I have been an independent writer for over 35 years. That doesn't mean I haven't published traditionally (because I have now and again) but I love the freedom of putting my work out there and then taking in most of the royalties.
I've learned a few things these past few years, most of them learned through trial and error, through reading other people's thoughts on the matter who have more experience. So here they are:
- Writing should be most important. You should write more than you watch television, go to movies, hang out with friends, etc. Writers write.
- Writing one book does not make you a writer. It makes you an author. A writer writes all the time, struggles through the craft, produces work all the time.
- Get yourself some good writing software. I use Scrivener because it is probably the best word processor out there. Not only does it get you to writing every day with word count goals but it organizes everything in a nice little package and in one place.
- Blog about your process. I have been maintaining this blog for at least seven years now and have built a good following. A following may or may not translate to sales, but it sure helps.
- Get yourself a podcast. When I'm not writing I'm podcasting. With Anchor.fm, podcasting is easy and free. Just get yourself a good logo, talk about the niche idea that you feel nobody is tackling concerning your expertise, and you will have instant followers to your blog and to your books.
- Put your books on all platforms. I have digital copies of my books available for iTunes, Nook and Kindle. These are the only three you should worry about. Rather than go through iTunes nonsense (it's darn hard to become a seller on there) I put an ePub version of my books on Payhip which is readable on a Nook and an iPad. The other version is Kindle and that's on Amazon. I also offer a print edition on demand from CreateSpace through Amazon.
- Go to conventions. Whether that be science fiction and fantasy conventions or book conventions you should be e-mailing the event coordinators of those conventions and offering your services as a panelist. You should book yourself a table, get some print editions of your books and sell them at the convention. You may think you wouldn't sell much (and you may be right) but at least you are putting yourself in front of potential customers. They get to meet you, find out you are a pretty neat person, and then possibly buy one of your books.
- Enter contests. There are a ton of contests out there just waiting to read your stuff. Why not finally write that short story you've been putting on the back burner and send it in to a contest? Be sure to follow all of the contest guidelines, pay the fees (if any) and don't be crabby on social media if you don't win. The thing to do is to send a response e-mail back to the contest and ask what you could do to improve. Usually they will help you out.
- Take time for YOU. I have to take some time for myself, and that means doing things with my family and sharing my life with my wife and four teenagers. This next week I'm going on a camping trip with them for a week. No tech. No laptop. Just my family and the great outdoors.
- Don't quit or procrastinate. I lump these two things together because procrastination is a form of quitting. If you quit working on a project the juices will quit flowing and you'll find yourself abandoning something that could be really cool. I'm working on my current project, but sometimes I get so busy doing "life" that I just forget to go write. I have to set a timer on my phone to remind me that it's time to write. Usually I get to it after all my family have gone to bed for the night.