Friday, March 8, 2013

The future of Indie authors…

Just recently, I listened to someone I really trust explain her thoughts about the future of Indie authors on Amazon.

She said that today we’re still able to create magic through social media such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs and by paid advertising spots like E-Reader News and Pixel of Ink. People like Amanda Hocking and John Locke showed us that it could be done and we’ve all been led to believe it can happen for us also. That just maybe our work can be brought to the attention of the readers by group efforts and building a strong fan base. And our sales will reflect the efforts we make.

The bad news is the bourgeoning amount of competition. Amazon no longer needs to give special treatment to anyone in order to fill their bookcases. The algorithms are spinning with so many choices that the cutthroat era will be soon upon us if it hasn’t already started. Example – I remember not too long ago when for every few books given away free, Amazon credited us with one book sold and increased the book’s ranking to reflect that sale. Today that number has changed and the difference is more like fifty free books equal one sold.

And those free days we all wanted so badly that we joined their select program, will they continue? Does it make sense when you think about it? Most of us are willing to pay for our reading material, especially when the cost is so low that a book for a buck is common. Will this promotional tactic go the same way as tags and likes?

No too long ago, we had a lot of sites where we were able to list those same free books. Recently, Amazon has shown their dissent with this routine and things have now changed. Those more popular places will not be promoting free books and so we won’t have the same ability to let readers know about our giveaways.

I know that progress is inevitable. We all understand things don’t remain constant. What worries me is how will Indie authors continue to find consumers? I know a large back list has always been important and will continue to be even more so in the future. I also suspect that we’ll have to spend a lot more money on promotion and that marketing experts will become as crucial as good editors.

As an Indie author, what keeps me hopeful is that I feel victory will happen for those who can write  wonderful books—ones that the readers love so much that their reviews and support will ensure that author’s continuing success.
What do you think?  

Today is your last chance to get wonderful books
marked down
for the sale price of




  1. Great post, Mimi! I agree. Our longevity lies in our ability to produce books people want to read. No amount of promotion will make a mediocre work sell, but for authors striving for their best books...well, we all love to read the best books :-)

  2. I think that a part of the solution, and an important part of the future for independent authors, is for a strong competition for Amazon to emerge. Maybe it will be B&N, maybe Smashwords, or maybe Penguin's new venture. The real problem is that Amazon - which has been good to independent authors - has so much market power, and whatever decisions it have a huge impact on independent authors (and all authors, for that matter).

  3. Mimi, I think the last section of your post sums it up nicely. To have a book rise to the top, Indies will need to invest in marketing and develop new avenues of promotion. We will see some new trends in online book marketing in the next few months, and we will have to be willing to experiment with them. So really things are the same as always, the person who promotes her book will be the one to gain sales.

  4. If Amazon's free days go away, maybe giveaways will be popular again. I understand they are popular on Goodreads still, but when there are so many free books out there, there's really no extra excitement from winning a book from an independent blog or during a blog tour.

    I also think Indies promoting each other could be a popular tactic, groups of Indies forming marketing groups.

    The future is exciting and scary at the same time.

  5. That's a good analysis, and I concur--I've been seeing the same things. I'm not convinced competition to Amazon is the answer, though it's a healthy thing per se.

    I think the real problem is the lack of filtering mechanisms of any sort. Dependable reviewers are so buried, The Amazon review system is so broken, everything so balkanized, that readers have no way of distinguishing the quality of a book from the get-go in the ocean of offerings. Right now all we can do is be smart, creative, and market our butts off. Word of mouth does EVENTUALLY elevate a good book to prominence, but it takes a minimum of 6 months for most of us. Getting heard over the static is a phenomenal challenge.

  6. I think good books will rise to the top, but it will take time and we'll have to market, market, market. Finding the new outlets, websites, etc. to advertise will be key.

  7. Word of mouth. The key. The hardest thing to get. And often the luck of the draw. And too many cards in this deck . But persist.

  8. When everyone clamors at the same time, it becomes a deafening noise. Those on Twitter who constantly barrage others with their promos soon get the turn off by everyone.
    The latest annoying thing I've seen is this: You receive an offer to get a free book (for a review), and you see all the five star reviews. Okay, so far so good. But when you dig a little deeper, you'll find those reviews are the only ones put up by the reviewers, which then smells like a setup to me. So I won't even take a second look at the free book. Not when it's presented that way.

    Building a platform takes time, time, time, and excellent quality writing and yes, editing. Without patience and persistence in those areas, you can spend years pining away, worrying about why your book isn't selling.

    Make your writing career about excelling as a writer, not about selling books.

    Forget Amazon and how they do their numbers. What's important is how you reach out to readers in a professional way, and allow them to provide honest reviews about your work, and in their own time. Pay attention to what honest reviews say, and make your writing reflect that.

  9. I appreciate all your comments and I like the variety of opinions. To sum up we all seem to agree that our work needs to be stellar, better than good... I’m talking superior.

    We do have opposing thoughts on whether promotion will bring more success. Personally, I know for me it has. But I am equating success to earning power.

    One thing mentioned that I found surprising is the differences you have in the importance of reviews. We all know that many are requested. We also know that some of the five stars can be questionable. If a book only has five or even ten reviews, the readers might not believe their credibility, but once there are more than say – fifteen, I have no doubt that many are honorably earned from readers who like to have a say about a book they took the time to read. **I can feel a new blog coming on :-)