Wednesday, January 16, 2013

My Path to Indie Publishing by Magdalen Braden


Today, I'm delighted to bring you a funny and bright woman, who just happens to be a very talented writer of both novels and screenplays.

Please welcome Magdalen Braden who has an interesting and different path to Indie publication. So my friends, read on.


Eighteen months ago, my husband and I made a deal. If I got rejected by everybody—and I mean everybody!—he and I would start our own publishing company.
I tried hard to get an agent. I wrote and revised and tweaked my query letter, I had what I considered a strong manuscript (Blackjack & Moonlight, Book 3 in The Blackjack Quartet, which went on to be a finalist in the 2012 Golden Heart® competition), and I already had the all-important “platform,” with a blog, a website, and a Twitter presence.

I had even gotten some encouragingly positive feedback from a friend’s agent who passed on Blackjack because straight contemporary romance wasn’t something she wanted to represent.
For three months, I queried everyone on RWA’s list of acceptable agents. When all the rejections were in and tallied, I turned to my husband and said, “Good to go.”
 Okay, I didn’t actually say that. But rarely have five dozen rejections been seen in such a positive light.

One year after Harmony Road Press was launched, we published my first romance, Love in Reality. What I learned in that year was that you can’t please every reader but it’s awfully nice when you’ve pleased any reader, that I’ll read my own manuscript over and over again before it’s published...and even once or twice after that, and that being in business with my husband is so much fun I’m surprised we didn’t do it sooner.
Oh, right, and that indie-publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. But you’ve heard that already.

Here’s the one thing I tell people about indie publishing: write the book you want to read but can’t find. That speaks to the current state of romance publishing: they sell what sells. Which is fine, even sensible, but it results in ever-shrinking types of romance novels.
 Love in Reality is a funny, fast-paced romance about two people who get tangled up in their well-intended deceptions. I like to read about people who are smart enough to mess up their own life even as they think they’re fixing it. It’s just the kind of contemporary romance I like to read.

Which is good because, as I say, I ended up reading it a lot. 

Bio:  Drawing on her experience as a Philadelphia lawyer, Magdalen Braden has written the Blackjack Quartet, starting with Love in Reality. Book 3 in the series, Blackjack & Moonlight, is a 2012 Golden Heart® finalist.

Learn More about Magdalen here:

Book Link:
Magdalen is ready for questions, so fire away.  And don't forget she's going to have an excerpt up on Saturday.
~ ciao


  1. Thanks, Leslie Ann, for having me as a guest on your blog!

  2. Welcome Magdalen,
    Here's a question that has begged asking since you sent me your post.

    Why start a publishing biz and not just place your books in all the current available venues?


  3. Congrats, Magdalen, on all your new "babies"!!

    I think it's fabulous that writers are taking control of their publishing lives and getting books out there that mainstream houses don't know what to do with.

    Much continued success to you and Harmony Road!

  4. Actually, Leslie Ann, they are for sale at all the usual venues: Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc. For most people, the fact that we are a publishing company won't even register.

    The decision to create a legal entity, Harmony Road Press, as the publisher came about for two reasons. First, I used to be a lawyer, so I understand the value of having a separate legal entity when doing business. (And, yes, I could fill out the forms!)

    The other reason was accidental. A writer friend wanted to publish an erotic novella she wrote, so we actually started with two pseudonymous erotica writers even as I was working on my romances in school and elsewhere. Having a company meant we could have a proper contract between the publisher and the author. (Yes, I actually have a contract with Harmony Road Press.)

    It's not a big difference, and it certainly isn't a step every indie author will want to make. It just works for us.

  5. Thanks, Elisa!

    (Elisa is a fellow "Firebird," as last year's Golden Heart finalists are known. In fact, Elisa won the 2012 Golden Heart for her historical romance, The Devil May Care.)

  6. Interesting, Gary (my attorney DH) and I decided against that road, at least for the time being.

    Never count out anything, right?

    Are the tax consequences better?

    Just giving our readers more food for thought :)

  7. Hi Elisa,
    Welcome to My Story, My Way. Congrats on winning the GH for Historical Romance!!

    Is it available now? Trad or Indie?


  8. Thanks for sharing your interesting road to publication with us! Your book is on my Kindle and in my virtual TBR pile! (This virtual TBR gets a whole lot less dusty, BTW!)

    Here's wishing for mega sales!!

  9. Leslie Ann --

    Interesting question. It's a small business (as opposed to my income as a writer, which is more like freelance work), so that means that the publishing company can pay for my husband's health insurance as a business expense. Without the business, I suspect he'd have to be my employee so I could pay for his health insurance.

    On the other hand, it's a small business, which means more paperwork, more hassle, etc. Like everything else in life, there are trade-offs!

  10. I have this one on my Kindle and like Tammy, love that the virtual TBR pile does not collect dust. (I already have plenty of that!)

    I always wondered why you went with starting a company instead of just self-pubbing. And now I know! Very smart.

    Do you have planned release dates for the rest of the quartet? Know what you plan to write after this series?

  11. Hi, Tammy & Terri --

    Thanks for having Love in Reality on your electronic TBR lists. I have a special collection for fellow Firebird books!

    Regarding the rest of the quartet. I have to get The Cost of Happiness (book two) to my editor on February 1st, so I'm working like mad to get it done.

    Working with an editor is essential for indie publication, but it takes as long as it takes, so it's hard to announce release dates. We're hoping we can get Book Two out later this spring, and Book Three (Blackjack & Moonlight, my GH finalist) will be published in the summer. There may be a delay in getting Book Four released, but we still hope to have it out in 2013.

  12. Wow! I had no idea you had published your book that way Magdalen! Just goes to show you that there are many ways to do things ... and it sounds like this approach is working well for you (and your hubby) so that's great.

    I'm excited to see the excerpt on Saturday!!

  13. Magdalen,
    I love a world without creative limits... you go, girl!!!!

  14. This is exciting to read. I am going to find you on Amazon.
    Are you thinking of accepting other authors and manuscripts?

  15. Hi, Nikki -- Thanks. I will say, I don't if I could do this without Brit Hub 2.1! He's got a lot of skills (including being a professional proofreader) that I lack. I am truly lucky.

    Neringa -- Thanks!

    Ana Morgan -- We don't actively solicit submissions, but never say never.

  16. It's so fun to hear publishing stories. Yours is especially interesting, Magdalen. Love your name btw! I'll be checking out your book. Best of luck with your adventure! Thanks for sharing with us here.

  17. Magdalen, interesting road! I'm so glad you chose to do it your way because I loved Love in Reality. The characters and setup were great fun to read.

    Good luck with your company!

  18. Thanks, Ellis -- I couldn't have done it without you!

  19. Hi, Magdalen! The premise of this book sounds like so much fun. I wanted to ask about your cover -- it's adorable! When indie publishing, how do you go about finding a cover artist? Did you use different artists for each of the books published with Harmony Press so far?

  20. Hi, Laurie -- Isn't the cover wonderful? It's by the divine Laura Morrigan, who's an author as well. (I think her first mystery is being published by Avon later this year.)

    How we found her is a great story. Ross looked for cover artists and narrowed it down to five. He then showed me their work, but nothing else about them. We picked Laura from that group, and I couldn't be happier with the cover.

    The other books by Harmony Road Press? Well, Christina Thacher's covers are mostly by Heather Paye, a very talented young graphic designer. And Tara Buckley did her own covers!

  21. Wow, not only an indie, but a publisher! Thank you for sharing your story, Magdalen! I'll be checking out your books!

    Nancy Haddock

  22. How wonderful for you, Magdalen, to have the creative and business sides of the writing profession in your pocket.

    I love your story to publication! It's authors like you and Leslie Ann who have responsibly self-published and thus will build great credibility for indie authors as well as perhaps challenge traditional publishers to pay closer attention to a manuscript beyond just the query letter. Thanks for your part in "raising the bar"--pardon the pun!

    I wish you the very best with your publishing company and your writing endeavors.


  23. Hi, Lisa -- Not to worry. Puns are always allowed!

    I agree about responsible publishing. In the year we've been publishing, we've yet to get any feedback citing problems like typos or poor grammar. We work really hard to produce books we're proud of. Not everyone will like them, and that's okay, but I don't want someone's enjoyment ruined by preventable problems like misspellings.

    Thanks for your kind wishes.

  24. Magdalen, I really like what you said about writing the book you want to read but can't find. I do think the market tends to constrict our choices, and it's great to see more variety in romance. Thanks for sharing your journey!

  25. Thanks, A.J. -- That said, I've been impressed with the output of the Firebirds, both in terms of the wide array of types of romances and the variety of stories. Not a lot of same-old, same-old there!

    And indie publishing is having an effect on what trad publishing wants to publish. It could be that some of the narrower sub-genres open back up.

    Let's hope!