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April 24, 2015
By Drucilla Shultz
Indie author Michael Hurley urges self-publishers to focus on their craft and do their homework.

With over a decade of self-publishing experience, Michael Hurley refers to the old days—he first went indie back in 2004 with the nonfiction title Letters from the Woods—as “the Stone Age.” The self-publishing landscape was very different then—and it was far riskier for authors. But with advances in print-on-demand technology and the rise of social media, self-publishing has evolved into a more stable venture.

Now a hybrid author, Hurley published his memoir, Once Upon a Gypsy Moon, with Hachette in 2013. But the book didn’t sell well: “I was devastated, not so much for myself but for [my editor] and his staff, who had believed in the book so strongly. To their credit, they never expressed the first word of regret to me.”

But, that same year, Hurley also self-published The Prodigal, and since then, he’s stuck with the indie route—which seems to be working for him. Publishers Weekly called his most recent work, The Vineyard, “a riveting tale with complex characters.”       

Drawing on his years of self-publishing experience, Hurley offered some tips for up-and-coming self-published authors:

Your Books Are Your Legacy

"The books you write, not your brand, will be your legacy long after you’re gone."
“Many authors today are overly focused on developing a ‘brand’ and writing within the narrow confines of that brand. My advice is to create great, memorable books populated by meaningful characters and writing that will withstand the test of time. The books you write, not your brand, will be your legacy long after you’re gone. Make them stand for something.”

Write More, Promote Less

“Marketing and promotion is the tail wagging the dog for self-published authors. It’s fun to sell books, and the more the better, but never forget you’re an artist and not a widget factory. Spend 90 percent of your time writing your next great book and only 10 percent of your time blogging, marketing, and crowing about your last great book.”

Do Your Homework

“Be careful about buying from author services companies and blog tour operators. Each year it gets harder to break through the noise in the marketplace, so it’s tempting to hand a check to someone who promises to do that for you. The sad reality is that many of these companies are making more money from authors than the authors will ever make from their services. Where Writers Win is an excellent resource to find author services that have been vetted by people who know the industry.”

 

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