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Monday, June 29, 2015

Indie Publishing with Patty Smith Hall

When Ane asked me to write a column on indie publishing for Novel Rocket, my first thought was why me? At that time, I only had one self-published novella under my belt and even with that, I had tremendous amounts of help for some very savvy ladies who had more insights into this subject that I ever could. But then it hit me—while indie publishing isn’t anything new, more writers, both published and pre-pubbed, are moving into this exciting new arena.

Including myself. So who better to share what I learn as I jump into the fray of the indie industry?

But why chose to go indie rather than traditional? There are several reasons. For me, it was the opportunity to get my work in front of readers at a pace I felt more comfortable with. By the time my next book hits the shelves in January, it will be almost two years since my last book, twenty-four months in which my readers have had time to forget about me. That is, if I let them. So I decided to publish a couple of novellas and one full length novel on Amazon or Barnes and Noble in the meantime. One, because even if it doesn’t reach all my readers, it can reach a large majority of them and two, it helps me pick up new readers that might go back and buy my already published series.

There are other reasons too. Creative freedom, the entrepreneurial feeling of being in control of every aspect of your work from cradle to grave, setting your own deadlines and working within the scope of your ‘other’ life. There are probably a dozen other reasons, but like I said early, I’m relatively new at this so I’m still learning.

So what little piece of wisdom can I offer today in regards to indie publishing? What do I wished someone had told me before my first novella had come out? Here it is, folks:

Don’t push the send button too soon.

Just because you’ve typed 'the end' doesn’t mean you’re actually finished. Every manuscript that is on the shelves of your local bookstore has gone through the editing process, and so it should be the same with your self published works. This rush to publication was one of the reasons why indie publishing gets a bad rap, because some writers think they’ve created a masterpiece with their first draft when what they really need to do is step back, put some time and space between them and the project then look at it with fresh eyes. Or better yet, give it to a critique partner or beta reader who doesn’t back away from telling you the truth.

I recently went through this process with the first manuscript I ever wrote. It was a story I wrote during a time of great heartache and gave me so much joy at a time when joy was the last thing I was feeling. At the time, I thought it was fantastic; the writing had just flowed out of me at times so it had to be good, didn’t it? It made the rounds at a few publishing houses, even garnered a revision letter from one but no one offered me a contract. So I saved it to my hard drive and moved on. Earlier this year, I decided to dust off that old manuscript and self publish it, but when I did my first read though, I discovered something.

It was crap.

Not all of it, but it needed some re-writes before I could even think about publishing it. Now, think about that—what if I had self published that book all those years ago the second I finished it? How many one-starred reviews do you think it would have gotten? How many readers would have never picked up another one of my books after reading that hot mess? That is why, before you  even think about hitting the send button, you put it aside for a week or two, then look at it from a fresh perspective. If you can afford it, pay for a professional edit. Tape these words to the top of your computer screen so that you can see them any time you're close to finishing a book.

Do. Not. Push. The. Send. Button. YET!

Until next time!

Patty Smith-Hall is a multi-published, award-winning author with Love Inspired Historical and Heartsong.  She currently serves as president of the ACFW-Atlanta chapter. She currently lives in North Georgia with her husband of 30+ years, Danny; two gorgeous daughters and a future son-in-love. Her next release, New Hope Sweethearts will be available in July on Amazon.


  1. Patty,

    Excellent advice and very timely.

    In this age of immediate gratification, it's difficult to realize everything we do needs time to mature. Not only each manuscript, but each of us as a writer needs the time to mature, to become the best writer we can be.

    That journey is one that never ends.

    So giving due diligence to each and every manuscript, no matter how much we love it or how glowing the reviews of family members, is vitally important.

    Especially when we're responsible for every aspect of producing a quality product.

    Thanks again.

  2. Patty, so true and so well said. Thank you!


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