Thursday, February 11, 2016

Is the Indie Gold Rush Over? Does it Matter?

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series 

In December of 2015, Mark Coker of Smashwords wrote 2016 Book Publishing Industry Predictions: Myriad Opportunities amid a Slow Growth Environment. The full article is lengthy but fascinating.

One of the points he makes is this: “Many indies and traditional publishers alike reported flat or lower sales in 2015. The go-go days of exponential ebook market growth of the early days (2008-2012) are over.”

Does that statement strike fear in your heart?

Not me. Why? Because I haven’t relied on the indie gold rush to pay my mortgage or put food on the table. I’ve been kind of chill about indie publishing, so I’m not frazzled about its ups and downs.

As we ponder indie publishing and its future, we can remain nimble by doing the following:

Stay Informed

Indie publishing is constantly changing. The main publishing forums (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Smashwords, CreateSpace) are in the business of improving the exprience for authors. They offer updated marketing tips and improved software. If we stay informed about market trends and business changes, we can tweak our plans as we go.

Try New Things

The beauty of indie publishing is that there’s not one perfect way to do it. We each have the unique opportunity to do what works best for us. If an idea bombs, no big deal. Just try something else. The only high expectations placed on us are our own, so it’s fun to experiment. Trailblazing indies share new ideas via blogs and podcasts. Plug into those and sift through what you do and don’t want to try.

Examine Your Intentions

Why are you writing? Why are you interested in indie publishing? What do you hope to gain? What lengths are you willing to go to? How much money are you willing to invest in editing, cover design, and marketing? How business-y do you want to be about it? Knowing this up front helps manage expectations. As for me, I simply write and publish for the joy of it. I don’t create graphs or spreadsheets that chronicle my sales. I don’t *gasp* have a business plan. None of that lines up with my intentions.

Keep Writing and Publishing

No matter what your intentions are with indie publishing, it’s important to keep writing and publishing. Don’t become paralyzed by all the calculated business things that go along with it. The basics remain the same: good storytelling, professional editing, eye-catching cover, spreading the word.

As indie publishing rises, falls, rises again, slows, changes, morphs, whatever, let’s remember to maintain a balanced writing life and never, ever, ever lose the joy. 

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. Ha! I love that you admit to not having a business plan (gasp). It's like a mortal sin, isn't it? :) I do think the gold rush is over--thankfully. Now authors can settle in and not feel like they have to rush to market. We can focus on a novel or series as long as we'd like, knowing the competition is fierce and we want to produce our best.

    1. Laura, you're so right about settling in. All that pressure to ride the tidal wave is a bit daunting.

  2. As much as I would love for the gold rush to splash itself all over me, I have accepted that won't be the case for everyone. I am thankful for the chance to write and publish as long as my imagination is a wild tempest of tales that need to be told.

    1. Angela, that's the beauty of indie, isn't it? That we have such wonderful opportunities open to us.

  3. Not surprised that the Indie publishing world is changing, just like all of publishing and life. I've been learning that about life these days, that's for sure. Glad you're not too bothered by all the changes.