Indie Author Magazine: How will the strategy of publishing wide play a part in the future of the industry?

Theodora: As someone who went wide at the turn of the decade–during the pandemic, I can’t tell you what an anxiety balm it’s been to have a diversified portfolio in these ever-changing times.

But I was a huge fan of KU when I could only write and didn’t have much time to attend to admin.

It was and continues to be an individual decision best made by the author themself with a clear sense of their long-term goals and where they are in their career.

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?

Theodora: It’s ever-evolving, for sure. When I first attempted and failed to go wide before the pandemic, I considered “going wide,” posting to Draft2Digital.

Now, I consider it posting to all major retailers individually; uploading my books to Radish and a few other reputable chapter-by-chapter sites; putting my audiobooks on Findaway; and commissioning a main website set up to make direct sales–oh, and maybe, I’ll do a Kickstarter for an illustrated boxset.

I can only imagine what going wide will look like 10 years from now.

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?

Theodora: Authors will become even more used to being in complete control of their product, and their marketing savvy will increase. They’ll plan to write books that are super easy to market as opposed to writing books, then figuring out how to market the books they’ve written. They’ll care less about metrics like Amazon sales rank and more about the overall health of their catalog.

I think indie publishing companies will start to look a lot different too. The ones that nail direct sales will be a lot more attractive to authors still wanting publishing contracts. So I predict several more indie publishing companies will be started by authors who have cracked the code of direct sales.

Mostly, I’m excited about what this means for products beyond books. I’m predicting more crowdfunding for books to be turned into things like graphic novels and micro-budget movies that can then be sold directly to savvy audiences.

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?

Theodora: Intended to only give us a spot like sixty four characters for the AI being such a hot button divisive topic role, but I am just in case it wasn’t, I’m going to leave my rambling response as would have been much better if I could have typed it. So sorry ahead of time. I think AI is a hot button button divisive topic right now. People fall and I don’t think there’s two sides of the line. I think it’s really, really nuanced as to where people fall. I think some people just kind of wanna use it as an aid kind of like we would grammarly, like, oh, let me use this to help spit out ideas about outlines and stuff like that. Some people would really love to use it as a writing tool like, hey, produce a book about this. And some people would love to for it to go away altogether, for it to just die. At the end of the day, I think this is a very, very, very nuanced issue It’s not black and white. And in five years, I think we’ll have the same stuff that we have with Photoshop where Everyone can kind of tell it’s been used. But and that when it’s not used, it’s kind of obvious, but also maybe people will just enjoy filters to the point that most things are filtered, like, the same way. Most things are spelled checked today. And it will have a place in our community, but it will hopefully be a more comfortable place where some people are just kind of like, I don’t use any AI other than spell check. They might even name themselves kind of like when I was after I got my laptop in college, and And for quite a while, like, at least ten, twenty years, I would say the last person heard about doing this. Was in maybe the early two thousands. There would be certain literary writers who would use typewriters. And they would say it’s sounds better. I feel more connected and stuff like that. So there might be people who really issue AI altogether. And say, hey, I’m a purist. I only use spell check, like, you know. It’s just kind of like they only use typewriters but, you know, typewriters that erase or typewriters with the with the special ribbon that erase, not, like, really, really old school typewriters. Although some people might say, I don’t even use spell check. I use a laptop and I send it to my editor exactly as I’ve always done. I see no reason to change. So AI, I’d certainly don’t I’m certainly not in the camp that this will destroy us. As an industry, I am in the camp that it will look different in five years just kind of like our laptops look different. I didn’t have Grammarly five years ago. I think maybe I just adopted Grammarly five years ago. And now I have all sorts of editing things I do within Grammarly. It my editing process looks a lot different. And so AI hopefully, will work as seamlessly with my process or my process will it will be a help to me, not a hindrance. I’m not a purist. I’m certainly open to whatever AI can do to make to enhance my natural talents just like I’d use a filter and tip top or, you know, a photo or use photoshop. For a cover. I’m fully you willing to adopt AI in that sense. I don’t see any reason to have AI write a book for me because then what would be the point of being a writer as I intend to be a writer I am excited if someone is interested in having AI write a book and can manipulate it in that way and can like, kind of think of ways to use chat GPT in or any of these any of these products in ways that create works that are actually worth reading or are really, really good or really, really awesome to read. A, I don’t think that will be an easy feat. So, like, you know, the idea of someone just being a lazy person who barely speaks whatever language that they’re hoping to create a book in and just saying create a book and lazily make put in it to market and making tons of money and taking away all of our money. I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I think if someone does create this kind of AI book that people are kind of very so many people are kind of concerned about, I think it will require lots and lots of effort. In some ways, it will take longer than just writing a book with for most of us. And so I’m interested to see the results so far I’ve not read that I know are really, really completely written by prompt book, and I’d be interested to see a really, really good book where to buy prompts. I think if something like that is capable of going to market and becoming a huge, huge, huge best seller and the author admits to having done it, like, it will hopefully be a really, really, really, really, quote unquote, good. That means that It appeals to a wide audience. It is highly marketable. It is effective emotionally. It does what it’s supposed to do. I think we’re a while from that. I don’t even know if someone maybe in five years, I would really love see it. I cannot predict that one way or the other. But if that does happen, I think it will be a huge amount of work on that person’s part. Not the easy thing that people are suggesting it might be.

Indie Author Magazine: How important is technology to one’s success as an indie author and to the industry as a whole?

Theodora: To leave these in well written answer in written form because I do tend to ramble, but there’s nothing that is allowing me to do that. So here’s another long answer. How important is technology to once success as an in the author into the industry as a whole. I think technology is as important as it needs to be for the individual author. You know, obviously, there are authors who literally have so much organizational, brain organizational talent and that they could write a novel by hand, have someone else type it up and upload it, and be okay. And still make a living. And then there are authors who are really technologically savvy can say, hey, you know, I’m going to absolutely rapid release, and I’m going to do use technology to make myself more efficient, and I’m going to release at a pace that makes me as successful as the person with a huge amount of, I guess, you call it native talent. And we’re going to have make equal amounts of money. Everybody kinda gets there in their own way. I say technology is as important as it needs to be to you as an individual you know, obviously, there are people who make a lot. The TikTok writers do really well. They kill it. There are tons of people on in making a lot of money just as much and more than some TikTok writers without being on TikTok. Or just because it matches because Jess is a de minimis of work that makes it sound like it was easy or because they’re they’ve really done a work to make themselves familiar to audiences, or because they wrote up their amount Titok personally, but it was really appealing to people who were on Titok. So I don’t think it has to be the be all and all, but I do love things like grammarly. I do love things like editing suites, Hemingway, all the new stuff that helps prowriting aid, all that awesome add those editing tools have been awesome. And like I said in further questions, I’m not great with check with AI. I don’t mind AI. I think it will hopefully help anyone who I hope it will be of help to authors to assist to assist in their native talent just like, you know, I like that if you’re not a film student who spent a quintillion dollars to go to New York University or one of or USC or one of the equivalent film schools that and but you have a lot of talent. Like, maybe you could be a director. You can’t put together videos stuff like that that you can now make a career out of YouTube or TikTok and stuff like that. So I think it is as important as you wanted to be, if technologies have helped to you, yay, if if you don’t like technology, I think you can still be very, very successful in this industry.

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?

Theodora: Apparently, I already talked about Transmedia. Yes, I’m excited about transmedia. Will indie authors ever need to be more than just writers to survive in this industry? I don’t think so. I think you can You know, one of the things one of the things that we rarely talk about in, like, the in the space. Is there’s two things going on here. There’s there’s money like, how much money do you need to do this full time? Right? And then there’s money. Like, how much money do you need to make all your dreams come true or buy a Tesla or not Tesla because I went by Tesla. But anymore. But, you know, how much money do you need to make the certain category of dreams come true? And then there’s there’s money, like, there’s the things beyond money. Like, there’s kind of, like and that’s kind of where transmedia comes in where it’s just kind of like, well, Pokemon makes plenty of money just being carted. Right? But then it becomes a cartoon. It becomes this. It becomes that. And, you know, it’s not like if they adjust their cards, they wouldn’t survive, but they survive and they thrive even more because it’s also cartoon and it’s this game on your phone. And it’s all these things and it’s a plush toy that, you know, my kids can buy and things like that. So I think for survival is easy. Like, I use the word easy. I don’t really mean easy. I think survival is one thing. If you just want to say, hey, I’m not sure what income is these days, but I wanna make, like, say, like, a goal let’s make a goal standard one hundred thousand. If I wanna make one hundred thousand dollars per year, and that’s all I need to make. And I’m happy one hundred thousand dollars per year. You can absolutely do that by building the catalog do making donations to the catalog. In many ways, in the writing fields like art, But then, actually but there’s so many practical things about it. Like, it’s like, well, here’s my catalog. I make a donation to my let’s call it my four zero one. Okay. I make a donation to my four one k, like, call it two to four books a year. And if I keep on doing that until, like, sixty five, My back catalog will pay me a certain amount of dividends every year. And then maybe I can go down to one book per year in order to keep it relevant and keep my name out there. And until I die, and then I have this back catalog. You can do whatever with it. It may die, but my ancestors are free to do whatever they want. With it, or maybe I’ve left clear instructions as to what to do with it. So just to survive, you absolutely do not need Transmedia. To thrive or to go beyond where you wanna go or to make, you know, Uddles and Uddles and money and, you know, hits seven figures, Transmedia is you’re more likely to do that. Although, To be clear, there are plenty of some figure writers who do it on books alone, but obviously, Transmedia will help you get to some figures and it will If you do it right, you can absolutely You can absolutely thrive in ways that might feed you outside of books like you know, if you want to produce other kinds of works and see your books as others kinds of things, Yes, absolutely. That would that would absolutely help your business, and it will obviously mean that you make more money if you do Transmedia. Right? And by right, I mean, in a way that you know, increases your profit margins and gets more people interested in the books. Like, obviously, the television show makes more people come to the books, gives you other opportunities. So That’s my very long rambling answer to that.

Indie Author Magazine: What can authors do now to build community with their readers and within the industry?

Theodora: What can office do now to fill community with their readers and within the industry? I think writers can talk with each other, communicate with each other. You know, when I first started in this business, I did it all by myself for and I took one class, but that class was invaluable. And what’s funny about it is the class was by someone whose sales I wouldn’t necessarily say, oh my gosh. This person has such great sales, but this person is one of the first people in the market versus way back and, like, I wanna say, two thousand ten. With a kind of class. And it just kind of went through what he knew and you know, he answered questions about how to publish to Amazon and other published shares at the time, there was only, like, a wanna say, three. Like, Google wasn’t even in it at that time. And so he kind of said everything he knew, and I went with everything he knew. And for the first, I wanna say, two or three years of my writing career. I just operated on that advice and on that instinct. And then someone I went to my first RWA meeting and my friend Maggie Morris just did I do an Uncon. And Uncon’s, oh, when I tell you, this is the reason I went from to six figures. It was just kind of like communicating with other people, especially people who were where I was at, lower than where I was at, and way beyond where I was at, and just a little bit ahead of me. So I can’t stress enough just, you know, I would suggest in person with your fellow authors just because sometimes online. Although I love Facebook groups as well, sometimes there can be chicken little beans that make you feel like, oh, wow. I shouldn’t even try it tries. So, you know, basically go to things. And within those things, find your community, find people who wanna be where you’re at and stuff like that. One of the things that I found kind of early in the industry is that, you know, you want friends who support you, who don’t, NEG on your ideas and things like that, and you want friends who you can support, who you feel positive about. So you know, it’s really kind of the same as making friends of real life. Maybe I don’t have many friends outside of the writing community or inside of communities that I’ve worked with in, so I wouldn’t know what making a friend of real life is. But, you know, usually, it’s small talk. And then if I meet someone new and we have nothing common, we small talk until we find something common and we really talk about that. So for example, I was at a resort. We met this couple who we had not a lot in common with, and then we started talking and turned out that he was his family was German, but he never been to Germany. So we just talked about Germany. And, you know, we saw them we were going out to dinner and they were out to dinner at the same restaurant and we were like, hey, and then we talked more about Germany. And so that’s basically, this is my very, very long winded answer. You I will I guarantee you, hopefully, if you ever invite me to do this good, there will be more room to just write because I can edit myself. But within their industry. I just say be a friend and be out there, treat other people the way you like to be treated. Encourage, be encouraged if there’s something you don’t know, like take a course because often you’ll meet people in the course you’ll meet people at conferences and stuff like that. When people ask me how to make friends, I’m like, have you been to conferences? Just go to conferences, make friends, be open to making friends. And what I like to do at conferences is, even if I know several people there, always always always sit. I try to sit for lunch. This is my conference policy. I try to sit at table. With the least amount of authors that I know. And so so that I can make those friends and that, you know, there’s is so that I’m learning from people. I love conferences. Sometimes it’s conferences where they have two being scheduled against each other. And if that’s the case, I’m always looking for people to explain to me what happens in those other rooms. That’s a great way to make friends. And is a great way to get information. Community with the readers with your readers I’m not great at community with my readers. Patreon has been one of the best ways to create community with my readers. I know a lot of people do Facebook groups, some people throw events and stuff like that. But I really I have to believe because I am because I operate on this policy that if you write books that are entertaining, like, they’ll kind of find each other and they’ll communicate with each other, and they’ll communicate with you. And and this is this is a hot take someone controversial. I don’t necessarily know that community for readers is the most important thing. Some at one point, I had, like, a certain amount of sales. Right? And then I looked at the reviews on the book. And I looked at the number of reviews on the book, when I looked at the number of people, you know, who contact me or send me a fan mail. And at one point, you realize, like, it’s kind of a carrot. Right? Like, the people who actually leave reviews and talk to you in your community far, far, far, far, far, I mean, not even, like, if you do the math, just not even close, to the number of people who are underground, who will never leave a review, who will never contact you, who will not send you one piece of email but we’ll read every single thing you put out. And what’s crazy to me is I have authors like that. Like, I have authors who I’ve never like, and I’m another author. I’ve never talked to them. I’ve never contacted them. I read every single thing they put out for all they know. I just don’t exist. So I guess, I do understand that some people feel that building community with their readers. And usually, these are people who are really good at it. And this is coming from someone whose interpersonal skills aren’t that great when it comes to building communicate community with my fellow readers. They are just like, well, community for readers. It’s the most important thing. And that’s often because they have great interpersonal skills and because they are comfortable doing that. But if you are not comfortable doing that, just realize that there’s a whole care of the people put out really, really good figure out how to make those really, really good books visible. That’s all the community you need with your readers and trust me, look at all the authors who don’t have reader communities who are just doing just fine. So that’s kind of an alternative take. I try not to I tried to really, really, really show gratitude and express my gratitude for the readers I do have. And really, but at the same time, not cling to them or not make them more important than they are because most of the readers I have are in that care below the ground. I really appreciate that green stock but you do need to realize it’s an indication that there is a carrot. It’s not most of your readers.

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Cathryn Yarbrough

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