Indie Artists Going For Broke

now hiring signDuring times of uncertainty the natural tendency is to play it conservative, to cut back. Businesses begin to let employees go and search out ways to trim the vestigial tail (or fat if you want to stick to convention). Some believe this to be the exact wrong response.

These contrarians say the best course of action is to invest more. Instead of cutting personnel, hire additional employees in order to best the competition with top notch customer service and/or new innovative ideas. Seek out soft spots in the market to expand into, etc.

When it comes to self-publishing and indie artistry I’ve been pondering how to apply the same concept. Publishing is in the midst of a 100 year shake-up, and the future is uncertain to say the least. Along the lines of advice I’ve heard everything from “wait to see what happens” to “seize the day.”

I pretty much suck at waiting around, so the basic decision has been easy. I’m going to go for it, Pat. But what exactly does that look like?

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Ebooks Encourage Sub-Genres

bookshelfAs a novelist, I’d honestly rather see my books hit the top 100 sci-fi list in the Kindle store than the New York Times for one simple reason–money. I’m a full-time genre fiction author scratching a living from the ¬†aether one ebook at a time. And thanks to things like keywords, tags, SEO, Amazon killbot-algorithms and Facebook I can do so by writing almost any sort of fiction I choose as long as I abide by the new set of rules still being forged in the fires of the briny ebook cauldron. Those rules seem to be guided by a few dynamics (drum roll please).

Shelf Space

In the not so distant past an evil committee chaired by Oprah and staffed by the likes of Big Brother, Rupert Murdoch, and a rogue zerg overlord made all the decisions on what books were allowed shelf space (and thus sales) at the corner Barnes and Noble. For decades the triad has remained romance, mysteries and thrillers. Science fiction has long been accepted with a wink and a nod as the android Cinderella sweeping out the storeroom (where literary fiction camps out on permanent smoke break).

Ebooks have changed all that. Can I get an amen? How about a Qapla? Because this change is a good fortune indeed for the geeky among us, both writer and reader. As any geek knows, things starting in “i” or “e” tend to be improved (an iPhone is better than a phone, right?).

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What the Wattpad? Making Money from “Free”

wattpadFor the love. First they tell me “tree hugging isn’t a paid profession,” and now writing isn’t either? I pick all the wrong careers. Nothing beats sitting in front of a liquid crystal display jamming my fingertips repetitively into alphameric and numeric buttons all day long to create a splay of digital information from here to timbuk-twitter. Working in my pajamas. Rejecting routine hygienics. Washing up only for weddings. An occasional tree hug. It’s the perfect life.

Franzia to FishEye

But the trick is to make enough scratch to not live from one box of wine to the next, and today’s market is a mixed bag. On the one hand, higher ebook royalties bring the sweet life into focus. If a writer can purge enough enjoyable content from brainpan to Amazon/Kindle in $2.99 chunks then said writer can upgrade from Franzia to FishEye, even with a relatively small following (say 15,000 fans).

On the other hand,

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