There seems to be a misunderstanding about what working from home is really like. A lot of my friends keep commenting how lucky I am to be able to do that, and that they’d love to swap places with me. Even my family is convinced I get up whenever I want, take my time having three coffees and slowly wake up before I sit down, slap a few words on paper, and the money rolls in. They are wrong.
Okay, so here’s the thing: Yes, I do feel really lucky to be able to write full time, but let me tell you, it’s not the life people seem to think it is. Of course there are perks. I travel regularly for inspiration as I write travel romance, and I get to be my own boss, but I make long days and I work really hard, six days a week. I don’t mind working hard because I love what I do, but I thought I’d share a typical day in my life for those who are curious about what being a full-time indie-author really entails.
05:45 Today I’m getting up really early as I’m driving my wife to work. I’m an early riser anyway, but four times a week I’ll take her to her early shift at the local hospital. If I drive her to a later shift, I’ll take the dogs with me and take them to the park right after.
06:45 I sit down at the kitchen table – we have an office but it’s never been used as such and is currently serving as our cat Tittie’s private bedroom – and check my emails and social media channels over my first coffee. I aim to always answer everyone personally, which sometimes takes a bit of time, but I actually really like interacting with readers. I also check for new reviews because it’s essential to me to know what people think of my books. Luckily, I have pretty thick skin so negative reviews don’t affect me very much. If they’re non-informative, I just shake them off and if they contain constructive criticism, I’ll keep it in mind for future books. Thankfully, they’re usually positive.
07:30 Eastern Nights is currently being turned into an audiobook and I have to approve the last 12 chapters. Addison Barnes is an amazing narrator, so it’s a pleasure listening to her. It’s still always strange to hear your own work being read out loud though.
08:45 Another coffee while I create my audiobook cover as I’m unable to approve the book without the cover being uploaded first. This is a fairly small job because the paperback and Kindle covers are already done. I use Illustrator and Photoshop for my covers and do all the graphic design work myself, but I’m considering using freelancers in the future as the whole process (Kindle, audio, paperback, social media banners, post images, website banner etc) takes up a lot of my time, which means less time for writing.
09:30 My cover is done, and the audiobook approved for retail (Amazon, Audible and iTunes) so I start reviewing my WIP. Usually my wife proofreads chapters right after I’ve written them. I’m looking at four chapters she read last night and re-work some of the dialogue over breakfast.
11:00 Onto writing now. I tend to check into a Facebook group with fellow authors where we talk about our plans for the day and set a daily target. Unless I’m planning on meeting friends or running errands, my target is 2000 words a day. Anything more is a bonus, but I do try to stick to this minimum wordcount. I’m not a slow writer but I’m not a very fast one either. I don’t plot because it just doesn’t work for me, so sometimes I have to delete quite a lot and re-write it if I change direction. This is probably the most painful part of the process.
My current WIP is titled Living and tells the story of Ella, a Hollywood actress who is in a very bad place after losing her twin sister. When she decides to end her life and walks into the ocean one night, she’s dragged out by Cam, a yoga teacher who lives on the beach. Depression is a difficult topic to write about, but as always, my emphasis is on the romance aspect of the story, so I aim for the novel to be hopeful and uplifting. The backdrop is LA and there are a couple of chapters situated in Palm Springs. I usually travel to where my book is set and start writing there but as I’m already going to Pittsburgh for the GCLS conference this year, I’ve decided to skip LA. In my last two jobs I spent quite a bit of time in LA, so I feel I know the city well enough to immerse my readers in it. I’m currently 74000 words into Living and am planning to release it by the end of July, unless my editor has other ideas :).
I don’t have lunch as such because I don’t really stick to mealtimes, unless I feel like cooking (which I love but it takes time) so I mostly tend to snack throughout the day, and that’s not always a good thing when you’re working from home (and in the kitchen)!
16:00 Around this time the dogs will start staring at me pointedly because it’s their self-allocated time for the big walkies (they get a short one in the morning too if it isn’t raining). The kitchen door is always open unless it’s freezing so they can go in and out the garden whenever they want. El Comandante tore a ligament while humping a rottweiler a while back and he’s still not fully recovered so we can’t go too far. Nottingham is a great place for dog walking and there are lots of nice parks with friendly dogs. Since I’ve basically been sitting on my ass all day, the walk is good for me too. I didn’t have my phone with me today, but here are the pooches:
17:00 My wife is home and has brought a chicken for the dogs and the cats (bought not hunted, although we think they’re convinced that is what she does all day). It goes in the oven to roast and we catch up over a coffee.
18:00 I check my campaigns. These are mostly Amazon marketing campaigns but can also include Google or websites that market my books. Amazon gives live feedback which is great because you can adjust your budget accordingly. I’m currently working on trialling banners in India on a couple of popular websites. Marketing is expensive, whether it’s online or in magazines, so I set a percentage of my monthly royalties aside for this. If people don’t know you exist, they won’t read your books. Self-publishing is like running a company where you get to do all the jobs yourself. Apart from writing, you need to think about graphic design and house style, formatting, printing, distribution, editors, proof readers, beta readers, arc readers, narrators, producers, marketing, events, social media, planning, finance and I’ve just added translation to the list as I’m going to have my first book translated into Spanish! This is very exciting, and I’ll share more about this once I’ve ironed out the details. Languages on my wish-list are Spanish, French and Hindi to start with, but it’s a slow process involving a lot of investment.
19:00 I enjoy my wife’s homemade chilli while I order paperbacks to bring to the GCLS conference in two and a half weeks. My book Fireflies has been nominated for a Goldie in the Contemporary Romance Long category, so I decided to attend this year. I’m going by myself as my wife has to work, and I’m really excited to meet some of the American authors and readers. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, so if anyone has tips on what to see and where to go, let me know :). The UK author community is quite tight-knit, and I know a lot of the lesfic authors here, but I haven’t met any of my overseas colleagues yet.
20:00 One last hour of writing with a G&T before I call it a day. I’m writing my last sex scene of the book and writing steamy scenes is always easier at night with an alcoholic beverage! I’m on 2500 words for today, which I’m happy with.
21:30 Netflix in bed with my wife (actual Netflix lol), currently binge-watching Good Girls, alternating with my wife’s beloved Korean horrors.
8 thoughts on “A day in the life of an indie author”
Okay, I’m just going to say that your indie day looks far more glamorous than my indie day (much of which is spent letting the cats in and out as they demand) and unfortunately never ends with someone fixing me dinner and me drinking a G&T as I finish up the writing…I’ll need to remedy that. I find the hardest part of working from home is convincing everyone you really are working.
True. Convincing people you’re working is hard. And I feel you with the cat thing. Luckily we have a garden so I can leave the door open in summer because they drive me crazy otherwise. It’s unbelievable how much noise such tiny creatures can make when they partner up to get your attention 🙂
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And why can’t they coordinate their desires to go in and out? Oh well, I guess that gets me away from the computer for a few seconds….every five minutes or so 🙄
This is a great share, Lise. I’ve been a full-time freelancer for more than 10 years, and it never ceases to amaze me when certain people comment on my lifestyle… as if I were just hanging out at home, doing nothing all day but counting money in my PJs. Now I’m attempting to publish a series of books, and they assume it’s because I have nothing but free time to do whatever I want. Ah, well. Thanks again for your post. By the way, I’m also a huge fan of home-made chili.
What a busy day.
I would love to taste that drink in your hand, looks fantastic.
I have recently given up teaching for a year out to give attention to my writing dreams and have been so surprised by people’s reactions. Most people are great about it, but people have told me ‘if it’s a hobby it can’t be work’, ‘you are so lucky getting to do whatever you want every day’ and people always, always ask about what I earn. I put in so much time to this that it’s hard not to feel a little insulted, but I’ve realised that I know how hard I work and that’s all that matters
Haha… more like every few seconds 🙂