Friday, October 13, 2017

Going Indie by Nancy J. Cohen

It is our great pleasure to welcome Nancy J. Cohen as our guest blogger today. Nancy writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list, been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery, and won third place in the Arizona Literary Awards. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. Her first book in this genre won the HOLT Medallion Award. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, she is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, Nancy enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

It’s a frightful step to go indie after you’ve been traditionally published. You’re used to the publisher making decisions regarding cover art and interior layout. They send review copies to the major reviewers. They may even run BookBub ads or sales that boost your readership. But they also control pricing, distribution, and subrights.

When you go it alone, you face major decisions. Should you start your own imprint? Do you need to buy your own ISBNs? Where do you find reliable people for your production team?

Once you start the process, you may wonder why you didn’t do it sooner. You have full input on the cover design. You can determine the pricing for your print and ebook editions. You can choose to go direct to the vendors or use a third-party aggregate. You can bundle your books together in a box set or contribute a title to a multi-author package. You can enroll in ACX and do audiobook editions, or sell mass market or large print rights. Some agents offer a subsidiary rights deal for indie authors.

You’ll still have to do the same amount of marketing. It might take extra effort to find reviewers and bloggers willing to read your indie book, unless you’ve established a following. Getting these initial reviews can be hard. Another way to gain recognition is through writing contests that accept indie authors for published books. Search and you shall find.

Regarding print editions, do you use Createspace, IngramSpark, or another choice like Nook Press? You’ll have to make these decisions and more, like do you want a laminated hardcover edition for libraries? What size trade paperback? How can you order print arcs?

For sure, it’s a steep learning curve for each step along the way. Hopefully, you’ll earn enough income to offset production expenses. At least going indie now isn’t the quagmire it used to be in the past, assuming you hire editors and produce a professional product. Indie authors have lots of support out there in the writing community.

If you’re unsure about taking this step, try self-publishing a novella in your series first. Figure out the legalities and develop your production team. This will give you a head start if you decide to break off on your own with a full-length novel. Learn marketing strategies and attend conferences that have workshops for indie authors. Meet the reps from the various vendor sites. And have faith in yourself.

As for me, I’ve been indie publishing revised backlist Author’s Editions of my mystery titles. I’d indie published Writing the Cozy Mystery and Haunted Hair Nights. And I’m about to step off the cliff with Hair Brained, my first indie-published original full-length novel. This comes after having twenty-one books plus a novella traditionally published. It’s a risk, but I’m excited about the possibilities. I hope I’ll have your support.


When hairstylist Marla Vail’s best friend is hurt in a suspicious car accident, Marla assumes guardianship of her infant son. No sooner does Marla say, “Baby want a bottle?” than she’s embroiled in another murder investigation. Her husband, Detective Dalton Vail, determines the crash may not have been an accident after all. But then, who would want Tally—or Ken in the car with her—out of the way? As Marla digs deeper into her friends’ lives, she realizes she didn’t know them as well as she’d thought. Nonetheless, it’s her duty as their son’s guardian to ensure his safety, even if it means putting her own life at risk. Can she protect the baby and find the culprit before someone else ends up as roadkill?


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 Comments for Nancy welcome here!


Pamela S Thibodeaux said...

It IS scary Nancy. Great post.
Good luck and God's blessings

Susan Oleksiw said...

I've been impressed with your marketing abilities, but I'm sure it's a huge amount of work. Thanks for the overview. It seems you've listed every possible question the writer will face. Good luck with your new book.

Susan Coryell said...

I fear I do not have the tech-ability to self-publish but admire those who do. Good luck!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks, Pamela and Susan. It's a risk but so far I'm excited about going indie. I really like having control over a book's cover, release date and pricing. You're no longer dependent on a publisher's schedule when you set your own deadlines.The key is to write a great book and produce a professional product.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Susan C., that's why you hire people. I outsource my cover design and formatting. Your formatter can also upload to the various vendors for you if that's your desire. It takes a learning curve like everything else in this business but there's lots of advice available.

Bobbi A. Chukran, Author said...

Hi Nancy! All of your books look very professional, and that's one of the big challenges to going indie. All of my longer-length mysteries have been indie, and sometimes I wish somebody else would do all the work. LOL. But I know even if you do publish with a "biggie," they aren't likely to do much in the way of promotion for me anyway. What I can't force myself to do is write a series of longer books, and I KNOW that's what I need to do in order to be successful as an author these days.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Bobbi, having a series is exceedingly helpful in building an audience. I'd say you need to have 3 to 5 books out there to start seeing a snowballing effect. But once you hook a reader, they'll want more. And you can play with sales and box sets, things I haven't even tried yet. I need to put up my entire romance backlist (8 titles) now that I have the rights back.

Kathy McIntosh said...

Good luck on your new adventure. Great post. And I've always enjoyed your Bad Hair Day mysteries! One comment: moving from traditionally published to indie is scary, but having that strong fan base gives you a good start. Those of us just starting out indie (or moving from a tiny press to indie) should be aware it is an even steeper climb. But I'm glad we have the opportunity.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Kathy, you're right in that I had an advantage coming from trad publishing, but it was still a steep learning curve. What's important when starting out as an indie author or coming from small press is to produce an edited work with a professional cover and layout design. As you publish several more books, author branding becomes critically important. It's necessary to figure this out at the start, something I'm still struggling with in terms of cover concepts. But some indie authors I've seen are brilliant at this and are doing quite well.

Frank S Lechuga said...

Great article! Good luck on your latest indie book!

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thank you, Frank!

Carole Price said...

Excellent, Nancy. I've been thinking a lot about trying indie but some what shy about it, not being very tech smart. You've encouraged me so I will try it. Thanks.

Carole Price

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Carole, you don't have to do it all alone. There is lots of help out there. Just make sure it's reputable and get recommendations from other authors.

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