Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's in a Name?

The reason I named this blog Year of the Indie, is because every year is going to be Year of the Indie. That's my prediction / hope at least. And it's held true now for a number of years.

The other thing I've noticed is that no matter when you become an Indie, the most often repeated statement is a variation of "Awww, man. I should have started sooner. I missed the Indie gold rush!"

Well, while it's true that many indies who jumped on the bandwagon early are now making insanely lucrative livings, the truth is, there is always going to be something going on -- well, at least as long as Amazon continues to be innovative and support their indies. And hopefully, even after that. Now that Amazon's also a traditional publishing house, I'm not sure how much incentive they have to actually help keep indies growing.

After the first gold rush of indie books was over, everyone lamented how they should have gone indie earlier, that they missed the gold rush, that it was now really hard to break in. And then, Amazon introduced Amazon Select, creating a second gold rush.

However, it wasn't long before people started lamenting that, with the changing algorithms, they should have jumped into the indie pool earlier, that they should have grabbed onto Select when it first came out, that the second gold rush was over and it was too late. Tt looked like Select was done with, after Amazon threatened to remove blogger affiliate accounts for too many freeloads.

And then, J.A. Konrath, J.R. Rain and some other big name indies jumped back into Select to prove that it was still alive and still gold-rush-capable, even if it had slowed down a bit.

So what does that mean for you? That it's going to be all right. Whenever you jump into the indie pool, it will be the right time for you. Don't worry about the past, work on maximizing the present.

Amazon Select still exists, and it's still a gold rush for many. For every blogger who dropped listing free books, another blogger stepped forward to fill the void. And many of the established bloggers picked up the financial slack by charging authors anything from a small stipend to an insanely high-priced ad to list freebies.

Even with the changes -- the lesser amount (and sometimes costlier price) of blogger love, the reduced algorithmic weight of freebies -- it's still possible to launch a new book and see astronomical sales.

As a side rant, I know other distributors are complaining about Amazon taking over the indie market. But if the other distributors would give their indies as much support as Amazon does, Amazon wouldn't have the monopoly it does.

There is nothing stopping other distributors from offering similar incentives to Amazon, but they choose not to. They have a laissez-faire attitude towards their indies. Amazon, on the other hand, has a carrot-and-stick attitude. You're rewarded for being in Select, and punished for leaving.

Instead, both Apple and now Barnes and Noble are making it more difficult to publish directly to their sites. But that opened up the door for sites like Draft 2 Digital, which converts and publishes e-books to B&N, Apple and Kobo.

For every door that closes, or gets harder to open, someone shows up to fill the void or take up the slack. You just have to beware of the unscrupulous opportunists who also show up, ready to charge aspiring authors ridiculous prices for huge, pie-in-the-sky promises.

So when's the best time to go indie/self-publish? Whenever it's right for YOU.

Oh, well. For a post that was going to be about titles, I certainly went off in a sideways rant!

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