Tuesday, June 19, 2018


When I was practicing medicine, I was in solo private practice for most of my professional life. Then I accepted a position as a professor at a prestigious medical center, where I served for another decade. The advice I received from a good friend (now deceased)  resonated with me at the time, and comes back periodically: "Are you ready to work for 'the man'?" I thought I'd learned how to work for someone else in my almost three years in the Air Force, but I soon remembered why it isn't an unalloyed blessing.

When I was in solo practice, both the upside and downside to that situation was that I was responsible for making all the decisions. It was no fun to see the pay period coming up and know that I'd be the last one to get a check...if I got one at all. But it was a nice feeling to know that if I wanted to leave early to see my son's baseball game or swim meet, or my daughter's speech tournament, I could. On balance, it probably was the weight of being the one making the ultimate decisions that led me to accept the invitation to "work for the man."

I had a good decade at the medical center, with patient responsibility, surgical cases, and teaching duties. But I soon learned that having someone else in charge was a high price to pay. The straw that broke this particular camel's back was when I wanted to buy a new copy of a book most physicians use on a regular basis. The cost was about $25, as I recall. The administrator turned down my request, saying that I could use the copy one of my colleagues had bought. I had been recognized throughout the world for my expertise, had been president of one and vice-president of two of our professional organizations, had served on a number of commissions and committees, and was turned down for a $25 book. I decided to retire.

I have a similar situation in writing. When I was under contract to a publisher, they handled a lot of things I've discovered are the indie-author's responsibility. Royalty structure aside, I have to ask myself if it's worth it to be in charge of getting everything done. This is not a new argument, nor is it confined to my "new" profession. Each of us has to assess whether it's worth the security of having someone else in charge to relinquish our ability to fully control the situation. I'll reach a personal decision soon, but I suspect the question will come up again.

How about you? What's your opinion in this situation? Do you have a similar one in your own life? I'd like to hear.

Tweet with a single click. "The indie-author has to balance their independence with having someone else handle the publication of their works."

Friday, June 15, 2018

Writing: Decisions

Since starting to publish my novels without the help of a traditional publisher, I've learned how many of the decisions regarding a book's publication are up to the author--decisions that he/she often took for granted that the publisher would make.

For instance, the publisher chose an editor for my work. This could be a good or bad thing. Going in, I thought the same editor who accepted my novel would be the one who did the editing. That was before I found out that there's a macro-edit, a line edit, proof-reading, and (depending on how you break it up), perhaps more. It's frankly a gamble when someone else chooses your editor (and I've both won and lost this gamble). And just about the time you get the right person involved, for one reason or another the author is no longer with that publisher...or editor. Now, all that is a decision that must be made by the author. The result can be good or bad, but the decision in this case is mine, and I've settled on a good one.

Likewise, the publisher chose the artist who would craft the cover for a book. I've been fortunate in that I was consulted much of the time, and the covers for my books that were released by traditional publishers have been good. I remember completing rather complex questionnaires prior to a cover that gave the physical descriptions of major characters, as well as suggested scenes that might be used. When the book is indie-published, it's up to the author to find the right artist, give all the appropriate information to them, and make certain the end result is a cover with which you're happy. Again, I've successfully navigated this challenge.

Then there's the question of size of the book, matte or glossy cover, font to be used on the cover and in the body of the text, and on and on it goes. Should it be released in e-book or print or both? When should it be released? Is a pre-order period a good or bad thing?

For good or ill, I'm ready to release my next novel, Guarded Prognosis. It's available for pre-order (at a discount for the Kindle version until the official release date of July 17). I hope you enjoy it.

Oh, and an indie author (actually, all authors), should make all those decisions I've described above as well as writing the next one. I plan to release my novella, Emergency Call, in late November. Keep that in mind when making your Christmas shopping list.

Tweet with a single click. "The indie author soon discovers there are lots of decisions that used to fall to the publisher."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


Ever find yourself comparing your life with someone else's--and wishing yours were different? Writers are especially prone to this. We see a post about another writer's success, and (at least for a moment) some of us turn green.

I used to envy other authors, but the more I got to know some of them, the more I found out they had their own problems--you'd be surprised how many. The same holds true of people in almost every walk of life. The old Indian saying has a lot of truth in it: "Don't judge another until you've walked a mile in their moccasins." (Of course, one of my friends adds, "By then you're a mile away from them and you have their shoes.")

One of the quotations I like best is this one from Steven Furtick, a pastor in North Carolina: "The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else's highlight reel." Think about that the next time you get upset after reading someone's post on social media or receive a Christmas letter that sends you running for the headache remedy.

Don't get frustrated by seeing what someone else has. Maybe you're just seeing their highlight reel.

Let me know in the comments what you think about this. Although Blogger is having some problems, and I don't currently get notified of comments, I'll get around to them eventually.

Tweet with a single click. "Ever envy someone else? This may change your mind."

Friday, June 08, 2018

Writing: My Next Novel

People who have never written a book say, "I wish I could do that." People who have actually done it look at their manuscript and say, "I wish I could get it published." People who hold their first book in their hands say, "I did it." The next noise these people hear is the sound of agents, publishers, and readers saying, "When's the next one?" Add to that the challenges that await the author who decides to go the "indie-route" and you have my current situation.

When I became a hybrid author, one who has been published by a traditional pub house but decides for one reason or another to self-publish, I found a number of surprises waiting. But whether indie- or traditionally-published, one thing is universal among writers--an emotion experienced by first-time authors and someone (like me) who has seen multiple books with their name on the cover: the release date is always accompanied by some nervousness.

I've sent out almost a dozen copies of the e-book format of my next novel, Guarded Prognosis, for review. When I started seeing some nice postings about the book on Goodreads and getting emails directed to me saying they liked it, I breathed a sigh of relief. And now it's time for the general public to chime in.

We've made the Kindle version of the book available for pre-order (at about 40% off until release on July 17, at which time it goes up to the final price). I'm told that Amazon won't put the print version up for pre-order yet. However, on July 17, both the Kindle and print versions will be available via Amazon. And lest you say, "I don't have a Kindle," there are apps available--free of charge on Amazon--that let you download and read these books on Macs. (Currently the Kindle for PC is "unavailable"--don't know why).

One other thing a writer learns to expect is the question, "When's the next one?" I hope to release a novella this winter--Emergency Call--that features a physician who backs out of her snow-covered drive and runs over the corpse of a man her attorney-husband just defended. Watch for it. And meanwhile, I hope you read and enjoy Guarded Prognosis.

Tweet with a single click. "Another medical thriller from Dr. Richard Mabry, Guarded Prognosis."

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

June is Bustin' Out All Over...

Or, at least that's what the musical says. Somehow, June has sneaked up on us. Our weather here in Texas has apparently decided to go straight to summer, and the temperatures lately have been more typical of August than the end of May.

This is the month school is "finally" out. The sounds you hear are cheers from the children and subdued sobbing from the parents who are frantically planning what they can do to keep their kids occupied until school starts again.

Graduation for many high schools takes place in late May or early June. I had occasion to attend one this past weekend, and couldn't help thinking about the emotions going through the heads of those who are receiving their diplomas. Some are going directly to the workforce, some have committed to our armed forces, many are headed for college. I've been through that, both myself and as a parent, and I can only say to each of them--Godspeed.

This summer, my wife will be doing some grandmothering, I'm getting ready to release my next novel (it hardly seems like this will be my sixteenth), and our extended family is about to head out on various vacations. What does your summer look like?