Traditional, Indie, and Everything in Between

by Bonita Y. McCoy

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More publishing choices for writers

Writers often hear the experts comparing the differences between Indie and Traditional publishing. They have classes at conferences and tons of blogs on this topic, but in today’s publishing world, the publishing question isn’t that simple. As the old saying goes, all roads lead to Rome.

We are in a wonderful new age of publishing and just as the building of the Roman roads opened up a whole new world of trade and exploration, the onset of digital eBooks in 2007 and the explosion of small presses across the country have given writers more publishing options than ever before.

In Jane Friedman’s article “The Key Book Publishing Paths:2018”, she references not two but six paths that writers can pursue in order to publish their work.

Those paths include large to mid-size publishers, the big five, small presses, hybrid publishing, Indie publishing, and publishing on social media.

So, the question is no longer how do I publish, but rather, what are my publishing options and which one best fits my goals?

Writers publish for varying reasons. You can see that by visiting different writing groups. Some are interested in literary excellence, others in telling a good yarn, still others want to leave the family stories behind for the next generation.  Then there are those of us who are taking our writing and turning it into a career.

But whatever your reasons for wanting to publish, there is an avenue for you to take.

The large to mid-sized publishers and the big five offer a writer great opportunity. They usually provide editing, cover design, some marketing, and some form of an advance payment for your story. They also shoulder all the financial risk. So, even if the story doesn’t sell well for some reason, you’ve made something for your efforts.

The big guys can also get your book into brick and mortar retailers, be it bookstores or chain stores such as Costco or Wal-Mart, giving your work more visibility.

So, if one of your publishing goals is to see your book on a shelf at the local book nook then one of the mid-size guys might be for you.

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Publishing changes over the years.

On the opposite end of the spectrum is social publishing. That is where you set your work free in the wild on a social media platform. There are many out there for doing just this such as Wattpad, Medium, Write.as, and Writers Café.  These are usually Serial story sites where the writer publishes segments or chapters of his story daily or weekly. This is great for garnering a fan base.

Of course, there is the writers own blog on his website, Tumblr, or BlogSpot for those who want to share articles, data, and content with their audience. These sites build audience trust and let them get to know the person behind the writing.

If your publishing goals are to grow an audience, get quick feedback, and experiment with writing styles, then this is the way to go.

Small presses, Indie, and going hybrid are the bread and butter of the writer’s existence.

Small presses are a wonderful addition to the publishing world. They give the writer a more personal experience with the publishing staff which helps to develop that much-needed trust. They also give the writer accountability for deadlines, help with editing and cover design, as well as assistance with marketing. Publishing with a small press can open doors as a speaker and teacher, allowing the writer opportunities that aren’t always available to Indie authors.

So, if your goal is to speak as well as to write and you want a more close-knit community, then a small press would be ideal for you.

Of all the roads that lead to Rome, Indie is the one many consider the back alley or the shortcut. However, Indie writers are true entrepreneurs. The thought of doing it all themselves and having control over every aspect of the writing and business components does not put them off. Instead, they learn the ins and outs of the entire process, allowing them to make better career decisions based on industry facts and their own experience.

Those who are “going Indie” tend to delegate many of the jobs such as cover design and editing to others who have more experience and talent in these areas in order to assure they put out a quality product. This means the writer shoulders the financial risk.

The Indie writer will also have critique partners, beta readers, and mentors to help keep their writing on track. When needed, they hire accountants and personal assistants for the business side of the writing career. If done well, an Indie author can enjoy a long, profitable career while being at the heart of the decision-making process.

So, if your goal is to make a career out of writing and you want to be in on all the decisions, then going Indie is for you.

In our present publishing market, a writer is no longer tied to doing only one option. Many well-known authors are publishing some of their stories, that don’t match up with the needs of their traditional publishers, on their own, creating for themselves a career as a hybrid author.

Hybrid writers take their experience from the traditional publishing world and combine it with the freedom of Indie publishing. This form of publishing allows an author to try a new genre, get their feet wet with a pen name, or put out works that don’t fit on any of the normal bookstore shelves.

So, if you’re an already published author and you want to try a new genre or put out that unique story that’s on your heart, the option of doing both Indie and traditional might be for you.

Never before in history have there been so many opportunities for the writing community, so many roads leading to Rome. Small press, Indie, or the big five, it’s all about your writing goals and what publishing option best fits your needs. No matter what the experts say there are more than two roads that lead to your publishing dream.

Writing Prompt: The idea of going Indie thrilled Carol; so much so, she was having trouble sleeping. Not wanting to wake Harold, she got up and tiptoed out of the room.

Click to Tweet: The question is no longer how do I publish, but rather, what are my publishing options and which one best fits my goals? #IndiePublishing #amwriting

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Bonita Y. McCoy hails from the Great State of Alabama where she lives on a five-acre farm with two horses, two dogs, two cats, and one husband who she’s had for over twenty-nine years. She is a mother to three mostly grown sons and two beautiful daughters-in-law, one who joined the family from Japan. She loves God, and she loves to write. Her blog and novels are an expression of both these passions. Drop by and visit her on Facebook/bonita.mccoy or bonitaymccoyauthor or at her website bonitaymccoy.com.  Her new release Truth Be Told can be found on Amazon.

 

First Saturday Extra: Indie Author Traci Tyne Hilton

Today, we are super excited to welcome popular Indie author, Traci Tyne Hilton. She’s published over 20 books and teaches publishing at conferences and writer’s groups around the country.
Traci, tell us a little about yourself.
Traci: I’m a mom first, publishing nut second. My two daughters are teens now, but when I started writing novels, they were toddlers! Everyone told me time flies, but I had no idea. Keeping that balance between mom and obssessive publisher is hard work. My indie friends harass me for not having good enough focus, and my kids ride me for being on my laptop all day long. But what can you do? I wouldn’t give up either role.

When and why did you decide to go the Indie publishing route?

Traci: I fell into indie publishing. The short story is that I participated in Nanowrimo for a few years as a young mom. In 2009, I completed a novel and achieved my award of a free Createspace paperback. After you make your paperback Createspace asks you if you want to make your book available for sale on Amazon. I said: “Why not?”

A few months later I was encouraged to make it an ebook, so I did that, too. It sold ten thousand copies that winter and I was hooked.

Do you hire an editor or use Beta readers to try and perfect your work? 

Traci: Not the first time! Whoo-boy, did I learn my lesson!

But even now I seem to have a hard time keeping a good proofreader–the really talented ones book up fast and get too busy for my somewhat spontaneous needs, lol.

Please share three marketing tips for our friends considering Indie publishing.

Traci:

  1. Buy ads.
  2. Buy ads.
  3. Buy ads.

and a bonus for you all: Buy ads. Buy all the ads you can at all the sites you can. Keep close track of sales on the days your ads run to figure out which sites work well for you, then buy more ads at those sites.

What mistakes did you make when you first started out?

Traci: Well, I already mentioned I didn’t have any editing whatsoever when I launched my first book!  Don’t do that! The indie world is way too competitive for that kind of rookie mistake these days.

Also, take your work seriously as a business. Have a plan and work it. Your success will come from the consistent release of quality books, and that, in reality, is just a lot of work.

 Any final words?

Traci: I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of both the indie literature community and the Christian literature community. It’s been rewarding, challenging, and immensely satisfying. If I could do anything different at all it would be to spend every penny I have ever earned on editing and advertising. Thanks so much for chatting with me today!

So glad you dropped by! We loved having you as our guest and I know our readers will gain a lot of insight from the interview. Thanks again!

 


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Maura Garrison Mysteries, The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven Romantic Mysteries. When not writing she has been known to knit socks, play the spoons, and teach Sunday School.

She was the Mystery/Suspense Category winner for the 2012 Christian Writers of the West Phoenix Rattler Contest, a finalist for Speculative Fiction in the same contest, and has a Drammy from the Portland Civic Theatre Guild. She blogs at TheWriteConversation.blogspot.com.

An active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and Oregon Christian Writers, Traci teaches publishing at conferences and writer’s groups around the country.

Traci attended Fackelbararnas Bibelskola in Holsby Brunn, Sweden, and earned a degree in History from Portland State University. She lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy teens, and their pets, Doctor Watson and Kitty Biscuits.

Learn more about Traci at www.tracihilton.com


The Book of Judges

All things work together for the good for those who believe. Too bad Maura Garrison, a private investigator, isn’t a believer. The murder she was hired to solve hinges on its parallel in the Old Testament book, Judges, but she was just dumped by her pastor-husband so the Bible is the last thing she wants to turn to for answers.

Rick Styles, Maura’s husband, is a popular marriage and family counselor with a thriving writing and speaking side business. He’s also the member of a city council committee dedicated to getting homeless children off the streets of Portland, Oregon, a worthy goal that seems to have attracted the attention of a sick and twisted killer.

She’s working the hardest case she’s ever faced during the hardest time of her life with few friends she can count on and only her cat Rhoda for support. Solving this crime means digging deep into issues Maura wants desperately to avoid, will she be able to see her way through this tangle in time to stop a serial killer?

The Book of Judges: A Maura Garrison Mystery is classic Christian murder in the spirit of Chesterton, Sayers, Peretti, and Rushford.

Hilton’s prose is beautiful and clever. She draws readers into the story with vivid descriptions of places and emotion states. –The BookLife Prize

Hilton opens up a thought-provoking mystery in The Book of Judges, exploring the idea of forgiveness and belief through Maura’s personal relationships. A must-read for mystery lovers! –Reader’s Favorites

Links:  Amazon

Barnes and Noble

iTunes

Indie Publishing: My Journey

By Gail Johnson

If you google indie publishing, you’ll find umpteen dozen sites offering advice on how to publish your book. There, you’ll also find an opinion on why, where, and when to do it. Believe me!

Warning: You can spend years obtaining endless trails of information, or you can write a book and publish that puppy. One thing is certain, you’ll have to make your own decision on what is the best technique for you.

TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalIn 2017, I published my memoir, Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past. In this article I will share a little of the process and some surprises I encountered through that experience. Note: I am not, nor do I claim to be, an expert, so I’ve added links for you to discover your own path. Let’s get started.

Write

The first step is obvious. Write your story.

Editing

The second step should be obvious. We are not perfect. We will make mistakes. The more eyes you have on your story the better to catch those mistakes. Hire an editor. Apply those edits. I hired a developmental editor and a copy editor. It was one of the best decisions I made during my journey.

Formatting

Some writers hire formatters while others do their own formatting. I did a little of both. For the print book, I used a template by Book Design Templates. For my e-book, I hired a formatter. The reason for that was I ran into problems on the e-book that neither the template techs nor Amazon techs could figure out. As weeks turned into months, I chose to hire someone to do the e-book. (I would like to add, a friend used Book Design Templates for her historical novel and had no problems.) I still recommend the templates.

Covers

You can order e-book covers any time during the writing process. But a print book cover must have several elements in place before ordering. Formatting your book will give you the needed page number to determine the width of your spine. No guessing. The page number must be exact.

By now, you should have the title and an idea what you’d like the front of your book to look like. To choose your photo you can visit the following sites. You can either choose a free photo or you can buy one. The main thing is to make sure you get the rights to the photograph. The following sites were suggested to me.

Bigstockphoto.com
Depositphotos.com
Unsplash.com
Shutterstock.com
Fotolia.com
Istockphoto.com
Dreamstime.com
Peopleimages.com

Another thing you will need for your cover is a blurb. A blurb is a description of your story printed on the back of your book. Psst. I had someone to help me write mine. You will also need an author picture and bio.

The last thing to think about for your print cover is the ISBN number. Some authors buy their own while others use a free CreateSpace ISBN. Read more here.

Now you are ready to order your cover or make your own if you so choose. I’m not that creative. I hired a cover designer.

Categories and Keywords

While you wait on the cover, think about your categories and keywords you’ll use once you’ve uploaded your manuscript. Categories describe the genre while keywords are the words you think people will use when searching for your book.

For instance, my book is a memoir, but it can be, and has been, used as a devotional and a study guide. So, three out of the seven keywords were memoir, devotional, and study guide.

Publishing

This part of the journey was a surprise to me. When my covers arrived in my inbox, the e-book was a jpeg, and the print copy was a pdf. Who knew? Next, I visited my friendly neighborhood publisher, such as KDP, CreateSpace, BN, IngramSpark. Again everyone has their opinions.

As with every new project, we may feel apprehension in the doing. I did! So, let me encourage you. It isn’t as hard as you think. Once you create your account, you’ll be taken to a dashboard that will lead you through the entire process. Just follow the direction and you’ll do fine. And if you run into any problems, contact the publisher. I had no problems getting my questions answered.

After uploading a pdf of your cover and manuscript to CreateSpace, they will review, print, and snail mail you a copy of your book. You will need to proof it. If you find a problem, correct it, and reorder. They will send you another proof. When you are satisfied with the result, you are ready to share your story with the world.

So there you have some of the interesting things I learned while publishing my book. If you’re an indie, what things would you add? If you published your book, what were the surprises in your journey to publication?

Click to Tweet: “So there you have some of the interesting things I learned on my publishing journey.” @GailJohnson87 for @InspiredPrompt #indie #author

Writing Prompt: Today, make a plan and add a date to publish your book.

June and July Winners

Summer.

Sunshine. Swimming. Vacations. Hot weather. Winners.

Winners? Always at the Inspired Prompt. In fact, the months of June and July heated up with  winners. Who were they? Read on…

June

Melissa (Mimi) won a copy of Deborah Dee Harper’s upcoming release, Misjudge, or one of my Laramie books (winner’s choice!)

LelandandBecky won Jennifer Slattery’s book, Dancing in the Rain. Congrats!

Laura Shuck won a print copy of River to Redemption or choice of Ann H. Gabhart’s  other recent Revell novels. Woo hoo!

July

Ellen Fannon has offered an e-book of Other’s Peoples Children, to LelandandBecky. Yay!

Michael Ehret graciously gifted Laurel Blount  with an e-book version of Coming Home.  Way to go!

Marilyn R. won a copy of Laura V. Hilton’s latest Amish novel, Firestorm. Cheer!

Glenn Haggerty recently released Chase, the third book in the Intense Book series and the winner of this e-book is Karen Sargent.

Cara Lynn James has offered a paperback copy of Love on a Dime to Caryl Kane .

Linda Yezak has won 3 silver bookmarks that coincide with the Promises to Zion series by Traci Wooden Carlisle.

And I want to shout a big THANK YOU to all our faithful readers for taking the time to stop by and comment. We appreciate YOU!

Please continue to leave comments while you wait to see if you might be our next winner…

3 Questions Wednesday with Jennifer Hallmark

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

I’m really excited about this week’s post since the guest is … ME! I’m a blogger and author, thrilled that my debut novel will release in June, 2019.  I’ve been a stay-at-home mom, chicken farmer, and am currently a full-time writer. Now to take a stab at these questions.

First question—Can you describe yourself in three words?

Jennifer:  Organized:  Yes, that person that makes lists of her lists would be me. I prefer the term organized to obsessive. The key word here is prefer. 🙂

Loyal: If you’re my friend or family, I’ll go to bat for you. I might not agree with you and I could get mad but I’ll be in your corner if you need me.

Studious: That probably sounds better than geek. But if the term fits…

Now, the second question is a bit tougher.

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

Jennifer:  My debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, is actually set in the South where I live. My unsold fantasy novel has some similarities to England so I believe I’d go to the English countryside and find one of those picturesque villages to stay for a few weeks. Would a little cottage with a maid and a cook be asking too much?

I’m ready to go. That brings us to question number three—

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

Jennifer:  I love music so much and have thought about theme songs for my books already. 🙂 Right now, I really like the song by Matthew West called “All In.” I feel like that’s where I am at the moment.

Thanks so much for stopping by to visit with me! Talk to y’all real soon …

Click to Tweet: 3 Questions Wednesday’s guest is Jennifer Hallmark, blogger, author, and retired chicken farmer. Learn more about her and win a Walmart gift card via @InspiredPrompt. #WritersLife #amwriting

Readers,  if I could have described myself with one more word, it would have been practical. So I’d like to bless someone with a practical gift, a $10 Walmart card. Please leave a comment with your answer to one of the above questions to be entered…


Alabama Inspired Fiction is my website and within, you’ll find my blog, Small Acts of Kindness. I’ve just refurbished the site and it’s still somewhat under construction as I make ready for my debut release. Please check it out and subscribe if you’d like to read about Small Acts of Kindness each Monday and (back by popular demand) in September, Favorite Friday Fiction.

And if you want to really make me shout for joy, take a moment to sign up for my monthly newsletter. Starting in September, I’ll be sharing vignettes (or glimpses) of my novels secondary characters. It’ll be fun and I think you’ll like my southern friends. 🙂 And, as always, I also share a scrumptious recipe.


Jennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and fantasy, an interesting combination that keep the creative juices flowing. She’s published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations.

When she isn’t babysitting grandkids or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on one of her two blogs. Or even watching American Ninja Warrior.