On the release of my second Indie novel and what I've learned...

by Linda Hall

Its relatively easy to get your first book out there as an Indie author. You probably already have that one novel in a drawer which has been through the rounds of agents, editors, elevator pitches, and fifteen-minute-conference-sessions-with-experts. Despite all the good advice, you still dont have a publisher. So you decide to follow the lead of many modern authors and self-publish it. After hiring a cover designer and editor, its out there. And it wasnt so hard. Its really not rocket science. Getting that second one out there, however, and the third one, the fourth, can be more challenging.

After publishing twenty mysteries with traditional publishers in the Christian/Inspirational market I was ready for a change. I wanted to branch out and write not romance, but mainstream mystery. Everyone was down on the idea, though. My agent told me I would lose readers. Writer friends would say, “What if you lose your fan base. Do you really want to do that?”

Yes. I really wanted to do that. If I had to stay one more day in Inspirational Romance, well, Im afraid I would go screaming into the night with my can of spray paint.

When my agent couldnt sell it, my only recourse was to strike out on my own and publish it myself. Well, I digress, I did publish something else first. As a sort of experiment, I put together a bunch of short stories that Id had in drawers and notebooks and file cabinets and entitled it Strange Faces. That was a few months before I released Night Watch. I guess I wanted to see what would happen. When the sky didnt fall, I got Night Watch ready for publication.

Night Watch, the first book in my new mystery series had gone through so many edits and agent edits that I was pretty confident of the story and the solidness of the writing.

That was fall of 2014, and then it hit me. I was in this. I had to come up with a second book. Fans were already emailing me! With a bit of fear and a lot of trepidation I started on The Bitter End. But, this time I was really on my own. I had no agent to bounce ideas off of, no in-house editor to brainstorm with.

I used NaNoWriMo to get the bones down for the story. I rewrote and polished and rewrote and polished and paid for a professional editor and cover designer was able to release it this past November, just about a year after I started it. Now, Im working on a third. Maybe there will even be a fourth.

Heres what Ive learned:

1.As an Indie author, you are chief cook and bottle washer, table setter, waitress and sign painter and ad copy writer. You are everything. If there is a typo, you cant shake your head and say, “Oh, that stupid publisher of mine.” But have no fear, there are a whole lot of good people (editors, designers, formatters, publicists) out there waiting for you to hire them. 

2. Write your heart. I had all sorts of people, which included fans and readers, who wanted me to continue in Christian romantic suspense. I could not. My heart wasnt there. (Cue the spray paint.)

3. Use NaNoWriMo each November to get down the skeleton of the book. At the end of that crazy month you will be surprised at how much work is done on the book.

4. Hire professionals. I shouldnt even have to say this - but get professional editors, cover designers, formatters, proofers etc. 

5. Schedule your days as if you had a contract. Back when I was writing for publishing companies, my normal output was a book every twelve to 18 months. Im a slow and careful writer, and it does take me that long. No matter what I do, I can’t make that timeline any faster. The time it takes is the time it takes.

6. Dont let people tell you that good writers always outline. Dont let people tell you that good writers write never outline. Your book is your baby. About a hundred years ago when I was a young mother and had small babies, I remember all of the “advice” that threatened to turn me into a neurotic new mother. I finally learned to simply smile and thank  people for their unsolicited advice, and then do my own thing regarding my child. Your book is your baby. You know whats best for it. 

7. Give yourself permission not to do any of the above. Writing should be a joy not a burden.

Linda Hall
Award-winning author Linda Hall has written twenty mystery novels plus numerous short stories. She has written eighteen novels for traditional publishers like WaterBrook Press, Random House and Harlequin. In the last couple of years, however, she has decided to go it alone, and is now Indie publishing her mysteries and stories, and loves the freedom and control this brings.
Most of her novels have something to do with the sea. She grew up in New Jersey and it’s along it’s shorelines that her love of the ocean was born. during the summer they basically move aboard their 34’ sailboat
Linda has achieved the rank of Senior Navigator, the highest rank possible in the national boating safety organization. CPS. Her Senior Navigator diploma hangs proudly on her  office wall. What this means is that she knows how to use a sextant and can ‘theoretically’ find her way home by looking at the stars.
Her new mystery series, Night Watch and The Bitter End feature a female boat captain who happens upon mystery and murders on the high seas.
During the summer she and her husband basically move aboard their 34’ sailboat aptly named Mystery. and sail down from their home province of New Brunswick, Canada
She and her husband Rik have two grown children, seven grandchildren and one very spoiled cat named Captain Hook.
The Bitter End -

Twitter: @writerhall


GBPool said…
You are so right that writing should be a joy, not a burden. And if you are doing it right, the work will get better.
Linda Hall said…
Thank you so much for your thoughts, GB. You are so right.
Diane Burton said…
Good advice, esp. #7. If writing isn't a joy, your readers will know. Much success on your career move.

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