Indie Author Magazine: How will the strategy of publishing wide play a part in the future of the industry?
Malorie Cooper: I believe that publishing wide will become more and more important as indie authors shift from relying on the retailers to sell their books and engage in more direct-sales opportunities.
Indie Author Magazine: Do you anticipate that the definition of wide will ever evolve to mean more? If so, where do you see authors going?
Malorie: I think this has already occurred. Wide still means “not in KU”, but it has shifted from opening up sales on the other retailers to enabling authors to direct sell via systems like Kickstarter, Indiegogo, their own sites, and via co-ops.
Indie Author Magazine: On an individual level, direct publishing can equate to greater control over titles, greater royalties, and a closer relationship with readers. What will the trend of authors publishing direct mean for the industry as a whole?
Malorie: I believe we are on the cusp of a sea-change surrounding how digital assets are distributed and sold to customers. I don’t have a (functional, yet) crystal ball, but I would wager that in 5 years, the traditional retailers will be far less important to book sales. In 10 years, they may be largely irrelevant as direct sales systems mature and book advertising improves.
Indie Author Magazine: With AI being such a hot-button, divisive topic now, what role(s)—if any—do you think it will play in the indie publishing world in five years’ time?
Malorie: I draw a lot of parallels between AI and the automotive industry. Before the automotive industry came along, course. Most people that want to move any distance where there wasn’t a train took a course, and even when you got there, you were likely to rely on horses for transportation. When cars first came out, the the banking industry was in an up forward and making a lot of stink about how audit cars were gonna for their businesses, and they were right. And likewise, a lot of people on horses would yell at people driving by cars saying get a horse and make all sorts of arguments as to why horses were better. And horse riding still exists Wagon Making still exists, but they are niche industries that target, you know, much smaller needs and not in general transportation. And I honestly feel like the same is going to be true for producing writing without AI. I think you can still do it. I just think that you’ll either have to do it out of love and not expecting to make money or be targeting a super niche area. Where people can charge a price that makes it worthwhile, worth the time it takes to make the product, as opposed to Hulu and make it faster by using better tooling.
Indie Author Magazine: How important is technology to one’s success as an indie author and to the industry as a whole?
Malorie: So along the lines of my previous answer, technology is immensely important. You know, without without technology we would need scribes to, you know, be making copies of our books or at best hand writing them and getting someone with a printing press to make them. Or typing it out in a typewriter and then having to ship print copies. Everything about what we everything around what we do in writing has been improved by technology. We’ve democratized access to much of this technology and made it so that more and more people can take the stories in their head and put them into a book to share with people in a variety of ways. And the more we make it so that anybody can do this that better off will be. We found time and time again that humanity benefits more and more and more by making it so that everybody can do a thing and not keeping it in ends of a of a small group of people who have to be, you know, wealthy or privileged or fortunate enough to have access or time to do a certain thing. Think how many amazing stories that storytellers there are out there right now who can’t get a book written down for a host of reasons. Outside their control. I think it’s gonna be amazing. I think it’s gonna be a revolution that we’re gonna be so happy we went through.
Indie Author Magazine: What does transmedia mean for an author’s business? Will indie authors ever need to be more than just “writers” to survive in the industry?
Malorie: I feel like a lot of indie authors are already doing this obviously expanding, you know, in both the East Coast and the West Coast way. I think that the East Coast way is much more common where you provide additional content. For people to dive into the article. Reference shows a lot of stuff like you’re making bulletins or, you know, recipes and all sorts of things like that to provide more information. But I really do feel like the best the really big advantage of the West Coast version of Transmedia. As you go, why to try and attract more people across more mediums? Is that you you get you get a bigger return because your superfans will go and consume all these mediums. And honestly, most of these additional mediums are not freebies. You know, they have some sort of revenue stream built into them. And on top of that, each of these different Transmedia mediums that you go wide with the West Coast versions can go deep you know, so you can have divergent or nested storylines in content across these other mediums that you would normally be able to get. In the same volume as you could if you went just deep and not wide first.
Indie Author Magazine: What can authors do now to build community with their readers and within the industry?
Malorie: I think the easiest places to build communities are in prebuilt locations where you don’t have to make the whole system. Social media has, for a very long time, been the primary place to do that with Facebook groups being the main one. Some authors also leveraging rated groups and whatnot. But I also feel like, you know, less group community and more author to reader is also viable such as using TikTok or Twitter or Mastodon or wherever the Internet ends up landing on on things as as Twitter dissolves. I think that building your own community, your own site is pretty tricky and requires a lot of time and investment, so that you’re really prepared to do it. It’s likely not going to work. But I think that honestly, a better focus for a lot of authors is oh, I forgot to mention Discord. Discord is also viable. And possibly bigger than than Reddit, actually. But I think one thing might be to focus more on one on one community building with your with your readers, more just straight relationship building and doing that, you know, via, you know, social media posts, by, you know, being active, in places where your readers might be, and also obviously through the good old standby, the newsletter. It gives a lot of feeling of community that way. And and create a one to one feeling or a one to many touch, which can be better use of an electrical time.
Indie Author Magazine: Why does community matter in the future of indie publishing?
Malorie: Quite simply put community is how you build superfans and superfans are your best advertising tools as an offer. They’re going to not only consume all of your content, but they’re going to proselytize and evangelize and bring other people to your content. So the more the stronger community is, the more super fans you build, the more super fans you have, the more non paid organic growth you’re gonna have. And that is long lasting and amazing if you can really build it up.