Thursday, April 09, 2015

Indie Authors as Global Enterprises

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series

I listened to an excellent interview between Joanna Penn, of The Creative Penn blog, and Mark McGuinness, poet and non-fiction author. The entire post about How to Make a Living as an Author is worth a read. There are lots of eye-opening nuggets in there.

Mark McGuinness encourages authors to, “stop thinking like needy artists or freelancers living hand to mouth, and start thinking and acting like creative entrepreneurs.” And Joanna Penn points out that, “’s a viable business now, to be an author.” Think of it this way: If you publish your work on all of the available platforms, you are now a global enterprise.

Lately there’s been a lot of noise about how ebook sales are flattening out. But Joanna Penn remains enthusiastic about ebooks and indie publishing. Why? I’d guess that part of the reason is because this is only the beginning. Here’s why:

Many international markets are just now opening up to ebooks and digital publishing. 

As Joanna points out, “So what’s happened with this technology shift, America first, UK, Australia, Canada are markets that have really moved, and we’re still seeing it, Germany’s just starting to move; we’re still seeing the kind of emergence of this in the rest of the world.” She continues, “So, basically, I’m running a global multimedia empire, as an individual.” Indies can now sell in 170 countries. iBooks operates stores in 51 countries. There’s a lot of untapped potential in those expanding markets.

With the Internet and free indie publishing, we can make our indie businesses as big as we want with little investment. 

Sure, you have to invest time to write a great book, and you have to invest funds into quality editing and eye-catching covers, but that’s it. Once you’ve uploaded your book, it’s available to the world. Forever. To me, that’s intoxicating. When I see sales from other countries, and I didn’t have to do anything except make my books available in all formats, I feel a sense of pride. Here a stay at home mom who lives in the boonies is now selling books in foreign lands. Amazing.

Markets are growing deeper and wider. 

Like Mark says to Joanna, “You and I both live in the abundance mentality of the Internet, and generosity of the ever-growing pie.” My sales won’t hurt your sales, and your sales won’t hurt my sales. We aren’t gobbling chunks of a small, static pie. The pie grows larger every day.

The far reaches of the world aren’t so far anymore. 

For example, let’s talk India. In Hiten Vyas’ post on Digital Book World--India’s Ebook Industry Shows Great Potential--he points out that India is “...still an emerging market but feels like it’s about to grow--it’s like a storm brewing in the distance. It continues to swirl and swirl, yet it’s not certain when it will unleash in full force.” What about South America, you ask? In his article How to Establish Robust Trade in Emerging Ebook Markets, Wesley Lynch says, “The rapid penetration of the Internet and the subsequent high adoption rate of mobile in South America have resulted in e-commerce becoming a fast-growing industry particularly in Brazil.” E-commerce includes ebooks.

As technology reaches other countries and becomes more affordable, the reading public will grow. The ebooks we’ve published on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, and ACX will be available to anyone who has a tablet or phone--and the desire to read. Let’s think globally.

If you’ve indie published, have you considered yourself a global business? Do you look ahead and consider the markets that have barely been tapped? Any advice you’d like to share with the rest of us about improving our global businesses? 

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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  1. Thanks for the post and the links. I confess, all I want to do is publish a book and leave the rest up to someone else. Joanna's article nailed me! I'm not ready for any of this yet…but when I am, I'll know where to go to re-read and re-think who I am and what i have to do!!

  2. Carol, Joanna is definitely one to watch when it comes to seeing indie publishing as more than just sending our work into the abyss. Good luck to you with your own writing journey!

  3. Great post! I joke with my wife that I am an internationally best-selling author minus the word "best." Like you, I am thrilled when I see readers in foreign lands buying and commenting on my books, even though my total sales numbers are still modest.

  4. Alex, that's awesome! Heck, could we have done this ten years ago? Nope. Imagine what the next 2 years, 5 years, 10 years will bring. It's exciting.