What Indie Authors Can Learn From Other Industries

By Adonts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Adonts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

As an indie author, it can be fun (and helpful) to learn about what’s going on in other industries. Joe Wikert outlined on DBW what publishers can learn from the podcast model, by offering easy subscriptions (which could arguably be similar to subscribing to blogs or newsletters), delivering content on a regular schedule, and delivering related content to your audience. To me, this could mean working with a network of people to promote each other, the way podcast networks work to help promote multiple podcasts. Recently, I joined a joint author promo mailing list, where about 50 of us each offer a free book for a giveaway, and then we all work to promote the giveaway. The last giveaway we did resulted in a couple thousand entries, and I got a few new people to subscribe to my mailing list.

Authors can also learn from airlines, according to The Bookseller. Airline prices rise and fall depending on the day:

But what if the same seat-pricing model were to be applied to books? A model where the titles would have lower prices on Tuesdays and be more expensive on Fridays. Where the R.R.P. on the back cover becomes as dynamic as a company’s share price. Where we compete to buy books like we do in an EBay auction.

One way to apply this is to heavily discount pre-orders, and slowly raise the price the closer to publication date it gets. Then, the price could continue to fluctuate based on “interest in the author, the genre, the topic, and personalized to the reader’s own interests.”

Indie authors also have a lot in common with independent app developers. One person on Reddit shared how they made over $700k from a premium game and hit #1 in the App Store (and the New Yorker even wrote about it). According to the post, it’s very hard to do as an indie, but what’s important is to release regular updates, cross promote to other games, and ask for reviews.

Another thing authors can learn from is content marketing, which is very similar to writing books. Drift wrote about what they learned growing their website from 200 to 27,000 visitors, and they found that blogging is an investment (so content published a while back can continue to drive traffic, much like the first book in a series can continue to generate interest), quality content is important, as is the amount of effort it takes to promote that content (community sites are great that way, as well as working with influencers), and data can only tell you so much, so it’s better to focus on big picture things in the beginning and not small tweaks.

DBW also advocates content communities, and recommends that authors share research, back stories, databases, and more to allow readers to see what’s behind the scenes and feel part of a community.

Related to content marketing is omnichannel selling. BookMachine shared ten things they learned selling at a conference, including the fact that most people make purchases online and many through their smartphone, knowing their path to purchase is important (so when possible, selling direct may be a good idea), when it comes to making a sale, email is much more effective than social media, social media is helpful for customer service, and things are always changing.

Gumroad’s post, “Nathan Barry’s Lessons Learned Selling $355,759 on Gumroad,” sums up everything nicely. Basically, Nathan recommends being able to contact customers (like in newsletters), pricing based on value, using email to build relationships and launch products, and selling in packages at different values.

What other industries do you follow? Share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared December 2016.


Guest Post: Six Apps Indie Authors Should Take Advantage Of

By Megan F.

Working as an indie author can be quite a challenge. You often don’t have the backing of big organizations to keep you on track or to help you out when the going gets rough. Luckily, most everyone today has access to technologies that can easily take the place of those institutions. As the kids say, there’s an app for that.

This applies to writing even in ways you might not have considered. While it may seem counter-intuitive to put helpful apps on your number one distraction device, using your phone/tablet for your writing may actually help you use it more productively. Take a look at these six apps recommended for indie authors to help take your writing to the next level. Continue reading

Taking Stock of Industries Related to Book Publishing and How That Relates to the Future


Book publishers can learn a lot from their media counterparts. As the world becomes more connected, the lines between these industries is getting blurred. Keeping on top of trends then can be really helpful, in terms of getting ideas of what can be done and what to expect in the future. Here are a few headlines from other forms of media that can help inform people in book publishing:


Movies, TV, Video




News, Blogs





Startups, Niche

All this connectedness, combined with lower barriers to entry, have made it easier than ever for people to start their own startups. Not all are successful, but they are all interesting.



Book Publishers

Book Publishing

Book Recommendations




Future, Trends

After taking a look at other industries, as well as new companies in the book industry, it’s interesting to read about trends and predictions for the future.








Last, it’s fun to see all the pieces starting to come together in the form of ebooks. There’s a lot of interesting developments in the EPUB world.

Looking for Innovative Stories? Here’s a List of Ebooks, Apps, Websites, Games, and More

Ebooks, or maybe I should say stories, come in all shapes and sizes: EPUB, apps, virtual reality, games, and more. If you want to see some exciting, innovative new forms of storytelling, check out this list (sure devices have some limitations and enhanced ebooks haven’t exactly taken off yet, but there are ways to make ebooks great): Continue reading

Reading Ebooks on Your Smartphone

"Samsung Galaxy S5" by GalaxyOptimus - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png#/media/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png

“Samsung Galaxy S5” by GalaxyOptimus – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png#/media/File:Samsung_Galaxy_S5.png

Smartphones have exploded in popularity in the last few years, and because so many people own smartphones, publishers are now thinking about how to best deliver digital content to the small screen.

As a side anecdote, four years ago (2011) I was sitting in a marketing class at NYU, and the lecturer was telling us about how she read all five A Song of Ice and Fire books (you know, Game of Thrones), on her phone, usually while commuting on the subway. At the time, most of us in the class thought it was crazy extraordinary — we were still getting used to the idea of ebooks, and reading books on an iPad. But flash forward and I find myself getting most of my reading done on my phone when I’m commuting on BART in San Francisco. The times they are a changin’.

According to BookWorks, “there are over one billion smartphones in the hands of potential readers, and that number is thought to triple by 2017.” And, “With the growing popularity of eBooks, on-the-go bibliophiles have chosen to transition to their smartphones for their daily dose of literature.” Wall Street Journal also confirms the rise of phone reading. Continue reading

A Look at Interactive Ebooks

Interactive, multimedia ebooks are starting to gain some traction. In addition to embedding audio and video, some ebook creators are experimenting with game elements, using GPS, and adding activities. Continue reading

Turning Your Ebook Into an App

Sometimes it makes sense for a book to be transformed into an app. Forbes wrote a piece back in 2012 about whether the future of books will be as apps. Two years later, and it doesn’t seem to be true, but in some cases it could work. Continue reading

Taking a Short Break, and Reading Short

Well it’s almost Christmas, and for the next couple weeks I’ll be taking what I’ve heard other people call a digital break so I can regroup and be back in full swing come the new year. I might have a couple posts here and there, but for the most part, I won’t be around again until January.

And so, in the spirit of taking a break, and because I’ll be using that time to read a lot, I’m writing this post about reading and reading shorts. Personally, I’m a fan. I like quick reads that I can finish in one sitting and make me feel accomplished. Plus, some stories are meant to be short.

Most of you probably know about Amazon’s Kindle Singles, but there are other places to find that sweet spot of content that’s too long for a magazine article but too short to be a traditional book.  Continue reading

New Ways to Write

When you write, you don’t always write books. There are many forms of content available, including blogs, research papers, white papers, short stories, articles, poems, flash fiction, and more. Recently I wrote a post about “New Ways to Read,” but now I’d like to focus on all the tools and sites out there that make it possible to write and produce new content.  Continue reading

Infographic: The Life & Times of the Travel Guidebook

Cheap Flights has made an excellent infographic about travel guidebooks. The graphic looks at the history of the guidebook, from its inception as travel manuscripts in the first century, to its online existence today. Nothing is mentioned about e-books, but I suppose travel guidebooks are much more webby, since people use social media and review sites to figure out where to go nowadays.

I also found it interesting that the graphic mentioned Frommer’s was the first to make guidebooks available as apps. The recent history of Frommer’s I think indicates the uncertainty of travel guidebooks in the digital future, but may also set a precedent for travel publishers to recommit and focus on building their brands. For those unfamiliar with what happened to Frommer’s last summer, Wiley, the publisher who at the time owned Frommer’s, sold Frommer’s to Google. Many people thought that Frommer’s would complement Google’s recent purchase of Zagat, and that Frommer’s content would help populate searches. Continue reading