5 Indie Pub Thought Leaders to Listen To

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If you've started sniffing around about self-publishing your book, you know that publishing independently is not for the faint-of-heart. It requires an entrepreneurial spirit and entails some serious on-the-job learning. There's tons of information online about how to get from draft to published—but how much of it is good advice? Wading through it all and finding resources to trust is tough and time-consuming.

Here's a list of a few of our favorite thought leaders in independent publishing. These folks not only are the smartest out there, but they’re creating excellent content and making it available online. Subscribe to their newsletters and follow their social accounts—if you learn from only these and skip the rest of the noise, you can rest assured that you're getting the best information out there.

Jane Friedman @JaneFriedman

If you start researching self-publishing, it seems that all roads lead to Jane. That's with good reason: with twenty years of experience in the publishing industry, she understands both the traditional business of books as well as the quickly evolving digital landscape that's most relevant to indie authors. She is a champion of the professional independent publisher and shares an incredible volume of relevant content for indies, from writing advice all the way through branding, marketing, and promotion strategies. Jane has published several books on self-publishing and cofounded top-notch industry newsletter The Hot Sheet.

Orna Ross @OrnaRoss

Orna Ross understands the indie author—because she is one. Now an award-winning, bestselling indie author, she founded the Alliance of Independent Authors as a nonprofit resource for self-published authors. Not only is she a great person to follow, but “ALLi” maintains a list of vetted service providers, a valuable resource for self-publishers.

Peter McCarthy @petermccarthy

I’ve attended many indie conferences around the country, and I never miss a chance to see Peter McCarthy speak. With a history in traditional publishing, he knows the book business in and out, but is also an absolute guru when it comes to digital marketing—one of the smartest brains around. His most recent venture, Optiq.ly, is an amazing monitoring tool for author marketing and sales (I got to see a sneak preview of how it works), that gives authors real-time feedback on what is and isn’t working well so they can make valuable adjustments to their marketing strategy. Yes, there are so many online “tools” for authors to consider—but this is one that’s definitely worth watching.   

Data Guy @authorearnings

If Peter McCarthy was one of the smartest brains in the business, then Data Guy is the other one. Cofounded with self-pub bestselling author Hugh Howey, Data Guy’s company Author Earnings is a sales-data gathering machine (quite sure that’s not the technical term) that crawls Amazon to compile comprehensive snapshots of sales for all books. Why does that matter? Because traditional sales data (tracked by Nielsen and AAP) does not capture books that are sold through Amazon—Amazon doesn’t release that data. And yet, the vast majority of indie-published books are sold through Amazon. Author Earnings built a web crawler that compiles key stats from each book Amazon page to form a total picture of sales. Author Earnings’ quarterly reports are excellent resources, for example, when setting your retail price: you can rely on real data to know what price points work best for what formats by genre.

Penny Sansevieri @Bookgal

Penny is a crack-shot marketer who founded Author Marketing Experts—but more than that, she’s a great blogger. If you find yourself stuck in a rut with your book marketing, click over to her blog and you’ll find tons of ideas to jump-start your strategy and move the needle on your brand-building endeavors.  

Girl Friday @GirlFridayProd

Overly bold to include ourselves here? I don’t think so! We are experts at high-quality bookmaking—from writing to editorial and design to production, and we’ve been in business doing so for traditional publishers and indies alike for over eleven years. With so many service providers out there preying on self-publishers, our mission is to be the girls you can trust. Not only is our high-quality bookmaking process watertight, but our marketing consulting work is strategic and data-driven. Don’t miss our monthly newsletter, The Book Report.

Did we miss anyone, in your opinion? Leave a comment to let us know who you would add to this list.