The indie author’s secret weapon – market intelligence

I’ve been covering the indie publishing revolution both here and for The Guardian since Amazon announced 70% royalties for authors selling ebooks through their Kindle store. It was clear that move was going to create a huge opportunity for indie published authors, and in the six years since that’s certainly been the case.

“I am always in the writer’s corner when it comes to the business of publishing”

The opportunities in indie publishing are still excellent, as bestseller lists dominated by indie authors demonstrate. I’m continually discovering new authors who are making a good income self publishing, established authors diversifying into the market, and older authors bringing their backlists online, often very profitably. I am always in the writer’s corner when it comes to the business of publishing, so I see all of this as a very good thing.

However, there’s no doubt that indie publishing also requires some skills and knowledge that not all indie authors possess. The need for editorial, design and general marketing skills – or the capital to buy them in – is well established. Less discussed, but ever more essential, and until recently the domain of only the biggest publishers, is market intelligence.

The big publishers like Penguin Random House have a huge market intelligence advantage. Put simply, the sheer number of books they sell, means they have an invaluable insight into what will sell in the future. As an indie author all you can do is look at the bestseller lists and see what’s in the top 20 that week.

Enter K-Lytics, run by Alex Newton, who I’ve been having great discussions with for most of the last six months. K-Lytics does what it says on the tin, Alex tracks activity on the Kindle store, and shares market intelligence on what’s hot in the worlds biggest ebook market place.

It’s actually hard to express just what a difference this kind of market intelligence can make. If you’re putting a quality book out on Kindle, fiction or non-fiction, whether you’re an indie author, a small press, or a major publisher, the right intelligence can radically improve the outcome.

Take a simple example. Keywords.The keywords you choose determine in large part which genres and sub-genres your book is marketed under. That in turn can make the difference between competing against 300 other titles, or against 12000, or between needing 80 sales to reach a top twenty slot, or needing 800.

If you have a list of books on Kindle you want to sharpen the marketing on, or you’re in the process of indie publishing a book, consider this a strong recommendation to take a look at K-Lytics genre specific reports and see if they can help you. They run about $19 and strike me as a good investment for serious indie authors.

Also of interest to many of you, Alex has brand new market intelligence on the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres on Kindle that is absolutely fascinating. We’re going to be sharing some of that intelligence in the near future here. You can follow me on Twitter @damiengwalter to get get an update when that post is ready and up to read.

Take a look at K-Lytics, and let me know your thoughts in the discussion thread for this post on Facebook.


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.