Reflections for an Indie Panel Discussion

Donna Wichelman Uncategorized

Tomorrow, May 15th, I will sit on a Panel of Indie Authors at the Colorado Christian Writers Conference (CCWC). Over the weeks, I’ve thought about what I have of value to share. What I have to say may astonish some of my colleagues and peers.
Two years ago, I hit my first sink hole to publication when I lost a contract on my suspense novel, Light Out of Darkness (then titled Casting Down Shrines). Later, after I discovered that my agent had pushed my project to the bottom of her pile because she had not found a publisher, I allowed these events to derail my determination to see this book through to publication. That is, until last fall. 
A voice inside my head kept saying that I wasn’t done with the book yet. I decided to use a yearly event called NANOWRIMO (national novel writing month) to make one more edit on the book. I added a chapter that I now consider a pivotal chapter in the book, shored up some language, changed the title, and then sent Light Out of Darkness to a professional editorial consultant for review.
Though the editor had a few corrections, he also said the book was definitely publish-worthy. He believed I could find a traditional publisher. The impetus was there, yet I had traveled the traditional route before—even had an agent. What should I do? After much discussion with my husband and a lot of prayer, I decided to take the leap of faith into self-publishing.
At this point, it would be easy to mislead the reader and talk about the glowing successes of self-publishing. But I believe it would be a disservice to the audience if I wasn’t candid about the process—the good, the bad, and the ugly.
I can hear many of my indie friends as well as traditionally published authors groan. “You can’t! It’s a death knell to your sales!” I hope not. I have to trust that God controls the future of my book.
In the last ten years, traditional publishing has demanded that an author take on increasing responsibility to develop her platform and market her own books. Therefore, it only makes sense to explore the world of self-publishing, since the expectations and lines of success are blurring more and more.
The truth is that self-publishing is exciting! It’s like building a new house. You do the research (do your homework), design the plan (marketing strategy, social media, website design, etc), decide on a builder (who will distribute your book—a company like Bookbaby or youself), and all this with the anticipation of finally seeing your book launched into the world. It’s an adrenaline rush.
But the process can be overwhelming and intimidating. It’s a lot of hard work and many laborious hours. It can take the focus off what you love to do—write—and on what you must do—build. And you can make a lot of costly mistakes along the way. I did—big ones that almost caused me to throw in the towel and call it a day. Thankfully, I have been able to recover and am in the process of rebounding back. 
A recent blog post from Marlene Bagnull, director of the Colorado Christian Writers Conference, reminded me of God’s faithfulness even when we don’t feel him nearby during the challenging times. She quoted from 2 Corinthians 4:8, which says, “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, because we don’t know why things happen as they do, but we don’t give up and quit” (TLB).  
Why don’t we quit? Because while the journey may not always be smooth, we who claim faith in Christ have been called to tell a story that shines light into the dark places of the world and bring a message of hope to those who would otherwise have no hope.

This journey of writing has never been about me but “For the joy set before Him… (Hebrews 12:2). My job is to press on, even when times are tough and the road seems daunting, because I’ve been called to remain faithful to the call to write even as my God remains faithful to me. It’s what I must do. In the end, it’s what I love to do.