For indie authors, it was an enlightening year.

Renee Pawlish, a master wordsmith with a finger on the pulse of indie publshing.
Renee Pawlish, a master wordsmith with a finger on the pulse of indie publshing.

Another year has come and gone, and it’s time to take a look back at 2013.  It’s been an interesting year for indie authors, and for the publishing industry.  Here are some things of note that occurred?

January – What Does The New Year Hold For Indie Authors?

The indie revolution continues.  The previous two years have seen double-digit gains in ebook sales from previous years.  Will this happen in 2013 (more on this below)?  On another note, Guy Kawasaki publishes APE How to Publish a Book with amazing success.  Unfortunately many indie authors don’t have the kind of brand he has, but it can be an inspiration to us.

February – Changes To Amazon’s Affiliate Program Affects KDP Select

Amazon, yet again, makes changes that affect indie authors who give away free books.  Sites like Pixel of Ink and ENT have to adapt and feature paid books as well as free.  How much did it affect indie authors?  Hard to say…

online_keyboard_newsMarch – BookBub Explodes On The Scene

Okay, maybe I’ve got the month wrong, but somewhere early in the year Bookbub took hold of indie author hearts.  BookBub (at least initially) seemed to really help authors boost sales, even though their prices were (and are) high and continued to rise.  Finding where toeffectively advertize is still a challenge.

Amazon buys Goodreads.  From comments on many of the articles about the sale, readers aren’t happy.  Goodreads says it won’t change…we’ll see.

April – Nook Ebook Sales Are Up

David Gaughran notes on his blog, self-published titles at Barnes & Noble account for 25% of their sales (Amazon sales are about 30%).  Kobo’s fan base is growing as well, especially in Canada, where publishers estimate Kobo has 50% of digital sales.  Indie authors, take note…

May – Author Solutions Is Sued

Author Solutions, known as a scam agency, is finally sued.  If you’re not familiar with Author Solutions, just google Author Solutions scam and you’ll find a plethora of information about how this agency is scamming folks out of their money.  It’s about time someone took them to task.  And watch out for Archway Press (operated by Author Solutions).  It pays to educate yourself in this age of self-publishing…

emerald-questJune – Indie Authors Report Free Has No Value Anymore

Ah, did we finally come to this?  No, not really.  Many indie authors report that Amazon’s KDP Select isn’t working anymore (i.e. no post-free sales bump or jump in popularity lists), but many turn to permafree as the new way to work free.  Free can still bring in fans, but capitalizing on KDP Select seems to be a lost cause for most.

July – Ebook Sales Experience Minimal Gains

report states that the Association of American Publishers, ebook sales increase 4.8% in the first six months of the year.  Children’s ebooks skew this a bit because of the sales in previous years of The Hunger Games series.  How accurate is the survey?  Who knows…but we do know an indie author can still sell plenty of ebooks  .

On another note, Penguin and Random House complete their merger, creating a giant in the publishing world.

August – Is Amazon Messing With Rankings?

Is it a glitch with Amazon?  Authors report that sales rankings on Amazon are jumping all over the place.  Categories seem to be messed up as well.  Kindle boards are abuzz, but things seem to stabilize quickly.

September – Amazon Changes Categories, And Kindle Matchbook

Amazon changes their categories.  From their site:

The number of browse categories allowed for Kindle titles was changed from five to two in order to provide our customers with a more relevant searching experience and achieve parity with our guidelines for physical books.

Books published before this change will retain their original category assignments of up to five.  However, if a publisher chooses to change their category assignments after this change was implemented, their title will be restricted to two categories.

We can add a total of two Kindle store categories that aren’t currently available to select in your KDP Bookshelf, as long as they already exist in the Kindle Store.  If you’d like us to manually change your category, you’ll first need to remove one of the current categories.  Also, for the books having more than two categories, please also confirm that we can delete the third category that we added for you.

The changes affect keyword searches, and more concerning, author sales.

Also, Amazon introduces Kindle Matchbook, and authors don’t have to be exclusive to Amazon to join the program.  If you purchase a paperback book from Amazon, you can now buy the Kindle ebook version at a discount.  And what’s nice about the program is that Amazon is promising that even if you bought a book from Amazon years ago, you can still get the ebook now at a discount.

October – Goodreads Changes Review Policies In Response To Bullies

Goodreads changes its review policies.  Apparently someone wasn’t playing nice with their reviews, prompting Goodreads to step in.  It will be interesting to see how this change impacts indie authors.

Kobo pulls titles after a backlash about them publishing indecent material.  It affects many indie authors whose titles weren’t violating their policies.

November – Amazon Introduces Kindle Countdown Deals

Amazon’s latest program to lure authors into exclusivity with them is Kindle Countdown Deals.  But since so many authors have left KDP Select, will the program work?  It does seem like a great way to influence buyers, but the exclusivity piece may signal its downfall.  Only time will tell…

On another note, print books aren’t going away.  According to the latest stats, hardcover books sales outpace ebook sales in 2013.  Of course, stats can be manipulated, but it’s probably fair to say that print books are doing okay.

December – Boxed Sets Are In

From browsing the bestseller lists, it would seem that boxed sets are in.  Back in my day (oh, I’m getting old  ), we called it the Omnibus, but regardless, boxed sets are selling.  Take the first three (or more) books in a series, bundle them together and sell them at a discount.  It seems to be working.  Many indie authors are also creating boxed sets with others in their genres, creating a sampler for readers.  And a takeaway from this: how creative indie authors are about their marketing.

And that’s my takeaway for 2014: we indie authors are a creative bunch, not only with the books we sell, but with our marketing, too.  Mainstream publishers and book agents should take note.

What things did I miss?  A lot has gone on this past year.  For some in-depth analysis from an industry pro, read Dean Wesley Smith’s post.  It’s enlightening.

Thank you ALL for your support this past year.  I hope you all have a blessed New Year and I’ll see you in 2014!

Please click the book cover image to read more about Renee Pawlish and her books.

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  • Caleb Pirtle

    Renee: It was indeed an enlightening year for those of us in the writing business. And the new year will be even more challenging, fraught with potential and confusion. Just as soon as we think we have the digital revolution figured out, we find we don’t, and I sometimes feel as though I’m living on square one, and square two keeps changing from day to day.

    • Renee Pawlish

      I agree, and it’s tough to keep up with everything. Thanks for reblogging this, and best of luck to you this year and beyond.

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