C.F.E. Black is a successful indie author from Alabama who writes fantasy about young characters doing heroic things in worlds that are both familiar and fantastical. She has already published four books, including a popular series Scepter and Crown. Her stories have a bit of both romance and mystery, touch the theme of identity, and aim to shine light into every reader’s life.
How do you succeed in a competitive self-pub industry and win the hearts of readers if you always thought you’d be a traditionally published author? Read the story of C.F.E. Black.
If someone told C.F.E. Black ten years ago that she will be a self-pub author, she would have laughed out loud because ten years ago, she was determined to be a successful traditionally published author. She even told herself the fateful words, “I’ll never self-publish.” But you know, never say never!
Interestingly enough, it was exactly traditional publishing that pushed C. F. E. Black toward self-pub. Her debut novel came out with a small press in 2019, and her experience with that publisher was so awful that she started learning everything she could about indie publishing.
The lack of control that comes with traditional publishing was not for C. F. E. Black. She knew she could do a better job publishing on her own than with a small press. And now she’s so glad she made that choice.
Still, mastering self-pub was not as simple as it seemed. For C. F. E. Black, jumping into indie publishing was like diving into the sea with a weighted vest before you know how to swim. It felt like drowning.
The mindset was also not quite right. There was so much to learn, and C. F. E. Black used to be a perfectionist, so she couldn’t stand the idea of trying something without being good at it. She had to shift her mindset away from perfectionism toward always-improving-ism. C. F. E. Black knew she couldn’t pull off a perfect book or a perfect book launch with her first effort. That’s why she decided to be okay with that, knowing that she would get better with each new story she wrote and released.
Even now, as she’s working on her fourth indie book, she takes one piece of the indie author puzzle at a time and tries to improve in that one area before moving on to another. “We can’t wait until we’re a master at everything, or we’ll never start” – that’s C.F.E. Black’s motto now.
Despite all the challenges at the start of her writing career, C.F.E. Black had an unusual motivation for writing her first book. She’d always wanted to be a published author, and then one year, she almost died. She knows that she should have died, based on the severity of the condition she developed, but she didn’t. God spared her. So C.F.E. Black used that as motivation to accomplish her dream and publish a book. She never really wanted to give up.
But, of course, there have been times she despaired of ever being “good enough.” Every author feels that way, right? Just knowing that she was not alone in that feeling was enough to help her get through it. She tells herself she’ll just keep improving, and that really helps.
Years in self-pub taught C.F.E. Black that to succeed you must:
- be flexible
- be resilient
- be consistent.
And never forget about marketing! C.F.E Black believes that the best marketing strategy for any new indie author is simply writing. That sounds too simple, but it’s true. New authors need more products to market and sell, and the only way to do that is to write more.
Aside from writing, C.F.E. Black enjoys using newsletters and email marketing to grow the audience. She likes finding readers to sign up for her newsletter, has fun writing emails to them, and constantly learns more about how to optimize automations and drive engagement.
In fact, email has given the most return for her time and money. So that’s where she tells all new authors to focus.
Now C.F.E. Black writes while her children are napping, which means sometimes she doesn’t write at all. She has young boys, and to squeeze in writing time takes discipline and determination, especially when some days she’d rather nap!
C.F.E. Black tries to keep to a schedule, and she always sets deadlines. She is certain that indie authors have to learn to do that, but she also doesn’t let a strict schedule bother her if the mom duties keep her from writing for a few days. “It happens,” she says, and mom life is the priority for C.F.E Black. And here are the tools that help her always meet all her self-pub goals:
- Bookfunnel! C.F.E. Black swears she couldn’t do this author thing without it.
- Canva. She uses it for all her graphics.
- MailerLite (or any email service provider). It’s a must when running a business.
Even though C.F.E. Black had to go a long way to find herself in self-publishing, she admits that neither she nor her family and close ones were surprised that she has become an indie author. C.F.E. Black started writing stories basically when she learned to write and thus everyone knew she was obsessed with writing. If you also can’t live a day without creating stories and twisted plots, here’s what C. F. E. Black recommends to all aspiring indie authors who only start their path and struggle with doubts and fears:
- First, remember, self-publishing SO worth it. There’s a fear for authors starting out that they have to choose between trad and indie publishing, and once they choose, there’s no going back. If trad publishing is your dream, go for it! Don’t give up. But if you’re worried that indie publishing is too hard or too risky or too (fill in the blank), just know that it is so much more fun than you could ever imagine. You won’t regret it!
- Second, although self-pub is fun, it is also a TON of work. To really succeed as an indie author, you’ve got to love the hustle. I would say any author, traditionally published or indie, will need to hustle to be successful, but in the indie realm, everything is up to you. You’ve got to be okay with that. Let it motivate you rather than frighten you, and know that you will make mistakes. It will be okay.
- Third, find someone to ask your questions to. Make author friends on social media. Join author Facebook groups. Have a place to go or a person to call when you have that burning question at midnight the night you plan to hit “publish.” You will need it. Google and YouTube are great, but a person is way better.
For C. F. E. Black, being an indie author means having an opportunity to create freely and belong to an amazing community of readers and fellow writers. It satisfies her need for continual learning and facilitates her lifelong dream of publishing her books.
If you also have that unbreakable desire to tell stories, meet new people, hustle, and improve every day, then the path of an indie author is calling you, will answer it?