How I chose to Indie Publish
There are many ways to get your work in front of audiences in today’s marketplace. For ten years I believed in the writer’s dream of penning a breakout novel, getting a dream agent, and securing a six-figure book deal.
I’ve come to realize how improbable this is. While it may happen one day, I know that it is a rare occurrence that probably won’t and I’m okay with that. I want to write and get stories in front of as many people as possible. I want to entertain people, have them leave reality for a while and jump into a world that I’ve created.
Over the past four years I researched the publishing business, on what agents were looking for, and on how to write the best query letter I could. I studied and tailored my queries to each agent I hand selected. I went to writer’s conferences and workshops making amazing connections with other writers and a few agents. I also studied self-publishing and the
amazing successes that so many indie’s were having. Both appealed to me for different reasons.
I decided to try the traditional route to publication and began querying my first YA urban fantasy novel. It received a positive response but it was also right at the time when that genre wasn’t as desired by agents so I stopped after about 35 queries and wrote a thriller, Pretty Wicked. It had an even better response from agents but in the end multiple agents
told me that it was going to be a tough sell because it didn’t neatly fit the box of traditional publishing. It was too dark for YA, but it read like a YA so it wasn’t quite adult. I had written a crossover book that the majority of agents said they loved but couldn’t sell.
Well I loved it too and I had faith in it. I thought to myself, “I can’t let this book sit in a drawer somewhere!” One agent said something that really resonated with me. She told me that it was a great book and while she couldn’t sell it, she believed I could.
I thought a lot about her words, completely unsure of what to do. I had been toying with the idea of self-publishing and going indie for a few years but never seriously. I had the dream of the traditional road that I’d witnessed a handful of friends go down and it looked wonderful. But I had to accept the fact that I did not want to alter my book to fit into a
“box” and I didn’t want to give up. So where did that leave me?
I considered small presses and even queried a few, but they can generally be a bit slower at reading and accepting manuscripts. This meant if it was accepted it could still be an additional one to two-year wait before the books release. I really didn’t want to sit on this for another year or two. I was ready now! After doing so much exploration and listening to the wise words of many indies (including a few close friends) I saw that I didn’t have to give up my control and put my work in someone else’s hands. I didn’t need to wait for a yes, or be told what I was or was not allowed to do with my art. I could bring a quality and professional product into the marketplace, directly to readers without a traditional publisher.
It was not an easy decision. I hummed and hawed about it for over a year, but I finally took the leap. And I love it.
I enjoy the control, the creative process, learning new skills, and broadening my business mind. In fact, the things I believed I wouldn’t be good at, or didn’t want to be responsible for, have quickly become challenges I want to surmount.
In July I decided to go indie with Pretty Wicked. The book released a few weeks ago on September 30th with great reviews so far. What I hoped would happen was happening! Readers were finding my book and enjoying it for what it was regardless of where it would’ve been shelved in a brick and mortar store. This goes to show that it is possible to please readers even if you don’t fit into a traditional box that can be clearly labeled.
During my journey a few lovely agents expressed that even though they couldn’t sell my book, they loved my voice and requested to see more of my writing. In time, I may query again. I am certainly not opposed to traditional publishing. Having an agent would be great and allow for more wonderful opportunities not available for indies quite yet.
I want to encourage writers to go after their dreams and try whatever means they can to get their work out in front of readers. There is no singular way to publish anymore and being a hybrid author seems to be the best of both worlds. Well, you don’t see Hugh Howey complaining. 😉
I have learned an incredible amount since choosing to go indie and definitely have more to learn, but I am excited and looking towards the future, whatever that may bring.
Kelly Charron is the author of YA and adult horror, psychological thrillers and urban fantasy novels, all with gritty, murderous inclinations and some moderate amounts of humor. She spends far too much time consuming true crime television (and chocolate) while trying to decide if yes, it was the husband, with the wrench, in the library. She lives with her husband and cat, Moo Moo, in Vancouver, British Columbia.
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