Cozy Mystery Author Gone Rogue — Welcome Julie Anne Lindsey!

I’m not sure when I first met Julie but it was through Sisters in Crime. She’s an amazing, talented, and generous woman and writer. Julie is going from traditionally published to indie publishing and agreed to share her story. I found it fascinating and I think you will to. I’m rooting for you, Julie!

Julie: I did a thing last month that, until about ten months ago, I never thought I would do. I put down my traditional publishing career, and I went rogue. The process was slow and scary, but here I am, alive to tell the tale. Are you curious?

I was a full time mystery writer, working for four publishers, under four pen names, with nearly forty published novels under my belt. I was the actual definition of a traditional midlist author. My photo is included in the online dictionary entry. Midlist sounds a little unimpressive, but in this business, it’s really not. Midlist is a goal. It had been mine once, and I’d achieved it. I should’ve been happy. But here’s the thing about our industry, the climb keeps getting steeper. I’d already beaten the odds, and trying to move up was proving impossible.

I’d had multiple conversations with my very top-notch literary agent for several years about how I could push onward. Nothing worked. Except me. I was toiling away 60-80 hours a week, producing high-quality mysteries, with all the right industry connections, but I was stuck. My career was stuck. My income had plateaued and working longer and harder wasn’t changing any of that.

Then there was a pandemic.

I had all the fears and feels that everyone did. Then one day, I was day drinking, watching my governor tell me the death tolls and all the ways things were getting worse, and it occurred to me, in my tipsy-at-two-in-the-afternoon condition…. I was being a two-dimensional, reactive character in my story.

No one. Absolutely No. One. Likes or wants a flat, reactive character. That’s writing 1-0-1.

And if there’s anything I know, it’s writing.

I needed to take control of something.

I considered cutting my hair or getting bangs, but the salons were closed, so I took a long, hard look at my life and realized my career was something I could change.

Approximately one year ago this month, I began to absolutely devour every article, video and podcast I could find on self-publishing. Because what if I decided what I would write? Me, the author, making decisions! Imagine that. What if I chose when and how often the books would release, how they would be advertised and where, or who would voice my audiobooks?

What if I took control?

Of my career?

I know some of you are thinking, well, duh. It is YOUR career. Why didn’t this occur to you sooner?

Well, for starters, my Midwestern manners and one-step-above-human-doormat personality, made me afraid to rock the boat. Any boat. Ever. And the career I’d spent a decade building was a BIG boat. Add to that I’d been taught slowly, over a long period of time, to be thankful for what I was offered and keep my head down. The implication being I wouldn’t be offered anything again if I didn’t accept and choose to be happy about it. Whatever it was.

To me, in that moment, the industry I loved felt a lot like an unhealthy relationship. I had concerns I couldn’t voice without being silenced or patronized by others who were stuck in the mixer with me. So I climbed out.

Hey, the world was potentially ending, what did I have to lose?

I created a business and registered it with my state. (I am now the owner, operator and sole employee of Cozy Queen Publishing LLC. **deep curtsy). And I started writing my new cozy mystery series, the Bonnie & Clyde Mysteries, featuring a second-chance shop owner, Bonnie, and her kitty companion, Clyde. With names like those, what could possibly go wrong?

I wrote book 1, BURDEN OF POOF, between my traditional contracts, often late at night, or at a hotel on the weekends. When I finished book 1, I started book 2. I turned in every contracted manuscript on time and with a smile, because I am intensely, deeply thankful for the relationships and opportunities that carried me to midlist. Those publishers, editors and marketing teams hold me up and make my stories better. I appreciate them all to the moon.

But you can love something and still need more.

So, I created book trailers and promo graphics for Bonnie & Clyde between traditional writing bouts, new releases, and edits. I organized an ARC Team, reanimated my long-dead newsletter, wrote a short story prequel to generate interest, and I doubled down on my social media marketing. I started a Facebook reader group called Cozy Queens, hired a kick butt editor from my traditional world, found an illustrator in Barcelona to hand draw my covers, and I reached out to the actress who reads my Cider Shop Mysteries, and she blessedly agreed to voice my new stories.

I set a goal and I went after it like the world was ending.

And, when the contracts ran out, and the agent called to see if I would write more for each publisher, I said no.

Again.

And again.

It was possibly the scariest thing I have ever done. And I had to do it often.

,Now, here I am, still standing. A traditional author with no contracts, but an abundance of hope. My second book in the Bonnie & Clyde Mysteries–Seven Deadly Sequins— released today, so I guess, technically, I’m a hybrid author. I’m proud of these stories, the support team, and of myself for being brave, when bravery doesn’t come easily.

There are eight planned books in the Bonnie & Clyde Mysteries, a five-book spin-off series coming next spring, and two side projects I hope to incorporate. It feels incredible and empowering to see what I’ve accomplished and to dream of more good things to come. I no longer feel small or timid, because every single scary step of the way, I’ve become stronger and more confident, which is life changing and priceless. I would do it all again just for that.

Will I ever go back to traditional publishing? Maybe. But this journey wasn’t about them. This was about me.

And I have zero regrets for going rogue.

Readers: Have you ever gone rogue?

About the Author:

Julie Anne Lindsey is an award-winning and bestselling author of mystery and romantic suspense. She’s published more than forty novels since her debut in 2013 and currently writes series as herself, as well as under multiple pen names, for Harlequin, Kensington, Sourcebooks and Crooked Lane Books. When Julie’s not creating new worlds or fostering the epic love of fictional characters, she can be found in Kent, Ohio, plotting murder with her shamelessly enabling friends. Today she hopes to make someone smile. One day she plans to change the world. Learn more about Julie at julieannelindsey.com

42 Thoughts

  1. Julie, I love hearing your story and that you took control of your career! It sounds like you are rocking your new path and I truly wish you the best with it.

    It’s not completely rogue, but I have gone hybrid recently with reissuing four out-of-print mysteries of mine. And I’m contemplating going indy with a new project, but it’s a big step. So far I plan to hang onto my two contracted long-running series.

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    1. Thank you! I’m learning about relaunching now, as older books begin to return to me. It’s all been an incredible learning curve! LOL Thank you so much for having me today!

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  2. Julie Anne, to answer the question first, I don’t believe that I’ve ever gone rogue to the level that you have just described to us here on the blog.

    It’s surely a big move on your part and I’m wishing you all the success you can get.

    I am a bit saddened that there are no more Cider Shop mysteries on the horizon though. I’ve got the first three books and was hoping there would be more.

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    1. I’m also sorry there won’t be more in the Cider Shop Mysteries. The negotiation just didn’t work out with the publisher. It’s always hard for me to leave a beloved world behind. Thank you for reading those stories!

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  3. Congratulations on having the courage to step out on your own! Sounds like you have made all the right moves and the books prove you made the right decision. Can’t wait for the opportunity to read “Seven Deadly Sequins”.

    I’ve never been one that stepped out of my comfort zone. And general fight change. However, it was me that suggested that we follow a long time dream. We were set by all outside appearances – retired, home that we had designed and a small bit of money in the bank. Was I really going to risk all that and move? It meant leaving all we knew and most of what we had and jumping off to buy property, find a builder and pray our home sold before we actually needed the money from it. Although a sudden decision, we did do our homework researching everything from materials from the home to checking out different locations (knew it needed to be out of town, but how far – on top of a mountain or by a main road, etc.). After it was all said and done, it was the best decision we ever made. Made me wonder why we waited so long, but as with all things there is a season. This was the right time and everything fell in place – with a lot of work on our part.

    Sounds to me like this was YOUR season to jump that boat. Congratulations on believing in yourself and taking that first step – which led to many more.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

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    1. Kay! I LOVE this story! Leaving everything to move to your dream location is BIG and scary! I love that you went for it, and that you’re so happy with the change. How wonderful! Thank you for sharing this!!

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  4. Congratulations, Julie! I’m so glad you found a path you like and I wish you the best with it.

    I wasn’t ready to do full indie when I sold my first series to a small press, nor was I ready with the second. Since I work a full-time job, I’m grateful for assistance in editing, cover design…it’s more control than I want to can handle right now. But would I ever do it? Maybe. It all depends on timing, I guess.

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    1. Thank you SO much! And congratulations on your continued successes in publishing! Every contract is such a huge and too often underestimated/under celebrated accomplishment!

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  5. Good for you! I think that you sometimes need to take a chance and try something that will let you have more control of your life, and it looks like you found it. This past year was a good time to do that, I think. I will miss your Cidar Shop books but I am looking forward to the new series. Best of luck to you!

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    1. Thank you Kitty! I, too, will miss Winnie and Granny. Thank you so much for reading my stories!

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    1. Hahaha! Rule followers, unite! Thank you so much for inviting me to post here. I’m shaking in my shoes that this post comes off properly LOL Because OVERTHINKER and also CHICKEN LITTLE. 🙂

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  6. Congrats on your new career direction and best wishes for lots is success! Good on you for taking control!

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  7. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Julie! I certainly know what it’s like to plateau on the mid list, grateful for what you have, but wondering about more. But for me, I spent my entire pre-writing career in start-ups, growing companies from scratch, and it’s not something I feel the need to do again. Also, I’m a very slow writer, so not particularly suited to Indie life.

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    1. Hi Barbara!! I miss your face! I hope to see you again in real life one day. Preferably SOON. 🙂 Thank you so much for having me back!

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  8. Wow, I grew up on the East Coast, but otherwise you and I are the same person, Julie. My natural inclination is to accept what I’m offered with a smile and a thank you because if I rock the boat, I may never have anything offered again. I so admire what you’re doing. And I’m so glad to be in on the journey with you, step by step. Your new series is wonderful, and I’m positive that once readers start that first book, they will be hooked.

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    1. BLESS You!!! My goodness but I would not have embarked on this ride without you! I can remember sending the original email to see if you’d be interested, and thinking, if it’s a no for Barb, maybe I shouldn’t be doing this. Maybe the day drinking and world crumbling has pushed me over the cuckoo’s nest! LOL Thank you so much for your help and support!!

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  9. Cheers for you! You’re an inspiration. I never reached the mid-list level you did, but I made the indie decision several years ago mostly because of age. I didn’t have time to sit around and wait for agents and editors to act. Now I’m really hybrid–my historical nonfiction with a traditional house and my mysteries indie published. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m not setting the world on fire, but I don’t have to–l’m retired. And I get enough feedback to know more than my family is reading my books. You have so much ambition that I have no doubt you will set your particular world on fire!

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    1. Thank you Judy! It’s so nice to meet another indie mystery author! I love knowing you’re doing what you love and loving it!

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  10. Julie Anne/Bree, you’ve always been an inspiration (four books a year!) Those publishers are going to regret letting you go when they should have been throwing money at you. I wish you all the success in the world and I’m dying to read Bonnie and Clyde – and how perfect are those characters’ names for a writer going rogue? xo Shari

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  11. Julie, congratulations! I’ve considered doing the same with one of my ideas but the mechanics of producing the book and then promoting through ads, etc. scare the hell out of me. But with the traditional contracts becoming less and less in the author’s favor, I may have to hunker down and do it.

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    1. Thank you! You are beloved, Ellen. I know whatever you decide will be perfect and the readers will follow.

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  12. As a proud member of your ARC team, I am loving this new direction for you! Need to remember to go grab the audio version for my next road trip. I’m hoping that one of the series you get the rights reverted to you is the Kitty Couture series because we need more Lacy & Jack in our lives. Congratulations!!

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    1. Man! What I wouldn’t do to get back to Lacy & Jack’s world! I have all my fingers crossed on that one, and a spin off idea in case I hit a brick wall on the rights reversion 🙂 (A gal with a plan over here LOL)

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  13. This was a wonderful, interesting post! I really enjoyed reading what and why you decided to do this. Good Luck!

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  14. Yes. For me it was rogue. I have always been the ‘good girl’. I ended up standing in line at Best Buy at midnight the night that Titanic came out. My Mom and husband thought that I was at home asleep.

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  15. Congratulations for taking that leap of faith on going on your own, than the traditional way. May your continued ventures be successful. I am looking forward to reading your books.

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