Being an Indie Author can be an expensive process, especially starting out. When I started publishing books almost five years ago (where did that time go?) I started with literally no capital. I wrote a book and then I tried to learn what I could from the internet and podcasts. That’s one of the reasons why I write these articles, so you can learn from my mistakes and find resources quicker than I did. To help you out I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 online resources that helped me get my career off the ground.
B’s Top 10 Free Indie Resources
- https://www.arts.gov.au/funding-and-support/lending-rights (Australian Authors only)
Creative Indie: Tons of free books covering a wide range of Indie Publishing topics and much more. He also offers courses. I got a lot of excellent free resources from him and it looks like he’s expanded his resource section since then. Definitely worth a look.
ALAB: Ella Barnard is amazingly generous with her knowledge and her content. She routinely offers Free books and resources, runs the free Author Like A Boss podcast, teaches free webinar Masterclasses and does giveaways of amazing swag. If you don’t look at any of my other recommendations please at least look at Ella’s website. While I don’t agree with all her advice you can’t deny she’s collated a network of Indie Authors who’ve had amazing career results.
Jami Gold: Jami’s free writing worksheets have helped me out immensely. They work as an absolute base template to remind you what elements you need in your story to create a plot that will satisfy your reader’s expectation of the genre, build better characters and much more. I love to read Paranormal Romance but was nervous about embarking on writing one. Jami’s Romance Beat Sheet helped me confidently plan out my first romance novel (now I just have to write it )
Canva won’t help you write your book but it will definitely help you market it. I come from a photomedia background and when I started marketing I made all my own graphics. They weren’t terrible but they weren’t as professional as I would have liked. Enter Canva. With their free templates, photos, elements and much more, you can easily create a wide range of marketing materials. Some authors even use Canva to make their own covers. Something important to note with Canva is that not all their elements are free, so if you don’t want to pay for graphics then check what elements you are using carefully. It’s also good to note that while they supply free elements, the last time I checked their free license covered unlimited digital reproductions and up to 500,000 print reproductions. If you’re making posters/merchandise/book covers with the same elements you’ll need to keep an eye on how many physical copies you reproduce, or you might need to buy an extended license.
Lending Rights: In Australia the government has the Lending Rights scheme so that Australian authors can potentially get paid from their titles that are stocked in public libraries. I’ve enrolled in this program but my books haven’t been borrowed enough to qualify. I feel that it’s something worth doing though, to set yourself up for potentially future payments, especially if you’ve made donations to libraries of your book. (Be aware if you’re an Australian Author, even if you’ve published through a foreign service like KDP you are still legally require to donate at least one copy (paperback OR ebook) to the National Library in Canberra).
WordPress: If you’re an Indie Author you are going to need a website. My first site was with WordPress and it was fairly simple to navigate the back of house and create a professional website with a blog. I used Joomla for a while and now I’m back with WordPress. Joomla is harder to use than WordPress, but is great in its own way, and most of the people I know with websites prefer to use WordPress.
Dave Chesson/Kindlepreneur: Kindlepreneur, no prizes for guessing, focuses on Kindle Publishing and Marketing. There are paid tools that you can access such as KDP Rocket (which helps you optimise your keywords and categories on Amazon) and the Book Review Targeter. There’s also links to his podcast The Book Marketing Show (which is free to listen to on iTtunes. It’s also available on Google Play, Stitcher, and iHeart Radio. I don’t know if those are free).
The Creative Penn: Joanna has a wide range of resources (both paid and free) available at her website. She has books, courses, email courses, her podcast, her blog and much more.
Save the Cat. Save the Cat has a lot of tips, beat sheets (sheets to help you plot your story), blog posts, and much more. Save the Cat focuses on screen writing, but in today’s market readers are often looking for reads that are shorter, punchy and fulfilling, just like the movies and TV they’re used to watching. Thanks to modern media we have shorter attention spans and Save the Cat helps writers use that to their advantage. Recently the team at Save the Cat produced Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need. It’s on my wishlist.
I’ve put KDP last, because although KDP doesn’t charge you for its services as such, they do take a cut from the profit of your sales. Because of this I don’t really know if it can be classed as “free”, but it is an important resource to have available to Indie Authors. Because Amazon (through KDP) only take a cut of the profit (be aware depending on the royalty plan you choose/have access to Amazon’s cut may be bigger than yours) and do not charge set up fees a lot of newbie Indie Authors use Amazon to launch their books. Plus, there is the added bonus that Amazon itself is a huge platform, and to be listed on Amazon helps readers take you more seriously as an author. There’s also inbuilt services that you may want to take part in like Kindle Unlimited or Vella.
It’s not the only ebook platform but it is probably one of the more popular. Some authors choose to go wide with their books through a service like Smashwords (Smashwords distributes your book to a variety of online retailers, like Kobo and iBooks) and that is enticing for a lot of authors. Be aware though if you choose Smashwords, unless you hit a certain sales target they will not distribute your book to Amazon. Personally, I use Smashwords and I still upload through KDP as well to be able to be in the Amazon store. As yet I’ve sold 100% of my books through Amazon. Free book distribution has been spread between Amazon and Bookfunnel.
I hope this list helps you start, or continue, your Indie Author journey in a budget friendly way. When I started out I did not have a lot of capital to invest in getting my writing career off the ground. With a lot of authors losing their full time work due to COVID and other job market issues in the last few years I hope this will help some of you create the career of your dreams.