Jilly: Ten Great Indie Publishing Resources

One of the most interesting changes at this year’s RWA National conference was the increased focus on indie publishing. For me, the timing was excellent.

Four years ago, when I attended my first Nationals, I was only vaguely aware of self-publishing. I fully intended to pursue a traditional publishing career and I found plenty of workshops to help me understand the role of agent and editor, to perfect my pitch, and to polish my query letter.

As I started submitting to agents and entering contests with my dream industry judges, I also began to seek out sources of information to educate myself about the industry I was planning to join. To my amazement I found a freely available treasure trove of solid, actionable information and over the last couple of years I’ve gradually come to believe that independent publishing will be a better match for my personal priorities, timelines and ambitions.

I attended a number of the indie-focused workshops in Orlando, and I was surprised to discover how much I already knew. So instead of recapping my learnings from the conference, I thought perhaps I should share the online resources I find most valuable:

1 The Passive Voice
TPV is the blog of Passive Guy, an attorney, entrepreneur, former tech executive and writer. It offers a wide-ranging daily extract of pertinent blog posts and articles on authors, traditional publishing and indie publishing, together with PG’s personal thoughts. It’s a bonus that Mrs PG is a romance author who was traditionally published and is now indie, and an even bigger bonus that PG is willing to share his personal opinions on the legal aspects of the publishing industry. I read this blog every day and if there’s a subject of particular relevance to me I also check out the original post and read the comments on TPV. I always learn something useful.

2 Author Earnings Report
Author Earnings is a collaboration between indie superstar author Hugh Howey and an analyst known as Data Guy. The site’s stated mission is to gather and share information so that authors can make informed decisions. More than any other source, this is the one that helped me make the decision to try indie publishing. The downloadable reports on the site are the work of Data Guy, who has used his professional skills to chart and analyze the whole publishing universe, including Amazon and indie publishers. Before Data Guy, there was no solid industry information about the online and indie portion of the market. The Author Earnings site is a wealth of hard information for aspiring authors, about genre, formats, pricing and royalties.

3 The Creative Penn
Joanna Penn is a best-selling author of thrillers and publishing self-help books. She shares her personal publishing financial information and her views on the latest industry trends and opportunities. She offers podcasts and interviews with other leading lights of the indie scene. Her website is searchable and it’s full of priceless know-how.

4 Self-Publishing Formula
Mark Dawson is a British lawyer and best-selling thriller author who also offers courses on self-publishing and advertising for indie authors. His approach is very clear and actionable, and it helps that he’s tried it all on his own books. He publishes a free podcast every week on some aspect of self-publishing and also has a Youtube channel offering tutorials on everything from mailing lists, book launches, ads for authors, book blurbs, and much more. He also has a closed Facebook group for mailing list subscribers.

5 Alliance of Independent Authors
Alli is a global non-profit organization that supports authors who self-publish. Some benefits, like a closed online forum and expert advice, are exclusively available to paying members, but everyone can access their self-publishing advice center, subscribe to their weekly blog, and participate in their thrice-yearly free Indie Author Fringe conference.

6 Romance Writers of America
RWA has an Indie Publishing Forum where members can ask for help on anything from finding an editor to covers to social media.

7 Jane Friedman
Jane Friedman is a 20-year publishing industry insider with a particular interest in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. Her website offers a wealth of practical information about author websites, marketing, social media, the nuts and bolts of how (and whether) to self-publish, analytics, plugins, permissions…

8 Reedsy
Reedsy is a reputable marketplace for editors, cover designers, formatters, ghostwriters and all kinds of freelance publishing professionals. They also offer a blog and live video events, as well as free courses.

9 Writer Beware
Writer Beware is a blog sponsored by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. It exposes literary scams, schemes, and pitfalls, and also provides advice for writers, industry news, and commentary.

10 David Gaughran
David Gaughran is an Irish writer of historical adventure novels and non-fiction books about indie publishing. He’s a strong advocate of indie publishing and especially interesting on the ins and outs of digital marketing and how to achieve visibility, plus more wrinkles than you could ever imagine about publishing on Amazon.

If you’re considering indie publishing, or if you’re simply curious about the industry, I think you’d enjoy spending a few minutes or more browsing any of the above sites.

If you have other recommendations, I’d love to hear ‘em!

9 thoughts on “Jilly: Ten Great Indie Publishing Resources

  1. Great list, Jilly! All of these are great sites. I also find useful the site of Kristine Katherine Rusch (I might have misspelled her name, but the site name is kriswrites,com, I believe). She’s an indie author with business experience, and a big part of her site is business advice for writers.

    • Yes! Thanks for the suggestion, Kay, there’s a whole encyclopaedia of valuable publishing info on kriswrites. I tend to pick up her publishing-related posts via The Passive Voice, because for some reason Kris Rusch’s site thinks I’m a bad person and won’t let me subscribe to the blog. I keep thinking I should email her about it. *Makes note to self.*

      Her other half, Dean Wesley Smith (deanwesleysmith.com) is a well-known and prolific sci-fi author who blogs about publishing matters and offers online courses. His site is also well worth a visit.

  2. Yes, super list! I really need to set aside a “research hour” at least once or twice a week, and get a feel for the actual mechanics of self-publishing.

    One thing that I’m starting to see is established authors working with their agents to self-publish. Have you come across any new writers who were taken on by agencies and were able to self-publish? I wonder if we are going to see certain agencies evolve into the publishers of the future.

    • If you want a taster, Michaeline, I’d suggest following The Passive Voice. That would get you curated extracts of the hottest publishing-related topics as a daily email that you could scan fast or pursue depending on your time and inclination.

      I’ve noticed the self-publishing via agent trend–as far as I can tell, Ilona Andrews’ Innkeeper books are published via her agent, LMB’s Penric books via hers (?), and I think Kristin Nelson offers a similar service for her authors. I’m sure there are many others. I can imagine that it might be a practical choice for hybrid authors–means their agent looks after their indie titles as well as their traditionally published ones, and if the agent takes on a lot of the legwork for the indie books then it should leave more writing time for the author. I don’t know enough about it to understand how they overcome the potential conflict of interest.

      I haven’t heard of agencies taking on new writers to self-publish. I suppose it’s a logical step but could become very murky water indeed! The industry is changing so rapidly, it will be fascinating to see what happens.

      • (-: Well, if the purpose of the agent is to make as much money for the client as possible, then it seems building a base with traditional and then switching over to helping the client with self-publishing presents no conflict whatsover. The agent works for the author — at least in theory, and I do realize that may be a very naive way of looking at things.

        And thanks for the advice — so many, many places to start, and your advice has not steered me wrong yet! The Passive Voice is on my list of things to do.

        • The agent works for the author–exactly–so as long as the agent’s interests and the author’s are aligned, all is well. If the agent is also a publisher, then who decides whether self-pub or traditional is a better deal for the author? And if the decision is to self-pub via agent, who makes sure the author is getting the best possible deal–does she need an agent to negotiate with her agent, who is now her publisher? And so on. It’s impossible to know without being privy to the details of the arrangements between agent and author. My thought is that since this service could be very beneficial to some trad published authors, and since we’re talking about experienced authors working with reputable agents, it should be okay, right? And hard on the heels of that comes the idea that green-as-grass newbie authors might be a soft target to the less ethical.

          Anyhoo, we live in interesting times and it will be fascinating to see how the industry re-shapes itself. Do try TPV though–lots of varied, tasty food for thought there!

  3. Thanks for the mention of Reedsy, Jilly — I’d love to mention that our publishing courses are actually free! You don’t have to pay for any of the educational/informational content on our site.

    Keep up the great work!

  4. Thanks, Martin! Obviously I haven’t taken any of your courses yet, so didn’t know that. I’ll update my post. I spent quite a lot of time on your site recently, trying to get my head around the art of cover design. I especially liked this blog post: https://blog.reedsy.com/book-cover-design/

    Oh–and thank you for being a sponsor of RWA National this year!

  5. Pingback: Jilly: Five Great Writing Craft Resources – Eight Ladies Writing

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