will be high) are some things you definitely should not compromise on.
4. Marketing and Promoting
This is perhaps the most unnerving aspect of self-publishing for most indie authors. Since traditionally published authors are going to utilize the professional marketing services provided by publishing houses, you need to up your game in order to reach your target audience. There are numerous ways you can engage in marketing your book, both before and after your book launch. Email marketing, social media marketing, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) are just some aspects of marketing that you need to cultivate.
5. Determination to Keep Learning
None of the above skills can be developed if you are not willing to learn. If you look at all the tasks as a chore you have to perform, you are going to hate every moment doing them. You need to cultivate a determination—enthusiasm—to broaden your knowledge-base. When you think of it as fun, you will have fun doing it!
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.