Making sense of independent publishing

A couple of weeks ago I started research for my MBA thesis, primarily because I need the acronym after my name so that people who value such things will believe I know what I’m talking about — and I already do, grrr — when I teach a seminar. Also, a friend reminded me I should have better things to do with my life than engaging in pointless arguments with buffoons on social media. Fair point, Michelle.

My game plan, I thought, was pretty simple. I’d already spotted an opening in a publishing niche I’m familiar with as a parent, and plan to write a series of children’s books that my daughter can read. I am relatively confident other parents who share our religious faith might find my planned books of interest as well. I know from marketing that I’d better be absolutely up-to-date on the industry, and have a marketing plan. That means R E S E A R C H, which I have to do a shit-ton of for a thesis anyway. So why not make my MBA thesis pull double-duty? Now that I’m ankle-deep in research, yeah, um, this is gonna be work.

Which brings us to this blog. In a few months, my MBA research observations/rants will be relegated to a business of independent publishing section of this site as I work to highlight the great work of other authors I come across as well as books I write, but in the meantime, this is where we’re going to sort a few things out.

From what I can tell, independent publishing is now deep in the throes of a massive disruption. Pandemics can have that kind of effect. Most everything in the book marketing playbooks developed over the past decade requires fresh assessment. There is precious little academic research I can draw on to map out a marketing plan for my planned books, hence my thesis. I must use primary sources, and those sources are entirely on the Internet. I am accessing what information the big players — Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords, legacy publishers, so on — offer, of course, but they, especially Amazon, are like selfish children who only share a couple of M&Ms when they think they’re going to get a whole box of chocolate bars in return. This is why I am relying pretty heavily on published authors, both independent and traditional, who have generously shared their experience and expertise — and in some cases, hard numbers! — through their own blogs. Publishers Weekly is helpful, as are small publishers. And then there are the charlatans, which makes part of my thesis research work separating the wheat from the chaff.

I welcome you to come along with me on this trek. Offer insights & wisecracks. Along the way, maybe we can even make a positive contribution.

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