Welcome to indie author diaries. A weekly diary with two indie writer mums. Show hosts Sarah Gai and Lisa M White chat about how they are fitting writing into their every day lives, their writing process from idea to published novel, and more. A podcast for beginner indie authors. Sarah is the author of The Curvies trilogy (a sweet, plus size, romantic comedy), contemporary romances, and Christian fantasy) Lisa is the author of A Touch of Magic (a women's fiction contemporary fantasy) & she's currently writing more. She's also the author of 13 cookbooks.
In this episode, Sarah and Lisa discuss how they research and create characters. It's a tricky one to summarise in dot points, but here we go:
Sarah shares the key things she includes in a character summary sheet for her protagonists and secondary characters
Lisa shares her "organic" approach to building characters (without a summary sheet) but from looking at the character's journey through the story.
They discuss the benefits of deeper research
Sarah discusses the "Easter Egg" character she includes in each of her books
They discuss what "keeping a character consistent" means (to them)
In this episode Sara and Lisa discuss their different approach to research.
The three main things she researches when researching the location her books are set (to make them more authentic and real for the reader).
The extra level of research she does for certain characters (she uses the example of a hearing impaired character and another character who is in a domestic violence situation (for an upcoming book) .
The steps she takes for market research (especially when writing in a new genre) and understanding the reader expectations in different genres and sub genres.
Her method-like approach for researching locations and characters so that they are authentic for the reader (without getting stuck in the rabbit hole).
The four things she asks herself when she's at a place she's going to set a book.
The things she takes photos of when she's researching a location.
Things that you only see and learn from being in the location where the story is set.
How she researches characters.
The importance of checking the reliability of information and fact checking when using resources like. interviews, books, websites.
The school holidays are over, and Sarah and Lisa are getting back into their regular writing life.
In this episode, Sarah and Lisa chat about:
*How they are feeling post-school holidays (and the challenges with getting back into healthy routines)
*Mindset shifts and goal changes that occurred through the holidays
*The importance of re-evaluating goals
*The link between people pleasing and deadlines
*Being mindful of, and staying away from "feast and famine" business approaches (if you're prone to burnout)
*Story shelf life
*An update on what they achieved through the holidays
In this episode Sarah & Lisa chat about 'self censoring' their writing (e.g. not always writing what the story needs for fear of what other people will think. Eg: Holding a story back, changing a character, toning down a part of the story down (not because your editor said it was what the story needed, but because you were worried that your friends would look at you funny).
If you've ever felt this way, then this one's for you:-)
In this episode Sarah & Lisa chat about their 2019 Goals for:
and some of the challenges with setting goals
They also chat about their words for the year.
In this episode Sarah & Lisa review their goals and achievements for 2018 and discuss:
*how many words were written
*how many books were published
*how they're going with their earning goals
*how many books they read
*their favourite books, music and movies for 2018
The warm-up to our goals for 2019 episode!
In this episode:
*Sarah & Lisa compare writing & publishing with parenting
*Lisa shares her new approach to setting goals so she can achieve her writing goals without burning out
*Lisa shares how she's currently writing & plotting her work in progress & solving plot issues
*Sarah & Lisa share an update on how they're exercising & writing at the moment
*Sarah shares how her writing has improved since she became a plotter
*They share their experiences with dictation
*Sarah shares an update on her launches for the Sparkles & Curvies books & the books for her new pen name
*They both share an update on what they've done since the last diary update.
If you're going to put your best work forward, you need to edit it. In this episode Lisa and Sarah chat with Canadian editor and author, Alex McGilvery from Celtic Frog Editing services about editing for indies. In this chat they discuss:
*the stages of editing (structure, developmental, line, copy and proof reading) and what happens at each stage,
*what indies on a budget should focus on
*how to prepare your manuscript before sending it to an editor
*some tools that can help improve your writing
*how Alex suggests you use beta readers, alpha readers or critique groups in the editing process
*how to find an editor if you've never worked with one before
*Alex provides some great tips for editing your own work, and how to test is a new editor is suitable for you
*the importance of making sure you're asking your editor for the right kind of edit for your work
*why people are afraid of editors (and they shouldn't be)
Sarah and Lisa also share their experiences and what they've learned along the way.
To help new indies put out their best work, Sarah & Lisa chat with Ian Andrew (award winning author and founder of Book Reality Academy) about how to format books so they look professional. In this chat they discuss:
*how to make your book look professional
*how to avoid rookie mistakes
*the simple tool that will help you format your book (& other programs that can help you format the book)
*programs that help you create epub and mobi files
*some things to think about when it comes to print formatting (digital, print, hard cover and large print)
*how to avoid weird spacing in your books
*ecourses that teach you how to format your ebook
*winning awards as an indie
It's a lively chat (very lively - as Ian was in Bali while we were recording this episode and there was an earthquake in the middle of our recording).
Last episode Sarah & Lisa chatted about "Putting your best work forward" and so this week they chat with cover designer, and author Angela Stevens about creating good covers. In this chat Angela discusses:
*the different cover options available from self-made to pre-made and custom
*how to choose compatible fonts for your cover
*Angela's tips for author name to title ratio
*the importance of budgeting for a cover and the things to avoid if you are designing your own
*how to avoid the one thing that most says, "I made this cover myself"
*different cover design programs
*different cover dimensions and templates (for digital, print and hardback) and things to be mindful of when approaching your designer
*checklist of information you need before you commission a cover
*comprehensive list of information you need for digital, print and hardback covers (e.g. what information is needed for the front, spine, back and dust cover)
*designing covers in advance and finding a cover model that matches your hero or heroine
*tips for designing covers for books in a series
(it's a really good chat!)
In this episode Sarah & Lisa chat about:
*their struggles with imposter syndrome (self doubt and lack of confidence)
*when you can call yourself an author
*how many achievements you need before you can call yourself an author
*strategies they use to help them feel more comfortable about using the A word
*the importance of putting your best work forward
*making readers upset when you don't put your best work forward, and Sarah's bad cup of coffee analogy
*an update on the words that have been written this week
*a chat about grief, taking time out and writing with friends
As an indie author, writing from home, there are plenty tasks to do, and there are plenty things that can distract you from getting the writing done.In this episode Lisa & Sarah chat about:
*Their main distractions (cleaning, phone calls, coffee dates, researching, TV shows, groups and more) and the strategies they're currently using to minimise them.
*What "the one thing" is, and why your long term writing career is better when you stop waiting for it to happen.
*Holidays to recharge and reduce burnout, and as a source of new story ideas (Lisa chats about her recent holiday to the USA)
*Meeting author buddies in real life (Lisa & Sarah met for the first time)
*Their goals for the next year. (Sarah's got a new method she's been using for the last few weeks and she's got a lot done, and Lisa's got developmental editing notes back from her editor).
In this episode Sarah & Lisa look back on their goals from Episode 1 and share their plans for the next three months.
*new pen names
*how much they'd like to write by the end of the year
*the next 10 episodes of IAD
You need to look after your health if you want to keep writing books. In this episode Lisa and Sarah chat about the things that are important in health:
*getting enough sleep
*tips for getting more exercise
*drinking water (not just coffee or other drinks)
*setting writing time hours
*getting fresh air & sunshine
*keeping mentally strong and setting boundaries
*and the importance of checking in with your doctor
In this episode Lisa & Sarah also update their on their goals from episode 1
Most successful authors will attribute their success to being consistent. In this episode Lisa and Sarah discuss what 'keeping consistent' means to them, and they share the strategies they've used.
*being consistent in appearance (author branding)
*being consistent in actions (e.g. newsletters, social media etc.)
*challenges with changing habits and some strategies to help make it easier to form new habits.
*setting business/ writing hours
*setting goals that are achievable in the time you have, so that it is easier to keep showing up and be more consistent
*reducing barriers to showing up and reducing interruptions and distractions
*having a buddy to help keep you motivated and showing up
Decision fatigue is the reducing ability to make good decisions after you've been making a lot of decisions.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed as an indie author because of the sheer amount of decisions you need to make to put your book into the world.
In this episode Lisa & Sarah look at a detailed list of 60 different decisions indie authors need to make in the following areas when releasing a book and getting started as an indie author:
*writing the book/ story
*everyday writer life
*publishing the book
*creating the book, design, layout and interior
*website decisions (including the pages an author website needs)
*marketing decisions and choosing ad platforms (including releasing the book)
Sarah and Lisa also discuss some strategies to reduce overwhelm and they also share some of the decisions they've made along the way to help reduce decision fatigue and overwhelm in their day-to-day author life.
In this episode Sarah & Lisa review their past book launches.
*what they spent
*what they did to advertise the release of the book at the time including: blog tours, ads, PR campaigns and live events
*how the different launch activity worked
*a chat about why Sarah feels launching is harder now
*why Lisa prefers to think of it as a 'book release' rather than a 'book launch'
*how they've learned to manage their expectations around book launches and the importance of having a budget for launches (especially when things aren't going viral)
Sarah has 14 titles (16 by the end of 2018) across 3 main genres including, plus size rom com, contemporary romance, Christian fantasy and short stories including a romantic thriller).
Lisa has 14 titles in two genres (13 non-fiction cookbooks and 1 contemporary fantasy novella).
It's easy to let costs get out of hand when you're an indie author.
In this episode Sarah & Lisa share:
* Their indie author costs and they compare what they were spending per year when they first began publishing, to what they are spending now.
*How (and why) they reduced their ongoing costs so they could continue writing.
*Why having a budget is important.
*How much they spend on producing and publishing books.
This is a great episode for beginner writers.
In this diary Sarah & Lisa discuss:
*How people have a habit of using clutter to keep them from doing the things they love (e.g. finishing the book)
*Choosing social media platforms and assessing honestly what you can do with the time you have (so you're not trying to do everything)
*Simplifying processes so there's more time for writing and the other things you love
*Talking into the void, and how it's easier to share when you have an engaged audience
*Making changes in business and changing buying behaviour
*Pruning followers, and
*Pen names - the agony and joy of creating a new one
Sarah and Lisa also chat about their progress from last weeks goals, their goals for the new week and what they've been reading through the week.
*Sarah's discusses how many words (and the unexpected place) she was writing to make progress toward her upcoming books Juniper & Aphrodite's Letters.
*Lisa discusses her progress with the Werewolf series and how close she's getting to that first royalty payment.
*They discuss the current view of what it takes to be an indie author (and what it means to your income and health if you're a rebel and don't want to follow that advice).
*They discuss how important it is to know yourself so that you don't create an indie author 'lifestyle' that you dread.
*They discuss the fear of 'being visible' and 'self doubt'.
*They talk about their current favourite TV shows, books they're reading (text and audio) and podcasts they're listening to.
*They discuss their goals (word counts), every day writer tasks, diaries and creating a tally of words written for the year.
This is the first diary entry. Sarah and Lisa chat about:
*what they have done over the last week (and previously) as indie authors
*what their goals are for the next week and next year
*what they have earned/ are currently earning from their books
*what they're reading, watching and listening to at the moment
*their current writing process