Millicent Eidson creates mystery/romantic suspense/women’s fiction mashups where the criminals are invisible disease organisms. Her previous blog is MILLICENT EIDSON – Veterinarian – Epidemiologist – Author – Author George Cramer (gdcramer.com). After a career as a public health veterinarian with CDC and two state health departments, she uses fiction to communicate One Health | CDC. She’s a member of Sisters in Crime (https://www.sistersincrime.org/) and Vermont-based Burlington Writers Workshop (https://bwwvt.org/). Her indie publishing company Maya Maguire Media released novels “Anthracis” (2021) and “Borrelia” (2022), plus “Microbial Mysteries: A Story Collection” (2023).
Her latest novel, Corona (Aug. 2023). Veterinarian Maya Maguire nears the end of her training as one of CDC’s epidemic shock troops. Assigned to the pandemic, her origin story comes full circle like an ouroboros—a dragon eating its tail.
As an author of medical thrillers, I’m often asked, “Why are you independent?” My short answer: Time, money, and control.
Retired from full-time public health work, I relish the independent author process—writing, publishing, and communicating with readers through promotion and marketing. Typically, I perfect a book for two years before release. I dedicate lots of time to writers workshops and editing to polish what I hope is a gem.
Like many authors, I initially explored traditional publishing by reaching out to small presses and literary agents who work with large publishers. But the more I learned about the process from my personal experience and the travails of other authors, I realized I’d have to make too many compromises.
Some fear that indie authors will publish inferior work without traditional publishers acting as gatekeepers. However, the amount of time and expertise these agencies bring to each author’s work can be variable. The book will be released on the publisher’s schedule, may take several years on the publishing timetable even if all goes well, and will earn the author a fraction of its sales revenues. Too many authors start out excited when they get an agent, then have to start over with changes in the agent, editor, or publisher. Depending on the contract, an author may not fully own their book.
Assistance and quality control can be obtained in multiple ways. Workshops, academic classes, support groups, social media, blogs, and podcasts offer ways to improve a writer’s craft. Some elements can be contracted out, one at a time or as a bundle, including editing, cover design, and printing/distribution. Hybrid publishing combines elements of traditional and self-publishing. I highly recommend the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), https://www.allianceindependentauthors.org/, including its list of approved services. Some individuals or companies charge too much and deliver too little—be careful.
Learning the steps required for indie authors is daunting but fun. If approaching creative writing through the lens of lifelong learning, every aspect can be a joy. I’m a photographer and love spending hours editing my photos with Adobe Photoshop when designing my book covers. I’m a control freak who hates hyphens breaking up words at the ends of lines. I can turn those off and format my print books using Adobe InDesign, so each page looks exactly as I want, almost like the old typesetting process where every letter was placed in a tray. But I have even more control—through kerning (proportional spacing), I decide how close I want the letters next to each other, in a line, page, or the entire novel. I chose a 12.5 font to make the print easier for older readers.
Another major decision point is where and how to distribute one’s books. I’m a ‘wide’ author, which means I abhor exclusivity. I want to give readers every chance to find my books, no matter how they want to do that. I publish ebooks through Draft2Digital (D2D), which creates an EPUB file from Microsoft Word and distributes ebooks everywhere. At the same time, I upload directly to Amazon Kindle (not Kindle Unlimited, which prohibits publishing anywhere else). For print books (paperbacks, hardcovers, and large print), I publish through Amazon KDP and IngramSpark, which distributes to bookstores and libraries. That means I have two companies to work with in submitting each format for publication and receiving sales income, so four processes overall.
Indie authors who want even greater control, especially for the broadest access to promotions, prefer working with more publishers directly. So they’ll submit books to Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, etc., then stay with D2D and IngramSpark to reach the remaining outlets. An indie author has total control over their bandwidth for working with many book distributors.
Every day, it’s my choice to start creating chapters for the latest novel in my alphabetical series. Later in the day, I can work on editing and formatting my most recent novel, that’s finished the workshop process and is ready for publication. Finally, I can choose how much time I spend reaching out to readers through my newsletter, social media, book clubs, or other options. I can prioritize free promotional activities that require much time (like blogging) versus costly advertisements. Depending on other aspects of my life, I have complete flexibility in these decisions—work-life balance.
Each author can determine which part of the writing business they wish to commit to. But every time parts of publishing are delegated to someone else, the author spends money and loses control of the process. I enjoy tweaking my books and republishing them in the middle of the night if I get an idea of how to improve them. This week, it was adding a direct link at the end of each ebook to the subsequent one rather than just a link to my website. Have fun figuring out your own game plan!
website: HOME | DrMayaMaguire: “Pariah,” an experimental mystery/magical realism short story, is free with signups to my Reader list