Writing a book about living with areata—a condition in which the immune system attacks hair follicles, leading to baldness—was a way for Deeann Callis Graham to “find some peace with what was happening to [her] physically and emotionally.” The book, Head-On, was praised by Publishers Weekly as “heartwarming” and “a powerful compilation of profiles with a sincere and encouraging message.”

Before self-publishing Head-On, Graham went to writing workshops, met other indie authors, and read widely about publishing. Although she was ready to tackle the writing and design of the book, she was caught off-guard by the demands of marketing. “Marketing is a long and arduous process that I wish I would have known more about in the beginning…Most of the marketing I do is within the alopecia areata community. My biggest surprise has been the challenge of reaching that niche audience. I thought it would be easier.”

Graham attributes her self-publishing success in part to joining a local writing group. “Our group of seven are personally invested in our individual and shared successes, and we inspire each other to reach our writing and marketing goals,” she says. Graham is currently working on a children’s book as well as a follow up to Head-On focusing on men and boys.

We asked Graham what tips she had for other indie authors.

Talk to Other Authors

“Go to local writers’ groups in your community to see what people are writing and how they published. Gain insight from your writing peers. Being part of the local writing community is a huge piece of marketing. After years of taking advantage of the great workshops offered at the local writers’ league, I finally jumped on board as a member to have a bigger impact in my own writing and to help other writers achieve their publishing goals. These workshops bring in seasoned writers, book publishers, agents, radio show hosts, and more.”

You Don’t Have to Be Rich

“You can do this on a small budget. Don’t feel as if self-publishing is out of reach because of money.”

Do Your Research

“Before publishing, research all the great written and online information available to you. There’s no reason to re-invent the wheel. Everybody does it a little bit different, but the basics are good rules to follow.”