What I learned from indie publishing my middle-grade novel

What I learned from indie publishing my middle-grade novel
Posted on July 25, 2023

One of the many lovely things about Write With Allison Tait is the mix of writers who have joined my online writing group. We have children’s authors, YA authors, authors writing for adults, not yet published, traditionally published, indie published, novelists and non-fic authors.

It creates a brilliant melting pot of experiences and questions, and reflects my philosophy that, no matter what you’re writing, you will learn something new from every writer.

One of the great maxims of writing is to ‘read widely’. I think that ‘talking writing widely’ is just as important.

One such member of the group is Wendy Adams, who indie published her middle-grade novel Call The Wild Sea earlier this year.

There’s no doubt that indie (independent) publishing is on the rise and can be incredibly lucrative, particularly in genres such as romance and crime fiction, where readers have voracious appetites.

But with middle-grade fiction, the young reader is another step removed from the process. The author is relying on reaching the adults in that young readers life first, and then the young reader second.

All of which brings its own set of challenges.

With that in mind, I asked Wendy to share her experiences of indie publishing her middle-grade novel – and some tips for any other writers considering doing the same.


Reinventing the dream: What I learned from indie publishing my middle-grade novel

By Wendy Adams

Indie publish a children's novelTo publish or not to publish? In 2022, after years of rejections and a few ‘almosts’ that kept me believing, I realised it was crunch time. Would I leave my stories to hide, unread in my document folder, or take a giant leap out of my comfort zone and become an independent author?

You know the old saying, when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear? Well, that’s exactly what happened. In the form of Pickawoowoo, a company that supports and assists independent authors.

On a whim, I rang them and found them so helpful and encouraging that I immediately signed up and the journey began.

After several edits, cold feet, impostor syndrome and terrified ‘what am I doing?’ questions, Call The Wild Sea was a book and I was a published author. And my childhood dream became a reality.

Tip #1: Find the help you need. The most crucial step I took as a first-time indie author was getting expert support and guidance in navigating the intricate processes of independent publishing. 


The benefits and the challenges of being an independent author

The benefits of being an independent author are many. I have control over every aspect of my publishing journey.

I decide when I’ll be published, not if. I make the dream a reality.

But of course, there are challenges too. The costs involved are significant and the learning curve is gigantic.

A traditionally published author has a team of supporters, so it’s imperative that the independent author has one too. Finding that team, if it doesn’t already exist, can be difficult.

The biggest challenge, though, of being an independent middle-grade author is marketing. It’s difficult to find your readers and keep them without the advertising power of a traditional publishing house. Who do I market to—teachers, parents, librarians? What about the newsletter? Who would most likely be interested in what I have to say?

Tip #2: The number one lesson I’ve learned about marketing since my book was published is that it’s a multi-faceted beast. I’ve explored various strategies, such as running Facebook ads, optimising my Amazon author page, engaging with reviews, conducting school visits, and maintaining a strong presence on social media, blogs, and newsletters. However, the true challenge lies in continuously discovering new and fresh ways to promote my work. 


Making the most of the middle-grade space

As I’ve learned, however, there are some unique marketing strategies available to middle-grade authors.

I created Teacher’s Notes to help promote my novel, making it more attractive as a class novel. The Australian Curriculum is available online and has suggestions for relevant learning sequences for middle-grade students. Also, looking at what other middle-grade authors have done will help you create your own teacher’s notes. (Tips for creating Teachers’ Notes here.)

Likewise, school visits provide a unique opportunity for children’s authors to foster community ties and encourage literacy among students. Ultimately, if you are an independent middle-grade author, you must put your fear aside and accept opportunities to engage with schools.

(I’m speaking to myself here because, despite being a teacher for many years, the thought of going into a school and presenting a workshop makes me unbelievably nervous. Despite that, I’m doing it!)

Tip #3: Make the most of the marketing opportunities that exist in the children’s publishing space. Aside from the above mentioned, don’t forget the basics such as asking local bookshops to stock your book, setting up a stall at local markets, and asking friends to post about the book on social media if they like it. 


Learning every step of the way

Now that my first book is out there, I’m working hard to produce my second – and I’ve changed some of my processes

For instance, In my eagerness to perfect the manuscript for Call The Wild Sea, I made the mistake of making changes after a professional editor had already proofread my work. This led to a cycle of fear and imposter syndrome, constantly second-guessing myself and introducing new errors in the process.

For my upcoming book, I’ve learned my lesson and will ensure that the professional editor is the very last person to review my work, allowing for a smoother and more streamlined editing process.

So, if, like me, you’ve struggled with countless rejections, think about reinventing the dream by becoming an independent author. The learning curve is steep, but the rewards are invaluable – your work is out there, you will have ultimate control and you might make some money too.

And the clincher? For writers like me who can create thousands of words for a novel but can’t write a riveting summary, you may never have to ‘pitch’ again. Now, that makes it all worthwhile!

Wendy Adams is the author of Call The Wild Sea, a fantasy adventure novel for middle-grade readers. Her next novel Paisley Partridge and the Case of the Disappearing Little Penguins will be published in early 2024. Find out more


writing group Allison TaitAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait and you can find out more about me here and more about my online writing courses here.

For full details about Write With Allison Tait, my new online writing community offering Inspiration, Motivation, Information and Connection, go here



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