Whenever I tell friends that I self-published my second novel, I’m greeted by an enthusiastically positive reaction—not in praise of Lagging Indicators (although I do hope they will read and like the book)—but because I was brave enough to follow my instincts and take control of my destiny. The old-fashioned writer in me finally learned that in 2018, getting out of our comfort zones; shedding rigid, old mindsets; and disrupting our own linear narratives are the new symbols of progress. Rather than waiting for a traditional publisher to approve the creative content and commercial viability of my book, I believed in the merits of the story and wanted to share it with an audience. It was a tremendous leap of faith, but one that I don’t regret for a second.
But please understand: this indie attitude didn’t come naturally to me. I’m typically a risk-averse person and analyze a situation from every angle before making a decision. I was very fortunate to get a deal with Penguin/NAL for Uptown and Down (2005) and in the span of years it took me to conceive of and write Lagging Indicators, the publishing industry and whatever small place I had in it had changed dramatically. The number of publishing houses had shrunk due to consolidation and it was becoming harder to break through—even if an author had been previously published. Frankly, I didn’t even know what types of stories editors wanted; I only knew the types of stories I wanted to tell and hoped they would resonate with someone. I did receive some kudos for the manuscript, but not enough for a book contract. Writing—and this unrealized quest for a traditional book deal—left me deflated. I questioned whatever “talent” or “skills” I supposedly had and looked with a twinge of envy at writers publishing books with the big houses backed by strong marketing campaigns. Not a good feeling.
Resigned, I decided to put Lagging Indicators aside and began sketching the outlines for another story since writers ultimately write not for publication, but because we feel compelled to. There are stories inside of us waiting to be told, even if they just end up being piles of typed-up pages in a drawer. Then it dawned on me that my story about Mia Lewis didn’t have to stay in a drawer. I could share her with the rest of the world through self-publishing. People had been urging me to do this for years, but I’d been skeptical and held back. After extensive research on the Internet, I came across Indie Book Launcher, an independent publishing service that helped me with everything from the cover to formatting the manuscript to uploading on various platforms and guidance with promotions. They were so professional and just got it. My publishing adviser knew intuitively what I was trying to convey and consistently took the time and effort to understand my characters, themes, and me as a writer. The support I’ve received has been invaluable.
Once I made the decision to become my own publisher, not only did my mood soar, my creative energy, passion for books and writing soared as well. The euphoria and empowerment I’ve experienced in the last ten months have given me profound insight, both as a writer and as a person. By making my work available to an audience, I’ve benefited greatly from feedback about the prose and plot; commentary that will help me as I continue to hone my craft. I’ve also learned about so many resources available to indie authors—things that were unimaginable when I was first published in 2005.
I’ve also stopped feeling like an imposter. Although I’d been published once before, in my mind, it was so long ago that it almost didn’t count anymore. But I now have two books under my belt. I managed to create two distinct plots, fashioned dozens of characters and churned out over 200,000 words. I feel a sense of accomplishment rather than doubt or failure. We writers are constantly looking for validation. Ours is a lonely business and there are gatekeepers, juries, and reviewers who wield an incredible amount of influence. It’s difficult to detach oneself from that long-established world. I consider myself an author who embraces publishing in all of its constellations and formats, but at this stage of my life, becoming an indie author was the right decision for me. I’m not only an author but also an entrepreneur and I’m so excited about my new product! By taking ownership of Lagging Indicators, I’ve realized that the courage and determination I created in the character of Mia Lewis also lived inside of me.
Whatever your artistic pursuit or business idea, there are alternate paths to achieving your goals. Technology and our interconnected world are changing the rules of the game; we shouldn’t be afraid to explore new options. I’m so proud to sign off by saying that Lagging Indicators will be released on July 2nd but is available now for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!