Roughly ten years ago, I had a little dabble with the whole indie author thing. Basically, I chucked a couple of books on Amazon and hoped for the best. Against all the odds, I had some good reviews and sold a few copies. But mostly not much happened. Life got in the way and the books sat there until I took them down. I had a bash at trying to get traditionally published. Was almost taken up by an agent and then dropped and I realised that with so many things against me, if I really wanted to make a living from my writing, only I could make it happen. I returned to independent authorship and deemed that this time I would set out to run a business. It was time to take my writing seriously.
Over the last two years, I have gained a fair bit of knowledge (I think I may have taken the equivalent of a degree) about the entire process. Whilst it is very convenient to publish on Amazon alone and I know many authors make a living utilising the Kindle Unlimited subscription model, I believe a better business plan is to go wide and sell your books across many platforms.
As I see it, not putting all your books on one shelf can only be a good thing in the long term. And with the long-tail scalability that books provide, it makes sense to get your work into as many different markets and in as many different formats as possible. All too often, in my humble opinion, authors get caught up in the Amazon bubble and spend too much time worrying about rankings and algorithms. So I’d like to point out that Amazon is not the world market – other platforms are available and you can still use Amazon – you just can’t use their Kindle Unlimited (KU) package and publish wide. This brings me to the crux of the problem – the exclusivity Amazon demands from the indie author. Other publishing companies, Kobo Writing Life, for example, have a subscription model that does not require the author’s exclusivity. So why not Amazon? In time, I hope they drop this requirement and make KU available to wide authors as well.
If you think going wide will be a time drain, consider using an aggregator (I use Draft2Digital) the fees are reasonable and they are super simple to use. They will put your books for sale on platforms you may never have heard of. Make use of their Universal Book Links for your website and you’re sorted – wide and not tied into Amazon’s exclusivity.
The big plus about becoming a wide, independent author is then you have the opportunity to sell directly to your readers. This gives (almost) instant revenue and provides you with more control and stronger reader-author relationships. As the stigma of the indie author lessens, I think more and more readers will be keen to buy directly from the author. Going wide is all about keeping the power in the hands of the creatives, and that means you. And for that matter, me. On my long to-do list, is setting up the buy direct links. Next month I hope to get this job done.
Another thing we indies are always chattering on about is multiple strings of income. The books (on many platforms and formats) is one thing but there are other ways a writer can earn a little cash. I do a spot of freelance work, mainly for magazines. For the next few months, you can find me discussing what I have learnt on my indie journey so far in Writing Magazine.
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