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Thursday, October 02, 2014

I'm Going Indie - Yikes!

Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 11 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, The Dance and What Follows After. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 2 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year. Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take long walks. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books.

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My monthly column here on Novel Rocket falls on the 1st Thursday of every month. The timing couldn't be better. I have no problem thinking of a topic today. Yesterday, I did something I've never done before. After writing 13 novels under traditional publishing contracts mostly with Revell, I'm going indie with my newest novel, When Night Comes. Today, it's available for pre-order on Amazon. 


I've been following the indie trend for the past 2 years, very closely over the past 6 months. At the beginning of the summer, my wife and I decided it was time for me to jump in. I knew I was in the clear to start with this novel, because it's a story my publisher passed on when I pitched it to them 2 years ago. They liked it but felt it stretched my brand too much. It was too suspenseful.

In case you haven't read my books, they're more in the Nicholas Sparks category, love stories and family life dramas (like The Unfinished Gift, The Discovery and The Reunion). No one's forced me to write these books. I like writing them. But I also like reading and writing suspense novels (read more of them than anything else). 

So, I finished this novel over the summer while also writing my next Christmas novel for Revell (talk about feeling stretched). That novel, The Ornaments, will come out next Christmas (2015). This brings up one of the interesting upsides I've discovered about indie publishing--how quickly you can get a book into readers' hands after it's written. 

If you're good at math, you might have picked up in my bio that I have 11 novels published right now. But I've just said, When Night Comes, is my 14th book. The Ornaments is Book #12. My 4th book in the Restoration series with Gary Smalley is Book #13 (The Legacy). It takes traditional books a year to come out after I've written them. Because of that, my new indie book is coming out before both of them.

Compared to what I'm used to, it feels lightning fast. I finished When Night Comes over the summer, edited it and secured the artwork in Sept. Uploaded it for pre-order Oct 1st, and it will be ready for wide release a month later on Nov 1st.

I LOVE that. 

There have certainly been challenges. In the last few months, I've had to learn to wear a lot of new hats. As an author, I guess it's fair to say before this I've been a kept man. With a publisher like Revell, I've mostly been able to focus on...well, just writing the books.

But I've had a ton of help. Lots of writers have answered all kinds of questions, like my new friends on Facebook's Christian Indie Authors (CIA). Author friends like James Scott Bell and Randy Ingermansson have also been a great help. But perhaps no one has helped me more than fellow NR columnist and author, Brandilyn Collins. It's fair to say without her help, I'd still be months away from this point. 

So what's next? God knows (I mean that). I don't. I guess I should say what my little 3 year old grandson often says (mimicking his mother's favorite answer to his many questions)..."We'll find out."

How about you? I'd love to hear about your journey? Have any of you done the hybrid thing (writing both indie and traditional)? Gone totally indie? How's that working out? What's some of the best advice you would give? Tell me something you'd do differently if you could go back and do it again.

Oh, and while you're at it...why not CLICK HERE and pre-order my new indie suspense novel, When Night Comes. I know, shameless. But I have to be. I'm indie now.

If you're not ready to head to the register, CLICK HERE where you can read the back cover blurb, the first chapter, and a special Note I've written to my existing fans (explaining this crazy thing I'm doing).


Tamara Leigh said...

Lovely post, Dan! Welcome to the indie world. I hope you love it as much as I do.

Connie Almony said...

Dan, you've made a lot of great comments about why an author might want to go indie. It's not about a second-best option for many. It's a choice of fit. I shopped my ms to publishers for a while now. Had some serious interest, editors who loved my writing, but was also told a story set on a college campus would not sell. That may be true for traditional, but they are selling well among indie authors. I tested the waters with a novella this year and LOVED the experience. I am ALL INDIE now and will be releasing three novels over the next 12 months.
I'm VERY excited for your new venture, Dan, and wish you well!!! And yes the CIA FB page is an awesome group of indie authors who love to help each other out!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Glad you've joined the indie ranks, Dan. We're always learning from each other here and working hard to get the best books to our readers--books we are PASSIONATE about. And you know I LOVE that cover art!!!

Cynthia Hickey said...

Indie/Hybrid is the way to go. In less than three years, (I put my first indie book out May 7, 2012) I've sold over 256,000 copies of total works and was able to quit the day job. Good luck and have fun!

Connie Almony said...

Congrats, Cynthia!!!

Nicole said...

Bravo, Dan. Branching out to indie and switching up your writing/brand takes guts and a lot of effort. Again: bravo. Go for it.

Ron Estrada said...

Yup, saw you sneak into the CIA group, Dan. The Groucho glasses didn't work. It's good to see you taking the plunge. I'm still trying to trad pub my middle grade series, but will likely go indie for most of my work. The math just doesn't lie. And the complete control you have over your own sales and marketing can't be beat. I don't think this trend is going away anytime soon. If ever.

Nancy Kimball said...

Congrats again on your decision to go hybrid and so glad to have you as part of our CIA family! I am all Indie and love it. Not just because I write a niche time period but because as Connie said, it's the best fit for me.
I love being able to work and release at my own pace, as fast or slow as I need. I love being able to control cover design, interior design but most of all--price point. All the time. And then collect the direct deposits while I write the next book.
Cheering long and loud for you and the new release.

Randy Ingermanson said...

A lot of authors have gone indie thinking that it was Plan B, and that traditional publishing is Plan A. But after doing it for a while, quite a few indies have decided that being indie is actually Plan A. Best of luck to you as you launch your first indie novel, Dan! Hope you see your numbers rise (as some of us have who've gone indie.) Godspeed.

Sally Bradley said...

That's awesome, Cynthia!

Sally Bradley said...

I agree with Randy. I'd been following indie publishing for a couple years too, praying and thinking and learning. By the time I made the choice to go indie, it was because it had become the best option for me. Definitely not a second-best option. One editor had my book, and I let her know that I was taking it indie. Haven't regretted it for a moment.

The other awesome thing is to see how your marketing efforts pay off in real time. You learn quick which ad site is worth the money, how well writing those blog posts work, and how someone else's support shot your book through the roof. It's truly astonishing and cool, and I don't know that I could publish without that info again.

Dan Walsh said...

So far, so good. There's a lot to like. The only downside so far would be that "uncovered" feeling of writing without an advance. Could make far less money this way or a ton more. But I always had the sense of, "at least I can count on this."

Dan Walsh said...

Connie, I couldn't believe how much help I got and how quickly. Really a great group at CIA.

You touched on something that makes me glad the indie option has become a real thing for many writers. It's one thing to be rejected because you're writing isn't up to par (someone like that wouldn't do well if they ignored that reason). But quite another to be rejected because, in someone's judgment, the market isn't interested in your story. If you think of the books that breakaway from the pack, it's because they're a great story well told. Readers don't pay attention to those publisher trends. They read what they like. And if they like it enough, they tell others.

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Heather. I was so happy with the cover. I had almost that exact image in my mind, and tried to describe it to the folks at Couldn't believe how close it was on the first pass. It was like, "That's it!"

Dan Walsh said...

You're my new hero, Cynthia. I'd be happy with a nice slice of that :)

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Nicole. I really hope this works and I get to write both kinds of books.

Dan Walsh said...

Agree, Ron. Not unless one of those big asteroids really does come too close and knock out all those internet satellites. When you get the baby boomers and seniors on board with something, it's all over for the other guy.

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Nancy. For the kind words and all your advice.

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Randy. Hearing your story at the Burger King that morning really encouraged me. And I pretty much followed everything you said (everything I remembered anyway).

Sally, that's one thing I'm not used to at all...getting real-time numbers, either on money, marketing or on sales. Sometimes I'd have no idea and get no useful information for months.

Jan Thompson said...

So cool! Congratulations, Dan, on your super high rankings on Amazon on day one! Great cover, and in my opinion, WHEN NIGHT COMES is a must-read for fans of Michael Connelly and Mark Bertrand.

As an indie myself, I agree with others (hello fellow CIA!) re: creative and business control. As an avid reader I used to have to wait a whole year for the sequels. Since I started reading more indie novels, including those by hybrid authors, I realized that some authors are so prolific they can write way more books than traditional publishers can handle every year.

But one thing though. Going indie is not for everyone. I have to juggle two hats: author and publisher. That's why indie communities such as the CIA are so helpful as we talk shop, share book production and marketing ideas, and support one another in our individual indie/hybrid publishing journeys.

Again, congratulations on the new book!

Dan Walsh said...

Thanks Jan. And you're right. I think you need to have something of an entrepreneurial bent for all the non-writing things, or else you'd become overwhelmed.

Bruce Judisch said...

Interesting post, Dan. I'm toying with the same idea, but I've not yet established myself in the publishing community to go indie, I don't think. I've also discovered I'm not much of an entrepreneur, so I'd need to partner or get into a collective, or something. (Maybe I just answered my own question...).

Anyway, great perspective. Thanks. Oh, and I've pre-ordered your book. :-)

Cheers! Bruce

Joanne Bischof said...


Thanks for this great post! It's helpful to see your prospective and to get a glimpse into this journey! I'm going hybrid right now after having published 3 novels with Multnomah/Random House. At first, the Indie route was incredibly intimidating, but it's turning out to be so much fun...and tons of hard work. I think it's the hard work and seeing all the different facets come together that MAKES it so rewarding. Thank you for sharing your experiences!

Heather Day Gilbert said...

Yes, Jan, as we know, going indie isn't a walk in the park! So many hats indies have to juggle...cover art, edits, formatting, uploading, marketing...the list goes on. At least we have the option to outsource things we need to/can afford to. It's a whole new world, isn't it?