Remember how you went from grade school to middle school to high school and then to college? How you started a new job, then moved on to another new job? Starting over is a gift. It’s a new chance to do what you couldn’t before. Maybe you were a big fish, but it was a little pond. 

Time to be a big fish in a big pond.

Your life has prepared you for a career as an author. In this new job, you’ll get to start anew once more. You’ll try to sell that book you’ve written. 

You’ll wonder where to start. It all starts with one. Like everything else you’ve done in life, you make your first acquaintance at the new gig, then you figure things out. The good news is that there are resources to help you. You’ll never truly start at ground zero because the information you need is only a few clicks away, like reading this magazine. If you want to do it trial-and-error style, that’s up to you, but you should treat your baby with a little more respect. Then again, it’s your career, and you are responsible for the direction you take.

What are those first steps? Join a group of kind authors, and see what’s possible. Establish a social media presence where your target readership hangs out: young, old, cryptid, or whomever. You should know where they hang out because you’ve written a book for them. So join, and start the slow procession to being visible. If you shout, “Buy my book,” no one will hear you. If you talk about those things that the group loves, then at some point, potentially months down the road, you can add that you’ve written a book. Maybe ask a few of them to beta read it for you, even if it’s already published. 

Earn your keep by doing favors for others. Then figure out how to market through sales and promotions, all while writing the next book.

As an experienced author, if you change genres, you’ll get to start over, too, but the journey will be nowhere near as trying. You’ll know what you did right the last time, and you’ll know what you did wrong. Practice more of the former, less of the latter, and you’ll keep moving forward.

It starts with a good story and one reader. That will open your world to being a professional author.

Picture of Craig Martelle

Craig Martelle

High school Valedictorian enlists in the Marine Corps under a guaranteed tank contract. An inauspicious start that was quickly superseded by excelling in language study. Contract waived, a year at the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian and off to keep my ears on the big red machine during the Soviet years. Back to DLI for advanced Russian after reenlisting. Deploying. Then getting selected to get a commission. Earned a four-year degree in two years by majoring in Russian Language. It was a cop out, but I wanted to get back to the fleet. One summa cum laude graduation later, that’s where I found myself. My first gig as a second lieutenant was on a general staff. I did well enough that I stayed at that level or higher for the rest of my career, while getting some choice side gigs – UAE, Bahrain, Korea, Russia, and Ukraine. Major Martelle. I retired from the Marines after a couple years at the embassy in Moscow working arms control. The locals called me The German, because of my accent in Russian. That worked for me. It kept me off the radar. Just until it didn’t. Expelled after two years for activities inconsistent with my diplomatic status, I went to Ukraine. Can’t let twenty years of Russian language go to waste. More arms control. More diplomatic stuff. Then 9/11 and off to war. That was enough deployment for me. Then came retirement. Department of Homeland Security was a phenomenally miserable gig. I quit that job quickly enough and went to law school. A second summa cum laude later and I was working for a high-end consulting firm performing business diagnostics, business law, and leadership coaching. More deployments. For the money they paid me, I was good with that. Just until I wasn’t. Then I started writing. You’ll find Easter eggs from my career hidden within all my books. Enjoy the stories.

Start or Join a Conversation About This Article:

When Writing Means Business, Storytellers Read Indie Author Magazine

Read Indie Annie's Latest Advice:

Dear Indie Annie,

I know it’s important to understand who you’re writing and marketing to, but how do I develop my ideal reader avatar? Every time I try, it feels like I’m limiting myself. Needing to Niche Down Dear Niche,  Oh darling, focusing on your target audience feels as frightening as finalizing a paint palette for your parlor. Why choose when there are so many gorgeous colors to pick from? But defining your ideal reader liberates your creativity

Read More »

Dear Indie Annie,

In the past, I’ve hired editors, cover designers, and even a virtual assistant. Passing off those responsibilities makes sense, but internal formatting always seems so straightforward. At what point is it worth investing in professional formatting services? Frugal Formatter Dear Frugal, Oh my, that moniker sounds like you’re an inhabitant of Middle Earth, but I digress. Formatting your own manuscript seems as simple as building a bookcase from IKEA: just insert tab A into slot

Read More »

Dear Indie Annie,

Despite my best marketing efforts, my backlist just isn’t selling. How do I decide whether to go back to the drawing board and refocus the series or cut my losses and unpublish it?  At a Crossroads Dear Crossroads,  I feel your frustration, love. When a backlist underperforms, it’s like owning a vintage auto that sputters more than it purrs. Do you tune it up or trade it in for a new model? Let’s hash out

Read More »

Follow Us

Weekly Tutorial

Sign up for our Newsletter

We’ll send you our best articles, special offers, and industry updates

Would You Like a Free Issue?

Hello! I’m Indie Annie, and I would love to send you a copy of this month’s issue of Indie Author Magazine. Just join our email list and I’ll drop it in your inbox!