Why Paranormal Romance Author Linda Gillard Embraces Going Indie

Guest post by Linda Gillard

When I was dropped by my publisher a few years ago my agent tried to find me a new literary home. I watched as two good manuscripts were universally rejected over a period of two years, most often because the novels belonged to no clear genre. While I waited, I decided to write a really commercial novel, something that would surely secure me a new contract.

Paranormal romance was hugely popular, so I thought I’d have a go. It wasn’t my natural genre. I don’t even read it. I confess I felt as if I was selling out, but I badly wanted to get back in the game

I started my new novel, THE GLASS GUARDIAN,  as a NaNoWriMo project and quickly produced 25,000 words, then I hit a wall. I no longer knew what genre I was writing. This wasn’t a standard paranormal romance. My sixth novel was turning into the same sort of unmarketable genre-buster that had given my publishers such a headache. I abandoned the book and investigated Kindle as a possible home for my two unplaced manuscripts.

Much to my surprise, self-publishing on Kindle was a huge success. HOUSE OF SILENCE  became a bestseller. On the strength of that, I e-published two backlist novels and a new one, UNTYING THE KNOT. But I was still looking for a publisher. At least, I thought I was.

I returned to THE GLASS GUARDIAN. My commercial novel still didn’t seem very commercial. I’d created no brave new urban world. My setting was an old Victorian house on the Isle of Skye: Tigh-na-Linne, “the house by the pool,” with its sad history and beautiful garden. My heroine wasn’t remotely kick-ass. She was a rather reserved 42-year old horticulturalist, out of a job and recovering from multiple bereavement. My ghost-hero was guilt-ridden and weary of haunting, heartbroken and heart-breaking. Most damning of all, I’d failed to write extended passages of Olympian and largely gratuitous sex. (But there was passion.)

As I completed the novel, I could already envisage the rejection emails from editors, pointing out that TGG would be impossible to market as it didn’t conform to the genre. But I sent the finished book to my agent anyway, asking her to try one last time to find me a new publisher.

Meanwhile, my indy ebooks continued to sell and I was now earning a modest living from my writing. Fans were begging me for a new book. I told them a manuscript was doing the rounds, but I wasn’t too hopeful.

My agent heard nothing – not even an acknowledgement, despite my aforementioned Kindle bestseller. So I made a very big decision. I told her to withdraw the manuscript. I couldn’t see the point of spending a year collecting rejections when I could e-publish TGG in a couple of months and start banking my earnings.

Flushed with my Kindle success, drunk perhaps on creative freedom, I realised I wasn’t prepared to rewrite. I’d already tried to squeeze my square story into a round hole and I just couldn’t do it. But I knew, in the unlikely event of being offered a contract, that’s probably what I’d be asked to do.

It was a no-brainer. If I published the book myself, I could tell my story in the way I wanted to tell it. I could also find out if there was a market for a different sort of paranormal novel, the kind I’d written.

I e-published THE GLASS GUARDIAN on Kindle a couple of weeks ago. It already has 12 four- and five-star reviews on Amazon UK. Readers seem to love it. For me it’s a very special book. It’s the novel that made me decide to go indy for good, the one in which I said what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it.

No creative artist can expect or hope for more. So thank you, KDP.

About the Author
Linda Gillard lives in the Scottish Highlands, on the Black Isle. She has a website at www.lindagillard.co.uk and an author page on Facebook.

She lived for six years on the Isle of Skye in a house on a hill overlooking the Cuillin mountain range which featured in her first novel, EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY, short-listed for the 2006 Waverton Good Read Award. A LIFETIME BURNING was published in 2006 and STAR GAZING, set partly on Skye, was published in 2008. In 2009 STAR GAZING was short-listed for “Romantic Novel of the Year” and “The Robin Jenkins Literary Award,” the UK’s first environmental book award. STAR GAZING was also voted “Favourite Romantic Novel 1960-2010″ by the readers of Woman’s Weekly magazine. Film rights to this novel have also been been sold.

Linda’s fourth novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE, was published in 2011 as a Kindle e-book and quickly became a bestseller, selling 10,000 copies in less than 4 months. HOUSE OF SILENCE was selected by Amazon as an Editor’s Pick “Best of 2011″ in the Indie Author category. STAR GAZING and EMOTIONAL GEOLOGY were published as Kindle e-books in June 2011 and A LIFETIME BURNING followed in 2012. Linda has published two more new novels on Kindle: UNTYING THE KNOT and most recently, THE GLASS GUARDIAN, a supernatural love story.

18 comments… add one

  • Rebecca Hamilton (Paranormal Fantasy) June 18, 2012, 6:37 am

    What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us!

  • callyphillips June 18, 2012, 10:13 am

    Go Indie for good is now my mantra! It’s a positive choice not a ‘well if I can’t get anyone to publish me’ No it’s INDEPENDENCE. I realised lately that I’d been an ‘independent’ writer all along and that’s why I had such trouble in ‘the industry.’ I expected to be treated with equal respect not as ‘the talent’ who had to be milked every so often and put back (FIRMLY) in a box in between outings. I’m not a race horse. I don’t just perform for the crowd. Writing is my life and my living and finally being able to be in full control of my output is the best thing about it. GO INDIE FOR GOOD Linda. Three cheers for that message.

    • Tahlia Newland June 20, 2012, 11:47 pm

      I have this terrible feeling that I’m the same – karmically predestined to go Indie. Yet I still have a ms with my agent.

      • Linda Gillard June 21, 2012, 6:27 am

        My agent is fully supportive of my going indy, Tahlia. She has advised me all along and in the end she agreed it was unlikely any publishing deal she could secure would earn me what I could earn for myself in the long run – and that’s leaving aside creative freedom issues. She takes 10% of my indy sales, she still reads my manuscripts and advises and she’s trying to sell translation/film rights to all of the indy books. (She’s already sold 2 of the indies to Turkey.)

        I think for many authors publishers have become optional, but I still think a good agent is – and will continue to be – essential. Fortunately agents are adapting to change more quickly than publishers.

  • ingridricks June 18, 2012, 6:43 pm

    I love this, Linda. I’ve found the indie route so empowering — it’s a huge gift to both authors and readers. Congrats on your success!!!

  • Linda Gillard June 18, 2012, 6:54 pm

    Thanks, Rebecca, Cally & Ingrid. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, entailing so much rejection, so much compromise, so many tears – and I wasn’t a rookie, I was an author with respectable sales, award wins & shortlistings, plus a loyal fanbase. It got to a point where I thought, as Danny Glover’s character says in LETHAL WEAPON, “I’m too old for this sh*t” and I just walked away.

    The funny thing was, despite 2 solid years of editorial rejections, I never lost faith in HOUSE OF SILENCE. I knew readers would love it. In the end the only thing that mattered to me was to get my stories out there for the many people who wanted to read them & Kindle allowed me to do that. I never dreamed I’d make money as well. :-)

  • Deborah J. Lightfoot June 18, 2012, 7:15 pm

    Bravo, Linda! After three books published the traditional way, then years of grappling with the reality of the shrinking and ever-more-hidebound world of “legacy” publishers, I also reached the point of “I’m too old for this sh*t.”

    “Going indie” ranks among the best decisions of my life. Now I’m having fun! I’m doing blog tours, getting reviews, connecting with readers. It’s all great. Even the parts that aren’t great are great. :-) Collecting nicely worded but superficial rejection letters from editors and agents was NOT fun. I raise a glass to you, and I toast all of us who have taken our careers into our own hands.

    • Linda Gillard June 18, 2012, 7:29 pm

      I agree, Deborah, about “even the parts that aren’t great are great”! I’ve worked really hard for the last year, promoting my books, but no harder than I had to work when I had a publisher who promoted the book for the first month, then moved on to the next big thing. Now I have control and all the responsibility. There are no last minute scrambles because someone in publicity didn’t actually do what they said they were going to do. Now when something doesn’t get done, I know who didn’t do it. ;-)

  • jeangoodhind June 18, 2012, 10:26 pm

    I was impressed when I met you at theRNA conference at Caerleon, and am still impressed now. I decided to independently publish two of my rejected books as ebbos (history doesn’t sell, etc., etc.,) and was mildly surprised with the results. It’s not just about success though, it’s about being in control – not being reliant upon outsiders for making a living. Best wishes.

  • Chris Longmuir June 19, 2012, 2:51 pm

    This post rings a lot of bells with me. I had my doubts when I went Indie but they soon vanished, so now I’m beating the Indie drum.

  • Tahlia Newland June 20, 2012, 11:48 pm

    You guys are all so inspiring. Thanks.

  • Miriam Wakerly June 25, 2012, 7:57 am

    What an interesting ‘journey’. Good that you grabbed the reins – I published myself first off in 2008 and do not make the effort to try and find a mainstream publisher, often wondering if I should. I do enjoy having control, foregoing the larger sales an established publisher might bring. Well done, you!

  • elizabethashworth June 25, 2012, 5:16 pm

    Your blog and comments have come at just the right time for me, Linda. After my previous small publisher ran out of cash and my agent failed to sell the book she signed me up on the strength of, I’ve just published it myself. I know that building up my readership will be an uphill struggle even though I’ve gathered a small and loyal following from the first novel. But your post had given me hope. Thanks!

    • Linda Gillard June 25, 2012, 7:19 pm

      My small & loyal following built up to a large & loyal following within a few years, Elizabeth, so go for it! Word spreads quickly online about good indy ebooks – everyone wants to avoid the rubbish – and there are lots of places you can promote your books if you’re prepared to put in the time. Good luck!

  • Jan Needle July 10, 2012, 2:09 pm

    Fascinating stuff, Linda. My own experiences with the traditional route are very similar. Even publishers you’ve been with for years treat you very cavalierly (is there such a word?) if the accountants think you should be doing it differently and you don’t agree. I’ve still got books with the mainstream, but I’ve now put a few up on Amazon – some new, some reruns – and from now on write only for this marketplace. Genre spread has always been one of my problems (I was always told by the trade). I write for children, and adults, and teenagers, and sea adventure, and ‘literary,’ and raunchy thrillers. But now they’re up in one place, and visible, and cheap, people can pick and choose. I’m my own man at last (and that’s always been another problem – a man with a woman’s name, thank you Mum!) and I feel wonderfully liberated. If anyone wants a further look, I’m at http://www.janneedle.com.

    • Linda Gillard July 10, 2012, 5:00 pm

      You know your trouble, Jan? You’re just too talented. ;-) Seriously though – in what other art or craft is *versatility* an impediment to success?

      Good luck with all your ebooks!

  • Lainy smbslt August 8, 2012, 5:55 pm

    Ah, I totally get the Indy meaning now. Thanks for that and good on you for not changing your story (and look how popular they are!). Very interesting and I definately need to bump those books up the pile!


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