Confessions of an Indie Writer


(Do I look like Crocodile Dundee in the picture?  Well, then, it’s fitting, for I believe I’ve been in swash-bucking battles, as an Indie writer…)

C’mon…admit it:  You’re thinking about doing the same…putting your thoughts to paper, maybe sharing your own life story or that romance novel you’ve always dreamed of (the one that lodges, stubbornly,  in your head). Now, thanks to the major wave of new writers climbing aboard the self-publishing bandwagon, you, too, can do it.

Now that I put my first book “out there,” you wouldn’t believe the number of people who’ve said:  “Oh, I’m thinking of doing that.”  My inward response? “Well, let me help you in this venture, for I wish someone had told me of the gyrations this thing would take–beforehand.”

First off, let me explain:  An Indie writer (independent) is one who doesn’t go the route of the usual publishing houses such as Scholastic, Penguin Books, etc.  There used to be a stigma attached to artists going this route in the belief  “They couldn’t get published elsewhere.” 

Self-publishing houses used to be called ‘vanity presses,’ suggesting the self-publisher was not a good writer and merely wanted to see his or her name in print, as “author.”

In recent years, that’s all changed with the remarkable success of some really notable indie writers, folks who simply refused to go through the long process of query letters and then the editing process to conform with others’ standards.

Now, I’ve joined the ranks of do-it-yourself authors.  But it’s been a challenging process.

For instance, I wrote a children’s picture book (Book 1 of the Grandpa and the Truck series) for little ones 4-8, so illustrations figure prominently. As such, I needed a wonderful artist, someone who’d capture my husband’s quirky personality (he’s the model.) 

I found her… but only after interviewing many, discussing pay and time schedules (we’d work together as a team).

We needed to agree as to how the art would be done. I didn’t need a prima donna more impressed with her own credentials; I wanted someone who could get across what I envisioned in my stories, understanding the high climactic points and how I wanted them drawn…not an easy task.

When we meshed on those counts, I needed to figure lay-out, where the text was positioned on each page, etc. It’s safe to say I’ll never again say:  “How hard can a children’s book be (to write?) It’s got few words and a whole lot of pictures.”

When we submitted to Createspace  (Amazon’s self-publishing arm or imprint,) our first proofs were blurry. My illustrator had to work through this impasse with the printer and refile.

I wondered whether I should have the book Kindle-ready (as well as the usual form) and was told by many:  “Yes, of course, “ tho’ others said: “Why would anyone want to read a child’s book off a Kindle?” Judging by all the little ones I saw accessing their mini-computerized toys, I opted to go the route of Kindle.

It’s been a full year from my first penning the stories (8 to date, comprising 4 books with 2 stories per book) last July to my release of the first book a week ago. My trucker husband, the artist, and I worked all winter in collaborating on the illustrations, making sure they were true to the trucking industry and our message.

How much work did I personally do?  A 7-day-a-week investment for one whole year—just for Book 1. 

I pored over every item I could find on the internet that told how to be a successful indie writer…the pitfalls to avoid…the bases to cover, and I’m sure I missed a ton.

I bought the books’ ISBN’s (those numbers assigned to all books by the code on their covers) through an independent house to give me full ownership rights…just in case a publishing house wanted to pick up the series (they’ll wait to see if it fizzles or goes viral, while I’ll settle for sales enough to pay back my initial investment.)

When the book came out, I made a couple of mistakes:  I responded (appreciatively) to a person who commented on the Amazon site when she reviewed my book and was told that’s a big No-No. I thought protocol was like Facebook, where I’m expected to respond. But now I can see how an author’s response to the readers’ review could be off-putting. I deleted my response.

With another young woman, I requested she write a review and listed bullet points of what I thought my book accomplished. Was I trying to steer her review? Absolutely not. I just thought she—like other young people I know– was slammed by a workload and if I could make it easier, I would.  Sadly, I think it offended, when I never meant it to. I don’t do that anymore, either.

Finally, there are the interminable things that crop up when you see your book in final form…things you realize you should have done differently. 

But that will have to wait for Book 2 and the sequels. I’ve determined I stressed enough about all of it…and “Enough is enough.”

Now, I’m launched in the marketing end of my book…another mountain to climb…a totally foreign one, at that.  But this week I found a writers’ group (ARIA), so I’m heartened..other indies doing what I try to do.

Please share your own indie pitfalls and concerns…Or tell us, too, whether you’re going to wade into these challenging waters.  Then, if you haven’t done so already, check out, the site that showcases what I’ve worked on all year. 

What do the statistics say? Most indie writers sell 200 books (like the age-old pyramid model in sales, they sell to close friends, relatives, etc.; they never reach a bigger market.)

So, word to the wise:  While you’re awaiting untold success, don’t quit your day job!  And the picture above? That’s the rocky terrain you’ll be heading into (it’s actually pic of the mountain range younger daughter and I flew over few years back on our way to Slovenia)…but since my blog is one of ‘encouragement,’ know that I’ll give you a hand (and other advice) if you really want to try.

About admin

A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog,, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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