October 16, 2017


By Richard L. Mabry, M.D.

I was associated with traditional publishers since 2010 when my first novel, Code Blue, was released. I’d had a good relationship with them, but—like many other authors—the contracts I was given were for a limited number of books each time. There was no lifetime guarantee, but with all the awards and honors my writing received, I wasn’t worried. But perhaps I should have been.

I’d signed (after a long period of nail-biting) with a new publishing house run by experienced and respected people. We were all excited about it, but when my publication date was pushed back a couple of times I began to worry a bit. That unease was validated when I received news from the publisher that there were problems with their financing. My agent negotiated a reversion of rights for the novel the publisher held, but where did I go from here? After several other publishers declined to give me an offer, I reached the conclusion I’d been avoiding: I’d go with self-publication.

Actually, I’d dipped my toe—er, my pen—into these waters earlier, publishing three novellas using agent-assisted publication. And for this novel I used the lessons I’d learned. For the novellas, as well as the novel I was about to release, I made certain that the cover design was a good one. How? I didn’t try to do it myself, but paid a professional. The same with editing, even though I’d read all the books on self-editing and gone through the manuscript several times. Another pair of eyes, especially a good one, never hurt. And, because I was still new at this “indie” thing, I turned to agent-assisted publication for this endeavor.

The agency furnished a coordinator (one with whom I’d worked on publication of my novellas), and she helped walk me through the process. She assisted in pricing the book. She answered my questions and even had some suggestions along the way. And I tried to learn from the experience.

I didn’t have a publisher’s marketing department behind me, but every author will agree that the best way to advertise is to write good books and have readers look forward to your next one. I lined up a few blog appearances, recruited a dozen or so people to help get the word out after I sent them a print copy of the book, and let things take their course. So far, the results have been good.

Would I use a traditional publisher in the future if I am offered a contract, or am I an “indie” (actually a hybrid) author for the foreseeable future? Only time will tell. But this experience has shown me yet another means of getting my novels to readers. And for that I am grateful.
Richard L. Mabry is a retired physician, now writing “medical mysteries with heart.” He is the author of one non-fiction book (TheTender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse), three novellas, and eleven published novels, the latest of which is Cardiac EventHis novels have been a semifinalist for International Thriller Writers’ debut novel, finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Romantic Times’ Reader’s Choice and Reviewer’s Choice Awards, as well as winner of the Selah Award and the 2017 Christian Retailers Best.

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