Key take-aways from SAIR this weekend

This weekend I attended the SA Indies Rock (SAIR) book festival, which I wrote about and was quite keen for. I quite enjoyed it.

SAIR is about indie authors. It’s the first time I’ve seen something that’s purely about indies, which was really cool. It was great meeting new people who do what I do – and completely understand the challenges! Here are the key take-aways from the event for me, which are relevant for any writer in South Africa.

1. You can do this thing

After meeting several authors and publishers at the event, who have been quite successful (a relative term, I admit, but we’ll explore that in more detail below) I was left thinking: Well, I really can do this. And I don’t have to do it alone anymore. There’s something about being around pros in the field that rubs off on you. Overall, I was left encouraged.

But I was also left challenged. Authors need to support each other in this country. We can’t complain that readers don’t support us as much as they actually could if we’re not even keen to support each other! A vibe around local authors starts with the authors themselves.

2. It’s not about the money

This came up again and again, but there needs to be clarity as to what this means. When people say, “Don’t get into this writing thing if you’re keen to make money,” I suspect they mean that you generally won’t make tons and tons of money. Well, making tons of money is different to making a sensible living. This isn’t mentioned often enough when this discussion comes up, even on blogs and so forth. One is generally left with the impression that anyone can make some serious cash in this business (usually you see lots of that on the Internet) or that one is going to live their life in the gutter forever (so you should only ‘write for love’). I don’t think either of these are true, generally speaking.

I’m not really about making tons of money, but I am keen to make a sensible living, and after this weekend I’m sure one can, especially after asking Rachel Morgan, (Creepy Hollow, Trouble series) an author who manages her entire writing business from end to end, how things are looking financially for her. Writing your own books for a living is a long-term career plan. It doesn’t happen over night. I’m convinced that it takes persistence and growth and a sensible goal, not a goal with shining lights and money like dust. When we have a sensible goal we can enjoy a sensible living, and have a real career in writing.

3. We’re on the cusp of something new

I enjoyed David Robbins‘ opinion on the future of publishing. Robbins is a veteran in this field, and hearing him speak of how excited he is about the opportunities writers have today with self-publishing and Kindle and the printing opportunities and social media, etc., was very encouraging. That – coupled with the success of Carlyle Labuschagne and a discussion with traditionally published (and very successful) author, Gareth Crocker (Journey from Darkness, King) – left me very amped.

4. Get on Kindle

I took my books off Amazon for a while as there was an issue with the royalties (South Africans could only get 30% royalties). I figured, after Paypal fees and FNB fees, I was really getting nothing, and it was better selling directly from my website. But David Henderson of showed me where I was going wrong on the platform, and I’ve set it up and now get the proper 70 percent royalties. Stoked about that. Check out Henderson’s post: South African Authors – Should we give a damn about self-publishing on

Thanks to Carlyle and the organisers. Looking forward to it being even better and bigger next year!

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6 thoughts on “Key take-aways from SAIR this weekend”

  1. Great inside peek. I’m mentoring a writer and need to learn all I can. It’s early days (she’s 10), but she already has the voice and discipline.

    I can’t see her being ‘unsuccessful’

    1. Support her as much as you can 🙂 If I only knew when I was that young that it was possible to do what I do today I would have made some very different decisions when I was younger. So good job! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the mention! One can definitely make a sensible living with self-publishing with, as you say, persistence and long-term goals. It’s exciting that this is happening for more an more people!

    The fantastic thing about Amazon (among many things) is that as of late last year, they no longer require an ITIN (an international tax number with the IRS), which means they no longer withhold 30%. I went through the mission of getting one three years ago, and it was worth it, but it’s great that new authors going into self-publishing now don’t need one.

    1. Thanks Rachel! I remember finding that IRS process daunting and gave up. So much easier now – I was set up within a matter of minutes. Really inspired by what you’re doing.

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