Five Traits of the Indie Author

Five Traits of the Indie AuthorIndie authors and self-publishing in its current state have been around for a while. In fact, the first eBooks surfaced in 1998 and of course, with the advent of the Kindle in 2007, the market exploded. The feud between traditional publishing continues to wage, both on our turf and off. With all the hoopla, indie writers have quietly developed a skill set essential for success in writing and just about any other business. Without these traits, chances of making it as an Indie Author are slim. These are not textbook examples or the result of a Quinnipiac Poll, but my observations since diving into the world of self-publishing in 2010. Here are my top five traits found in Indie Authors.

  1. Selfless and giving. The Indie Author as group is one of the most giving groups I’ve ever experienced. In an industry, typically known for ruthless tactics, jealousy and “borrowing” of ideas, the Indie Author is the opposite. Just look at Indies Unlimited—always sharing best practices, tips on getting exposure and helping others be successful. Walk into most self-publishing seminars or workshops and you’ll find a room full of writers willing to help others. Granted, there are the few occasions that you’ll find the group or person out to make a buck, but overall, most are mutually supportive and look for their friends and colleagues to succeed.
  2. Doers. Yep, the Indie Author is not just a talker, but a doer. You finish stuff. Whether it is for your own enjoyment or to distribute to the market place, you get things done. Very few traditionally published authors pump out the volume of quality work that the self-published author brings to market. If you want to publish a book every other month, you can. You don’t have to wait eighteen months to get your book published.
  3. Responsibility. The Indie Author takes responsibility for all aspects of his or her work—editing, marketing, cover design and more. On top of that, we take responsibility for our own success. Sure, we sometimes bellyache about Amazon or some review site that refuses to look at Indies, but for the most part, we take responsibility of our own success. Traditionally published authors work under deadlines set by someone else. Indie Authors work under deadlines set by their own free will.
  4. Trailblazers. The Indie Author leads the way in new technologies, ideas and opportunities. The traditional published author is at the mercy of the plodding, dinosaur-like corporation. Indie Authors have no constraints on how they market, distribute, write, and more. They are resourceful, always looking for new ways to market their books or to push the limits in a new genre. The Indie Author incorporates new technology into their eBooks before mainstream publishing can even determine its ROI.
  5. Heart. The Indie Author’s primary focus isn’t fame and fortune. We write because we want to write. I’m not saying it isn’t fun to have a little fame and fortune, but that isn’t why we started in the business of writing. We write from the heart. We write because we have to. We write whether or not anyone reads our books. I’m not saying that traditionally published authors don’t write with heart. I’m saying that Indies Authors start with their first draft, revisions, editing, cover design and more, dumping time and money into something that more often than not fills a personal need. If you receive an advance for a three-book series, who are you writing for now? You’re pumping out the next two books to satisfy a contract. As an Indie Author, if you write a series, you’re writing it for the fans that ask for more. You’re writing for the personal emails that you receive asking for more. You write because you have to finish your story—even if no one reads it.

Of course, many traditionally published authors may have some of these traits. However, most Indie Authors have ALL of these traits. We do it for different reasons and we do it ourselves.

Author: Jim Devitt

Jim Devitt’s debut YA novel, The Card, hit #1 in three separate categories on the Kindle Bestseller list in early January and was a finalist in the Guys Can Read Indie Author Contest this past summer. Devitt currently lives in Miami, FL with his wife Melissa and their children. Learn more about Jim at his blog and his Amazon author page.

31 thoughts on “Five Traits of the Indie Author”

  1. Most of what you write is true, Jim. However, I write to sell–always have. My motto is: If I write it, I sell it. And I’m not ashamed of it. It’s my day job. Anyway–I need Bingo $$$.

    1. I write to sell, too. 🙂
      Jim, thanks for reinforcing how awesome indies are. The sharing of information has made a huge impact on my development as a writer.

    2. I write to sell, too. I’m not ashamed of it either and love it when my title zooms up the list. The 5 traits are my observations about the majority of the writers out there, not my personal traits. Thanks for adding to the conversation and reaffirming that we are here to make a living writing.

  2. Jim, love this! And I agree whole-heartedly. One other thing that goes hand in hand with the Trailblazer category is our flexibility and nimbleness, our ability to jump on any new outlet, process or promotional opportunity to test it and see if it works. Because we’re all independent small business owners (very small), we can jump this way or that as the trends surface, try them out and not get hurt if they don’t pan out. As you say, we can be much more responsive than the behemoths of traditional publishing.

  3. Head of nail, let me introduce you to hammer. Oh, I see you’ve met 🙂

  4. A wonderful list, and number one is absolutely spot on. Indies try to assist others all the time. I’m not sure I agree with no. 5. Indies, just like other writers, I think, want to earn a living from their work. With indies, however, we don’t have a big publisher breathing down our necks demanding we earn more more more or they’re going to stop publishing our wok. Indies have time on their sides to grow and gain their footing.

    1. I mentioned in a comment above that my list was compiled via observation and not my personal traits. I completely agree with you, I write and want to earn a living writing. I’m not bashful about it either. I have a few different “jobs” and each time I can get rid of one because the writing is providing a living, I am that much closer to full time writing.

  5. Thanks Jim, Totally agree with your comments on the opennness and sharing of the Indie community. Definitely the number 1 on the list. Number 3, responsibility, was a big part of why I took the indie route. Yes, take the responsibility, but also take the credit for being part of a great crowd of fantastic people!

  6. I clicked the like button. Inadequate response. Love it, love it, love it, Jim! Here’s to you, here’s to Indies Unlimited, and here’s to all my wonderful, generous, supportive fellow Indie authors without whom I would have gone crazy.

  7. All of your points are right on, but I especially liked “Heart.” I would add to it that finding fans for my stories is satisfying–a big reason why I’m an indie. I write for them, and myself. Great post.

  8. You might want to add one: tenacity. Without it, Indies are just another wannabe writer in the world of the unpublished. You must have the drive and guts to suffer through all the things that can go wrong in the publishing process. Lord knows I’ve spent dozens of hours working through formatting errors, cover design flaws, and attempting to write decent back cover copy. A writer without tenacity would just throw in the towel. It goes along with being a doer and having heart.

  9. I’m going to save this article — excellent — and it proves how generous, intelligent and confident the Indie can be — thank you Jim!

Comments are closed.