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Thursday, April 07, 2016

Challenging the Status Quo

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 16 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, Rescuing Finley and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). 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 walks and spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books.


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As I write this blog post, I am a happy man. Or maybe I should say…a happy author.
That’s because of the picture on the right. It represents something that wasn’t supposed to happen. Something that “couldn’t work.”

I’m getting ready for the big release of my second novel in the Jack Turner Suspense Series, Remembering Dresden. It’s now available for pre-order on Amazon, and should be out May 5th (hoping for May 1st). Click on the title to check it out. As you can see, the covers for these two novels work fairly well together. That is intentional. They are both suspense novels, both in the same series.

But here’s the thing, 18 months ago I had just completed my 12th traditionally published novel in a totally different genre. I had the great privilege of working with a fine editorial team with a major Christian fiction publisher. I'd won numerous writing awards and many of my novels had appeared on the CBA and EPCA bestseller lists multiple times. I had, what you might call, a recognized brand. But I had also become aware that the publishing industry was going through major upheavals, and that I would likely not be re-signed (which, in fact, happened as I’d feared).

The writing had been on the wall for several months, so I had begun to learn all I could about indie publishing. The one thing I liked about becoming an indie was the complete creative control and freedom I would have to make the kinds of choices I wanted to make as an author. The one thing I didn’t like (and I didn’t like it a lot), was that I no longer had a contract or a guaranteed income. I had been writing fulltime for 4 years and loving it. As I stood at that fork in the road, I had no idea if I’d still be writing fulltime in the months to come.

Since I knew my writing world was about to turn upside down anyway, I decided I might as well take a chance and do something everyone had been telling me couldn’t be done. I decided to make my first indie novel a true suspense book (When Night Comes…the book above, on the left). It was a story I really wanted to write, but it got rejected by my publisher because it was “not my brand.” I was told readers only want to read books similar to all my “Nicholas Sparks type” books. People advised me, if you do go indie, you have to keep your first book within the brand.

I LOVE writing my Sparks-type books, but I also love reading suspense novels and have always wanted to write both. I decided, what the heck, this is my chance. If I sink, I sink. But I had a hunch it might work out...that lots of readers were like me (and didn’t only read one genre all the time). I took another chance. I went against the advice that said, if I DO write a suspense novel, by all means, write it under a different name. I wanted to see how many of my readers would take a chance with me and see if they liked me writing both kinds of books. 

As you can see by the fact that I’m getting to release Remembering Dresden in a few weeks, IT WORKED! When Night Comes has done very well. It’s sold almost 15,000 copies so far, and I’ve made almost as much as the advances I had been getting from my publisher 18 months ago. And I’m still writing fulltime (Yay)!

In the meantime, as I had promised, I released Book 1 in the Forever Home series, called Rescuing Finley. It is similar to the Sparks-type books I am more known for, and it’s doing extremely well since its release in November. It’s already received 144 Amazon reviews (avg 4.8 Stars).

I admit…seeing the 2 types of books together looks a little strange. Certainly NOT flowing with the status quo. But I’m here to say, in this brave new publishing world it can be done. I’m now able to write the way I’ve wanted to write all along and write the kinds of books I’ve wanted to write. Thankfully, enough readers have come along for the ride to make it work.

A couple of Quick Q’s: How many of you read more than one genre of books? And as writers, can anyone relate to my struggle? Are there books you’ve wanted to write but were told, it couldn't work or “Don’t you dare?”

5 comments:

writerjan said...

Of course I read books in more than one genre! Just like I shop in different stores, eat a variety of foods and keep a wide variety of friends. I'm so glad you are pursuing your dream and wish you God's blessings as you go. I've just gone indie and am following a rather steep learning curve, but it feels good to be able to make my own decisions.

Dan Walsh said...

Thank so much, "writerJan." I admit, felt very wobbly at first. Thinking, what if they're right? And these things can't possibly work? Glad to discover they were wrong. God has been very good to me. Praying his blessings on your learning curve. I didn't know a thing when I started. Now I've done 3 novels and 1 devotional, and it's a fairly smooth thing. Definitely not rocket science.

Ron Estrada said...

I think most of us want to write multiple genres. My indie books are YA spec, but I'm also working on a series of middle grade historicals, for which I'm seeking traditional publishing (got an agent very interested...stay tuned). If I only went traditional, I'd probably have to choose one or the other. But being an indie allows me to experiment and try new genres. Even more important to me is the fact that I can continue to pubish as an indie while waiting the usual two years for my traditionally published book to hit the shelves. To me, it only makes sense to go both routes.

Dan Walsh said...

Ron,

Used to be, trad publishers frowned upon these things bigtime. The changing market has forced their hand in some ways. Some contracts were even written to keep authors from exploring such options. But things are loosening up. And what they are finding is...many of things they had forbidden were for nothing. The bad things they knew would happen, didn't happen.

It will be interesting to see what emerges from this. If something else becomes "the way things are done 'round here."

Beth Steury said...

I love that a successful traditionally published author is finding success with indie publishing AND sharing it with everyone! Delving into a new genre with success is a bonus. Thanks, Dan, for daring to brave the indie waters and sharing your experiences with us.