Today, Tuesday November 1st 2022, marks exactly a year since the release of The Indie Author Ebook… 📖 In this long update you’ll find me writing about:
-The ebook’s release – honestly reflecting on the The Indie Author’s ebook release one year ago
-The print book – opening up about why the print release hasn’t happened (it’s been pretty wild… a whole story in & of itself)
-What’s next? – looking ahead to the future It’s a fairly lengthy update, so I hope you’re sitting comfortably and enjoy reading this one. ☕ Ready? Perfect.
The ebook’s release
I’ve now been on a journey with this book for more than 1000 days. Yep, more than three years and, if I’ve calculated correctly, 1149 days and counting.
It all started back in September 2019, when I published an interview with author James Marchiori on my Substack blog:
Today, as the print book nears its production, I want to share with you the journey I – and The Indie Author book – have been on together over this last year.
As I mentioned a moment ago, more than one thousand days have passed since this project first launched.
It's been a labour of love and, at times, I'm not quite sure what's kept me going.
After the release of the ebook a year ago, I felt a sense of relief.
As anyone who has written and published a book will know, it's a helluva experience. To put it mildly.
I mean, wow.
And once you have gotten that first draft down, it's far from over.
I’d love to say it’s a case of clicking a few buttons and sitting back, but unfortunately that’s just not the case. After the first draft comes the editing and proofreading, the book’s formatting (this was an ordeal, let me tell you… more to come on this!), setting up my own publishing company, choosing where to sell the book, carrying out research for its Amazon listing, preparing for launch, and the list goes on.
⭐ Btw, I've since written a series to share each part of the self-publishing journey, from 1st draft through to book launch:
📝 From Word document to book: a series [6 parts]
Update: For the launch of the paperback, I turned this series into a companion “behind-the-scenes” physical guide that’s on sale via The Indie Writer Bookstore.
And as well these tangible parts of the publishing process, there's another ugly-and-immeasurable force that I need to mention, and one I’ll be referring to throughout this write-up: It’s called: 🌫️ INNER RESISTANCE 🌫️ And I've realised that the more meaningful a project is to you, the greater it rears its ugly head. Or, to put it another way, stepping into our deepest potential brings with it great rewards, but requires us to tread along a path that feels terrifyingly at times. Both the writing of the book itself, and every single step I've mentioned that comes after the first draft, is fraught with this this thing called inner resistance. It’s this kind of emotional turbulence which one doesn't always realise is there, but is gently bubbling-and-frothing away nevertheless. To my surprise, it was actually after the completion of The Indie Author’s first draft, that my inner resistance really made itself known. As Steven Pressfield refers to in his book The War of Art, I found myself inside the “belly of the beast” after that first draft was complete. Don’t get me wrong, that first draft took me a great deal of time and energy to put together, but it really was just the beginning. I’ve put pieces of my soul and a lot of my heart into the making of this book. This is why, after the release of the ebook a year ago, I felt both delighted and relieved. The overwhelming sensation was relief, to be honest with you. Other authors have shared similar experiences and feelings of post-publication with me. A writer friend of mine previously described writing and releasing a book like “birthing a baby”. When she told me this, I did wonder if this was a little far-fetched (I should have known better – she’s not one to exaggerate, and she had gone through childbirth, herself!), but I can now say with my hand on heart that I know what she meant. Writing a book is intense. It really is. Beautiful, but intense. ’The Indie Author’ was then crafted over the course of a couple of years before, on November 1st 2021, the ebook was released to the world on Amazon KDP and via my direct store.
A few thank-you’s
At this point I need to thank Ryan, my Ebook’s formatter. Here’s just one of the emails we exchanged… I’d also like to thank Melissa, who designed the book’s beautiful cover but she has been SO much more than a cover designer… After the post-release elation and sheer relief that I described, I needed a break. I got back to the project in January 2022, to set about putting the print version together. Melissa has stayed with me as I’ve ventured along the path to print publication, and been incredibly patient as I’ve run into all sorts of logistical and emotional roadblocks. Melissa patiently and unwaveringly helped me navigate the ebook's release process (both the ebook and forthcoming print edition) – with calm and with ease, when I appeared cool on the surface but, underneath, felt like I was out of my depth. I know she'd never admit it, but I knew that Melissa knew when I gently wavered at times. Thank you, Melissa. In the weeks prior to the Ebook's release, I was fortunate to connect over video with a handful of the authors who had let me interview them and share their writing journeys, what it was to be an 'indie' author, and the lessons they'd learned as writers who were also passionate about publishing their work on their terms. At this point, I’d like to thank Katherine and Anja, two more authors featured in the book who not only shared their stories, but were kind enough to offer to help me with the formatting of the book. And then there's Anna-Marie, another author I interviewed for the book, and who I since collaborated with this year on The Introvert Writer Summit. It’s ironic that I’ve encouraged many others to 'close the loop' on their book projects, to gently nudge themselves along and finish their book for themselves more than anything, or for a younger version of themselves, or someone important in their lives... and yet, I’ve stalled when it’s come to my own book project. The growth and healing that comes from a book project is unique to the individual, but a major and sometimes unexpected part of the process for any new author. Finally, in the early part of this year (2022), I managed to muster up the motivation to get working on the print version of The Indie Author. “I've already been through the Ebook format and release,” I thought. There was to be no launch material to prepare for this print launch, no interviews to carry out. In theory, it should have been quite straightforward. Alas, not the case. Are you beginning to see a pattern yet? 🙄 Honestly, producing the book in print represented a new rock to be pushed up a new mountain. No one had told me it was going to be as difficult as this. I was not prepared for the renewed inner resistance that emerged, plus a couple of things that happened outside of my control, and a little test from the universe thrown in for good measure. I hope you’re ready for this next bit…
The print release (a wild ride)
So with the ebook ready, my thinking was that the print book would be pretty straightforward in comparison. I had expected to knock it out in 2-4 weeks at most. Well, clearly, that’s not happened as yet. And this is where things get interesting and, at times, comical. Like, ridiculous. A combination of ridiculous and comical. Yeah, let’s go with that. There were times when I thought that this book was not ever supposed to see the light of day. Like it just wasn’t meant to be printed. On more than one occasion I questioned my sanity. It all sounds quite dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, I’ve set the scene of sorts, so now here's what went down.
Self-formatting and laptop issues
I had been recommended a piece of software called Vellum for book formatting, but it was designed for Macs and I now (and currently) use a Windows laptop. Shortly before beginning work on my print book, I came across a promising and Windows-friendly alternative called Atticus. It had recently been released by the team behind a long-standing, reputable resource for authors on the net, Kindlepreneur. Whereas I had used the services of a professional formatter for the ebook, for the print version I wanted to take ownership and learn how to do my own formatting. Atticus provided me a way with which I could do this. And so began my journey of using this newly-released book formatting software. This was back at the start of the year; my email records tell me that it was on January 9th, 2022 that I purchased an annual membership of Atticus for $147 (+ taxes). Around March, I started to get going with Atticus and navigating my way around this new software. My emails to the Atticus support team seemed to start around that time. Nothing of concern as yet, just simple questions as I got to grips with this new software. ⭐ Sidenote: it’s amazing how easily you can put off working on your book… it’s that whole “it means a lot to me” = “lots of resistance” thing again What I wasn't prepared for, though, was an update to my laptop which would cause a *bunch* of problems for me... but, we'll get to that in just a moment. :) In the meantime, I've mentioned that Atticus was in its early days and had a couple of minor niggles which were quickly resolved by their helpful support team. I exchanged quite a few emails with the team there; shoutout to Hayley @ Atticus who tried to guide me through the mess I’m about to describe to you… The Atticus issues started to increase in both regularity and severity. What started out as some delays in responsiveness as I made formatting changes, eventually turned into Atticus crashing completely – every time I switched from one chapter to another. It didn’t make a difference whether I was using an internet browser, or the desktop app. It would lag and would crash every.single.time I had finished editing one of the chapters and switched to the next one. With more than 50 chapters, and even more sections in the front/back matter, this was a real test of my patience(!). 🤨 For several weeks, I assumed this was a problem with the still-being-piloted Atticus software. As there had been niggles from Day 1 with Atticus, the conclusion I had come to was that this was an early version of Atticus and that they clearly needed to iron out some of these bugs. Back-and-forth emails between myself and Customer Support continued, and I went from scratching my head to – at times – wanting to whack it against my laptop and have my formatting issues lifted. I even told them – a couple of times – that I was having to consider asking for a refund because the problems were just too much. By now, we were into Summer 2022, and my motivation was really being put to the test now. At times, I was close to being done with this whole self-formatting project.
A gentle sidenote…
Why did I choose to persist with this whole self-formatting thing? You might be wondering by now, after all that I had been going through, why I continued with this thankless task that was the self-format. Well, despite the arduous process, it seemed to me like a useful skill to learn. I knew other authors who had done the same, and I liked the idea of being able to do it myself, and have an understanding of the process for future book projects I might work on. Mostly, though, I wanted to have a sense of control over my future author-entrepreneur business, and gain the strength from knowing how to complete this crucial piece of the puzzle. So, yes, at times I wanted to hit my head against a wall, but something stubborn inside of me was saying: “Jas, you must persist.” I don't know where that voice was coming from, or why. It just… was.
Around three months ago at the time of writing this update, I realised that the weeks and weeks of frustration and crashing I had been experiencing weren’t down to Atticus at all. Yup, a pretty major plot-twist. Somewhere along the line, in amongst the regular system updates, my laptop had installed the Windows 11 update. As it turned out, this was an Operating System which my laptop was not able to handle. 🤦♂️ As well as the Atticus issues that were worsening, there were times when my laptop’s camera stopped working, when apps like Spotify wouldn't play music, or just simply wouldn't load at all. Another bump in the road. And then after a further, painstaking process of restoring Windows 10 on my laptop after several more weeks of gentle frustration liaising with Lenovo who, all things considered, weren’t quite as helpful as I had hoped. With all of these issues finally being resolved after months of setbacks… I was finally back on track. With the Atticus software functioning as it should, on a version of Windows that wasn’t making my laptop vomit(!), I was able to finish the formatting of the book. Being able to make edits and formats without so much crashing felt nice, I had almost forgotten what a world without laptop crashes looked like. 🙃 Success. “Oh my goodness,” I thought. I'm not at the end quite yet, but the finish line is in my crosshairs. I can see it, I can feel it. I excitedly emailed Melissa, my cover designer + Adobe InDesign maestro, who was waiting on my to send her a page count so that she could calculate the correct trim size for my book, and thus generate the correct KDP & Ingram Spark book covers. I was nearly there. It had been a long, long road but I was almost there. Almost. Let’s just say the universe had one final curveball lying in wait for me…
This September, the week after I emailed Melissa with the final pagecount for the book, I started to focus my attention on a project that I was being pulled towards and, in ~some~ a lot of ways, feels like the next phase of my working life. I put on my labcoat and goggles, so to speak, and started doing research and having conversations around putting together a publishing studio. One for entrepreneurs who have amazing stories to tell, and aren't being served by traditional publishers, but also would like support with indie publishing as, amongst other reasons (and like I have encountered myself!), they needed help with all of the pieces of the puzzle. And so I started drawing up plans, having conversations with folks I know who have published books, and have been gently exploring other 'hybrid publishing' offerings that exist in the world today (not quite traditional, not quite indie, but somewhere in the middle). And I came across a reputable, well-established publisher that has helped produce some well-known titles by some recognisable names. And a company who I had a good feeling about. They have been operating for over twenty years, have an impressive team, with a founder who espouses the sorts of values that I share. It’s a company that is challenging the traditional system in an interesting way, and had worked with a variety of different individuals across different genres. I took the opportunity to step onto a call with them, to find out more about them and how they work, in a way that I thought might help inspire the publishing company I was ideating. After which, something unexpected then happened… Going into that call I couldn't necessarily share, I thought, that this was more of an information-gathering exercise for me. Truly, I went onto that call wanting to find out about them as a publishing outfit, one I liked the look of and figured I could take inspiration from. And yet this was to be a consultation call, and so the Associate I was speaking to at this publishing company had – quite reasonably – assumed that I was there to talk about a book project(s) I was working on. In our email correspondence they would have clearly been able to see my signature, which pointed to a portfolio that provides links to The Indie Author ebook and other things. And so, to cut a long story short, our conversation soon turned to The Indie Author. There was an initial ‘feeling out’ process, which then turned into questions asked on both sides and, by the end, I was encouraged to make a submission for them to look at. During the call I had been asked about what my goals and aspirations for The Indie Author were. It was a useful question, and one I answered with little hesitation: “I just want this book to reach more of the readers it is supposed to reach.” It is really as simple as that. We also went on to discuss similar books the publishing company has in their catalogue, and even what PR/a book tour for a print version of The Indie Author might look like. On the one hand, I was flattered. A part of me knew that this was only a conversation, and perhaps a submission off the back of it; it was far from a conversation about a book deal. But still, it was a warm conversation and they were keen to see inside the book. I was glad that they could see the potential. I really wanted to remain objective in all of this, not wanting my emotions to run away with me but observing myself and making a decision with both head and heart. This is something that I have been working on in my life recently, and I suspect it’ll be a gentle life-long pursuit. I’m aware, as somewhat of a dreamer, that it is easy to romanticise these situations. After a few days of simmering on it, I decided I had nothing to lose and made a submission. I now had a 2-4 week wait for feedback, during which time I'd be heading to Spain. —
I talked about this on an audio entry last month:
— I chose to lead from a place of “There's nothing to lose” and “If it seems that they can truly help put this book in front of more of the readers this book is supposed to reach, more of those who need it, then why not”.
After giving myself a few days to reflect, I decided to step in and make the submission on September 19th, 2022:
I’ll be honest, I had to put aside notions of feeling like a “sell-out”. That partnership with a publisher would go against what this book, what being an indie author, stood for at its core. I went back to the intention of helping it reach more readers. And the fact that this was an opportunity that came with nothing to lose. I wasn't signing anything away and I'd simply take one step at a time.
Another gentle sidenote.
As I write this, I'm currently visiting Palma de Mallorca, staying with a friend and fellow writer I met abroad last Summer who is signed to a reputable traditional publishing house.
From the conversations we’ve shared thus far, one of the things we both feel strongly about is that it is important for ANYONE who publishes a book to wear both AUTHOR and ENTREPRENEUR hats. Whichever route to publication one takes.
🎙️ Listen to the audio entry I recorded alongside this piece: 20 – A year on from The Indie Author book release // reflections, ponderings + updates [~ 1 hour]
Back to my book submission…
So, I thought, let's see what this publisher came back with, whether I felt they really could help me reach readers, at the expense of royalty payments (I'd be keeping hold of my rights, as per their standard terms working with authors). 2-4 weeks they would take. In that time, another major shift has happened. My parents retired from their 32-year-old business over the Summer and, having spent most of my adult life living with them, I have ventured out for a period of travel. ⭐ Another invitation for you to listen to my 10-minute update, here. And then, just over a week ago, I received the update I was waiting on:
I remember the moment I read the email as it came in. I had been wondering what the outcome would be - as well as my accompanying response. Well, now I knew the outcome, and my reaction to this rejection was an interesting one... it was relief. Somehow, it just felt right. I didn’t dwell on it for very long. It felt like a strange sense of closure… the fact that I’d entertained the possibility of a publisher and, in fact, having been turned down I felt... content. This might seem odd, or unbelievable, but it’s the truth. I took this as another affirmation that this book is meant to be, for now at least, an independent effort through and through. And, in fact, I’m glad to have received the closure I did (if you can call it that), into my very brief foray into the world of regular publishing (this company is one that has published reputable titles you’ll find in bricks-n-mortal bookstores, though they refer to themselves as a hybrid publisher). More than that, I can't help but feel all of this speaks to the next chapter after this book that I have briefly shared with you already… I've been working with a friend of mine to help him complete his book, and I’ve been fortunate to have helped many others with their writing journeys in recent years. Here in Spain, I recently met someone with an amazing podcast for women, who shared with me that she has a couple of book ideas, and has written a first draft for one of them, but has not as yet shared it with anyone. I tried to be as supportive as I could, and hope that she will move forward with her own book project, in the right timing. I continue to be grateful to meet other writers who are on their own creative journey. If there is anything I have learned, is that it is that stepping into writing, and moving along the process, through to publication, is a really knotty, transformative experience. It is for us to gently step in, and trust. I hope I’ll continue to hold onto these words. __
So where to, next?
This book, The Indie Author, has been a long road. There have been bumps and hurdles along the way, of both the internal and external variety. Some of them expected, some of them outside of my control, some of them tangible, and others subconscious. It's been a test of will, perseverance and determination over the course of these 3 + years. I'm so grateful not to have been on this journey alone. I cannot wait to close the proverbial loop, and finally be holding a copy of the print version of this book in my hands in the coming weeks. I'm planning to ship proof copies here to Spain whilst I am here during this month of November. I have no idea what joys await with Amazon ES and the like. Let's see. Despite the trials and tribulations thus far... I am hopeful!). Thank you for being a part of this journey so far… Stay tuned! — Jas Hothi is a writing coach & author. With a Masters in Positive Psychology (MAPP), he loves to help write their stories by using their unique creative rhythms. He is currently offering a free copy of his book, The Indie Author, to anyone who signs up for his newsletter. SIGN UP HERE to get your free copy.
Writing Coach & Author.