For the first ten years of my writing career I happily and blissfully wrote the books of my dreams and was thrilled when publishers actually paid me an advance for the privilege of publishing them!
But when 2020 arrived, along with the events-that-shall-not-be-named, everything went topsy-turvy, including the publishing industry.
I don't intend to rehash recent history - it's enough to say I know I wasn't alone in experiencing an upheaval in my professional and personal worlds.
I wanted to do something different. In the spring of 2020, I decided to pursue a new genre. I wanted something fun. Something lighter. Something that gave me the opportunity to purse-whomp a bad guy or two (didn't we all want to purse-whomp someone at that time?)
I turned to cozy mysteries with the thought that I would try them out. I had a target publisher, spent a year or so learning the genre, and wrote the first book in my Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries series.
But the world had gotten darker during that year to eighteen months and I quickly realized that traditional publishing wasn't an option for me at that time.*
*I want to emphasize that it wasn't an option for me. And it wasn't for me at that time.
I started exploring independent publishing. I asked for advice from our own Ruth Logan Herne and Pam Hillman and reached out to a few other friends whose indie work I admired, and started learning.
After all, Ruthy and Pam made the process look so easy! And every blog post I read said it was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy!
I knew what I DIDN'T want to do:
1. I didn't want a cover that looked like my aunt had painted it.
2. I didn't want to ask my husband to be my editor.
3. I didn't want the font/paper/margins/etc. to look like I had cut and pasted my story to fit on a Word document.
In short, I wanted my books to have the same professional appearance that my traditionally published books had.
Was it as easy as the various blog posts claimed? No.
Was it doable? Yes.
I spent as much time learning how to indie publish my book as I had spent learning how to write in this new genre. I made a LOT of errors. I wasted a LOT of time.
At the same time, I "repackaged" myself. Instead of writing only historical romances, I wanted to expand my products. Cozy mysteries were already in the pipeline, plus I wanted to leave my options open to contemporary stories, historical stories, and even historical mysteries. I also wanted to edge into the general market - a market that wasn't really open to my Christian-focused Amish stories.
My new tag line reflected all of that.
After a new logo, a new website. and many, many hours of watching tutorials on everything related to indie publishing, I released my first indie book in May of this year.
With that bit of experience under my belt, I'm ready to publish my next book. The release date is September 28th!
Do you remember the three things I didn't want to do with my independent publishing?
1. I hired a fabulous cover artist - Hannah Linder. She's a familiar face around here, and she designs the best covers. She caught the vision of what I wanted after only a few emails, and I couldn't be happier with her designs. You'll need to stop by her website: Hannah Linder Designs
2. I hired a great editor - another name familiar to Seekerville - Beth Jamison of Jamison Editing. A great editor finds the hidden errors and inconsistencies in the manuscript, and Beth catches them all.
3. I purchased a program to give my books the professional formatting look I wanted: Atticus. Another option is Vellum, but only if your computer is a Mac.
All of these things cost money. If you're traditionally published, your publisher spends that money instead of you. There are other costs that you also pick up if you are your own publisher, but that comes with the territory.
Eventually, the income column in my spread sheet should overtake the expenses column, but like any start-up business, that takes time. And work. A lot of work.
Which reminds me. Another little thing I did to enhance the professional appearance of my books (and my small business) was to form my own publishing company. Nothing fancy. But it took my name out of the "publisher" field on Amazon and gave me the opportunity to create my own logo and name. I call it Swift Wings Press, and I love this logo. I use it on bookmarks, my new business cards, and on the spine of my print copies.
I'll keep writing stories for the Sweetbrier Mysteries series - I'm working on a Christmas novella right now.
There's an historical romance waiting for my attention on my computer.
And I would love to explore all the other ideas swirling in my head...
...but the great thing about independent publishing is that I can go ahead and explore those ideas, because I have the freedom to follow my own path, not the path of a traditional publishing company.
That's why I used Swift Wings Press for my imprint - I'm free to follow the wind, wherever it blows. (John 3:8)
Will I ever traditionally publish again? Of course, given the right opportunity.
But until then, I'm enjoying what the Lord has placed before me at this time.
Have you ever considered independent publishing, either now or in the future? Or are you already in the midst of the adventure?
One commenter will win an ebook copy of "The Case of the Artist's Mistake!"
The new art gallery in town is causing quite a stir, and Emma is in the middle of it!
The Sweetbrier Inn is filled with guests and the town is teeming with tourists who have come to celebrate Paragon Days, the official kickoff to the summer tourist season. But even before the festivities start, amateur sleuth Emma Blackwood stumbles upon a dead body. With no visible signs of violence, Deputy Cal determines the death is from natural causes, but Emma isn’t so sure. Why would a seemingly healthy woman drop dead? And what does the picture she was holding have to do with it? If Emma doesn’t solve this puzzle soon, a killer may get away with committing the perfect crime.
Coming September 28th! Preorders will be available soon!