Making a Difference in the Indie Author World

Brandilyn
Collins is a best-selling author of 28 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. Check out her books
on her website.

The year 2014 will be my first full year as an indie author. I can’t
say I’m the most prolific indie around. I released a Seatbelt Suspense® novel,
Sidetracked, in April, and in just a few days I’ll be releasing Pitchin’ a Fit,
book 2 in my Southern contemporary Dearing Family series. Two novels a year is good
for me. Those indie novelists who put out a book every other month—sheesh. Only
in my dreams.
However I’ve also been very busy lately dealing with getting back the
rights for seven books—six novels, plus my how-to book on fiction, Getting
Into Character
. I will be releasing newly edited versions of these books in
the next few months. My Southern contemporary Bradleyville series, three novels first
published in 2001-2002, is re-releasing in the next few days.
I’ve also been spending a fair amount of time in seeing what I can do
to change the indie world for the better. I’m just one author, but I do have a
solid network of people in the Christian publishing industry. And, well, when I
see changes that can be made, I tend to want to make them happen.
The biggest need I’ve seen—and this will be no surprise to any of
you—is the lack of Christian indie books in the bookstores. (The secular indie
world has the same issue.) I got to thinking—why doesn’t somebody fix this? So
I started gathering data and talking to various people in the industry to figure out in more detail what the issues are surrounding this problem.
With that information I hit upon an idea of what to do about the problem and
spoke with some leaders in the Christian book industry about my thoughts. They are very open
to our working together to solve the issue. I can’t be any more specific at
this time, since there are many things yet to be worked out. But I can say it’s
really exciting to see the potential of what may come.
Seatbelt Suspense® novel
Sidetracked
You may remember that when I released Sidetracked I joined a small
group of known Christian indie novelists in an imprint that was sold through a
distributor into Christian stores. Being on shelves was important to me. First,
many of my readers still expect to find my books there. Second, I want to
support the Christian booksellers. Just because I’ve chosen to walk away from
Christian publishers doesn’t mean I want to walk away from bookstores.
Releasing the paper version of Sidetracked with that imprint did work for me. I
have made a profit from those paper sales in stores. But I had to put in a lot
of upfront money, plus pay upfront for print runs instead of going POD. Most
indies can’t afford that, and I wouldn’t want to pay that kind of money for
every book. And so I’m trying to do something about this problem.
We indie authors can’t just look at this problem from our own
standpoint. We have to understand the booksellers’ issues with placing indie
books on their shelves. The main problem isn’t the ability of an indie print
book to be distributable. An indie author can go through various
programs such as Ingram’s Spark to release a POD (print on demand) paper book
that can be distributed to stores. The problem is there’s no sales person
presenting the book to the stores.
Without that presentation there’s no
efficient way for a bookseller to even know about a new indie book. Booksellers
don’t have time to be checking websites of authors to see if they’ve just put
out a new title.
Pitchin’ a Fit,
Dearing Family Series
Book 2
Second, booksellers have a finite amount of shelf space, and products
on that space must sell or the bookseller loses money. It’s hard enough right
now for traditionally published Christian authors to receive shelf space in
stores. And those books have been vetted by the publisher for the bookseller,
both for content and quality. How can a Christian bookseller trust the content
of an indie novel that’s not been vetted? Or trust that the novel will sell?
As you can see, this whole problem is a complex one. And solving it
will be complex as well, requiring numerous people in the industry to work
together. But this problem really does need to be fixed—for all three sides of
the equation: the author, bookseller, and distributor. All three sides are
losing revenue. Authors are losing sales in stores. Booksellers are losing the
ability to sell certain titles, especially from indie authors who are known to
the booksellers because they were previously traditionally published. And
distributors are losing business as well.
Interesting times ahead. I’ll keep you all updated as I can.