by Lanny Smith
I have a secret: I’m a self-publisher! I never planned to be a self-publisher but the market and trends have changed. Here’s how it happened:
Before I started my first novel, I prayed over it. I knew I needed God’s help and He came through for me. I wrote about a radical terrorist’s (is there any other kind?) attempt to attack the city of Los Angeles. God gave me the idea, the characters, their voices and the plot. I drew upon much of my background and experiences to create the story. God even gave me more than a few supernatural occurrences (backed up by scripture) to demonstrate how He works and might draw people to Him.
I wrote the story and revised it. After editing it about a thousand times, I sent out a few queries to various agents and publishers. After receiving less than encouraging responses, I succumbed to one of my character defects: impatience! I grew weary and decided to publish it myself. In my mind, I’d retain most of the control. (By the way, God is still working with me on the “impatience” issue.)
Now, you might be thinking: how does he plan to get on the New York Times Bestseller’s List?
Good question. When I decided to write, I never planned to do it for the money (and I’m not throwing subtle jabs at the terrific Christian authors who have done well, commercially speaking). Writing and publishing faith-based novels is a type of ministry for me – to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ through stories. I just want to glorify Jesus and possibly earn a few dollars along the way to support my family. (This link to a recent interview better explains my reasoning: http://faithflixfilms.wordpress.com/2014/05/09/lanny-smith-writer/)
Self-publishing authors still have to hone their skills and abide by the basics of story-telling. They have to do the research; “show” (more than “tell”) when crafting a compelling story; “hook” readers continuously to keep them turning the pages; “create” interesting characters; and “attend” to story structure. Finally, authors should read the works of other writers. This acronym might help you remember all this: rshcarow. (No, that was awful — let’s forget the acronym.)
My publishing partners hold me accountable to these standards. As a self-publisher, I can still get the vision out there. And if just one person catches that vision, then listen up: those mysterious voices you hear singing from afar might be those of angels rejoicing in heaven. The rest will be His story!
Lanny Smith is a Christian, a former “Class B+” surfer and a veteran of the U. S. Air Force. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida. His novel, THE RADICAL RIDE, is an explosive, suspense-thriller. His novella, THE CHRISTMAS BEACON, is an inspirational supernatural-mystery (and due out August, 2014).
Itis so thrilling to hear your journey as an author and self publishing your own book.
I would love to read your book when it is released, thank you for sharing this with your audience.
Peace and Faith,
Thanks for the kind words, Cindy. Hope you’re well! God Bless You! Lanny
I just finished self publishing my eighth book. The fields are ripe and the workers are few. is a quote that comes to mind.
Self publishing has not stopped me from getting my Angel Series optioned for a major motion picture (a fellow ACFW member has been hired to write the screenplay.)
The main producer has been involved with six Academy Award winning movies. (I like his track record.)
I recently met two more producers (who signed on for the project) at the Sunscreen Film Festival, and the movie is moving ahead in development.
Self publishing hasn’t prevented me from hitting best seller lists in my genres at Amazon; it hasn’t prevented five figure income from depositing into my bank account, and it hasn’t stopped the IRS from taxing me on my 1099s.
Self publishing didn’t prevent me from picking up a well known agency who is currently shopping my Angel Series for a traditional book deal.
My IP lawyer didn’t seem to care either.
Best of all, readers send me emails letting me know how much they enjoy my work, and how my books have strengthened their faith.
I’m currently working on my Christmas release, “12 Angels by Christmas,” which I’ll have out as a paperback, audio, and ebook before the Christmas season starts, and my YA serial book, FEUDAL LAND, will be complete by then.
I’m also busy working on my webisodes of Lisa Grace – Where Good Meets Evil.
You can go as far as you are led by the Holy Spirit if you don’t let some human ‘nos’ stand in your way.
Would I have loved to trade publish first? Sure, but for one reason or another, it didn’t seem to work out.
All the best to you, Lanny, and I would say it’s no secret that indie/hybrid authors are proliferating in the Christian writing world, even in ACFW. I’m so thankful I had the indie option and God knew it was the very best place for me to be. I love having control of my cover art, direct access to my marketing technique effectiveness, and control of who narrates my audiobooks…just to name a few things. Each author has a different path to take, and it’s not easy, no matter which route you choose. But thanks for pointing out that self-publishing is a viable option these days!
I love, love, LOVE this! It’s the reason that I also went Indie with publishing my first novel. I love the freedom it provides to let God work through me and allow my story to touch the lives of others as He would intend.
I appreciate that you’ve shared your journey and calling, as well.
Thanks for sharing, Heather and Cari! Heather, you love the control and Cari enjoys the freedom (as do I) — just two of the perks of “indie” publishing. Thank you both for familiarizing me with the term, “indie.”
Also, congratulations Lisa! Your tremendous success as an indie publisher definitely proves that it can be done!
With more publishers cutting back (Cook and Moody come to mind) and as more ACFW authors have their backlists revert back to them,I believe we will see an uptick in those who choose the self publisher route to keep their books available for their readers.
There is nothing more frustrating than finding an author you love, and realizing they have twenty+ books out there, but they are out of print!
I currently teach classes on how to self publish (so far all for free.)
I’d love to see more ACFW members get their books back into print, up as ebooks, and into audio.
Maybe if there is enough interest, we could offer a class to the ACFW membership on how to get their reverted backlist up.
You’ve nailed it! I just returned from the ICRS and learned that the industry is undergoing a significant transformation. There’s a growing number of forward-thinking publishers that are riding this wave.
You would indeed be a wonderful resource to others on this topic. I’d love to hear more. Keep the conversation going!