Sherri Wilson Johnson on moving from traditional to indie publishing

My guest this week on How I First Published tells of her  very interesting decision to move from traditional to indie publishing–and of how many more readers  she’s been able to reach through indie. Welcome, Sherri Wilson Johnson! Here’s Sherri’s story.


Traditional to Indie published author Sherri Wilson Johnson
Sherri Wilson Johnson

What was your first published novel?

My first published novel was To Dance Once More. It was traditionally published, but I regained my rights and just re-released it myself as my second Indie title December 12th with a brand new gorgeous cover!

How did that come about?

To Dance Once More was originally traditionally published in 2011. This year, I decided that I wanted to have more control over the pricing in order to make my books in this series more available for readers. I have several friends who have been enjoying being Indie and they helped me every step of the way. I’m so glad I made this decision for these books.

How did this make you feel?

At first, I was nervous of failure. I worried about the stigma that might become attached to my name as a self-published author. But as soon as my first Indie released in September (the sequel to To Dance Once More), it went straight to the Hot New Release list on Amazon and stayed there for thirty days. So all my worries were cast aside. I was thrilled that people were buying my book! Now I realize that we having nothing to fear. We just need to stay positive and not get bogged down by the details or slow days. Just keep writing.

Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?

Being published traditionally was a little of all those things. Being published as an Indie has been a great experience so far, although exhausting at times. I’m selling books every day. I enjoy being able to change my pricing when I want to. Just this past week, I did a five-day FREE promotion on Amazon and had over 9,000 downloads. To Dance Once More made it to #1 in Christian Historical Romance in the FREE Kindle store., and was #9 in CHR in the PAID Kindle store after the promotion ended. So I’ve been elated! This has been a better experience for me than my experience with the small publisher I was with because I’ve reached more readers.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

Since first being published in 2011, I’ve grown as a writer. I believe you never stop learning and growing. There are so many things to master. The craft. How to market. How to keep your reader coming back for more books in your series. In 2012, I signed with a literary agent. He has been very helpful and is still working to place several of my books. If they do not find a home with a traditional publisher, I will Indie publish them. I’m full of fresh ideas and can’t wait to see what God does with them.

Thanks so much for hosting me!

Christian Historical romance by Sherri Wilson Johnson

To Dance Once More: 

Marriage was the last thing on her mind. Now it may be her only choice.

Debutante Lydia Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. While her sisters happily prepare for their traditional roles as women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. She counts the days until she can leave home to explore the world, to dance with cultured gentlemen, to explore politics and art, to leave behind the confining expectations of her family and community—and her God. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn’t enough to hold her back…until they dance, and her heart considers love.

 Confused by her heart’s betrayal, Lydia struggles to gain her independence. Then she overhears a private conversation about a business deal that has everything to do with her future. Now she’s faced with the biggest decision of her life—to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice…and, perhaps, countless rewards. In an attempt to escape her imminent destiny, Lydia scrambles to find a solution—at all costs. Amidst the trials that follow, as Lydia runs out of time, she learns the meaning of sacrifice, forgiveness, hope and faith. Stripped of her future, will she concede or fight?

Will she ever be able TO DANCE ONCE MORE?

Romance. Scandal. Desperation. Hope.

Find To Dance Once More at Amazon.

About Sherri:

Sherri Wilson Johnson is an Inspirational Romance novelist, a speaker, and a former homeschooling mom who’d rather have laugh lines under her eyes than worry lines across her forehead. She lives in Georgia with her husband, her two children and her Chihuahua, Posey. Her favorite thing to do when she’s not with her family is to curl up with a good book or work on her current work-in-progress. She loves to dream of visiting romantic places and is passionate about the Lord, motherhood, homeschooling, and writing. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once MoreSong of the Meadowlark, and To Laugh Once More. She is a columnist with Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.


Hobbit devotional author Jill Richardson tells how she first published

Christian author's devotional based on The Hobbit and LOTR characters.

Once again, I have a very timely guest on  How I First Published. With the last of The Hobbit movie trilogy premiering in a few days, we have the author of a teen devotional based  on characters from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings–Jill Richardson! Welcome, Jill! So interested to hear your story!

What was your first published book?

Friend of a Friend, a historical romance published by Barbour in their Heartsong Presents line. It’s about a young woman living in southern Illinois just before the Civil War who has to balance her father’s Southern sentiments with her leaning toward an abolitionist young man and her faith.

I wrote it ages ago when I was in seminary and had two toddlers. Can’t believe I had the time!


Jill Richardson, author of  Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World  of  Middle Earth
Jill Richardson

Was it a traditional publishing contract or did you go indie? How did that come about?

It was traditional. At that time, indie wasn’t really even an option. I know no one will believe this, but–Amazon did not exist!

How did this make you feel? Has it been as good as you expected, or a letdown, or exhausting, for example?

Ecstatic. And odd. I had never considered myself a fiction writer, and I still don’t. Before that, I had been published in dozens of magazines with strictly nonfiction pieces.

The idea for the book came to me in a dream—really. So I followed it, and suddenly I’m being offered a contract. Surreal, really. I’m not even sure twenty years later if it was any good, but it did help me pay the bills during grad school!I think it also helped me find that fun, creative part of my brain at a time when it was otherwise full of writing heavy papers on theology and theories of mission work.

Tell us what’s happened with your writing journey since.

I followed that up a few years later with Making a Name for Myself, a book of biblical monologues for church performance. That’s now transformed into individual scripts on the Lillenas website people can purchase. Some are also in a compilation, I love that they’re still being used.

Then I concentrated more on articles during the early child rearing years of life. Shorter attention span, and all. Some of those also were chosen for a compilation on missions put out by Christianity Today.


My most recent books have been Don’t Forget to Pack the Kids: Short Term Missions for Your Whole Family  (with a more secular companion, Please Pass the Fish Head: Planning a Volunteer Vacation with Kids,) and Hobbits, You, and the Spiritual World, a teen devotional based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters (2013, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

The first one  was shopped around by my agent for a while, but though publishers loved it, they felt it was to “niche” to sell. So I self-published it on Amazon. It’s close to my heart, because one of my ministries is to encourage parents to minister as a family, and to empower their kids to be ministers, not spectators. So I told the story of our own family’s trip to China and gave a pretty exhaustive education on how to plan one’s own trip.

The second book was born of my love for literature (especially Lord of the Rings!) and teenagers. Again, I really want to help kids think for themselves and develop a worldview that sees Christian faith as relevant to their minds and hearts. I want to keep them engaged in the church.

So I took these characters from the books/movies and talked about one characteristic that makes them unique and related it to Scripture. Then application brings it close to home. Youth groups have used it, and parents have studied it with their teens. I love nothing more than to get an email from someone who tells me their child was drawn closer to God through this book. And I do get them.

Right now, I’m working on a Young Adult novel about illegal immigration, as well as a team written book about Millennials and church. I’m kind of eclectic.

Where can we find your books?

On my website,

Also at Amazon: