Monday I met with authors Betsy Streeter and Jeanne Gassman about the benefits and challenges of independent publishing. One of the things that came up over and over again was that Indies do all the things.
We have to be experts in everything. If we’re not an expert in it, we know enough to know someone else is. We write, proof, edit, graphic design, format, and promote. Sometimes we do it all at once.
Indies become experts because we have to, but how does it happen? What exactly is the process from novice to expert?
The Abbreviated Expert Process
Decide you need to become an expert.
Research: read, network, watch, and take classes.
Do the thing.
Do the thing better.
The Expert Process Explained
You cannot become an expert in something if you do not decide first to be one. In short, you need to focus your energy and effort on that topic or skill. For example, for five years I focused on writing and publishing. I read a little about other things, but for the most part, my energy and effort was on production rather than connecting or even serving my readers.
As a result, I produced a lot of work, but there was a serious disconnect between my work and readers.
Moving forward, I know serving and connecting with my readers is THE SINGLE MOST important thing to me. As such, I moved to step two in this process.
If you want to be an expert, you really must invest time and resources into your education. I don’t mean you need to go to college for a degree in marketing, rather you need to spend some time every single day on the skill or knowledge you want to develop.
Last week I think I took five classes and read three times as many articles on the subject. Yesterday alone, I took a class, read about 10 articles, and spent two hours sifting through websites and databases. Everyone can’t spend that much time on developing things, but when you can, you really should.
Once you’ve done some serious research, you need to take action. You can research all you like, but if you don’t take action, it’s just theory.
So you do it. Maybe it’s great, but you know it could be better. Maybe it’s a flop. Whatever the case, you adjust until the thing is how you think it should be. You do it again, hopefully better.
You repeat this process until you’ve figured out the magic formula for that particular skill set.
The most valuable key to this process is: DO NOT under any circumstances BEAT YOURSELF UP. This goes for any and all learning experiences. FORGIVE YOURSELF. Go easy. It’s all right. The world will not end because you discovered a missing punctuation mark. Keep pushing. Keep striving. Keep doing.
After all, that’s how you become an expert, and you did decide to be one of those.
How is your process going? Are you an expert yet? Do you know? If you have some writing and publishing expertise you want to develop, check out The Essential Author Log here.
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