This originally appeared as an episode on the Indie Author Weekly podcast.

If you’re an indie author, then I bet you can relate to this list… and if you’ve been thinking about writing a book, then consider this your head’s up for what to expect!

The 5 things that happen when you become an indie author:

#1: Everyone gets really curious about how much money you make.

This isn’t an entirely new experience for me, because when I started blogging and freelancing back in 2008, I definitely had people asking me questions about how much money I earned from it. But I still find it pretty funny—and, depending on my mood or the context in which it’s asked, sometimes annoyed—by the number of times I’ve been asked whether I make money as an author, or how much money I make.

I mean, seriously. If I got a dollar for every time someone asked me about it, well! I would probably make more money that way than I did in my first year of writing books, ha.

It would be interesting to see academic research or a sociological project on the subject: Why is it that people have no qualms about asking how much you make when you’re an author, but they wouldn’t ask the same question to people in other industries, for example?

That’s not to say this is a bad question to ask. And I do think that as a society, we need to get far more comfortable talking about money. But it’s interesting that people typically ask this question of authors, when there’s a very good chance they wouldn’t ask the same of someone else in a different profession.

Anyway, regardless of the intention behind it or the context, this is one of the most common questions indie authors get! So that’s one of the first things that happens when you’re an indie author.

#2: A ton of people start telling you about how they’re going to write a book, too.

Basically as soon as someone finds out I’m an indie author, I could flip a coin to see which of the two responses I immediately get: 50% of the time, people want to know if I make any money from it, and the other 50% of the time, people tell me about how they want to write a book.

Again, it’s pretty funny and cute how you can basically guarantee that this will come up!

I find this comment fascinating for a few reasons. First, it indicates just how many people love the idea of writing a book—and that’s fantastic! Self-publishing books is more accessible than ever before, so anyone has the capacity to make it happen…

…which brings us to the other fascinating part about it: nine times out of 10, the people saying this will tell you that they have the entire book written in their head but just need to get it on paper, or that they’ve been wanting to do it for years but don’t have the time.

And that indicates just how much work and dedication it truly is to write and publish a book.

Anyone has the capacity to do so… but very few people actually follow through and DO it.

This is part of why I created the Indie Author Weekly podcast in the first place: because I wanted to make it easier for other people writing and publishing books, too. And I wanted listeners to help me keep accountable with my own books! So by listening to that podcast and learning from my experiences, you’re helping me out, too. We both benefit!

If you want help with getting your book idea out of your head and onto paper, I have a whole episode on that topic: tune into Episode 39 of Indie Author Weekly.

Also, if you wish you had the time to write a book, then you definitely need my time-saving tips cheatsheet! Grab it at SaganMorrow.com/savetime.

#3: You go on a rollercoaster ride of emotions.

Yep. One moment, you love the writing process, and you’re so proud of the books you’ve written… and the next moment, you’re convinced you’re a terrible writer, and you’re pulling out your hair because your characters won’t do what you want them to do.

The emotional rollercoaster of being an indie author is part of the journey! It’s definitely helpful to notice when it’s going on, so you can try to have some middle ground—it’s that balance, in the coasting, when you can channel more creativity and make good progress.

#4: You start saying, “Hold that thought, I just had a book idea…” and you have an ongoing list of story notes at all times.

This happens to me constantly! It’s funny when it happens around my spouse, because he’s started providing me with input at random in the middle of our conversations: “Oh, you should include XYZ in your next book,” or “Hey, that’s an interesting idea—you should write a scene around that!”

I also find this happens a lot when I’m out for walks or trying to fall asleep at night, too. I’m always taking my phone out to write myself emails at those times, so I don’t forget the idea.

#5: You learn so much about self-discipline and motivating yourself.

This is one of the most beautiful skills that you develop as an indie author. The deadlines you set are ones you created: you don’t “need” to be accountable to anyone else. You need to have the drive, the discipline, the motivation, to keep pushing yourself through the process from start to finish.

As a productivity strategist, I really love this sort of “lesson” that every indie author experiences. You might not even realize it’s happening and that you’re developing this important life skill. And it’s a muscle that you strengthen over time.

If this is a skill you’d love more help developing, then I recommend you join my Productivity Powerhouse e-course at SaganMorrow.com/powerhouse.

Now, I would love to hear your thoughts on all of this: Does anything surprise you on this list? What would you add to it?


A headshot of Sagan Morrow.

Sagan Morrow is a multi-passionate creative and productivity strategist who writes polyamorous romantic comedy novels (including the Polyamorous Passions series). She shares the behind-the-scenes scoop about her writing journey in the Indie Author Weekly podcast.

Drawing on a decade of experience as a freelance writer, Sagan now helps other multi-passionate creatives and solopreneurs save 10+ hours every single week, maximize productivity based on their personality, and take strategic action to finally achieve their dreamy goals—without burning out. Connect with her on Twitter or Instagram, @Saganlives, or learn more at SaganMorrow.com.

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