Wednesday, July 18, 2012


by Lois Winston

When I was younger, I saw life in black and white. Everything was either good or bad, right or wrong. With age came experience, and I learned that there are an endless number of shades of gray between the black and white. I learned never to say never. You just don’t know where life will take you.

Recently, I set out on a new journey in my writing career, something I never expected ever to do because of the stigma once associated with it -- I decided to indie publish.

I began my writing life as a romance writer. For ten years I toiled away at love stories. Most of these manuscripts never sold, although many collected numerous awards in contests for unpublished authors. Some almost sold, but at the last minute the deal would fall through because the editor who loved the book left the publishing house or the publisher folded the line for which the book was intended.

Eventually, I sold two of my romances, but then a certain glue gun wielding amateur sleuth hijacked my romance career, and I found myself writing the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Don’t get me wrong; I’m very happy telling Anastasia’s stories, and I hope to continue doing so for quite some time. 

However, the publishing world has gone through a dramatic change in the last few years. All around me I started seeing friends indie publishing not only their backlists but manuscripts that had never sold to New York. After hearing success story after success story, I began to think about all those manuscripts lolling around in my Dead Manuscripts File, those books that had won awards and almost sold but never did through no fault of either the writing or the stories. 

So after much mulling, I decided to create Emma Carlyle, my alter ego romance self, and begin indie publishing all those romances under her name. The first book launched on Kindle three and a half weeks ago. Hooking Mr. Right was my most successful, never published manuscript, a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist and winner of a slew of awards. Editors loved it, but for various reasons (see above,) no contract was ever offered. 

A week later I launched Finding Hope. That book was also a Golden Heart finalist, but because it fell somewhere between romance and chick lit, it was never quite right for any traditional publisher's lines. And this past weekend, I launched Four Uncles and a Wedding, a chick lit book.

Now I’m off on a grand experiment, offering these books and more directly to readers for less than the price of a Starbucks cappuccino. Never say never is my new motto.

Hooking Mr. Right blurb:
After writing a doctoral thesis that exposed fraud in the pop-psychology genre, thirty-two year old professor Althea Chandler has to sacrifice her professional integrity to save her family from financial disaster. She secretly becomes bestselling romance guru Dr. Trulee Lovejoy, a self-proclaimed expert on how to catch a man, even though Thea’s a miserable failure when it comes to relationships -- especially those with the opposite sex.

Burned by a failed marriage, Luke Bennett finds himself pursued by Dr. Lovejoy toting women after a gossip columnist dubs him New York’s most eligible bachelor. When he at first mistakes Thea for one of the women out to snare him, sparks fly, but the two soon find themselves battling sparks of a less hostile nature, thanks in part to an alley cat named Cupid.

Hooking Mr. Right link: 

Finding Hope blurb:
Being offered a position at a prestigious architectural firm is a dream-come-true for thirty-four year old widow Hope Morgan. For twelve years she’s attended college while working full-time and fending off family efforts to find her a new husband. Hope’s long-exiled libido escapes confinement the moment she sets eyes on Ben Schaffer, her married boss. When Ben’s wife walks out on him and their young sons, Hope steps in as temporary nanny, a bad move, considering all those traitorous hormones.

Ben finds himself developing feelings for Hope, feelings he knows better than to act on, given the mistakes of his past. But Hope refuses to take no for an answer, and her three-year-old accomplices are a triple threat of determination when it comes to finding everyone a happy ending.

Finding Hope links: 
Barnes & Noble:


Four Uncles and a Wedding blurb:
My Big Fat Greet Wedding  morphs into My Big Fat Multi-Ecumenical Wedding.

Back when thirty-one year old Polly Faith Harmony's feminist mother burned her bra, she wasn't thinking ahead to the day she'd want grandchildren. Behind Polly's back, her mother enlists the help of her four great-uncles -- the Catholic priest, the Episcopalian priest, the Jewish rabbi, and the gay Unitarian minister. The five relatives embark on an all out campaign to find Polly a mate in time to beat her biological clock. Like all loving relatives on a mission, they play dirty.

Four Uncles and a Wedding links:

Barnes & Noble:

Want to read more about Emma and her other books? Check out her website.


Dru said...

Congrats on self-pub. I love the blurb and the cover for Four Uncles and a Wedding. I definitely will check out these titles.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Dru! Hope you enjoy them.

Peg Brantley said...

Congratulations on taking the indie plunge! With your skills and the number of books you're already offering I know you'll be succesful.

Carolyn J. Rose said...

I made the indie choice 14 months ago and haven't regretted it yet. I love working for myself at my own pace. Of course, being a Virgo, I'm all about control. LOL

Sheila Webster Boneham said...

Great post, Lois. There are MANY reasons these days for authors to Indie publish and I applaud you for making the leap. I'm posting a link to this post on my Facebook page and will be checking out your titles.

Lev Raphael said...

I enjoyed this. I also thought "never" until I realized how profo0undly the publishing world was changing. I did not want to be left behind! After 19 traditionally-published books with houses big and medium and small, I went indie and have been very happy. I even got a backlist novel and backlist mysteries on Kindle and Nook myself.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Peg, Carolyn, Sheila, and Lev. It's interesting times in the publishing world, isn't it?

Lev, I was terrified at first because I'm not very computer savvy, but I've found the process quite easy as far as Kindle, Nook, and Kobo are concerned. Still have to tackle the iBookstore. I'm thinking I might use Smashwords for that one.

Kathleen Ernst said...

The pace at which the industry continues to change can be overwhelming, but I love how the rise of indie publishing has empowered so many authors to breathe new life into projects. Good luck with the titles.

Jess * Jessie * Jessy said...

Great piece. When I saw your name on the Indie loop, it certainly got my attention. I've always said NEVER! but now I'm investigating. I'm curious... you say you aren't very techie, did you do book covers and conversions, etc all yourself or did you hire it done? If you taught yourself, did you use any particular how-to book or resource to learn it? Will your books be available in print at some point? And, if I may ask, why did you choose a pen name when Lois Winston is recognizable? Thanks so much for sharing and I wish you the best of luck in this new venture.

Oh, I've taken one class from you and it was super. Any chance you'll one day be teaching something on the how of indie publishing?

RobinHaseltine said...

So glad to see you bringing your other titles out, Lois. Congrats and good luck! You're a terrific writer--thrilled your talents are no longer barred from the public by the NYC gatekeepers!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Kathleen and Robin!

Jess, I'm lucky to have a son who's an animator. He's been doing my covers for me, taking my concepts and executing them.

I may do print at some point, but from what I'm hearing from others, print doesn't sell very well. I have to decide if it's worth the effort. I first want to get all the books up on the various platforms. Hopefully, I'll have that done by the end of the summer. Then I'll go from there.

The reason I chose to use a pen name is because there are many mystery readers who don't like romance. I didn't want to muddy the waters with the brand I'm building in mystery. I didn't want someone buying a "Lois Winston" book, expecting a certain read and getting something entirely different. However, I'm using my name as the publisher, so for anyone who does a search, the Emma Carlyle books should come up.

I am teaching a class in Sept. on memoir writing for Writers on Line. I'll leave the classes on indie publishing to those who have been doing it a lot longer than I have.

Polly said...

Lois, I had a wonderful agent who couldn't sell my books, then got published with an great ebook publisher in another genre under a pseudonym. I had the same reservations early on that you had about indie publishing. I finally took the plunge, and I don't regret it one bit. I started with Kindle and Nook. The Nook sales were almost nil, so I put all four of my books in the KDP program. One of my books now hovers between #12 and #15 on the paid Kindle list after a few days free. All the other books are doing well too. It was the best decision I ever made. I love the control, do my own covers, and for did the formatting too. It was a learning curve to get them right but also a challenge. Best of luck with your decision. I'm sure you'll do well.

Deborah Sharp said...

It's a brave new publishing world. Congrats, Lois ... and keep us posted!

Joanna Aislinn said...

Awesome steps you've taken, Lois. Must feel great to walk into a new phase and know you've got quite a collection of work in place to put out there.

I am convinced everything we do happens for a reason and that time will reveal how each of our endeavors fits into the scope of our journeys as we go.

Best wishes!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Polly! I hear so many stories like yours that I definitely don't regret going indie with the books I did. Right now I only have the first book on KDP Select and will make it free once I have at least one more book up.

Deb, I'll definitely keep you all posted.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Joanna. I don't know if things happen for a reason or not. I've seen too many terrible things happen to good people, but I try to keep an open mind and hope for the best.

Joanna Aislinn said...

I try to live every day that way, Lois/Emma. Makes for a lot more peace at my end. Have a great weekend :)