All authors are under pressure. Writing is hard work and to then switch to publicising that work is a difficult gear change for many. If you are an indie author, the pressures are magnified because you are your own CEO, your own publicist, your own everything. It takes a certain type of person to thrive in that environment but even the best of us can come unstuck.
Burnout is a danger in many walks of life and writers are prone to it. We live in our heads for one thing, we often have day jobs to support our writing for another and so we write around the day job when we are tired and often not at our best. If we are published, whether traditionally, hybrid or indie, there are other demands on our time. We need to keep abreast of new ideas and innovations, to be aware of strategies to assist with our writing, or the production of our books, or our sales, or connecting with our readers. We can easily become overwhelmed by all the information out there. It’s a tidal wave rushing towards us and it’s easy to get swamped. Information overload takes over.
Although many people would envy our achievements, we know the sacrifices it took to get there. We are also familiar with the pressures. It is a fine line to walk between being busy and pushing too hard.
We are all capable of working hard to finish a big project, throwing all of our mental and physical energy at something just to get it done. But what if the big projects just keep coming? We can only keep going at that pace for so long. Eventually we need to throw the off switch and have some down time and if we don’t our bodies will throw the off switch for us by making us sick.
How to recognise you are heading for or suffering from burnout:-
The things that gave you pleasure now no longer please you.
You have stopped writing anything new (this is different to suffering from writer’s block – that’s when you want to write but cannot because the words aren’t there). Here, you no longer even want to write.
You are tired – mentally. All the time.
Even the simplest tasks seem like hard work.
You keep coming down with bugs and sniffles.
You feel overwhelmed and inadequate.
You are running just to stand still but are achieving less and less.
You question why you ever started this in the first place.
You want to stay in bed and pull the duvet over your head.
Moving to a desert island with no wi-fi connection is suddenly an appealing option.
Sound familiar? This is where I found myself a couple of weeks ago.
Recognising the problem is half the battle. In the coming blogs, I will share with you what happened to me and how I am trying to combat it.
If you too have suffered with burnout at some stage in your career please get in touch and let me know what worked for you.
For White Lies, I asked her to come up with a cover that would help me to build a brand. I wanted something that would be recognisably an “Ellie Holmes cover”. Pinning down that elusive idea was never going to be easy. We made a few false turns on the way but I thought you might find it useful to see where we started and where we finished up.
In order to build the brand we used the same font for my name and the title of the book but not the same colours – hard to use cerise pink for the title when the book is called White Lies. We also used an image of a woman walking away as another echo of The Flower Seller.
My two favourites were the lower two images. I love the autumnal colours of the image on the left but I was initially drawn to the image on the right. We almost went for the summer image but at the last minute I became worried that it was too similar to The Flower Seller.
I wanted to build a brand, remember but The Flower Seller and White Lies are stand alone stories. They may be set in the same location and feature some of the same places and minor characters but they are not part of a series. I was concerned that if I went for the summer cover it was actually too much like The Flower Seller and readers may think I was indicating the books were part of a series. This brand building stuff is complicated!
It took four more contact sheets of the lower two images, with various tweaks along the way, before we finally hit on a version that worked. I think when a reader sees The Flower Seller and White Lies side by side they will identify a brand through the fonts and the figure but not be misled into thinking they are part of a series. I hope so, anyway.
Here is my new cover. I love it. What do you think?
I have signed up for previous fringe events and have always found them helpful and informative. So why not give it a go?
This is what ALLi have to say about the event on their website:-
“Indie Author Fringe is a three-times a year, online conference for self-publishing authors, brought to you by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), fringe to the major global publishing fairs.
ALLi brings together the most up-to-date self-publishing education and information available and broadcasts it to authors everywhere.
Running 24 sessions over 24 continuous hours allows our members, and other authors round the globe, to attend some live sessions, no matter where they’re located. (But don’t worry, we don’t expect you to stay up all night! You can always catch up later.)
Over the course of the year, we take authors across all stages of the author-publishing journey: writing, editorial, design, production, distribution, sales, marketing, rights licensing, money matters and living the indie author life. And thanks to the generosity of our speakers and sponsors, it’s free.”
Technically, the answer to that question is yes. Not everyone, however, is cut out to do it and fewer still can do it and enjoy it.
As with so much, it comes down to how much you want something and how much time and effort you are willing to put in to achieve it. Too many people say they want something but baulk at the work it takes to accomplish it.
Being an indie author is not easy. Whilst you can build up a support network, you need to have a strong sense of who you are as an author and where your books sit in the market place. You need to be able to trust your own judgement. You are the only one who has your back.
As an indie author, even if you hire others to do some of the work for you, the ultimate responsibility for what they produce lies with you. You have to check and recheck and check again to ensure a quality of output is achieved that you are happy with. You are the Managing Director, the CEO, the buck stops with you.
The glory, however, needs to be shared. Remember to thank people for the work they have done. It costs nothing to be nice. If people pay you a compliment on your cover, don’t forget to mention your cover designer. If people praise the professional look of your book, namecheck your editor and others who have contributed their time and talent to making your dream happen. Always, always acknowledge and thank and pay it forward.
And Don’t rush things. Your goals should be to produce the best books you can and build a sustainable career for yourself. That won’t happen overnight. Have patience and plan out a schedule that is achievable. Remember there are only 24 hours in every day and you should be sleeping for eight of them! You might want to do it all, you may even succeed for a while but eventually you will crash and burn. Remember that story about the tortoise and the hare from when you were a child? A slow and steady approach is better both for achieving longevity and for your health.