In case you’ve been living in a cave for the last two decades, you know the internet has changed a few things, including independent publishing. We now have vast amounts of information at our fingertips. We can create our own businesses and sell directly to customers.
Blogs and web sites have given communicators a place to speak. Social media allows us to connect with friends and family across the world in an instant.
For an author like me, cyberspace created an option to independently publish my own book. If I so dared—as countless other authors have done.
For the past fifteen years, I’ve been well established in the traditional publishing world. I love this world. And I worked hard to get and stay here. I love my publisher and the amazing fiction team I work with to produce my books. I’ve built friendships within the house.
I’ve liked being able to “throw my book over the wall” and let other professionals handle the editing, publishing, marketing, and promoting elements.
And while doing so, I watched the independent publishing world with curiosity. With caution.
Now more than a decade since the advent of e-readers, I began to wonder if I wasn’t missing an opportunity. Perhaps being too cautious. Or worse, scared.
If publishing books were an investment portfolio, every adviser would be telling authors to “diversify” between traditional and indie. They’d tell us to invest in our business – and writing is a business – with a bit of variety.
This year I found a break in my schedule and I decided to write a novella and then independently publish it myself. I was excited, albeit apprehensive, about the journey from story idea to published book.
I considered the task and asked myself a few essential questions. And, in turn, questions I think any author considering the step to self-publish a book might want to ask, too.
A Guest Post by Rachel Hauck
1. What would be the return on my investment?
With independent publishing, I had to spend my own money for editing, proofing, designing the cover, and producing the book. So I had to consider the cost. How many copies would I have to sell to pay myself back? Was it even feasible?
2. Who would be on my team?
I needed a substantive editor, a copy/line editor, and a proofer. A cover designer. I was fortunate enough to hire a couple of freelance editors I’d worked with for years in the trad world. Also, I found the pot at the end of the rainbow when the graphic artist at my publisher went freelance. I was elated to hire the person who knew my brand after overseeing a decade’s worth of my book covers.
But what about marketing and promotion? This was where the past fifteen years of networking came into play. I’m part of an author group that supports each other’s books on social media. They’ll be shouting out for me.
I signed up for a blog tour and learned how to create ads on various social media and web sites to promote visibility.
But the best thing about marketing and promotion are the readers. They’re willing to share the books they love. So, I reached out to my fan base with a bold announcement. “A Christmas novella is coming.” They filled my heart with their enthusiastic response!
Publishing is a long-haul game whether traditionally or independently published. Authors have to hunker down and stick with it.
3. Would this be a permanent change, or would I be a hybrid author?
Believe it or not, I didn’t feel pressure to answer this question. I just wanted to explore and produce one little novella. So far, so good.
4. What would my husband, friends, and family think?
Since the beginning, my spouse has believed in me and my writing. His answer was what I expected, but still good to hear. “If you feel confident in producing an independent novella, I’m confident you can do it.” Needless to say, he’s a keeper, y’all!
My mom and siblings have always cheered me on, so I knew they’d support my decision. With a lot of questions, of course. “What does that mean?” “Will I still be able to buy your books?” The answer for people unfamiliar with independent publishing is – Absolutely! In fact, that’s the idea.
I also wondered what my traditionally published friends would think. Anytime an author makes a career change or steps out to try something new, it’s scary. Even more so if your colleagues question you with a curled lip. “You what?”
However, my writer buddies were supportive, encouraging and excited. And they remain so. Most authors realize the publishing world has changed. It’s broader than ever before with unprecedented opportunities. Independent publishing gives authors the chance to blaze a new trail.
5. What was the allure of independently publishing a book on my own?
Why would I do this when I have such a great place with a traditional publisher? I felt a bit like a city dweller watching friends and neighbors pack up for new opportunities “in the west.” I’m an “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” kind of girl, so why would I do something out of the norm? My sense of adventure and curiosity got the best of me. I took the plunge and wrote a novella. In pioneer vernacular, “I bought a wagon.” And now we’ll see what happens next…!
So How’s It Going? So far so good. My first independently published novel, The Wedding Dress Christmas, released October 22nd. I had a healthy number of pre-orders, which is exciting, and have heard from advanced readers, “It’s so good!” (Music to my ears.)
So much of life is a risk. Love. Marriage. Kids. Friendships. Family. Our careers. But we sign on the dotted line because we believe those things are worth our effort.
Sometimes, we just have to believe in ourselves and take a leap of faith. So, if you see me flying over you, you’ll know.
I’m winging it on faith.
Rachel Hauck is an award winning, New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author. Her book The Wedding Dress was named Inspirational Novel of the Year by Romantic Times Book Reviews. She is a double RITA finalist, and a Christy and Carol Award Winner. Her book, Once Upon A Prince, first in the Royal Wedding Series, was filmed for an Original Hallmark movie.
Rachel has been awarded the prestigious Career Achievement Award for her body of original work by Romantic Times Book Reviews. A member of the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers, she teaches workshops and leads worship at the annual conference. She is a past Mentor of The Year. At home, she’s a wife, writer, worship leader and works out at the gym semi-enthusiastically.
A graduate of Ohio State University (Go Bucks!) with a degree in Journalism, she’s a former sorority girl and a devoted Ohio State football fan. Her bucket list is to stand on the sidelines with Ryan Day.
She lives in sunny central Florida with her husband and ornery cat.