My Favorite Resources for Indie Authors
March marks ten years since my first book - Friend Grief and Anger: When Your Friend Dies and No One Gives a Damn - was published. It took years to get to that point, a lot longer than I imagined when I first had the idea for the book in the spring of 2006. That was understandable, though, because I knew absolutely nothing about publishing and almost nothing about writing. I was beyond fortunate that at my first writing conference in January, 2011, I stumbled into a makeshift group of other writers at a similar stage. They remain among my closest friends and confidants. Along the way, I’ve wasted time and money as we all have, but not nearly as much as I could have had I not been so lucky that weekend.
So, today I thought I’d share some of the resources that have helped me the most, in the hopes that writers reading this can also benefit.
You’ll notice that none of these people or organizations are entirely focused on writing itself. That’s deliberate. There are organizations that are all about the craft of writing, that are genre-specific, and too numerous to mention. I’m sharing those that will help anyone who accurately sees their writing as both a craft and a business:
Jane Friedman. Jane was one of the first people I met when I started writing, and I’m a better person for it. Her monthly newsletter, The Hot Sheet, is full of industry information and replaced at least half a dozen other newsletters that I subscribed to. Jane’s ability to clearly explain and analyze industry trends and opportunities has made her my north star in many ways. And her webinars are consistently excellent. If you get the chance to meet her in person, you won’t be disappointed. She's just as great in person as online.
Alliance of Independent Authors. I don’t remember how I stumbled on ALLi. They might have popped up on Facebook. I do know I was lucky enough to be in London in 2014, delivering my daughter for a semester of study, when a small group of author members was meeting in the back of a pub. I joined them because how could I pass up a meeting of writers in a pub? Since then, I have been the beneficiary of not only great advice, but ongoing support. I found my interior designer for my last book through ALLi’s resources. I’ve used their carefully vetted list of approved contests and review sites, and taken advantage of their guides. It’s one-stop shopping for resources and information on all aspects of self-publishing.
Orna Ross. Orna is a successful author on her own, but she has a passion for helping other indie authors build successful businesses. Her work as a founder and director with ALLi has been stellar, but in late 2020, on my COVID-related mission to reinvent my writing business, I signed up for her Patreon group, Publishing for Profit. It’s the best $25 I spend every month, no question about it. She guides us in ways that enable us to focus not just on the business side - including the marketing that most authors seem to hate - but the creative side as well. No matter how you publish, your writing business will thrive under her generous leadership.
Authors Guild. It took me years to join the Authors Guild. Honestly, part of it was the income requirement for those of us who self-publish. We often have to prove our seriousness by providing proof of income that traditionally published authors do not; they just provide a copy of their most recent contract. Their membership is heavily skewed to authors who are traditionally published, but, let’s face it, there’s a certain gravitas in being a member. They’re active in advocacy, something that appealed to me, whether it’s copyright issues, AI, equity, censorship, or financial support for writers during the pandemic. And right now, you can save $20 off author membership with this affiliate link.
Nonfiction Authors Association. Most writing organizations are skewed towards fiction writers, and that’s understandable because there are so many of them. But nonfiction authors like myself are often left wondering where they belong. This is where they belong. Stephanie Chandler has created an organization that is entirely focused on people who write all types of nonfiction. Their annual conference has always been virtual, before Zoom conferences were necessary or cool, and their marketing resources are stellar.
I will say one thing: although I considered my writing a business from the beginning, there were stages to that understanding. As I learned more and more about what I was doing, I moved to a new level where the challenges and expectations were greater. And frankly, in the early days of accessing all these and other resources, I didn’t know enough to ask the right questions, or take full advantage of what was offered. Sometimes that awareness only extended to printing out a blog post or email and saving it for later; most of the time I was just flummoxed. You can’t do everything right away or at one time. Give yourself permission to ease into a very steep learning curve.
These people and organizations may be the answers to your prayers, or no help at all. Only you can decide that. But first you have to accept that you have a lot to learn to be a better writer and business owner. You have to be willing to admit you need help and accept it when it’s offered. The good news is that there are a lot of great resources out there for you. These might give you a good start.