Shanti Hershenson is one of the youngest indie authors who has published more than 10 books by the age of 14. Shanti produced her first two novellas when she was in the sixth grade, and now she’s one of the top indie authors who write for the young adult audience.
How did a teenage girl with a bunch of ideas and no experience in the publishing business become a successful indie author? Read the story of Shanti Hershenson.
How did the career of Shanti Hershenson begin?
If someone told Shanti ten years ago that she would become an author, she would be ecstatic. Mostly because ten years ago she would’ve been just four years old, but it was exactly the age when she realized that her only dream is to become an author. Of course, at that point, she had no idea how the publishing industry worked or what self-publishing even was. However, Shanti is certain that she would’ve been beyond surprised and beyond excited for the future.
A career as an indie author was a surprise not only for Shanti but also for her parents. She started out when she published her first book at twelve years. The start was not as smooth as one would expect. In the beginning, Shanti’s key challenge was the writing itself. She had never written a book before – she had tried, of course, and had failed each day. Coming up with a schedule was something she was never really good at, and figuring out how much to write and when to write it was even harder. But once she realized she could knock out 1000 words each day by writing for a mere hour – or less, as time went on, things improved and her writing journey took off.
When Shanti only started her path as an indie author, she had a lot of moments when she thought of giving up the idea of publishing a book. In the earlier days, she would just sit and stare at her computer screen while Star Wars played in the background. She would write a sentence, stop, and promise herself the next day that she would do more. And this routine went on for weeks. There were moments during this time when she felt so unmotivated she wanted to give up. In the end, Shanti found motivation in the improbable, in her largest dreams. The idea of the book being a bestseller, the idea of there being a film adaptation, of casting actors, of doing book signings, of meeting readers and influencing people with her work – all of this kept her going day after day.
What Shanti has learned over the years in writing is that with each book, everything improves. With each book, your readership will increase and your sales will peak. With each book, your writing will grow richer and your storytelling will become greater. Your debut novel will be the furthest thing from your best, but you will improve again and again until you have mastered your work.
Tools Shanti uses for writing and publishing
Today, Shanti is a successful indie author with a dozen of published books and a big loyal readership. And if you ask her what is the best approach to marketing, she’d say it’s TikTok. Before she created a TikTok account for her writing, Shanti’s platform was limited solely to Instagram, which felt incredibly hard to market on. She posts videos nearly every day now – usually about her life, writing tips, or general posts about her books – and has amassed over 25,000 followers in doing so. That’s why it’s important not to be afraid of changes and try something new. And here are the key tools Shanti uses for writing and publishing:
- Reedsy – to write and edit books. The website tracks how many words Shanti has written each day, and allows her to set goals to help challenge herself and keep her on track.
- Vellum – to format books for both print and eBook. The software has tons of different formatting options and print options to make the book look absolutely beautiful.
- FreeBooksy/BargainBooksy – to market books, specifically new releases, to get novels in the hands of readers and of course, to get more reviews. Shanti has sold so many books with these platforms and will continue to use them both.
Now Shanti writes when she feels like it and that’s almost every day. Usually, she works in the afternoon, accompanied by music from a playlist created specifically for the book she is currently writing, and will not stop until she has written 500 words. Then, she would take a break, and later on, in the day, she would write another 500 words or perhaps even more if she wants to. Usually, she tries to write no less than 1000 words every day. If you asked her what’s the key to success, she’d say it’s discipline.
Tips for indie authors who want to succeed in self-publishing
Here’s what Shanti would advise to everyone who wants to start a career in self-pub and get successful:
- Write the same amount each day, whether it’s 500, 1000, or 3000 words. Building a habit, particularly by writing the same amount, is incredible. It will also get your book done much quicker.
- Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid. “I hear it far too often that someone is afraid to publish, afraid of reviews, afraid of failure,” says Shanti. And the key is not to be afraid. With each book you write and publish, you improve in more ways than just your quality of work. There is always room and always time to improve, no matter how old or young you are.
- Begin your marketing early on. As soon as you know for sure that you’re going to publish your book, get your voice out there. Post on Instagram. Make TikToks. Get character artwork. Start making plans. It is never in a million years too early to market.
For Shanti, being an indie author means freedom. She can make the decisions she wants in terms of what occurs in her story, the cover design, the marketing, and everything else. She enjoys working on every aspect of her indie author career by herself because she is always learning so much about the publishing industry each day. For Shanti, self-pub is a great project-based learning experience – more than the school can offer.
So if you’re ready to work hard every day, learn, and improve to achieve your dream and become the next great indie author, it’s time to join. You’ll be in the company of the best.