Notes from Indie Publishing Demystified

This weekend I’m attending the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon. One of the sessions I attended today was Indie Publishing Demystified presented by Matt Gartland (@MattGartland) of Winning Edits. For those who missed the session, my notes are below. You can also read the Winning Edits web site or follow @WinningEdits on Twitter.

As these are notes taken during a session, do not expect perfect grammar, or even full sentences. Assume errors exist and that I may have misquoted or added information as I took notes. Leave any questions in the comments and I’ll try to clarify as much as I can remember.


Indie publishing today relies on authors being more than just authors. Authors must be “author entrepreneurs”, focused on the business of books, building a platform to support multiple revenue streams and enabling others to discover their work. Though this talk focuses on indie publishing, much of it applies for traditional publishing. Building an audience, refining your message and marketing your book are critical in both worlds.

Book Length

Non-fiction books are becoming shorter with tightly focused messages. Authors are starting to work on series of books, each with its own focus. Matt thinks we’ll see more of that as we move to eReaders. People will want shorter & compressed books.


The terms ebooks & digital books are mostly used interchangeably. During this talk, Matt will use ebook to mean books meant to download to a eReader, not PDFs. Though the term can apply to either.

The Business of Books

Revenue Streams

The successful author entrepreneurs right now have multiple revenue streams. They don’t just write books, but also give talks, consult, host workshops, etc. Think about how your books can support these other revenue streams.

Some authors are doing a premium-based subscription model. For specialized non-fiction writing, consider establishing your authority with free content or writing a book. Then you may be able to sell premium content subscriptions.

Distribution Channels

Diversify your distribution channels. Focus on the big marketplaces:

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing 
  • PubIt!
    Nook’s Marketplace. Nook is now separate from Barnes & Noble.
  • iBookstore
    Have to apply to. Better to go through someone like Lulu to get into the iBookstore (one that Matt likes the most—they will do the formatting for different outlets & can help manage getting listed in iBookstore).


Tools include:

  • Calbrie
    Clunky, but one of the best multi-platform formatting tools.
  • iBooks Author
    Free. Makes publishing for the iBookstore incredibly easy. Makes formatting easy. Better for the multimedia content that the iPad allows. Kindle format allows graphics, but video may be limited & formatting is harder.

Consider getting help in finishing the formatting. Most tools based on HTML, so if you’re good with that, formatting will be easier. But keep in mind, you’ll need to have proper metadata.

Authentic Connections / Platform

Create a Digital Home

Authors need a digital home such as a web site, blog or page. Readers want more direct access to authors & their stories. The authors that do this well invite their readers into their journal. To create self-identification not only with your books, but with you as well.

Get Validation

Use social media and your web presence to listen to readers to shape your concept as you’re writing it. Don’t wait until you’re ready for promotion to use social media. Do it early. Use Lean Startup practices to identify the needs you’re filling with your book early. Aim to adopt quick feedback loops into your book development methodology. Put out sample chapters, outlines & encourage readers to respond so you can iterate off of that.

Ask Audience to Help

Wattpad: Used mostly for fiction.

Private Facebook groups can be used as think-tanks to help your readers give you feedback on your writing. Some readers want to feel part of the process.

Build an E-mail List

Use e-mail to develop an exclusive relationship with your readers. Consider being vulnerable. Invite them into your process and show them your challenges. People want to learn about method. You then become the mentor to what they may want to do. Share resources of the things you’re reading & researching. Helps you build a relationship and build up anticipation. These people will be willing to help you when you do launch. [Note: Some of this may be biased, since Matt writes about writing. It may not apply when writing about other topics that don't relate to writing books.]

Example was Jenny ???. The e-mail was a private e-mail list; the content was not published on a blog. It was an exclusive list.


Use Social Media

Recommends not selling on Twitter, but use it as a networking tool and to connect with others. Don’t just network with other readers & other writers of your genre. Network with other writers and publishing professionals who are imparting their wisdom online.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) is a good example. One of the most generous people with advice. Her blog is fantastic.

For Twitter, follow the ICEE  philosophy. Be Inspiring, Connective, Educational & Entertaining. Read Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zaphos.

Make your social media channels different. Facebook should have different content than Twitter which should be different from your blog. Make each a unique experience so people a) have a reason to follow you on multiple channels and b) can follow you on the channels that give them the information they are looking for.

Develop Street Teams

People can sign up for your private street team to get the word out when you publish.

Create Teasers

In book publishing, people are doing video trailers. But you don’t have to use trailers. Infographics are popular right now because they are shareable. Stoke people’s curiosity. Teaser should leave more questions than they answer.

Manage Your Own PR

Can use to write your own press release, or use Help A Reporter Out. [My personal experience is that press releases themselves are ineffective if you don't have the relationships with writers or know how to write extremely engaging press releases].

Do Your Own Blog Tours

You can do both online & offline tours to whatever degree your resources allow.

For more of my notes from the World Domination Summit check out Book Concepts That Sell and Less Is More: Simple Productivity Hacks

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