This is not me launching away from the starter platform of indie publishing to join the stellar ranks of the Traditionally Published. That imagery is kind of reductive and more than a little outdated when you consider the labyrinthine reality of the writer’s career path in the internet age. But I am going to be published. I will be represented by a publisher.

Cynicism is easy, after all, and nothing worthwhile ever came from anything easy. Cynicism is easy, but a novelist must be sincere.

Writers talk to their fans a lot these days, but, just as interestingly, writers talk a lot more to other writers. Team-ups, anthologies, collaborations and the like are inevitable, and while this is potentially great news for the reader, it’s also a sea worth sailing for any adventuring wordsmith out there.

Humanity likes to puff out its chest and talk about final frontiers, but the fact is the vast majority of us have barely explored the unknown reaches of people a few hours away, let alone outer space.

Many of you have no doubt found yourselves attached to like-minded writers, and maybe even found yourselves writing under a banner, rather than as a lone wolf. I myself have done this a couple of times, and I’d like to share with you my experiences, so that I can help you decide wether you’re a dangerous maverick renegade, or belong on a team of dangerous maverick renegades.

Anyone can write if they put the hard work and dedication in, even those idiots who stand around prattling about wishing and luck. Talent is just following through on a decision to be good at something. Right?

Every Indie Writer is different, but the successful ones all have certain things in common that we can all learn from. I present to you the Seven Vital Virtues of Successful Indie Writers.

The symptoms of shyness and social anxiety are often born of being a perennial outsider, and this can be very useful indeed to a writer. In a sense, us writers report the news, we don’t make it. Standing on the side lines can sometimes give you a better view of the game. However, I worry that normalising the “LOL introvert!” trope is something of a crutch, the same way that when I joke about my weight, I worry I might be making excuses as to why I drove past my gym last night because I saw an ice cream van.

To be clear, I’m not paranoid. I’m not an ageing comedian baffled at college kids (yet.) I’m not going to use the term SJW (except for just then, obviously.) I am not gunning for political correctness. What I am talking about are people, on all sides of the political spectrum, who isolate a phrase or word from its context to make a judgement on a work as a whole, or the character of the author as a whole.

I’m talking of course about your New Years Resolutions. Other, lesser mortals may have made promises about gym memberships, healthy eating, and to stop having faith that The Walking Dead will become interesting again. Not you, though, because you’re a writer. You promised loudly that you were going to write the ever loving crap out of 2017.

What makes a REAL writer? A lot of people seem to think they know the answer, but is it even a question that can be answered? Or should be?

And yet, and yet, they spit on us still, those high fallutin’ types. Those snobs who snatch only the best of what we love, and call us sad for having loved it. Those trend watchers who invented the YA genre so they wouldn’t have to admit they liked kid’s books. Those phonies who’ll shun the time traveller, but gush over The Time Traveller’s Wife.

I’m going to talk to you about keeping motivated in writing. I feel I am qualified to do this, as I have put off starting this article until just now, three days before my dead line. I am no stranger to procrastination, demotivation, temporization, or indeed any other kind of ation. Yes, especially that one.

Brand might seem like a word a marketing executive says before she eats a live baby or however it is they work their terrible magics, but if you’re an author and you’re shilling your books then you have a brand whether you realise it or not. Social media is your platform, how you behave on social media, how you are perceived on social media, is your brand.

While the big time players are charging rhinos, we Indies are rabbits— we’re small, we’re fast and we’re constantly reproducing. We can whip up a transgender vampire litRPG before a bunch of marketing executives can discover whether kids are still saying ’On Fleek’ or not. (They’re not.)

Be careful with your politics, because pretty soon you’ve got preachy prose and two-dimensional characters. Clever satire becomes bitter sarcasm. The warm handshake of wit becomes the finger wag of admonishment. Worst of all, it’s a one way ticket to a derailed plot.