By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund
This year in 2016, I have FOUR books slated for publication. Three of them are being published through three different publishers:
Undaunted Hope, a historical romance through Bethany House Publishers (Jan. 1)
A Daring Sacrifice, a young adult medieval romance through Harper Collins (Mar. 1)
Newton and Polly: A Novel of Amazing Grace, a historical through Random House (Oct. 1)
I’m super thrilled about all three of the books. While each of them targets a slightly different audience, my readers seem to be enjoying them regardless of the differences.
So far, I’ve had a very positive experience working with traditional publishers. I’ve learned a LOT about the ins and outs of how the whole process of publication works and varies between houses.
Since I’m in a super busy life stage (raising 5 kids), having a traditional publisher’s help with cover designing, editing, and marketing has really freed up my time to focus on writing. To be completely honest, I appreciate being able to hand something over to my publishers and know that the project is in good hands. It takes a great deal of stress off me.
Not only that, but working with a variety of traditional publishers has helped to get my books in front of different readers. Each of my publishers has different marketing strategies which has allowed my books a wider audience than if I’d attempted to publish them on my own. I’ve also appreciated the relative ease of getting into brick and mortar stores, libraries/library conferences, foreign print, large print editions, wide-scale blogger and reviewer programs, and many other venues.
However, as beneficial as traditional publication has been for my writing career, I’ve been itching to try my hand at indie publishing. I’ve heard so many positive things about it, that I wanted to experience it for myself.
So, this year, I’m dipping my toes into the self-publishing waters. I’m releasing a historical romance, Forever Safe, on June 1. This particular book is the fourth book in my Beacons of Hope lighthouse series published by Bethany House. When I originally brought up the idea of doing a fourth book to my publisher, they wanted me to move in a different direction with another series.
Since I already had an idea for a fourth lighthouse book, I brainstormed with my agent and decided that this might be a good opportunity for me to do something independently. So over the past months, I’ve been able to experience “the other side of the fence” as I’ve been preparing my book for indie publication. It’s been interesting and I still have a lot to learn.
Obviously, I want this fourth book in the series to be of the same quality and caliber as the first three. Fortunately I found a fantastic cover designer (Lynnette Bonner of Indie Cover Design) who was able to match the quality of my previous books (even down to the font). I also put the book through the same rigorous editing process—having content, line, and copy edits.
Even with all of the top-notch help, I have to admit, I haven’t particularly liked the feeling that everything now rests on my shoulders, and that I’m responsible for every tiny detail—things I never had to worry about before. In fact, it stresses me out to think about disappointing my readers in any way.
Friends who have been indie publishing for a while and who are pros at it, have reassured me that the process does get easier and less stressful. So I take hope in that! But for now, it’s been a lot of work and has caused me some sleepless nights.
Will I indie publish again? Probably. I love that I got to write a story that I really wanted to tell and now get to share it with readers. And yes, indie publishing has lots of financial and control benefits.
But going through the do-it-yourself process also reminds me not to forget all of the good things that traditional publication can still offer authors. All too often traditional publication gets blamed and bashed and bad-mouthed. No, it’s not always rosy. I’ve experienced my share of frustrations and problems with traditional publication too.
But there are definite downsides with indie publishing as well, stress, costs, details, and pressure that come with the package. And if I were a newer author without an established readership, I'd wonder how I'd ever get noticed among all of the other new authors out there. The competition is fierce and it's difficult to stand out among the ever-growing population of indie authors. It can be done (we've all seen indie authors who've risen to the top). But often (not always!) debut authors can benefit from having a publisher give them a boost.
From one who has experienced both sides of the fence, I see that there is definitely a place for both and that they can live as friendly, helpful neighbors.
How about YOU? Is the grass greener on the other side of the fence (or your side)? Or do you think that there is a place for both indie and traditional publication?