Guest blogs and bloggers / writing

What I Learned From My Last Indie Novel

An efriend writer originally published this as a guest post on their blog to help me launch Against All Odds. In case you missed it there, here are my anecdotal thoughts on completing a novel with a few updates:


Let’s be honest. For most of us, completing the writing of our novel isn’t when all the pieces of the book snapped together like a Vulcan Kal-toh puzzle.  I’ve published five novels in the last four years and the only reason I knew I finished was because I was too f*** sick of the story to edit one more line. I didn’t have an agent waiting breathlessly checkbook in hand, ready to start a frenzied bidding war over the power of my prose, smilingly taking over the pedestrian tasks of marketing to free my time for the cerebral act of writing. I did a happy dance, quietly uploaded my baby to Amazon KDP, Tweeted, FB’d, Instagrammed, and Parlered its availability–and then started the next one.

Here’s what I learned from writing my latest non-agented-but-published book:

  • Have you ever met an ex-writer? No? That’s because hope springs eternal.
  • Writing is my life’s circadian rhythm. It’s not driven by light and dark but the world around me.
  • Writing is the greatest show on Earth, isn’t it? I suck it in, shake it up, put it on paper, share my reflections, and repeat.
  • To NOT write a sixth (likely unagented) novel would be as likely as putting toothpaste back in its tube. In fact, I’ve already started. In the Shadows of Giants will hopefully be out Winter 2022.
  • The grass is always greener on the other side of a book. Always.
  • God must love Indie authors because he makes so many of us.
  • I’ve transcended the belief that book sales means authorial success. I now settle for a sense of personal fulfillment and a cup of coffee.

That’s it. You now know everything I’ve learned from writing this book and you didn’t have to spend two years, eleven months, twenty-four days and eight hours in the foxhole learning it. What did you learn from writing your book?

#amwriting #IndieAuthor

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.

89 thoughts on “What I Learned From My Last Indie Novel

  1. I just write for personal pleasure and I never look further than that. I certainly don’t do it for the money! In terms of return on investment I would do far better with an ice cream van at the South Pole. So many of your points resonate, Jacqui. These days, in any three people you choose from the street, at least one will feel they ‘have a book in them’. And they’re entitled.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congrats on writing the end on another manuscript, Jacqui. I think every time I get to the end I I’m just so relieved I managed to do it again because I always wonder if the previous one was a fluke, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “Writing is the greatest show on Earth, isn’t it? I suck it in, shake it up, put it on paper, share my reflections, and repeat.”

    I have been reading Gregory Orr’s “A Primer for Poets and Readers of Poetry.” He makes the case for the poet being able to accept the disorder of the world and then impose a certain order upon it. That sounds like, “Sucking it in, shaking it up, and putting on paper…” It also sounds a lot like God’s activity in Genesis 1, but that’s for a deeper theological conversation hopefully with a dram of scotch ;).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Haha, I love and chuckled at the analogy of putting the toothpaste back in its tube because I tried. Yes, there’s no such thing as the ex-writer. I remember reading the last post from Sue Vincent, several days before she died of cancer. She described being so weak she couldn’t stand up, needed help to go to the bathroom. She kept on writing until the last breath.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Congratulations, Jacqui! I’ve learned pretty much the same things. The single reason I keep going is because I love writing so much. Addiction, maybe? I don’t know, but the fulfillment and my sense of well-being filters onto others, and that alone is worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is gold, Jacqui! I believe writers simply have something to share whether it’s fiction or NF. Everything you shared here is true in my limited experience with self-publishing. I’m just happy to have sold enough of my one book so far to enjoy dinner at Olive Garden, lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. thats what im trying to do, write a novel while dealing with tramatic brain injury. i just got a sears robuck and company typewriter and bought new ribbon for it so i can type more traditionally on paper


  8. I have learned that in order to perfect your craft, like anything. you need to keep doing it. And you definitely need to keep writing. I have learned so much over the years. Being retired, I’m sure my brain would get rusty if I didn’t write my books and all that that entails: research, editing, marketing, writing and more writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Congratulations, Jacqui!

    This made me laugh: “You now know everything I’ve learned from writing this book and you didn’t have to spend two years, eleven months, twenty-four days and eight hours in the foxhole learning it.”

    What have I learned from writing? Sleep is overrated. 🙂

    BTW, I saved this comment you left for me on Facebook: “Each trilogy deals with a critical time in man’s evolution. Dawn of Humanity (Laws of Nature is Book 2 in this trilogy) is when man emerged–1.8 mya. Crossroads is a completed trilogy and deals with the longest lasting species of man (Homo) 850,000 years ago. I have one more planned for a few years from now.”

    Your guidance will give me focus when I start downloading books from my wish list.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I can relate to all the items on your list, Jacqui. And that last one is so important to all authors, not just indies. So few of us will actually be able to pay the bills with our books; we have to do it because we love it. Congrats on the latest and Happy Writing!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Writing a book is not easy. So many things to think about and then there is the publishing side of things. I really like your last point, that book sales do not equate to success. There’s so much to be thought, re-thought, experienced, felt and release through the process of writing a book. I have yet to finish writing my first book. I do hope that as you mentioned, the grass is greener on the other side when the book is done.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really really like your last line: I now settle for a sense of personal fulfillment and a cup of coffee.
    Amen to that. Even with a publisher for my last book: sales are paltry. That’s disappointing, but, if nothing else, I really enjoyed writing it!

    Liked by 2 people

  13. My forty years of business life was making stuff up for companies who needed to be seen. When I retired I want a big goal for my new hobby. At first, the urge to write went into non-fiction self-help books. I have written four and narrated one into an audiobook. Fiction required a commitment and passion to learn how to write a story people would love to read. I took writing classes, hired editors, book cover designers, and marketing professionals. Still learning how to write keeps my mind in wonder. The ‘what if’ takes me to places I never imaged. Writing now is intuitive, I wait for the images and impressions to be released to the page. I understand marketing books today is a big hill to climb and fortunate I can spend my retirement doing what I enjoy. When I meet people it is my husband with a proud smile says, “she is an author”. He and I work together on my books. People look at me in amazement and say, “you wrote this?” I smile and say, “Yes, I hope you enjoy it”. Writing has given me an inside view of how movies are made and how good stories are written. Little steps each day with fun, joy and yes lots of hard work. I am still learning.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I can identify with a lot of this, Jacqui – except for the part where you authored so many books and ,.. and …
    A sense of personal fulfilment and a cup of coffee are sometimes all it takes to feel good and to keep on keeping on.
    Keep on keeping on, Jacqui. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  15. Oh dear, dear Jacqui, I am an ex-writer. I worked hard on it not to wtite, just to relax and break my daily patterns. I read a lot nowadays, just writing some short articles for magazines and papers. I love to write my diary – but just for me. For me it was important to break that pattern of writing every day for hours. I suppose with age we all have to break our old patterns. But for me it was harder not to write than to write. 15 years ago I decided I have to change my life that means to retire and just enjoy life. Then I struggled for about five years with the help of my psychoanalyst to stop writing. Now I feel free and very well and just enjoy life without being ambitious (well, most of the time).
    Wishing you a wonderful weekend
    Klausbernd 🙂
    By the way, I know several writers who retired and stopped writing. I suppose it’s important not to idealize writing, it’s a job like every job. But if you write not professionally as a hobby you will go on for ever. A hobby is something you need in old age.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Interesting comment, Klausbernd. I know I get hyper and nervous when I don’t write but I hadn’t thought of it to the extreme you experienced. I actually had no problem not writing for five days while visiting my sister. Her world is very nature-oriented, as is yours.

      Your blog posts are wonderful. I hope you never quit those.

      Liked by 1 person

      • For about 40 years I was always writing, dear Jacqui, writing wherever I was or dictating for my secretary. Of course, that made me run into problems with partners. They were jealous of my writing. I only had contacts with women living similar than I did, high powered managers, scientist, politicians and celebrities. Other women couldn’t stand me and my lifestyle. Nevetheless, I was happy with this lifestyle. Then I retired and now I am happy with living nature-orientated and relaxed and most of the time doing nothing important.
        I suppose, we will not stop blogging in the near future. It’s fun and Dina and I and our beloved Bookfayries love producing something together. It’s part of our relationship. And we are VERY happy that you like our posts. Thank you very much.
        We love to visit your blog and to read about your experiences as a writer in the world of self-publishing. It’s great to feel your enthusiasm.
        We hope you’ll go on writing and meta-writing
        The Fab Four of Cley
        🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

  16. I agree with you Jacqui, that people who love to write will do it regardless of all obstacles in their paths. I think for me, my greatest recent learning is that the path to publication is fraught with issues and there is no easy way. I think I may have to accept that books listed on Lulu may never again be listed on Amazon as ebooks. I am deciding how to deal with that knowledge going forward. The writing and the editing are the easy part for me, even marketing is fine, but dealing with Amazon as a South African is very difficult indeed.

    Liked by 6 people

    • I didn’t know that–that a listing on LuLu precludes a listing on Amazon. Yikes! I read somewhere that 70% of digital books are sold on Amazon. I’m not an Amazon fan but have come to terms with that because I must.


  17. With you all the way, Jacqui 🙂 I can’t imagine NOT writing now. I’m happy to be an indie author with modest sales and I’m not sure I would want the pressure of an agent breathing down my neck, although a fat cheque or two would be nice. Pleasure comes from sharing my novels with any reader who stumbles upon them and, as you say, a sense of personal fulfilment.
    Now, on with novel number five…

    Liked by 4 people

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