Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Writing All Over The Road

By Dan Walsh 

I want to thank my good friend, Julie Lessman, for inviting me back to Seekerville, probably my favorite writers’ blog on the Internet.

Both the title of my post and the pic above should give you a clue about what I’m planning to talk about today.

I’m not sure why—maybe because it’s usually several months or a year in between visits—but when I come back to Seekerville I often find myself in a reflective mood. I suppose it may have something to do with the fact that I seem to visit at the beginning or end of a new chapter in my writing journey.

My first visit to Seekerville was back in November, 2009 (here’s the link). My first book had just come out, a Christmas novel called, The Unfinished Gift. It really wasn’t that long ago but, in some ways, the whole publishing world was so much simpler then. There were really only two paths to consider:

1.    Get accepted (somehow) into the elite ranks of the “publishing club.”
2.    Keep trying.

There was no such thing as “indie publishing,” and being self-published was totally frowned upon. Only desperate people did that (and people who didn’t mind spending $10,000 of their own money in exchange for a garage full of books). There was no such thing as print-on-demand then.

Also way back in 2009, the overwhelming majority of readers bought their books at retail bookstores, who only accepted books from traditional, mainstream publishers. So…pretty much, a fiction writer’s entire effort was centered on writing that perfect book, landing a great agent and getting a traditional publishing contract. I think here it was called getting off “unpubbed island.” In 2009, some of the “The Seekers” were still stranded there.

In fact, part of my post was something of an apology to those who were still stranded on unpubbed island. Especially those who’d been stuck there for years. My story was: I had submitted my first manuscript, landed an A-list agent almost immediately, got a contract with Revell in 2 months.

That Was Then, This Is Now

Since then, I’ve published 11 more novels with Revell, roughly 2 per year. Sounds like smooth, steady waters, right?

Well, the truth is…if I told you what my journey has looked like over the last 8-10 months it might be a little hard to follow. It would more resemble this second pic on the right (“Hey buddy, pick a lane, will ya?”).

Back in August, my publisher and I mutually agreed I would not re-sign with them. I had been anticipating this for almost a year. I used my spare time while finishing those last 2 books learning all I could about indie publishing. In November, I published my first indie suspense novel, called When Night Comes. On the whole, it’s been a great experience. It received a 4.5 Star review from RT Books and now has over 140 customer reviews on Amazon. The sales  gone pretty well, too (sold over 6,000 copies so far). In mid-March, I released my first nonfiction indie book, a 31-Day Devotional called Perfect Peace.

In April, the 4th and final book of the Restoration series co-authored with Gary Smalley came out, called The Legacy. My final novel with Revell comes out in September. I guess it’s fitting that since I began my traditionally-published journey with a Christmas book I’m ending it with another, called Keeping Christmas.

Here’s my challenge now…sometime this summer I will release the first book in a new trilogy, called Rescuing Finley (Finley is a dog). This novel will be similar in style to all my other books. The question is, do I release it as an indie or listen to my agent who is urging me to re-sign with a different publisher? She’s had great success with this publisher in recent months and is confident the book will take off (do even better than all my other book have done up till now).

I should be happy, but I find I’m a little bit confused. When did the publishing journey become so complex? As writers today, we’re not facing just one choice anymore, but several:

1.    Do we continue to pursue the traditional path (for me, re-signing with another big publisher).
2.    Go with a small independent press.
3.    Self-publish (go totally indie),
4.    Become a hybrid author (that is, do both, traditional and indie)? 

In recent weeks, I've had to ask myself all of these questions. I’m guessing, so have many of you. How are you processing all these new options? I’d love to hear some of your stories.

It kind of reminds me of the simplicity of eating at home (“What are we having for dinner? Oh, this.”), compared to picking up one of those 15-page menus in a franchise restaurant filled with pictures. The waitress comes back in ten minutes. “I’ve narrowed it down to five things.”

Some of my author friends think all these new options have made life so much better for writers. They say we’re living in a new golden era. I have to admit, I’ve met some indie writers this past year who would agree. We’ve had some honest conversations about the nuts and bolts side of things (read, financial stuff). Some of these authors were turned down flat by traditional publishing houses, or else got some books published but saw only marginal success. Now they are, quite literally, booming. Selling more books and making more money that some of the biggest bestsellers in the CBA trad-pub world.

That’s certainly not everyone’s story. Some indies aren’t doing well, at all. But I think I can safely say, I’m convinced there is some rock-solid wisdom we can cling to in the midst of all the new choices and options we face today. A place to put our focus that will always yield good results.

One True Thing

Regardless of the packaging, whether you wind up taking the traditional path, an indie path, go with a small independent press or become a hybrid, there’s one thing that will always matter.

Readers want to read a great book. They love a great story.

If they get hold of one, they won’t care about its “journey to publication.” They will read it, keep reading it, look for excuses to stop what they’re doing and get back to it, read it some more…until they reluctantly reach the last page. Then they will close the book (or turn off the screen) and release a contented sigh. Maybe even reach for a tissue. And they’ll resolve to do 2 things: see if that author has written any other books and tell their friends, “You’ve got to get this book!”

So that’s my closing advice in this new age of “writing all over the road.” Keep working on your craft. Don’t get distracted by lesser things. If you’ve mastered the craft, then spend adequate time re-sharpening the blade. Which is exactly why you should keep coming back to a place like Seekerville and listen to the sage advice freely offered by these seasoned veterans (all of whom have left Unpubbed Island several years ago).

Starting TODAY, Dan's new devotional, Perfect Peace: In Imperfect Times devotional (which is OUTSTANDING, by the way!!) is ON SALE in ebook for only 99 CENTS, so here's the link, and I guarantee you it will be one of the best buys you will EVER make!! 

Leave a comment for Dan, and he will give two lucky winners their choice of either his new devotional, Perfect Peace, or his new suspense novel, When Night Comes (ebook or print). 

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 13 novels including The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and When Night Comes. He’s won 3 ACFW Carol Awards, 2 Selah Awards and three times his books have been finalists for RT’s Inspirational Book of the Year. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Word Weavers International, Dan writes full time in the Daytona Beach area. He and his wife Cindi have been married 38 years, have 2 grown children and 2 grandchildren. You can find out more about his books or follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Pinterest from his website at


  1. Welcome back to Seekerville, Dan.

    Good point. It is a brave new world and for those who are ready to get behind the wheel of their own future, the destinations are limitless!

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  3. Hi Dan!

    Welcome to the indie world! I first self published in January 2013 and I had no idea how much I would love it, how much I had to learn, or how many new friends I would make.
    You haven't been in the CIA for very long, but I'm sure you've noticed the super friendly, very non-competitive, always eager to help group there. I think that's a hallmark of the indie peeps. I've never seen it anywhere else.
    Anyway, as for my own journey, I was traditionally published, then went hybrid, and now although I might SAY hybrid once in a while, I feel pretty solidly indie.
    I'm so happy with the way the industry is evolving and the options I have. I just spent 6 months writing a huge book that I don't think I could sell to a traditional publisher, and I had no anxiety about that! I knew it had a home in the self publishing world. That gave me the freedom to write the story the way I felt God wanted me to write it.
    And that is priceless!
    Thanks for sharing your journey and best of luck on your next releases.

  4. It's scary, but exciting, Dan.

    I had six books with Heartsong when the line closed. I'm in the process of indie publishing them.

    I did the first two myself. But since I stink at promotion, I contracted the second series with a small press run by a former Heartsong author. Those four books should all be out soon.

    I also have work under submission with a traditional publisher.

    So I'm in the middle of the road with you.

    Honk! Honk!

    Coffee's brewing.

    1. Hi Helen. I was a big Heartsong fan. What is the name of the small publisher? I would enjoy reading the rest of your books and other similar ones.
      Dan. Please enter me for one of your books. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  5. Dan, thanks for talking about your journey.

    A lot of folks are going indie after being pubbed traditionally. Often after the very scenario you describe.

    I'm just wondering about those of us who don't have a critical mass of traditionally pubbed books, and the following, to launch indie. For me, that's the scary part.

  6. I must say that as a reader I do not mind how a book is published.

  7. Wow, great post!!! SO true about publishing...and I tend to swerve with my books too.
    Readers love great books. Period. :-)

    Have fun with your indies! Thanks for another awesome Seekerville guest post too, Seeker ladies!

  8. Dan, there are too many choices! I'm a very indecisive person. Guess, I'll just have to get over it. LOL!

    I'm currently unpublished, but I'm seeking traditional publication. When my first book was rejected, I had several people tell me I should self-publish. I wouldn't do it because knew I still had a lot to learn about writing, and self-publishing would have been like shooting myself in the foot. My story would have been a mess, and I would have lost readers in the long run.

    My second attempt at publication resulted in a request to revise and resubmit, and again, people were telling me to self-publish. I didn't. Instead I made the revisions and resubmitted (still waiting to hear back).

    I do see myself self-publishing sometime in the future and would like to be a hybrid author, but for now I still have much to learn.

    Thanks for sharing your journey. Best of luck on your new path.

  9. Thanks for sharing your journey, Dan.

    It's always good to have options. When both doors are open to you why not explore both venues?

    It makes sense that self-publishing stands a better chance of success if you have a nice long backlist.:-)

  10. Hi Dan,

    Welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for sharing your journey. It's always nice to hear from you.

    Have a great day!

  11. Dan, WELCOME BACK TO SEEKERVILLE, my good friend -- ALWAYS a pleasure!!

    I particularly appreciated this post today because it sheds light on a subject that in some ways, has been pretty ambiguous for me.

    For instance, as far as my ambiguity, Virginia sums it up well when she refers to the "the super friendly, very non-competitive, always eager to help" mindset of indie authors. I've found it to be completely true, of course, especially when it comes to being open and totally forthright about things that for me, have always been more personal and private in nature, such as personal book sales and profits.

    So you might say that you (and others) have helped me see the head "lights" in the rearview mirror on a highway crowded with semis. I am slowing coming to realize that such candor is, indeed, helpful (even if I'm not used to it) in an industry that had up till now, been more secretive and exclusive.

    I will have to say that my two forays into indie publishing with a novel, A Light in the Window, and a self-help writer's workbook, Romance-ology 101, have been absolutely wonderful -- and liberating -- experiences, and I fully intend to continue driving in the hybrid lane if I am able to do so.

    Thanks, Dan, for your honest and willingness to share your own experience on the publishing highway.


  12. Tina, SO glad to see your smiling face again (even if it's just a pic of it).

    Virginia, what you said is precisely my new dilemma. I've really enjoyed all the freedom of the indie experience, from beginning to end. It IS a lot more work, but I kind of like this kind of work. The challenge is, my agent feels this new publisher (who is totally internet savvy) could double or triple my reach (and I wouldn't have to pay for it). But I give up some of that freedom, AND the book rights (which I HATE).

    And you're right, I've found the indie folks to be amazingly helpful and kind. Better than going to Google.



  14. Helen, sounds like you are right out there with me. I guess that's one bright spot when the dark news comes that your publishing relationship ends the way yours did (that you get the rights of your books back).

    Since going indie, that's one of my other challenges. I don't have the rights to any of my 12 novels with my publisher, and they're not going out of business. With the ebook craze and POD, though technically the first 8 of them should be out-of-print and available to me, they are not. And unless they do go out of business someday (not something I'd wish for them), I can't see me ever getting the rights back to these books.

    And I KNOW I could be doing so much more with them, in terms of marketing, than they are doing.

  15. Julie, I'm sure it would look a bit more scary for you, but most of the indie ladies I wrote about were exactly in your shoes...2 years ago. Now their sales are through the roof.

    It seems like the "sweet spot" starts to happen when you get between 4-6 books out, especially if they're in a series (and written really well).

    So don't expect instant success. Think the tortoise, not the hare.

    Mary, I've found that to be true. Readers don't care. If the cover is excellent, and the writing is great, and the price is right, they're in.

  16. Dan, it is a brave new world of publishing. You're in a great position to choose either traditional or indie. I imagine in the future a lot of us will become hybrid authors because some of our stories don't fit with what traditional publishers want. At least now we can get them out there!

  17. Dan, it's interesting to hear where your journey has taken you over the past six years.

    I'm with Julie above. I'm curious on your take for indie publishing for pre-pubbed writers with not as much experience and no backlists.

    Because I have a lot to learn yet, I'm aiming more for traditional publishing right now. I may go indie one day, but for now, I feel I need more experience and knowledge under my belt.

    Loved your post!

  18. Hey Dan, thanks for sharing your publishing journey. As a reader, I enjoy learning more about my favorite authors. Since I've been following the "Seekers", I've come to really appreciate the LABOR OF LOVE that goes into writing a GOOD book. So, with that in mind....THANK YOU, you amazing authors!

    Have a WONDER-filled Wednesday.

  19. Rhonda,

    Keep listening to your heart. Invite those friends over for coffee and cards but TOTALLY IGNORE their advice.

    Self-publishing should NEVER be seen as the easy way to get a book with your name on it. Word-of-mouth works both ways. It can cause a book's audience to grow and grow, but with a poorly written book, those reviews can kill a book for good.

  20. Mary,

    My hesitation to "explore both venues" is a bit of the "wisdom" that comes from "been there, done that." I not only know what I might gain from re-signing with this publisher, but what I will most certainly lose.

    It could be a wonderful thing, and the book could take off as they hope. If it doesn't, I lose the rights for that book, pretty much for good. And it's the first book in a trilogy.

  21. Julie,

    Thanks again for the invite. And you've brought up something I've almost completely forgotten about. The super-secretive trad pub world vs. the almost total transparency of the indie world.

    In some ways, that openness is what's helped me to trust the advice, when given. Let's face it, if you're doing something that's supposed to work, and it flops. Telling folks, "It was great," not only doesn't help; it's a lie. It misleads people into thinking, "Hey, they did it, maybe I should, too."

    But indie folks will say freely, "I'll never do that again." And tell you why. Sometimes even copy and paste the graphs that show the numbers.

    And they'll do the same things for unexpected marketing surprises. I always hated they vague ambiguities in traditional publishing. The whole time I'm "reading between the lines" of what's being said, trying to decipher the secret code.

  22. Jeanne,

    Going indie is certainly not for everyone. For one thing, you almost have to have something of an entrepreneurial bent (which I do). Because you're the one initiating all the action on the publicity/marketing side.

    There's a learning curve, as well. But to me, that's just a question of putting in the time, because the how-to info is readily available. It is something of a challenge, but not rocket science.

    Picture your first foray into the indie world as though you're standing on the edge of a jungle with a map and machete. You get to the other side, but it was quite an adventure. The next time around, that path is now clearer, and you get through it almost without a scratch. A few more times down that path, and it becomes an easy route to take; you don't even give it a second thought.

    That's how this goes. All of that, of course, assumes the writing is already there.

  23. Dan, it's great to have you back in Seekerville, and thanks for this honest discussion of the choices authors face today. As a hybrid author myself (mostly traditionally published but with an indie novel and novella out there now), I have to say it's both liberating and scary!

    I'd love to do more indie books, but I'm currently committed to some traditional contract deadlines, so I don't have the extra time to get another indie novel ready to publish. Once I get my head above water, though . . . it sure is great to have this outlet for those books that simply don't fit a particular traditional publishing niche.

  24. Hi Dan! I read The Legacy last month and thoroughly enjoyed the look at a young Christian man dealing with this crazy world we live in.

    Your pictures of the publishing road cracked me up. I'd toss in a twisting mountain highway with a car clinging to the double-yellow line, plus a straight-away through the long, dull desert. How about being stuck in traffic with the pack? Or running out of gas? I think I'm addicted to metaphors.

  25. Dan, thank you for sharing your experiences...both here and in the CIA group. I'm in the slow lane as I work on your advice: Readers want to read a great book. They love a great story. God has the wheel, so I'll trust His PERFECT timing.

    Your devotional book sounds like the inspiration we all need during those challenging situations.

    Congratulations on your success driving all the roads you have chosen!

  26. Good morning Dan.

    I'm another one of those unpublished authors seeking traditional publishing, but would love to go hybrid in the future.

    My biggest hurdle is get a good book written. How hard can it be?

    No really, I would think to be a hybrid author you'd need to be able to put out books fairly fast. A couple of books per year for the traditional publisher and 3-4 book series for indies. Would you agree w/this?

  27. Dan, welcome back! Thanks for this great post, for your openness about the writing journey. You're right about all the choices and how difficult it is to make those decisions. I've enjoyed being a hybrid author (doing the indie novella boxed sets with my Seekerville friends in addition to my traditional books).

    I'm going to hop over to get your devotional book now!

  28. As someone who is trying to write her first book, I think it all sounds scary. I am just taking it one step at a time. Please enter me in the drawing.

    Off to St. Louis soon for my nephew's college graduation. Then back in a couple days for a niece's high school graduation. Very busy rest of the week and weekend for me.

  29. Bettie,

    You can find Forget-Me-Not Romances at:

  30. Dan, welcome back to Seekerville! Thanks for your thought provoking post. Will be interesting to see what decision you make. Writers certainly have lots of options these days. All we need is the wisdom and courage to choose.

    I downloaded your non-fiction devotional. Thanks for the heads up! Wishing you success with the next steps!


  31. Hey Dan! Reading trad to indie/hybrid stories intrigues me :).

    Julie (Hilton Steele, that is) - indie can be done without having that critical mass of books already trad pubbed. I'm not going to be quitting my day job anytime soon, but I'm doing all right. If you want to talk nuts and bolts, etc, you know where to find me!!!

    And JULIE!!!!!! Lessman this time! I miss you!!! I'm going to be in STL in a couple weeks while Matt's at a conference. I'll wave as we fly by on I44!!!! Love you, friend!!!

  32. Great Post and an insightful discussion Dan. I never look at who the publisher is when I buy a book. I do take note about the cover. When the cover art looks inferior I figure maybe the effort to create a really great story is also inferior. Kind of like judging a restaurant by a building that is ugly. Only once lots of friends have said "There is this 'hole-in-the -wall' place that is great," would I try it. Once I really enjoy an author the cover can be so-so and I don't even notice.
    I do have one thought on the words "self-published."
    I consider I am independently published because I hired all the professionals to help me with my creation. I think with so many reading e-books that what happens with your ebook rights is a significant part of the choice. As an independent You are free to do lots of promotions of an e-book. The graph of sales after promotions can be very impressive.
    I appreciate your transparency about the switch Dan. I have shared about your results with my group of friends in the Christian Writers Guild.
    I do think genre can make such a difference in sales. I am independently selling my "interpretive history memoir" in places like National Parks, museums and even Costco. Only Barnes & Noble swept me out the door. It has been quite the adventure. Barb Waite
    "Elsie-Adventures of an Arizona Schoolteacher 1913-1916"

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  34. Hi Dan:

    Wow! You brought to mind many questions with today's post.

    When you go indie do you still owe an agent a commission? If not, can the advice from an agent to publish traditionally be truly objective?

    Would you tell us about your experience with free books on Amazon? You seemed to have placed more titles up for free than is usual. This hints at success.

    As a marketing person, I'd like to amend your comment that "readers want to read a great book. They love a great story."

    I believe that what readers want is a great reading experience at each moment that they are reading the book. Legions of great books cannot do this while many 'lesser' books can! (Literary authors call these best selling, reader loving, books 'commercial trash'.)

    All writers cannot write great books, in fact, almost by definition, few writers can write great books or else greatness would devolve back into being average.

    Writers are entertainers.

    I've just read a mega-best selling book, that held me captive every page for, I guess about 600 pages, and it was a terrible story! The hero was in an impossible cliffhanger situation at the end, with death a certainty, and the author just ended the book. The reader was left hanging! The plot had more holes than Swiss cheese and more loose ends than a cheap imported shawl.


    However, I keep reading this same author's books because the reading experience is too delicious. I want to experience those same feelings again and again.

    It's not a great book.
    It's not a great story.
    It's knowing what your reader loves to read and giving that reader the most enjoyable reading experience you can.

    Many authors can successfully do this -- especially if they are fans of the genre they are writing and know just what will delight their readers. I love these authors.

    Of course, if you can do the above and still write a literary masterpiece, one that will send university professors into a rapture, then so much the better. If you can write "The Great Gatsby" or "The Old man and the Sea", do it! A great literary masterpiece and a great reading experience are not mutually exclusive, however, they just don't usually frequent the same neighborhood.

    Now for the big question:

    "What is perfect peace?"

    Is it a state of mind as in nirvana?
    Is it like having a peak experience?
    Is it like having a mystic experience; for example, when the ego disappears and you become one with the universe?
    Is it the knowledge that you are in perfect compliance with God's law?

    And if you obtain perfect peace, does it last only a few seconds to a few minutes or is it a way of life?

    Great to have you back.


    P.S. I believe I have all your books that are on Kindle except for "Perfect Peace" -- thus my questions.

  35. Myra, what you described was me all of 2014.

    Vicki, those would have been some great pics to add to the article, definitely connect with each one.

    Connie, though I'm something of a veteran now in traditional publishing, I'm still quite a novice in the indie world. I would never be able to generate that many books in a year. For me it's two, three at the most.

    I suppose the answer would be determined by the length of your novels, or novellas. That's one of the interesting things about the indie world, proven out now by actual results, not just speculation. It would appear that certain things that are taboo in traditional publishing because "that's not what readers want or expect," are simply not true.

    For example, some of my more successful indie friends have written series of books that are only 40-50k words. They make the first one free and the rest are priced competitively (in ebook world, that's 2.99 - 4.99. Obviously, the books are well written. And they are selling like hotcakes.

    I can't imagine this kind of marketing being an option with most traditional houses (give the first book free?). I'm toying with the idea of writing shorter books (to get more out there) but mine are still in the 65k-80k range.

  36. Barbara, thanks for sharing your adventure. I agree with you about covers. They DO matter, a lot. And you've brought up one of the other features of indie publishing. You can hire professionals to do the work, so that it's done right. Or you have the option of sweat equity, doing some or all of the work yourself.

    But I would never advise an indie to do anything themselves if the end result is not top shelf. One nice thing if you do have to hire out, you're only paying a one time fee, not giving up a permanent share of royalties.

  37. Vince,

    Some good questions. First off, my agent and I have a good relationship and an understanding. She will only be involved (and therefore receive her fee) with projects involving a traditional publisher, or a movie company. She's not involved in my indie projects.

    While you will occasionally see some of my books on Amazon for free, those are all promotions done by my publisher, not by me. I've never actually done any free promotions for my 2 indie books (though I might someday). The biggest sale I've done is for 99 cents (like my devotional, Perfect Peace, which is on sale now for 99 cents).

    The thinking behind the "free book" promotions, and it seems to pay out every time, is that you get a ton of people downloading the book in a short period of time, which does 2 things. It drives the Amazon rankings through the roof, which helps your book break away from the pack. And second, people who love the free book wind up coming back and downloading most of my other books, which they pay for. All this assumes, you have confidence that most who download the book will like it. My publisher has that confidence because all of my books have over 100 reviews (some over 400) and avg 4-5 Stars.

    As I read your thoughts on a "great book," I'd say we're very close to meaning the same thing. I'm thinking of books that suck people in and won't let them go, not books that are necessarily a literary masterpiece.

    Finally, I will answer your question about Perfect Peace with the key Scripture the book draws from. Isa 26:3. "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed (fixed) on you. Because he trusts you."

  38. Glad to hear Indie Christian writers are friendly and helpful but find that also true of most Christian writers.

  39. wow.
    thanks for sharing about your journey Dan. all the uncertainty gives me a bit of the heebie-jeebies - but I guess that's what prayer and listening to God is for - to calm those h-j's.

    I have yet to leave unpubbed island and I think I may want to go traditional to get off the island - but one never knows the plans God has. I'm just hoping I stay on track so He can keep directing me. In the meantime, I glom onto the wisdom that flows out of Seekerville.

    I really like your jungle analogy for Indie pubbing. That was a perfect visual for me. Would like to have my name in the draw for your offerings. Very generous of you, thanks!! Since I'm attempting suspense, I think I'd like to read yours.

    Anyway, thanks for the visit and pausing to relate just how much things have changed since 2009. Incredible!

  40. I love your analogy of the forest and the machete! I'm still standing on the edge of the forest. Well, I'm not quite to the forest yet as I still have edits on my first book to finish. I just registered for my very first ever Writer's Conference (in October) and one of the questions on the registration form asked if I wanted to be able to meet with presentors (editors, publishers, etc). My shy, anxious, introverted self said NO!!, but I clicked yes because I knew it would help me improve. Isa 26:3 is my verse for the year.

    I'd love to be in the drawing for one of your books.

  41. Hi Dan

    This subject has been on my mind a great deal lately as I'm wrestling with which publication route to pursue for my first novel. Ok, so time to show what a newbie I really am--I see the terms self-publishing, indie, & vanity used in different circles but they don't appear to be the same thing. Care to shed some light for me? And I'd sure love to be in your drawing! Thanks so much!

  42. I could see the shorter books selling well. I'm a Louis L'mour fan and most of his books weren't that long. That's one of the reasons I liked them.

    But I don't read novellas.

    Make sure you come back to Seekerville to let us know what you decide on this series of books and how it turns out.

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  44. Hi Dan! I always enjoy when you visit Seekerville as well as your novels.

    I purchased Perfect Peace and really look forward to reading Rescuing Finley when it comes out! I like reading animal rescue & rescue animal themed stories.

    Please enter me for When Night Comes.

  45. Kaybee, I agree with that. I think with the indies, there's the additional dimension of transparency (reference my comments with Julie L). Not that trad pubbed authors are hiding, but in some ways, you aren't free to share things, sometimes even by contract.

    DebH and Becky, thanks so much for stopping by. And Becky, I LOVE writer conferences. You'll be hooked.

  46. Dan, always good to see you! Thanks for your reflections on the writing life, as it is today. A different world, for sure!

    Maybe God heard the prayers of enough writers and decided to bring more publishing options into play. :) Whatever brought us to this point, today writer seems to be more in control of his or her career and that's something to celebrate!

    Congrats to you and your success!

  47. Dan,

    Welcome back to Seekerville!

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I look forward to reading (and reviewing) the new series :)

    Please throw my name in the hat (or cat dish, as is usually the case.)

  48. Kelly, don't feel bad about your confusion over all these terms. As you'll see by my attempt to define them, there is some room to remain confused.

    For some people, the term indie and being self published are used interchangeably. Some who self publish have created, essentially, a small "independent" publishing firm to encompass all the tasks involved in the production of their books. I know of a few who, after getting pretty good at this, expanded their publishing efforts to begin publishing other writer's books (people too overwhelmed by all the non-writing stuff).

    Some people use the term indie if they sign with a small independent press. They usually sign a contract but often don't receive an advance. Instead, they usually get a higher royalty rate than the big traditional houses offer. I've noticed that many of these indie houses specialize in ebook and online sales, rather than getting books into brick-and-mortar stores.

    Finally, I don't think the term vanity press or vanity publishing has changed very much. It usually refers to publishing firms authors should stay away from. They agree to "publish" your book for a fairly large sum of money, which the author pays upfront. In exchange, they give you boxes of books with your name on it that you can sell however you please. I was referring to vanity presses in my article when I joked about having a garage full of books that you can't sell.

  49. Hi Dan! Always nice to have you back in Seekerville!

    You've brought up questions and answered them beautifully...the path to publication is no longer cut and dry. There are so many options to choose from - it's enough to make your head swim.

    You're advice says it all...write a great book that readers can't put down. Isn't that we all look for in our favorite authors??

    Julie! Thanks for hosting Dan today!!

  50. Oh Dan! I forgot to wish you good luck in your new ventures!!

  51. I should push harder for the indie route. I did take my first baby steps recently, but I need to do more.

    Virginia Carmichael Munoz, you are my indie idol.

  52. DAN SAID: "With the ebook craze and POD, though technically the first 8 of them should be out-of-print and available to me, they are not."

    Dan, this is exactly how I felt, too, about my O'Connor series, like they're lost to me forever, which makes me somewhat sad when they go out of print.

    But I do think the hybrid author is the best of both worlds, at least for now, for me. We shall see.


  53. Great writing,Dan, both in the post as well as your books. I'm always shocked when people say they don't look at the publisher! I grew up (yes, I'm aging myself) when there were a few good publishers with excellent editors, then there was the other stuff. Now those edges are blurring as well, but I always check the publisher (out of habit, probably) before I buy.

  54. Dear Dan, Thank you for your post. I remember attending a workshop in 2009 when I first started writing and the speaker took me aside and said not to even consider self-publishing. How times have changed. I know successful indie authors and I know successful traditionally published authors and I know successful hybrid authors. I think authors know themselves and know deep down what's right at the right time. Praying helps a lot, too.

    Thanks for the information.

  55. Hi Dan:

    From what you wrote, I'd say we mean the same thing by a great story. I'm not sure what that Bible quote means but I just downloaded your "Perfect Peace" to learn more.

    I'm also with you on the 99 cent price as a great promotional tool. I know from doing political campaigns that if you can get even a dollar contributed to your candidate, it greatly increases the odds that person will actually show up and vote. It's like they are invested in the candidate.

    I think it is the same for getting 99 cents for an ebook. I believe that the 99 cent book will be read before the 'free' books. I also believe that if a reader paid something for an ebook then that means the cover and blurb helped select a valid prospect for that story. Valid prospects are more likely to read the book and write reviews or at least provide helpful word-of-mouth advertising.

    BTW: If you are writing a series about resurrecting a dog, you might really enjoy this book:

    "Do Dogs Go To Heaven? Eternal Answers for Animal Lovers" by Jean Holmes. She is a Tulsa lawyer and wonderful lady. My wife and I have given copies of this book to friends who have lost pets ever since the book first came out. It is bible based.

    Thanks for all your comments.


  56. Leslie, great to hear from you again. Thanks for stopping in.

    Audra, thanks so much!!

    Julie, I don't know how this rights thing will ever resolve. It is my #1 hesitation for re-signing with a publisher. But I may wind up doing that, at least with this next book. My agent isn't the only one urging me too. Several people I trust, after hearing the deal, think I should try it. I have a number of conditions that would have to be in the contract, though.

    But who knows? I might be a hybrid too pretty soon.

  57. Marianne,

    I think it's going to become increasingly hard to even recognize who some of the publishers are. Many of the smaller ones have gone belly up. Several of the bigger ones have merged with other houses (trying to stay afloat), and several more have simply eradicated their fiction lines. Time will tell.

    Tanya, isn't it crazy how much has changed in so short a time? But I agree, it is possible to succeed in either of these paths now. And that certainly wasn't the case not too long ago.

    Vince, the new book is about rescuing a dog, not resurrecting him. As the story goes, he really winds up rescuing the people who think they're rescuing him. As far as dogs going to heaven? I certainly hope so. I know Randy Alcorn thinks so, and he's written some pretty scholarly works on Heaven.

  58. Thank you so much for this post, Dan! There really are so many amazing options our there, I am grateful to all those who have walked this road before me. I love soaking in all the incredible advice here. Thanks for giving your take. I am so glad for the encouragement to remember the story is first and foremost.

  59. Really connecting with this post, Dan. Thank you!

  60. Kelly,

    That's right...after all is said and done, the one true thing that ultimately makes the difference regardless of the path we choose, is to remember the writing itself matters more than how we get the book to market.

    Lyndee, thanks for stopping in.

  61. Great post, Dan, and thanks for the insights on your indie journey. I'm so thankful we're living in this era of e-readers!

    I'm very thankful I chose to go indie with my debut novel and those that followed. After spending years knocking on tradpub doors with outside-the-box books/settings, after having three agents rep was such a relief to be able to produce my own books and get them out to readers, instead of waiting for that next acceptance/rejection e-mail. I waited over a year and a half for the final rejection on one of my books, and that was primarily due to "marketability" of the time period, which was actually trending in social media. :)So I was willing to take that marketing risk myself.

    Yes, debut authors with no published backlist can make a go of being indie. The benefit of this is that we can really develop a reader base and platform. Right now, I'm trying for a hybrid career, but I'd be happy being indie-only.

    Basically, I'm thrilled with the opportunities being indie has provided (and I am thankful God pushed me that direction). So many authors are considering this option now, whether published or unpublished. Yes, it's a lot of work, as we both know, but there is, as Virginia Munoz said, a huge, supportive community that willingly shares information on marketing, pricing, and more.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  62. What Heather said! You absolutely can debut indie and do well. There are a few of us who have and are doing nicely financially. We're developing our readership and have readers eagerly awaiting book two. Like Dan said, it takes work, but it's not an unreasonable amount of work. And frankly, I've found it all to be fun, even though I was intimidated in the beginning.

    Dan, great post! Thanks for sharing this. It'll be interesting hearing what you decide with this new series. :)

  63. I met Dan at a facebook party a few months ago. He was fascinating to talk with. I enjoyed seeing him talking about his Indie jpourney which I wish him the best of continued luck with. I would love to read either of these books.

  64. Thanks, Dan, for a great post!

  65. Interesting reading today.. Thanks for sharing your journey. Wishing you the best of luck on your new path.
    toss me into the hat :)

  66. Hi Dan Mark here,

    Thanks for sharing your story today. I found it very encouraging. Your bottom line premise rings rock solid true. 'Write a good book'. I have been working on my first now for a long time and the business of life and my day job get in the way. Will press on and write the good book/story the Lord has given me to write.

    Thanks again, look forward to meeting you some day.

  67. Heather, agreed with every single word you said. Thanks for sharing.

    Sally, you're proof of what I've said about the importance of writing a great book. I already had a fairly good readership from my trad pub books. You didn't. Your book is succeeding because people love it and keep telling others (and the hard work you put into marketing).

    Mark, keep at it. Take all the time you need with that first one and get it right.