There are a gazillion reasons why authors choose to go the “indie” route. (Wanting to use the word gazillion to the chagrin of every publisher out there might be one of them…. :-))
They want more control over covers and editing, more share of the profit, quicker publication. They may be tired of waiting and/or writing in a niche market that isn’t served by traditional publishers… the reasons are as wide and varied as the genres they write in.
I thought I’d share my story and my motivations, and why I still want, value, and love my agent.
My story is a complicated one. When I signed with my first agent and got that coveted first publishing contract, I was in the throes of a personal trial that was, to say the very least, difficult. My fourth daughter was born in 2010 with half of a heart and spent her first 308 days in the hospital.
About three weeks after she came home from the hospital, on oxygen and twenty different medications, and after four open heart surgeries including a heart transplant, an editor offered me a contract. I was also offered representation by an agent, all in the same week.
On one hand, I was ecstatic. This was my dream come true. And considering I’d given up my pay-the-bills day job to take care of my daughter, it felt like amazing timing.
What I didn’t factor in was a fun case of stress induced depression, ongoing medical issues with my daughter (including one very scary helicopter ride which included CPR… Boo!) and the immense stress of editing on a deadline and trying to market a book–all the while dealing with those deeply difficult, personal trials.
Once my book came out, I kinda collapsed. I was exhausted and needed a timeout. I took the next year to recharge and focus on my family. Writing was almost laughable during that time.
When I finally emerged during the fall of 2013 and felt God nudging me to write again, I was met with a few stark and depressing realities regarding my writing career.
1.) Releasing a novel without a follow-up anytime soon does not make for grand sales history.
2.) Trying to market a book well during such a difficult time also doesn’t breed super quality sales either. While my book didn’t totally bomb, it fell much below my expectations, which probably didn’t help my depression either!
3.) Even if I polished up my finished manuscript and had my agent immediately submit it, due to publishing schedules, it’d probably be at least two years or more before it would actually be published, thus making a span of close to three years between book releases. The business side of me knows that isn’t ideal for marketing purposes.
I needed a book release sooner than later, and a way to build back up the platform I lost during my mental-health break. I looked at all those indie authors and wrinkled my nose. No. I’m a writer, not a publisher. That is not what I want at all.
But the more I rejected the idea, the more God pushed me toward it. Then ideas started flowing… what if I did some followups to the first book? Maybe some novellas, then finish out the series with a full-length?
The thought blossomed over a few months. God gave me some fun ideas for books and titles and put some amazing indie-authors in my path to teach me the ropes. I am forever thankful to them!
And you know what?
I don’t regret it for a moment. My sales haven’t been astronomical. My “grand plan” is to release three novellas then a final “full length” to wrap up the series, while my fabulous agent works her magic with a new series.
I’m using the three novellas as trial books, trying different marketing strategies on each to see what works, what doesn’t, and what I can do better. The first book, A Side of Faith, came out in August, 2014, and the second, A Side of Hope, came out March of this year.
A Side of Love will release later this year, and the full length, The Greatest is Love, will release in 2016.
It’s been a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I’d originally dreaded every single step in the process, but the idea of being a hybrid author is intriguing.At this point, I don’t see myself going “full” indie. I LOVE my agent (waving to Sarah) and LOVE working on a team with a publisher. I know this idea isn’t embraced by all indies, and that’s super okay. What is good for one is not for another.
But this is my Indie story, and I’m very thankful I followed God’s leading and stepped out of my comfort zone. In the end, my hope and prayer is that my indie books and my traditional books can work hand-in-hand to help each other.
What about you? Have you ever thought of indie publishing? Why or why not? While I don’t claim to be an expert, I’m happy to answer what questions I can!