How to fund your small business by taking advantage of indie authors

I’ve been seeing a trend for a couple years that goes like this:

Set up a coffee shop or book store that “supports indie authors” and charge writers $25 a month to put their books on your shelves.

It sounds like a good idea.

A bunch of writers coming together to build their own bookstore.

The problem is:

  • One bookstore somewhere won’t actually get much traffic.
  • $25 a month from 100 authors = free lease + income
  • A “pay to access” bookstore would be full of a bunch of unvetted books

I’m not a fan of taking without providing value, and I don’t think these businesses will actually provide even $25 worth of value, or book sales, or anything to the authors who participate. The problem is, authors are hungry for visibility and love the idea of joining up to get into a bookstore.

Even if they don’t make any money, $25 a month is easily forgotten. They might hope they’re getting some non-measurable ROI.

How to avoid cheap marketing scams

The other problem is:

  • Some people offering these things are good people who really believe in the idea
  • Others are scammers who will just take your money
  • There are plenty of authors willing to pay to play

Marketing services like this fill a need.

Authors don’t really want to buy an expensive course and learn how to do their own book marketing.

And they aren’t ready to hire a $2500 publicist or promotion expert to set up their author platform right so their books keep selling.

But they’re happy to throw away $25 at a time on half a dozen moonshoots that sound  interesting.

I can warn people to avoid services like this, but that’s not good business, because there’s a market for it.

So now I’m thinking, what can I offer for $25 a month, in a subscription based-package, that will actually benefit authors?

I’m working on some ideas. The easiest would be to build some huge websites that get traffic and feature your books there, along with genre-specific list building and one email-blast a month or something like that (similar to BookBub, FussyLibrarian, EreaderNewsToday, etc). Actually I’ve already started working on some sites like that.

But having something else, something more physical, is more attractive.

I might offer something in the future…. or I’ll just keep writing my own books. It’s hard to offer low cost book marketing schemes without being accused of being a scam, and I need to maintain the integrity of my brand.

 

About Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy is a book designer with a Ph.D. in Literature. He's been featured on CNN and spoken at dozens of writing conferences around the world. These days he mostly writes young adult fantasy and science fiction, while helping authors build profitable publishing platforms. Find me

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