Business man thinking

As an indie author, you have to pivot regularly

It always surprises me how quickly news travels. Over the past few days, I’ve got questions about not having a publicist anymore. Some people noticing it on the publicist’s website, some having heard it through the grapevine. This is one of the areas where I’ve pivoted my strategy, and it got me thinking about all the pivots I’ve done this year.

Pivots this year so far

Health and Family

In April, I released 2 books and had planned to release 2 more before years end. The thing was, I was getting pretty sick and tired of being sick and tired. Since 2009, I’ve had severe asthma and chronic abdominal pain (scar tissue). I’d changed up my asthma medication about 6 months prior, and felt worse, not better, for it.

I came off all of my asthma medication, went through the withdrawals, and got myself to a ‘basic’ level. It was exhausting, I couldn’t do much, and it impacted my family as I couldn’t engage as much. From there, with my doctor, I slowly brought my medication levels back up. Now I’m on about 1/2 the amount of meds, and while I’ve had to build some lung capacity and muscle back up, it’s all for the better. The best side-effect of doing this? I’m way more chilled out about life and little things. It’s weird, but good.

Next, I attacked my chronic abdominal pain. I wasn’t going to take anything more than the extra-strength tylenol I was on, but I wanted to see if there was some way to bring it down from the spiking levels it had been at for months. Even with asthma being better, it was eating my energy and mood too. My doctor had some anecdotal stories from a few patients (who also had abdominal scarring) about benefits of cutting out gluten. To my surprise, 2 months later, my joints didn’t hurt every morning, and my abdominal scar pain is half on a bad day, and 1/4 on a regular one.

All of this consumed time and energy, but I could have still polished one of the three things I had almost done so that I could get them out for year end, but then during the summer and into the fall, I realized that my family needed me. You have to refill the well of support that you draw from, and so I put them first.

a woman thinkingGetting an Assistant

Over the past year, I feel like more and more opportunities have slipped past me as I tried to keep up. I had hoped that I would catch up, or find a better way of dealing with things, but at the end of the day there’s a reason why all the highly successful indie authors I know have assistants. So I decided to try and get one. The first one didn’t work out, nor did the second one, but the third one’s got promise. It takes time and energy to identify things that you can hand off to someone, but it allows you to scale and that’s critical. So even if this one doesn’t work out, I know I need an assistant. You have to have the right team around you so you can grow, and it can take time to find the members for your team.

Surprise, Audiobook!

One of the things I keep having to remind myself took ‘valid productive time’ was taking advantage of ACX now being available to Canadians, and getting my first audiobook done – The Wizard Killer Season One. We’re now working on Season Two. That hadn’t been in the plan, but the opportunity showed up and after being asked for the 10,000th time, I decided I was going to do it.

Less Book signings and Conventions

Lastly, one of the things that I’m doing next year will be less book signings and comic-conventions. While next fall is going to be busy on a personal side (selling a house, moving into a new house) which is one factor, I’m going to be more strategic with my time away from my family. I’m hitting year 4 in this journey, and this next year will be a great time to think and see where I need to be for years 5-7. Along the way, I’m going to refill that well of support as much as I can, so that if I need to, I can draw on it for giving a big push to the next few years.

We Need to Adapt

It’s great when everything seems to be working, but really, as an indie, you can’t ever go on auto-pilot. If something isn’t delivering the value to you that it should, then you need to dispassionately look at it and figure out – is it the thing itself that isn’t working or is it how it’s being delivered? Do you need another provider or have you moved past the need? And if it’s an element of your life that’s a challenge, maybe the answers you got 2 years ago aren’t still the only ones you can get. Take the ego out of it, and look at it. Sometimes it’s a matter of asking the question for the 100th time that shakes an answer loose.

As an indie authors, we’re startup companies, and startup companies need to adapt and pivot all the time as they try to become over-night successes (several years in the making).


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