I don’t like change. I much prefer the security and comfort of habit. So when I’m forced to make a change, the decision is one that takes much soul-searching and deliberation on my part. I’m not the kind of person who climbs a mountain just because it’s there. I need a really good reason to step out of my comfort zone, lace up my hiking boots, and ascend upwards into the unknown.
Unfortunately, the publishing industry is fraught with change lately. Gone are the days when an author had a home for life and the people she worked with at the publishing house became like a second family to her. These days there’s a lot of divorce going on in publishing. More and more authors are being dropped because their sales aren’t strong enough. Or authors decide for various reasons that they need to leave their publishers. Both situations are very scary for the author. No matter which party institutes the divorce proceedings, fear of the unknown can overwhelm an author.
Nearly two years ago I realized I needed to institute a change in my life. I didn’t want to, but after several long months of soul-searching, I knew it was time to climb the mountain. So I laced up those hiking boots and walked away from two new publishing contracts—one for additional books in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series and one for a new mystery series.
Was I terrified? You bet! Being published by a traditional publishing house is the Holy Grail to all aspiring authors. Or it used to be. Times have changed. Self-publishing, now often referred to as indie publishing, no longer has the stigma it once did because authors are in control and not dependent on vanity presses.
So I went indie, continuing the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series on my own, adding a series of connected mini-mysteries, reissuing my backlist, and publishing some unsold romances and romantic suspense books under the pen name Emma Carlyle. To date I’ve published sixteen indie books, the most recent, Patchwork Peril, an Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery, which released the other day.
Would I regret my decision? After all, not only had I given up the “legitimacy” of traditional publishing, I’d given up some nice advance money. There were nights I tossed and turned, wondering if I’d made the biggest mistake of my life by going indie, especially when I didn’t see the huge numbers of sales that other indie authors claimed to have. Was it because I didn’t write super-sexy books with shirtless studs or handcuffs on the covers? Or was there some other reason? My traditionally published books had received stellar reviews, including starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist for my mystery series. I’d also won quite a few awards for my fiction. Why weren’t my indie books selling better?
One mantra I kept repeating was something I’d heard from other authors: It’s not a sprint; it’s a marathon. It was hard to convince myself since I seemed to be limping along, not sprinting. But eventually I saw that they were right. It took some time, but since publishing my first indie book, I’ve seen steady growth in sales. Can I support myself on what I’m making? Heck, no! But then again, I could never support myself on what I made from traditional publishing. All I can say is thank the gods for the hubster with a steady paycheck!
However, as time has passed, I’ve become more comfortable with my decision. There’s much to be said about having total control over your writing career. What I’ve also discovered is that readers don’t really care who publishes you. Authors might constantly ask other authors, “Who’s your publisher?” but readers are only interested in good books. They don’t know Random House from Midnight Ink. Harper Collins from Amber Quill. Mention “the Big Five,” and they’ll most likely think you’re talking about a college basketball conference.
Award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. Follow everyone on Twitter.
Book Three of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery series
After rescuing her elderly neighbor Rosalie’s quilts from a rainstorm, crafts editor Anastasia Pollack discovers Rosalie unconscious at the bottom of her basement stairs. Rosalie’s estranged niece Jane flies east to care for her during her recovery, but Rosalie suspects Jane’s motives are less than altruistic, going so far as to accuse Jane of trying to kill her. Is Rosalie’s paranoia a result of her head injury, or is there something more to her accusations? And can Anastasia uncover the truth before it’s too late?