Hello, friends. It would seem I have a new “title” in my publishing journey. I am now what is termed a “hybrid.” I am sooo not savvy when it comes to technology and the numerous terms identified with initials or otherwise used on the Internet. In many ways, I feel like a newbie in publishing all over again. Believe it or not, I even looked up the term “hybrid” in the dictionary and discovered it’s generally used in terms of biology and genetics, especially in terms of sexual reproduction. Okay, then. In the scope of publishing, however, from what I understand, it means that I am now publishing my own work independently as well as being published by a “traditional” publisher.
Have you, like me, noticed how many “big name” CBA authors are now testing the waters of indie/self publishing? I could name some of these writers, but I’m sure you’re every bit as aware. Some established authors are publishing either their backlist or retired titles, while others are penning novellas and selling them at a very low or reduced price while they continue to produce full-length novels. Why, you may ask? Bottom line? Not that Christian authors are primarily motivated for financial reasons, of course, but let’s face it: the more people that buy our books puts the proverbial bread on the table, especially if writing is our full-time job. Indie publishing can bring a steady income in-between publication of full-length novels. In particular, readers familiar with a specific author are more willing to grab one of their indie published books for a low cost rather than risk their hard-earned money on an unproven author.
It’s my contention this upsurge in indie publishing would not have happened even as recently as two or three years ago. I remember a friend of mine attending a conference for indie writers in Indy three years ago where Michael Hyatt was the featured speaker. In essence, Mr. Hyatt’s message to the conference attendees was this, “Indie publishing is no longer a stigma.” He told them, in fact, that indie publishing was the wave of the future, and they were all a big part of it. Well, folks, it seems that wave has arrived on our shores with full force.
Quite by accident, I personally “fell into” indie publishing when my publisher informed me late last year of the decision to pull out of publishing altogether. While this didn’t come as a complete surprise, I was left somewhat befuddled. In a short period of time, I had to scramble in order to get my books relisted so my books would remain on Amazon. In the midst of the holidays and the first 16-day vacation I’d planned in years. I’m actually still involved with the process of relisting my books formerly published by my now ex-publisher on the other online retailer websites. Like everything else, it’s been a learning experience, but it’s pushing me, expanding my horizons, and helping me to grow, even in terms of my writing and creativity.
Call it God’s plan, but He prepared me for this new step in publishing. I’d written a standalone novel, Catching Serenity, during the previous two years, but in no way was it complete. Believing it might be a good time in-between novels in the series—and to demonstrate to readers (and myself, perhaps), that I could write something other than my series characters—I picked up Catching Serenity, dusted it off, and proceeded to complete and spit-polish the manuscript. I hired the same book cover designer used for my series and he created an awesome cover. So, the in fall of 2013, I released my first completely “indie” novel with no idea what to expect. I’ve been blessed in that it’s experienced steady sales, and I firmly believe because of a core base of readers I’ve developed with my series, it’s catching on, slowly but surely.
Am I recommending you go indie? Not at all. If you have a solid, well-written manuscript, I firmly believe you will get a contract with a traditional publisher. It’s always been my opinion, and still is, that being a member of the ACFW, while not a prerequisite, is a huge step in the direction of getting a contract with a traditional publisher. I’ve recommended the ACFW to any number of aspiring authors, with varying results. Simply put, most of the new authors being contracted today are members of the ACFW. You won’t find a better training ground and available resources and contacts for the relatively low annual membership cost.
So, now I’m a hybrid. I’ve joined a new Christian indie group on Facebook, and it’s already been very informative and helpful. To the point where it can be somewhat overwhelming. It’s amazing to me the numbers of unpublished writers who have a wealth of knowledge far beyond what I will ever have. In some cases, they’ve already spent quite a bit of money on editors and book covers before ever sending their manuscript to agents for consideration. Some are simply tired of trying to find an agent or publisher and want to publish their books, even if only their friends and families buy them. Like everything else, lots of scenarios. Different pathways, different goals and needs.
Everyone’s publishing journey is different, as we all know. But the new wave of indie publishing is bringing a lot of new options into the equation.
I’d love to hear your opinions about hybrid and/or indie publishing.
JoAnn is the author of four books (and counting) in the Lewis Legacy Series and a standalone novel, Catching Serenity, as well as Christmas novellas, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and its sequel, Starlight, Star Bright. Next up in 2014: a Passport to Romance novella, Echoes of Edinburgh, and Moonbeams, Book 5 in the Lewis Legacy Series. JoAnn lives with her family in Southern Indiana and is an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm. Sharing the hope and joy to be found in a relationship with Christ is her passion and JoAnn adores writing and reading Christian romance!