The Successful Indie Author Mindset

Photo by Judit Peter from Pexels

Whoever said self-publishing is the easy path to a career as a published author has never actually tried self-publishing. Self-publishing can be immensely rewarding and satisfying, but one thing it’s definitely not is easy.

If you’re considering self-publishing because you think it’s a shortcut to achieving your publishing dreams, think again. It’s true that you’ll be able to call yourself a published author and have a book on the market much faster than with traditional publishing, but when it comes to having a sustainable, profitable indie author career? There are no shortcuts or easy formulas.

There are, however, a few things successful indies have in common, and a lot of it comes down to mindset. Here are a few traits that you might want to cultivate if you hope to succeed in self-publishing.

  1. An entrepreneurial spirit — Successful indie authors think beyond the first book, or the next book after that. They come to publishing with a business mindset that looks at the big picture. They understand that self-publishing is a long game, and make plans and strategies with longtail success and sustainability in view.
  2. Willingness to learn — Even if you have the budget to outsource book production and publishing tasks to professionals, there is always something new to learn in this business. Beyond simply learning the self-publishing ropes and how to effectively market your books and generate sales, this landscape is constantly shifting, requiring indie authors to learn new skills and constantly gather new information.
  3. Openness to trying new things — There is no one right way to succeed at self-publishing. What works well for one indie author might not work for someone else. Heck, what works well for one author’s book might not work for the next one, even in the same series. Flexibility, the ability to quickly pivot and shift direction, and not being afraid to experiment and learn from failures are all qualities indie authors need in order to thrive.
  4. Determination and drive — Like I said, self-publishing isn’t easy. One thing that does come easily in this business is discouragement. Flagging book sales — or worse, no sales at all, book reviews that never materialize, negative reviews that do, subscriber numbers in the double or even single digits… these are all things that will tempt you to throw in the towel. This is why the long tail success mentioned up in item 1 is so important to keep in mind. Set your goals, develop your strategies and work your plan, and above all, know your why. Write down the reason you got into this in the first place, and place it where you can see it and be reminded daily. Remembering your why is the best way to stay motivated and keep going when nothing is working out the way you hoped it would.
  5. Generosity and a sense of abundance — Finally, one important quality successful indie authors all share is a generous spirit. Indie authors not only cheer one another on and celebrate one another’s successes, but we are all too happy to share what we’ve learned, support and promote each other, and do what we can to help our fellow indies.
    While it’s anything but easy, becoming an indie author is joining a large, enthusiastic family that’s happy to have you at the table.

If you possess these qualities, chances are you’ve got what it takes to succeed in self-publishing and build for yourself a long and rewarding career.

Jean Marie Bauhaus is a hybrid author with four novels to her credit, as well as a freelance writer and editor. She’s also the author of Self-Publishing for the Broke Author: How to Edit Your Manuscript, Format Your Book and Create a Killer Cover on Little to No Money. This post was originally published at on April 23, 2019.

Multi-passionate freelance writer, blogger and occasional novelist. Homesteader, daydreamer and ADD survivor.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store