Emma K. C. Couette is a Canadian indie author of YA dystopian novels Silent Night, Sacred Ruse, and Solemn Vow, and YA fantasy novel, Summer’s Revenge. Her next book, a collection of short stories Assassins Below, is coming this year, but, of course, Emma doesn’t plan to stop here.
What does it take to figure out all the nuances of self-publishing and become a popular indie author? Read the success story of Emma Couette.
Emma was always coming up with stories as a kid, so no one was truly surprised that she decided to become a writer. She always knew she wanted to write books, but when Emma was starting her first draft at the age of 13 she didn’t know if self-pub would be a career yet. She didn’t even know self-publishing was an option until a few years later. In fact, Emma wanted to be a teacher for a very long time, but in high school, her author dreams started taking off. So when she told her family that she was planning to self-publish her first book, her close ones weren’t ready for the news because they always knew her only as a reader.
The start of an indie author career was quite challenging since Emma had almost no experience in self-publishing. She encountered a lot of technical issues with the print-on-demand companies when she started, and that took her weeks to fix. Now the same issues take her a couple of hours at most. Emma admits that it’s essential to be patient and gracious with yourself when you start something new and to reach out to fellow authors when you need help.
Writing was also not as easy as it seemed. The first book Emma wrote ended up being the 4th book she published because it needed a ton of work. Over the eight years of endless revisions, she considered giving it up multiple times. Emma was so worried the story would never be good enough, but part of her just couldn’t give up on it. She loved the characters and the fiction world too much to let it sit on her computer for the rest of the time, so while it was slow going, she kept working on it until she had a book she was proud to share with readers.
The most important thing Emma learned during her indie author career is to give herself much more time than she thinks she’ll need for any given task, whether that’s formatting or editing, or anything else. Now she knows that something is always bound to go wrong, but if you have ample time to fix it, you can focus on that instead of stressing out about your preorder deadline. “The last thing you want to do is have to push back your release date, so give yourself extra time” – that’s her #1 work rule.
Even though Emma doesn’t have an everyday writing routine since she still has a day job which makes a schedule quite hard, she has a habit of writing in the evenings after 6 PM at her desk, with music in the background. Her go-to playlist for any project I’d Skyrim Rainy Nights always gets her right in the writing zone.
And these tools make Emma’s work simpler and much easier:
- Google – for the most of work, from making spreadsheets to track writing tasks, to forms for giveaways and ARC reviewers, to sharing early drafts with beta readers;
- Draft2Digital – for publishing ebooks outside of Amazon and sending out ARCs;
- Canva and Book Brush – for social media graphics.
Building an author platform is essential for success, so Emma’s main marketing home is Instagram. She admits that sincerity, openness, and honesty are key to winning audiences: engagement skyrockets when she shares real insights into her characters or story world and when she interacts with her readers on a regular basis. For Emma, marketing is all about connecting with people.
Before starting a career as an indie author, Emma did a lot of research and explored the journeys of other indie authors before deciding to become a self-pub writer herself, but the biggest factor that convinced her to go indie was control. She loves working on her own timeline and having the final say in everything. She wants to choose the title, the cover, and how the book is written. Additionally, traditional publishing takes a lot of time. Emma might not have released her debut for years if she’d gone that route. So she has never doubted her choice to become an indie author.
Here’s what Emma would advise to all aspiring writers who only start their career in self-pub and have doubts and fears:
- Do your research. Talk to other authors, watch YouTube videos, and read articles. Make sure this path is right for you and you understand what it’s going to take.
- Start saving money now because it’s so important to invest in yourself and your art. You don’t need heaps of money, but editors and cover design are so important.
- Start talking about your book long before you’re ready to publish. This will make marketing easier when the time comes because people will already know about the book.
For Emma, being an indie author means the freedom to tell her stories in the way that she thinks is best because it’s so amazing to live a creative life. Even on the bad days, she knows it’s worth it.
If you are also a creative who cannot imagine life without art and freedom, then it’s time to join so many amazing people on the challenging but so rewarding path of a self-pub author.