The Aim of Indie Authors - Indie Pub It
Recently there was a (another) brouhaha cascading across the Internet, involving Amazon and Hachette, a legacy publisher. While the business in-fighting was between those two parties, a lot of (self) interested third parties got involved and the invective was more inventive than a Stephen King novel.
I mention it now because it prompted me to write this month’s column.
Amazon & Indie Authors
A lot of the anti-Amazon language was variations on the theme of “they’re taking over the world!” I don’t intend to comment on that fear – and I say “fear” because the comments were pointing toward future events that no one can guarantee will happen, including Amazon.
What did surprise me was how many indie authors got caught up in the fray, expressing concern over Amazon’s perceived monopoly and how their future careers will be negatively impacted if Amazon does this-or-that, such-and-so. Which, if you take a step back, or step up to about 20,000 feet and look down, is quite silly. The concerns of indie authors over what Amazon might or might not do come from a distorted perspective.
These authors lost track of why they are indie publishing in the first place, and what indie publishing actually means.
Fact: Amazon is NOT a monopoly. They’re hugely successful, yes (and I suspect a great deal of resentment is generated by that success). But they do not force anyone to sell their books with them. Most publishers choose to, but they’re free to walk whenever they want.
A great many indie authors earn the majority of their revenue through Amazon, including me, but Amazon is not the only game in town. There are at least four other distribution channels available to an indie author. If Amazon ever did shut out indie authors (which is not likely as they have a very nice revenue stream in indies), then these other distribution channels are there to take advantage of, focus on and bring your revenue back up to par. There’s Smashwords, Overdrive, Diesel e-Books, iTunes, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Google, All Romance eBooks, Omnilit, Goodreads…and I’m quite sure that’s not every place you can sell your books.
What if the worst happened, if the most unlikely scenario occurred, and all these indie distribution channels dried up?
Sell them yourself.
Indie authors are independent. That means they do not depend upon anyone but themselves to publish their books and profit from their own activities. You can sell your books anywhere you want. If one channel disappears, regroup, and sell somewhere else. Tell your readers where they can best find you now, and move on.
There’s an inherent advantage in this freedom to publish anywhere. Unlike legacy authors, whose entire careers cave in if their publisher goes away, indies are flexible and can adjust. Their revenue is impacted far, far less than the legacy author’s.
Authors Losing Market Share
The other concern to emerge from the Amazon/Hachette thing was how many indie authors fear the possibility of Amazon changing the way indies publish, and cutting into their “market share” or limiting their ability to hit best seller lists.
A few moments of coherent thought should allay these fears, too, as long as indies are aiming for the achievable goal.
Hitting best seller lists is possible for indies – as possible these days as it is for legacy authors – but your chances of being able to arrange that sort of success for yourself are extremely limited. Best-sellerdom is dependent upon x-factors that no one knows for sure. Even the experts who say they do know really don’t, or they would be pumping out #1 best sellers every month. In other words, you need a great deal of luck to go with your talent.
Indie authors are in the best and most favorable position in the world: they can maximize their profit per unit sale, and keep control of every factor that is known and understood, to increase their sales.
In other words, you shouldn’t be hoping for a best seller to stuff your bank account and set up your retirement, because that’s something you can’t arrange.
You can build x-number of fans and readers who buy every book you read, and generate for you a predictable, bankable amount of income. You can foster those readers, keep writing what they want to read, and slowly add more readers to your roster and increase your income in a steady, reliable stream. This gives you a) independence and b) a reason to keep writing.
This idea of having “just enough fans” is not a new one. Kevin Kelly, on his Technium blog, proposed the idea of “1,000 True Fans” way back in 2008. Indie publishing was still in utero then, but Kelly was astonishingly prophetic. He proposed that writers and other creatives use the indie movement to provide themselves with comfortable careers and caring fans.
You can, too.
If you acquire the right number of readers for you, build your income to a level that provides all the creature comforts you need, pays your bills and keeps you productively writing, then hitting the best seller list and worrying about what Amazon or anyone else might “do” to you somewhere in the future becomes meaningless.
Stay true to your readers, keep them content, and they’ll follow you wherever you go. You can happily publish for the rest of your life, with or without the Amazons of the world.
Columnist: Tracy Cooper-Posey writes erotic vampire romance series and hot romantic suspense. She has been nominated for five CAPAs including Favourite Author, and won the Emma Darcy Award. She published 35 titles via legacy publishers before switching to indie publishing in March 2011. She has published over 40 indie titles to date. Her indie books have made her an Amazon #1 Best Selling Author and have been nominated four times for Book of the Year. Byzantine Heartbreak won the title in 2012. Tracy has been a national magazine editor and for a decade she taught romance writing at MacEwan University. An Australian, she lives in Edmonton, Canada with her husband, a former professional wrestler, where she moved in 1996 after meeting him on-line. Her website can be found at http://TracyCooperPosey.com.