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Thursday, April 02, 2015

Indies Wear a Lot of Hats

Dan Walsh is the award-winning and bestselling author of 15 books, including The Unfinished Gift, The Dance and When Night Comes. 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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If I could make the title of this post a little longer, I would add: "Hybrids Wear Even a Few More."
Readers of this blog likely know these terms already, but for the sake of any newcomers I'll briefly explain. An "indie" is an author who self publishes their books or uses a small independent press. A "hybrid" is an author who publishes books both ways, as an indie and also with a traditional publisher.
Though I'm now more of an indie, from 2008 until last Fall I had the distinct privilege of writing under multiple contracts with traditional publishers (mostly Revell and one with Guideposts). I wrote 13The Legacy cover novels that way, although the final 2 books come out this year. Technically, this makes me a hybrid author (at least for the rest of this year).
The first of these 2 final books releases this week. It's called The LegacyIt's the last book in the 4-book Restoration series, co-authored with Gary Smalley. I have one more traditionally-published book coming out in September, called Keeping Christmas (obviously, a Christmas novel).
Although the writing work is done for these 2 books, I'm still having to do all the regular marketing and promotional work I've done with my other traditionally published novels (interviews, blog tour, social media, etc.).
But now, I'm having to mix this work in while wearing a number of new hats as an indie author. In the last few months, I've released my first 2 indie books. My first suspense novel called When Night Comes, and a brand-new 31-Day devotional called PeWhen Night Comes smallerrfect Peace. For those reading this during Easter week, you might be interested to know, you can get When Night Comes all week through Easter Sunday for only 99 Cents (Kindle only). Click Here to check it out.
At the moment, I'm also writing my next indie novel, the first in a trilogy called Rescuing Finley. Finley is a shelter dog who winds up rescuing the female inmate who trains him and the Afghan war vet who adopts him (may even be a love story brewing here). This series will be written in the same genre my readers are used to (more like The Unfinished Gift and The Reunion).
I hope to finish Rescuing Finley by the end of this month, then complete the 2nd novel in the series, Saving Parker, later this year. Once Finley is finished, I'll put on one of my new indie hats as I supervise the editing and proofreading of the book. At the same time, I'll be wearing another hat: supervising the photography and cover design. After coming up with the cover concept for When Night Comes, I hired a graphic artist to actually design the cover. Perfect Peace cover idea
But with my second indie book, the devotional Perfect Peace, I decided to wear that hat, too. I designed the cover myself from scratch, front to back. I think it came out pretty nice. Here's a picture of it on the right. If you'd like to preview or order it on Amazon, the Kindle version is only $2.99. The print edition came out really nice. It sells for $9.99.
Speaking of "front to back," brings up another hat I've had to wear. That is, creating from scratch all the text and cover copy for the back of the book and all the promotional materials. Turns out, it's a lot harder than it looks. There's a real skill to shrinking an entire book down to a single paragraph, one that simultaneously sparks interest in the reader but doesn't give too much away.
Once I finish writing and rewriting Rescuing Finley, supervising the editorial process, overseeing the cover design, and coming up with the promotional copy for the back cover, it'll be time to wear another hat: Marketing and Publicity Director. It'll be up to me to get advance copies of the book into the right hands, influential people who will hopefully love the book and want to help me spread the word about its upcoming release.
Once it releases, I'll put on my final hat: personally engage and respond to all the promo activity generated by the book (hopefully, all the magazine and blog interviews, reader emails and social media).
I have to admit...when I started off on this indie adventure, I had no idea of all the work involved. Even so, I really enjoy wearing all these hats and wouldn't want to have it any other way. I'd love to hear how other indies juggle all these additional tasks while still keeping their left brain free to write their novels (or is it the right-brain?).

7 comments:

Ron Estrada said...

I hear ya, Dan. I published the first of my YA series a couple weeks ago. And then the real work began. I have two more books in editing stage and one in draft. I have to find a higher caliber cover artist for the series, a daunting task in iteself, and I have to schedule promotions. It's a lot of work. But I like work that I consider value added. Every task is a necessary step toward my success as a writer. I still plan on going the traditional route with my middle grade books (the first is one of those in editing), but I dread the query letters, synopsis writing, and all the other "non value added" work that goes with it. My only purpose for going trad at all is for the exposure it will bring me. To me, that's a fair trade-off.

Thanks for the post, Dan. And I loved When Night Comes. God bless.

Sally said...

Yes, it's a lot of work, but it's so rewarding! I love it.

With my next release, I'll be working with a virtual assistant, a real pro who can take a lot of the marketing burden from me. Just knowing I'll have her help has already mentally lightened my load. I'm eager to see how much of a difference that makes for me.

Jan said...

Good list of hats, Dan! And rinse, repeat for each new book and series. I do agree that the work is hard and the hours long, but at the end of the day, I do get paid for all the hats I wear. And I see this paycheck every month like clockwork.

There are many benefits to managing my own book production team. For one, I can hire and fire my editors at will. I have the final say in my cover design. And I get the last word in what sort of books I write and when I want them published. Needless to say, I'm a happy indie author.

Dan Walsh said...

Ron,

One thing I do like about all these "value-added tasks" is that, as an indie, they are once-and-done. You pay the cost once up front. With all the overhead being built in the traditional route, you wind up paying for all these things forever as a percentage of the amount the pub is getting. Also, I love getting real-time results to your marketing efforts. I can know everyday whether something I'm trying is working or not. With my publisher, I was always in the dark, except once every 6 months when the royalty statement would come in, and I'd stare at it dumbly trying to decipher the maze.

Dan Walsh said...

Sally,

I'd love to see how this works out for you. Right now, I'm better off doing everything myself. But I can see if I had 3-4 books out and doing as well, getting some quality help could be a good thing. Hope it works out for you.

Dan Walsh said...

Jan,

I agree, and now enjoy, all the reasons you mentioned about the upside of being an indie. And thanks for all you do over at the CIA group on Facebook. You are one of the main reasons that group is so effective.

Sally said...

Dan, I'll report back! :) Hopefully the book will be out late this year, and I'll have some good info.