When I first began to research indie publishing, I was surprised and delighted by one discovery:
Indie publishers share information. Everything from work habits to business plans to marketing and promotion.
Joe Konrath, indie publishing icon and author of the Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog, routinely shares his sales numbers and income amounts. Denise Grover Swank shares her business plan. David Gaughran and Guy Kawasaki have written how-to guides for new writers learning how to navigate indie publishing and self-promotion.
Indie publishers should share this information. Instead of competing, writers should help each other succeed, mainly because indie publishing is fast becoming a huge, complicated business, one in which a writer can use as many allies as he can get.
Indie publishing is rapidly changing.
Around 2009, publishing companies priced ebooks equal to printed copies. Then founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Jeff Bezos came up with a brilliant marketing strategy.
Explains Anne R. Allen, “[Amazon] needed cheap books for the new Kindle owners. So they opened up Amazon to self-publishers, offering an author-friendly e-book creation system and a 70% ‘royalty’ to authors who priced their books in the range Amazon wanted to promote: between three and ten dollars.”
So began the “indie revolution.” But in the past five years, the market has changed.
Enticed by the bestselling ranks of indie publishers like Joe Konrath, Amanda Hocking, or John Locke, thousands of hopeful writers have entered the indie publishing business.
“For the new author who is thinking of launching a career by self-publishing through Amazon, it’s important to be aware things have changed drastically in recent months,” says Allen. She explains why the methods of past success–like garnering reviews, raising an Amazon profile through giveaways, or free marketing on Facebook–may not be options for writers in the future.
Thank goodness seasoned authors like Allen are discussing the industry’s changes. New indie publishers can set realistic goals and have a greater chance of success.
When one writer succeeds, opportunities for all writers increase.
In early 2011, bestselling author Barry Eisler turned down a half-million dollar deal in order to self-publish his next novel.
Because Eisler made this decision public and explained the reasons he made such a choice, all writers have more information. They know that self-publishing is a lucrative enough option for successful writer to turn down a contract with a traditional publisher. Furthermore, publishers know that writers have this option. When the writer knows he has other options, and the publisher knows a writer can choose to self-publish to great success, the offers from publishers become more advantageous to writers.
Sure, a writer could covet Eisler’s success. But Eisler could also have kept his decision a secret in an attempt to reap the benefits of the self-publishing market for himself.
Jealousy or competition between writers is a waste of energy, not only because of their entwined fortunes, but also because other writers are a target market.
Writers are also readers.
No dichotomy exists between “writers” and “readers.” The huge community of aspiring and successful authors? Also a community of prolific readers.
Writers read books. Writers review books. Writers talk about books. Word of mouth is still the best promotion for a book, and in the Internet age, it’s even easier to spread word of mouth. These writers can then spread the word about each other’s books beyond the writing community. Other readers trust a writer’s opinion on which books to read.
When writers share information with each other, they can also promote each other’s books. When an experienced author shares what he has learned in the indie publishing business, he is also introducing a huge audience of fellow writers to his work.
If you’re new to indie publishing, like me, make the pledge to gather as much information as possible, and then pass that information along to the benefit of all.