The Career Author Podcast: Episode 106 – The State of Independent Publishing in 2020

The State of Independent Publishing in 2020

The State of Independent Publishing in 2020

It’s time to discuss the state of independent publishing in 2020. In their third annual installment of the “looking ahead” episode, J. and Zach examine the trends that occurred over the past year while trying to determine what they’ll be this year. As the industry continues to evolve and change, The Career Authors hope to deliver timely and useful advice at the dawn of a new decade.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • What emerged in 2019, and what didn’t
  • Why J. isn’t keen on paid advertising
  • What Zach sees as the revenue model of the future
  • Who is poised to make a play at the ebook market in 2020
  • How Zach really feels about social media
  • Where there’s growing uncertainty in the market
  • Why online courses aren’t what they used to be

Also, learn how focusing on the ONE thing can change your life.

Send us your ways and hacks – https://thecareerauthor.com/waysandhacks/ 

Leave us a comment: What are your predictions for 2020?

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The ONE Thing by Gary Keller – https://books2read.com/u/bO68VQ

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19 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 106 – The State of Independent Publishing in 2020

  • Happy New Year guys.
    Great way today J. That book is now first on my 2020 reading list.
    Interesting predictions. I love the prediction someone like me will get a film contract this year 🙂.
    I hope Amazon bring out a colour Kindle. It will make non-fiction books with colour images (like my Mind Map book which I’m publishing this year) much more interesting.
    My prediction for 2020:
    The Newspapers and TV chat shows will still favour their cosy relationship with trad published authors over indies but more indies will force themselves into the public consciousness by big numbers and the media will reluctantly start publicising them in their quest for newsworthy stories.
    There will be more “Martian” “59 Shades” type stories as Hollywood etc. looks for original stories to film or televise.
    Zach will stick his Katatonia poster to the wall properly so it doesn’t look as though it is just about to fall off.
    And finally, this one was too easy to predict, 🙂. J will start another podcast.
    Another great year behind and I predict a great year ahead guys.

  • Regarding Audible and a subscription model—theyve tried. The Audible Romance Package, now rebranded as the Escape Package. As far as Indies go, after the first few souls gave it a try and earned pennies instead of dollars for each listen (dropping from an average of say, $4-6 dollars earned on a purchase to $0.70 for a listen), authors have refused to participate. They haven’t made it worth it for us. They’re still playing with pushing it. Their new terms with the distributors Spoken Realms and Author Republic don’t allow authors to opt out of participating in the package, if ACX chooses to add their books. Findaway is still free from that stipulation, for now.

    They absolutely want to create an audio version of KU, but they haven’t found the right cost/benefit yet. I kinda hope they won’t.

    And I’m with Zach on the credits deal. Amazon has trained users to buy their “currency” (the credits), a thing that Facebook games and phone games have trained users to do for a long time, and users don’t give it a second thought. The biggest possible disrupter in the audio realm currently is Chirp, and I think that if that wasn’t backed by BookBub, it wouldn’t have had the power to get on readers’ radar.

  • If “done for you services” are going to upswing in 2020, combined with ads being a necessity, it feels like the “indie” nature indie publishing is growing up into something else. Maybe indie publishing won’t be a do-it-yourself/self-service industry, but a mature marketplace where only paid firms can really compete in the realm of ads+ad copy, book descriptions, book launches+marketing etc. At some point it seems like the learning curve on any of these will become so steep, it may be too difficult for an indie to compete without hiring experts. (on at least some of these fronts)

    This is not a “indie publishing is over” post, but I’m wondering “how much is the indie definition going to change”? One example, back in 2010ish you could make your own cover, as long as it wasn’t terrible, and still sell. Now, everyone says “never make your own cover, hire an expert.” Time will tell…

    • Totally agree. The indie movement is evolving and your cover trend observation is duly noted. I think it’s likely that when quality expectations rise, some won’t be able to meet those expectations and those authors will quit. And I think that’s a perfectly natural cycle.

      • I realizing you are totally right about the changes being a “natural cycle.” Any fledgling industry will grow and change. A rising tide raises all ships, and might drown some… but the best will survive. That’s normal economics in action.

        Now let’s see if 2020 is the year of the great CPC spike Jim Kukral has warned about. Hang on tight!

        Thanks for a great episode, btw.

  • I think we are going to lose a lot of indies that want to become career authors. I’ve done AMS ads for a few years, for dozens of books, and can now say with some confidence that it is nearly impossible to make money with a standalone book.
    So, everyone is saying that it’s pay to play now, but most aren’t saying it’s pay to play at a loss, for most people. It will be a shame is “successful indie author” comes to only mean people writing in genre with a long series.
    Upside is, as AMS stops working for people, something else might rise to fill the void. Just don’t know what it is yet.

  • I agree that pay-to-play will become more necessary for indies. I understand that it’s the way things go, but I find it unfortunate, because it’s another way in which having money helps a person to succeed. Same with the “done for you services.” It will make indie publishing unattainable for many authors. I am hopeful that something will come along to disrupt the publishing construct so indies who have to use ‘natural reach’ can thrive again. It’s starting to feel like the only way to make money on publishing is to be the support staff and not the author! My son says the same thing about the indie music business.

    I wonder, though, if the support services will get so crowded with people that cover designers, editors, and VA’s will have to pay to play much more than they do now.

    I totally hear you on the online courses. When MOOC’s first became a thing, I was right there and super excited. I don’t think I ever finished a course! So when authors and editors started talking about their online courses, I knew myself well enough to know I’d never use one as I should to make it worth the money. Like J said, I need accountability.

    I also think you’re right about the streaming services. I’m already annoyed! As are a lot of people I know. I hope it crashes and burns and they go back to having just a few services. Between my son and us, we have FOUR services and it’s too many. Once NBC starts its service and takes The Office off Netflix, I don’t know what I’m going to do. As I’m sure you both understand, some days require a quick fix of The Office.

    • Good points! Especially about The Office 😉

      The recent evolution of indie publishing is just reminding us that creatives are held to the same rules as every other business = those with the most $ get the most visibility. That’s been true of every industry, across time. I don’t like it and I don’t think it should be that way. But it is.

  • Interesting and insightful predictions.

    I have a feeling everyone is going to take an income hit in 2020 as the US election heats up. So many book buyers feel that reading is work. Those fringe readers will be more likely to watch Netflix and Disney+ when they are stressed because it is easier. I wasn’t writing much in 2016. I’d just gotten started. I’m curious to know if there was a dip in book-buying then too.

    I also wonder if the rapid-release strategy is a bubble that’s going to burst. I see less and less authors doing it. I wonder if it was a fad or if it is here to stay.

    • Good point. I do remember sales being down across the board in 2016.

      I don’t think rapid release is sustainable unless you’re running a fiction factory like LMBPM with teams of authors.

  • Went and watched the one thing snipped from City Slickers. It was good. I got Keller’s book on hold at the library. I should have gotten it before he was on whatever podcast that I said when I hear him again I’ll look it up. Then J mentioned it.

    The trick with one thing is that going deep on something is only sometimes good. Like it works well for say a niche market but niches usually get erased over time. I mean COBOL programmers are pretty much extinct. Or maybe we use say Bigfoot Romance Books as an example.

    I think there is a combination of services for authors and the accountability issue with online courses.
    We might see a mastermind course set up. Where you have courses that the creator walks people through as coaching but it is the same course each time rather than personalized. That way the costs are lower but the interaction is higher.

    Predictions for 2020:

    J and Zach will come out with books of their own.
    I will release a book in the sedate release schedule that I am planning.

    • “We might see a mastermind course set up. Where you have courses that the creator walks people through as coaching but it is the same course each time rather than personalized. That way the costs are lower but the interaction is higher.”

      I can pretty much guarantee you’re going to see this in 2020. Hint, hint 😉

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