6 Self-Publishing Principles For A Fulfilling Authorial Career

by Stephanie BwaBwa
published in Community

After nearly two years of being able to teach through these articles, my time with the DIY MFA family is ending. I’ve absolutely loved sharing my best strategies and recommendations for your authorial career, and this last article won’t be any different.

While I could have left you with more to-do’s, I’ve opted for something a little unconventional, and instead, want to leave you with 6 self-publishing principles you should know.

Take some time after reading the article to put them to memory and commit to them. If you do, you’ll have a lasting authorial career brimmed with fulfillment and accomplishment.

Know Your Vision and Remain True

Marketing trends will come and go. This is a fact of the Indie Publishing industry. What shouldn’t morph like the wind is your vision.

  • Why are you writing?
  • What stories are you curating?
  • Who are you intending to impact?
  • What does success look like for you?

These are vital to know from the outset, for they will be what ground you when the noise of opinion grows louder than the steady call of your original vision. 

What you originally set out to do with your stories has to become your anchor. This will help you through seasons of doubt. Comparison. Slowness. 

There will be many times you’ll think you haven’t done enough, written enough, published enough, or earned enough. But when you lift your vision, you’ll find you’re still on track, and perhaps even ahead of yourself.

Knowing your own goals and desires will allow you to craft blinders necessary to keep from betraying your work and following everyone else. Know with all certainty what your vision is and do what’s in your capability to remain true to it throughout your career.

Have A Strong Community

Community isn’t synonymous with loved ones. Nor does it often translate to those you assumed would naturally support you. There isn’t a writer who starts their career without hope their greatest support will be their significant other, their parents, or even best friends.

Unfortunately, a great number of times, this isn’t the case. Many of these individuals eventually come around if they see success (by their own definition), but until then, writers and authors alike need a safe place to land when things are not going as planned. When comparison and imposter syndrome kicks in. When doubt becomes crippling, and the novel seems like it’ll never get done.

Communities of like-minded people who are in the trenches like you are vital. This can be a community of authors, and non-authors alike, but they’re also entrepreneurs working hard to build something from nothing. I have both, and they’ve kept me through the years when I nearly quit for good.

Keep your community at the top of your list. These will become your people. They will nurture you, love you, encourage you, support you, buy from you, and stick beside you, no matter what.

Get Comfortable Pivoting

The sooner you make a habit of getting comfortable having to do things differently, the easier your journey will be. What you do today to write, edit, publish, and market your novel is not what you’ll be doing in one year. Or five.

Make pivoting your friend. 

As your skills grow, and as you develop as a human being with increasing experiences, your process will evolve. Not to mention, marketing trends are always fluctuating. What attracts readers today is not what will attract readers tomorrow.

Pivoting in business is natural. It has nothing to do with how well you write, or whether you did something wrong. It simply comes when people are ready for change. Usually this doesn’t mean a change in the tropes they love, or the books they favor, but mainly in the way they receive it, and how they want their reading experience to be curated.

Learn to pivot and be okay. It will happen often.

Quit But Don’t Fail

I can’t stress this enough. It is okay to quit.

Yes, I said it. Quit and do it fast.

If the story isn’t working? Quit. If the characters aren’t going in the direction needed? Either follow them down their path or quit. If you no longer believe the thematics of the novel align with your personal values, quit.

Quitting isn’t a permanent end. It’s simply stopping what isn’t working to pivot to what is. Most authors would have undergone far less stress in their careers had they let an idea go and just quit.

Of course, when you give your word, especially if a release date is attached to it, sound integrity would have you meet your deadlines, and keep your word by publishing.

But if you’re in the ideation phase, the editing phase, or you’ve been working to publish secretly but have told no one – if it feels right, and there wouldn’t be egregious conflicts – if you’ve got to quit, quit.

It’s only when you permanently give up you then become a failure. 

You’re not obligated to keep working at a story, marketing plan, or towards a goal that just no longer works. Strive for alignment and fulfillment instead. Do what feels right, because often that intuition is our clue that it is.

Show Up For Your Readers, and They’ll Show Up For You

There’s power in remembering who you’re doing this for. Of course, we first write for ourselves. At least, we should. Because if you’re not a fan of your own books, then it’ll be tough convincing others to be.

That said, after writing for ourselves, we write for our readers. In this era of Instagram and TikTok, it’s easy to look at follower counts, strive to keep getting more, and forget these are all people.

It’s easy to say, “I only have one thousand followers.”

But imagine if one thousand people showed up at your front door, asking for an autographed novel. You would lose your mind.

I want you to keep that at the forefront. Let gratitude be the choice you continuously make while growing as an author. Whether you have ten readers, or ten thousand, you have actual human beings besides your mom who are in their homes, browsing your website, reading your emails, and highly expecting your release.

Show up for these precious humans, because I promise you, they’re already showing up for you. They’re talking to other readers about your books. They’re creating Pinterest boards inspired by your characters. They’re waiting for your next email with more bookish goodies. 

They’re inspired by you and wholly support who you are, and the books you write. Show up, and you’ll find that your people have been there all along.

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Stephanie BwaBwa is an Afro-Caribbean, Christian epic romantasy novelist, fantasy universe builder, educator, and podcastor, with big dreams, a big heart, and novels that fill readers with awe, light, and wonder. She’s the creator and author behind the fantasy universe: Elledelle, full of angels, adventure, romance, and light. You can usually catch her going for a walk through a park, or simply binging anything creatively juicy with too many snacks. Get in contact with Stephanie directly at: stephaniebwabwa.com or follow her on Instagram or Goodreads.

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