An Indie in the Trad Pub World of ICRS

By Brandilyn Collins
Brandilyn Collins is a best-selling author of 27 books. She
is best known for her Seatbelt Suspense®–fast-paced, character-driven suspense
with myriad twists and an interwoven thread of faith. She also writes insightful
contemporary novels, often laced with humor. Her awards include the ACFW Carol
(three times), Inspirational Readers’ Choice, the Inspy, Christian Retailer’s
Best (twice), and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice. She loves to interact with readers on Facebook.
Last week I attended
ICRS—the annual International Christian Retail Show—in Atlanta. It was the
first time I’ve attended as an indie. I didn’t know how I’d feel as an indie in
that decidedly traditional publishing world.
I know now. I’ve
never felt better on the ICRS floor.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not traditionally published
any longer. I felt all of the camaraderie with my authors pals with none of the
disappointment over my own sales. In fact, my first indie Seatbelt Suspense®, Sidetracked, continues to sell quite
well. And I’m getting to keep all the royalties for myself.
A few highlights of
my own books, and things that stood out to me during the convention:
1. The Sidetracked
ebook has been out for three months now. In those three months the ebooks alone
have earned me 66% of the advance I would have made on the novel (after paying
the agent 15%) if it had been traditionally published. Paper sales as of two
weeks ago (after one month on the market) brought the total just a little above
what the advance would have been. In short, in three months of ebook sales, and
one month of paper sales, I’ve made money equal to the trad pub advance that
would have taken me about 5 years to earn out. Of course, from the total I need
to subtract expenses. But that hardly concerns me, when I see this much
difference in income. An added bonus: so far I’ve sold two subrights–large print and foreign rights to a Dutch publisher. Guess who gets to keep all those proceeds. 
At the Christy banquet in Atlanta
2. My last trad
pubbed novel, Dark Justice, is a
finalist in six awards: The Christy, the Carol, Christian Retailers Best, ECPAChristian Book Award, the Inspy, and the Foreword. Ted Dekker took the Christy
in suspense for his novel Outlaw. Tosca Lee won the ECPA for Iscariot. (Both
great choices.) Steven James won the Inspy for The King. Dark Justice won the Christian Retailers Best in a tie along with Dani Pettrey’s Shattered. The other two are still to be announced.
I look at awards and
being a finalist as extra gifts—not needed but certainly fun, and useful in
promoting the book. Awards have historically been firmly planted within the
trad pub world. But that is changing. One by one they are opening up to indies.
I think we’ll continue to see more of this. The awards organizations can’t deny
the changes in the publishing world, and they’ll want to keep up.
3. One of the (few)
downsides to indie publishing has been the inability to get the free formal
reviews of the trad pub world. That is changing also. My first indie pub last
year, That Dog Won’t Hunt (Southern
contemporary), garnered a 4 ½ star review from RT Book Reviews. One of the most
important reviewers, Publishers Weekly, is just now beginning to review indies.
Their BookLife site is in beta test. Another sign of the changing times.
4. I was surprised at
the number of my multi-published, bestselling/award-winning trad pubbed
colleagues at ICRS who wanted to talk to me about my indie experience. Many are
thinking about making the jump.  Or at
least putting out some indie titles to begin making the income so they can
afford to switch over in the future. It looks to me as though this trend of
going indie will only rise.
5. The ICRS floor was
the slowest I’d ever seen it. And we thought past years were down. The lower
numbers are certainly an indication of the difficulties in traditional
publishing. Fewer publishers on the floor. Fewer bookseller attendees.  All the same, I had some great
interviews—web, radio, and TV—for Sidetracked, set up by Blythe Daniel, the
publicist for the Jerry Jenkins Select Line. The media and their listeners
still just want to talk about good books. They want Story. They don’t care
whether it’s traditionally pubbed or not.
6. I still have good friends
in the trad pub world—agents, editors, publicists, etc. It was great to see
them at ICRS. They continue to have my respect as they navigate the changing
waters of publishing. And I continue to say I am very grateful for the years I
spent being traditionally published—for 25 books. That time allowed me to build
my readership and Seatbelt Suspense® brand—two very important things now that I’m
an indie.
Haven’t read
Sidetracked yet? Where ya been? Check it out now–the ebook’s only $4.99. You’ve
paid more for a latte.
When you live a lie for so long, it becomes a part of you. Like clothing first rough and scratchy, it wears down, thins out. Sinks into your skin …
When Delanie Miller finds her friend
murdered, she faces a terrible choice: save herself, or save an innocent man
from going to prison.

Over 100 5-star ratings on Amazon. #2 on the Top Rated List for Christian Mystery/Suspense.