Excellence in Indie Publishing GIVEAWAY Guest Post: Heather Day Gilbert

Posted May 18, 2017 by meezcarrie in Christian, giveaway, Heather Day Gilbert, historical, mystery/suspense / 31 Comments

Heather Day Gilbert joins us today, as part of the Excellence in Indie Publishing multi-book/multi-genre giveaways going on this week, to talk about how the field of indie publishing is becoming more accepted – and acceptable!

Everyone’s Doing It…but That Wasn’t Always the Case

Back when I decided to indie (independently) publish my first novel in 2013, it wasn’t the popular thing to do. Far more popular was the idea that authors had to jump through established publishing hoops—get an agent, submit to publishing houses, build a platform, and wait.

Problem was, I’d already done that. I had an agent. I had waited a year and a half to hear back from the final publisher that had shown interest in my novel God’s Daughter. I had received positive feedback, but no one wanted to market a Viking historical. Medieval wasn’t trending in Christian book circles, nor were books set in countries other than the USA. And I was definitely standing on a narrow ledge in Christian book circles, because my historical novel was written in first person, present tense (now made popular in mainstream historical circles by authors like Tracy Chevalier and Philippa Gregory).

After years of praying and crying out to God and feeling He wasn’t going to answer me, He started to move. And turns out, He wanted me to move in a way I wasn’t ready to go. He showed me it was time for me to indie publish.

I read up as much as I could on the subject (gleaning lots of info from Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn blog). My brother and I worked on a cover for the novel. My critique partner Becky Doughty taught me to format. My book released in November 2013 to a lot of buzz, I think because it didn’t look like anything that was available in Christian book circles at the time, or maybe because I had been in those circles a while and some wonderful, non-judgmental author friends had chosen to endorse the novel (Laura Frantz, Lori Benton, Michelle Griep, and others).

Regardless, post-publication, God showed me I had made the right decision. God’s Daughter hit the Amazon Norse bestseller list and it has stayed on that list for nearly five years now, so it found its niche. The Royal BC Museum in Canada asked to carry it in their IMAX gift shop during the Vikings exhibition. A movie company contacted me in hopes of optioning the book for film. The Historical Novel Society said the novel was “well-recommended.”

I still remember how it felt to go indie when that wasn’t the popular thing to do—I was like some kind of rebel outcast. I’d offer copies to reviewers who would refuse because the book didn’t come from a traditional publisher. I heard disparaging remarks from both agents and authors about the path I’d chosen. My book couldn’t be entered in many contests because it was indie.

Fast forward to 2017. Great strides have been made and doors I knocked on are now open wide. So many reviewers are more than happy to review indie books now, and Publisher’s Weekly even has an indie review arm (Booklife). Indie books (with a certain number of reviews or ACFW’s QIP status) are now accepted entries in contests like the Christys and the INSPYs. Some agents still occasionally say not-so-nice things about indie publishing, but I figure almost every other one of the authors they represent have an indie book out or in the works.

In other words, it’s the thing to do. Nearly everyone’s doing it (even the ones who’d made disparaging remarks before…).

Indie publishing isn’t easy, if you want to make a career of it. It requires nearly full-time hours spent editing, formatting, marketing, and more. I talk about all these steps in my Indie Publishing Handbook: Four Key Elements for the Self-Publisher. But it does have its own set of incomparable rewards. One benefit I enjoy is the ability to price my own books and flex with the buyer market.

Nowadays, I am a hybrid author, which means I have been traditionally published as well as indie published. I am seeking more traditional opportunities (I have an agent), but I’m also actively building my indie book list to keep “feeding” the readers I have (and they are the best. 😉 ).

The bottom line is that you answer to no one but God when you’re building your author career. You may have to fly in the face of what’s popular at the time. You may have to do things that raise some eyebrows. You may have to take some crazy chances to realize what will and won’t work.

But in the end, you never know. As my mom probably told me when I donned my hand-me-down plaid polyester pants as a kid: “You might start a new trend.” 😉

HEATHER DAY GILBERT, a Grace Award winner and bestselling author, writes novels that capture life in all its messy, bittersweet, hope-filled glory. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, generational story-telling runs in her blood. Heather writes Viking historicals and Appalachian mystery/suspense. Publisher’s Weekly gave Heather’s Viking historical Forest Child a starred review, saying it is “an engaging story depicting timeless human struggles with faith, love, loyalty, and leadership.” Find out more on heatherdaygilbert.com

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As part of the Historical fiction Excellence in Indie Publishing giveaway, you can win a prize pack of books, including Forest Child by Heather Day Gilbert!

Viking warrior. Dauntless leader. Protective mother.

Determined to rise above her rank as the illegitimate “forest child” of Eirik the Red, Freydis launches a second voyage to Vinland to solidify her power and to demand the respect she deserves. She will return home with enough plunder to force her brother, Leif, to sell her the family farm in Greenland.

But nothing can prepare her for the horrors she must confront in Vinland…and nothing can stand in her way when her family is threatened.

In her race to outrun the truths that might destroy her, Freydis ultimately collides with the only enemy she cannot silence—her own heart.

Historically based on the Icelandic Sagas, Forest Child brings the memorable, conflicted persona of Freydis Eiriksdottir to life. This immersive tale is Book Two in the bestselling Vikings of the New World Saga.


AND … as part of the Mystery/Suspense Excellence in Indie Publishing giveaway, you can win Heather’s book Trial by Twelve along with TEN other novels!

~Trial by Twelve is the 2015 Grace Award Winner for Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense~

Tess Spencer loves her low-key job at the Crystal Mountain Spa, which allows her plenty of down-time with her one-year old daughter and lawyer husband, Thomas. But when a pool installation turns up eight skeletons in the spa’s back yard, Tess becomes entangled in a sleuthing job destined to go awry.

As the investigation gets underway, someone dumps a fresh body near the excavated burial site, confirming unspeakable fears. A serial killer has returned to Buckneck, West Virginia…a skilled hunter with a unique taste in prey.

When Tess agrees to help the cunning Detective Tucker gather clues from the inside, she discovers the posh spa hides more than dead bodies. Even as she sifts through layers of deceit, Tess realizes too late that the killer’s sights have zeroed in on her.

Unpredictable psychological mystery replete with memorable characters, Trial by Twelve is Book Two in A Murder in the Mountains series.


Head over HERE to enter both giveaways & while you’re there, enter these other two giveaways as well!

And for more on indie publishing, check out these guest posts from:

Sondra Kraak

Serena Chase

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31 responses to “Excellence in Indie Publishing GIVEAWAY Guest Post: Heather Day Gilbert

    • Thank you, Sarah! I surely couldn’t have seen what God had in store when I “stepped off that ledge”, that’s for sure! And thanks so much for getting this wonderful giveaway together!

  1. Oh my goodness!!! Your mom sounds like me!!! There’s an interesting story about one armed sunglasses in there .

    I was VERY FORTUNATE to begin my indie journey on the heels of Heather’s. We had just become acquainted with each other, as we both had leadership positions at ACFW at the time. As I prepped my soon-to-be indie novel for publication, I kept seeing Heather on blogs talking about doing this crazy thing. I read and took notes!!! So grateful she’s put all her expertise in a single book (mentioned above).

    Heather is a wonderful writer with a breadth of talent and a heart to help any authors who have come into her acquaintance. So glad she came into mine!!!

    • I was just following in the footsteps of those who’d been even bolder in the chances they took, getting their books out there! 😉 I love how there’s always something new to learn with indie publishing–keeps you on your toes and it keeps you plugged in to the reader scene.

  2. Loved this interview! It’s interesting . . . especially as I seek what to do with my own novels not set in America. “Write what you know” means to me writing in a setting I live in (Europe). This was encouraging!

    • I see more and more Christian publishers picking up books set overseas (mostly Regency England, but there are some set in Canada, etc.). I’d love to see more set in Asia, myself. I wish you all the best with your European books, and if it’s any comfort, know that there are many readers SEEKING those tales!

  3. Rebecca Maney

    You can tell why, based on this wonderful interview, why Heather Gilbert raced to the front of my favorite authors list last year. What a talented writer with a great story all her own!

  4. Winnie Thomas

    Wonderful post, Heather! It’s great to see more authors indie publishing and branching out to write about other countries and cultures. Thanks for sharing your time and talents!

  5. Haha – Your mama sounds like mine! 🙂 What a blessing your forging ahead in indie publishing has been… Your perseverance in it has certainly encouraged me to press on in it. Thank you for that, Heather, and for crafting such excellent novels – Forest Child is one of my favorites!

  6. I’m SO glad God led you to the path He did. Because I simply cannot imagine never having had the chance to read “God’s Daughter” and then the rest of your books. <3

    And this: "The bottom line is that you answer to no one but God when you’re building your author career."
    Amen!! Love it so much. 🙂

    • Aw, Raechel, I have looked forward to getting those early reader copies out to you with each book because I love hearing what you think! I am so glad you found my books and are such a loyal reader!

      And yes–sometimes we feel pressure to go in ways we know are the wrong direction in the writing industry, and I really believe we have to stand our ground and go the way we know God has led us, even if it doesn’t make sense. This definitely holds true in our life choices, as well! But I do find that God always sends some wise counselors who will affirm that we are heading the right direction, and in marriage, it’s so crucial to pray and to be on the same page before charging into big decisions!

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