Interview with Indie Exchange Founder Oliver Ryan

Interview with Indie Exchange Founder Oliver Ryan

It was my pleasure this week to chat with indie author, and founder of Indie Exchange (www.indiepubexchange.com), Oliver Ryan, about the self-publishing industry and how his new platform can help authors save time, and avoid some of the major pitfalls involved with the self publishing industry.

“Indie Exchange is for every author who has struggled to find editors, designers, and marketing that they can trust.”

What’s your background in the self-publishing world?

Well, I started in self publishing about five years ago. I was looking for a job I could do from home and when I stumbled upon self publishing I knew it’d be perfect for me and dove in head first.

It took probably a year for me to reach the income I desired but once I was doing this full-time, I immersed myself fully in the industry. And for five years, I’ve loved it!

Describe for our readers what exactly Indie Exchange is.

Indie Exchange is a platform for service providers in the indie publishing industry to offer their services and for authors to seek them out. Unlike other freelancing ad sites, Indie Exchange is a subscription based membership service where you can browse ads, look at sample galleries, leave comments and reviews. It’s more involved than your usual ad site and a lot more private!

I think on other freelancing websites, it’s very difficult for providers to get paid what their creative work is worth and it’s similarly difficult for authors to find quality work that they can market to their readers. Indie Exchange is a curated platform that aims to create a community of both quality providers and clients.

Who is the Indie Exchange platform for?

Indie Exchange is for every author who has struggled to find editors, designers, and marketing that they can trust. It’s for experienced authors who struggle to efficiently find new providers and promotional services and feel they waste a lot of time vetting new providers.

It’s also for providers who struggle to market their services to the indie authors who need them.

Basically, it’s for anyone who offers or needs a service and struggles to get connected!

“It’s hard to get started in this industry when you don’t know what to look for in an editor or a cover designer.”

Tell me about the day you decided to build Indie Exchange.

It actually was an idea I had back when I did ghostwriting. I was making some money on the side to supplement my self publishing and I realized I loved ghostwriting, it paid really well, and the clients were generally very good… But it was hard to find clients. I mostly had to do so by word of mouth from friends and acquaintances in the industry. And I just thought to myself… why should it be this hard?

This is a multi-million dollar industry and there are tons of people who want ghostwriters and new writers who would like to ghostwrite and yet there is not a central place for these people to connect.

As a writer, I couldn’t find well paying jobs on freelance websites because people were looking for dirt cheap pricing. And, likewise, authors can’t find quality work on these sites that are marketable in our industry…but they’re willing to pay top dollar to providers who are qualified.

And it’s really from that Idea that Indie Exchange was born! It’s years later and there still isn’t one central site to connect quality providers and professional clients. I hope Indie Exchange will eventually be the place that bridges that gap and providers and authors alike find it an effective way to find every service they need.

What are the main challenges facing indie authors today, and how does your site help?

Well, I think the number one challenge is that it’s more competitive than it’s ever been. So it’s extremely difficult to break through right now and become successful.

And I think Indie Exchange can help with the competition for both new authors and experienced authors alike. For those experienced, I hope to offer a wide range of the best service providers in the industry so that can efficiently find designers, editors, and writers at the touch of a button.

Likewise, with ads for marketing consulting and promotional opportunities, I hope we can help new authors break into the market. It’s hard to get started in this industry when you don’t know what to look for in an editor or a cover designer. Indie Exchange should make it easier than ever to get into this industry if you don’t already have connections to providers.

“On other freelancing websites, it’s very difficult for providers to get paid what their creative work is worth”

What were some of the biggest challenges you came across when putting this project together?

Honestly, to my surprise, the project came together very smoothly! I happened to find an amazing developer through a friend of mine and through his experience, I learned so much. I sketched out my vision for the site, hired a designer to make it all pretty, then hired a developer who really built on all my ideas. It was very much a collaborative effort and I’m so glad building the site went so well.

I think the real challenge comes now that the site is done! The hardest thing is bringing this idea forward into the community and getting the word out so we can get quality providers and members. But I’ve gotten a ton of great feedback and thus far it seems everyone who’s using the site really enjoys it.

So as long as word spreads, I see things going great for Indie Exchange!

What’s your favourite feature of the site?

Well, if I had to pick just one, I’d say our reviewing system is my favorite just because it allows clients to really discern one provider from another.

I don’t buy anything these days without reading the reviews online and I don’t know that I’d be able to work with someone without any knowledge of them beforehand. And I think it’s an awesome bonus that you’re able to anonymously review as well!

What’s next for you guys?

I’ve got a bunch of updates in the works with my developers and I’ve got my ears to the ground as I really try to figure out what members want to be next for Indie Exchange.

I have so many ideas for how to build upon Indie Exchange but it’ll really be the opinions of my members that help me decide what to move forward with first!

What’s your #1 tip for someone thinking about getting into self publishing?


Research, research, research!

The only reason I was able to pave a career in self publishing was because I researched it obsessively. It takes a while to learn the ropes and build an indie author career but it’s very rewarding when you do.

This also folds into Indie Exchange a little bit but long before Indie Exchange came to be, I told people to develop their side hustles. It may take a while to learn the ropes of self publishing but there are so many ways to make a living in this industry. If you’ve got a graphic design background, learn how to make marketable covers! You can edit, you can ghostwrite, there are so many people making money in this industry who aren’t self publishing. While you learn, find something that pays the bills.

Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us. Where can people reach you if they have any questions?

Anyone who has any questions can email me at support@indiepubexchange.com

Indie Exchange is a subscription-based classifieds website curated specifically to the indie publishing community! Publishers and service providers can offer their services or seek out jobs they need, from editing to cover art to promotional services. Members can leave reviews and comments on their favorite services or their clients’ profiles so others can make informed purchasing decisions. You can also browse categories or use Indie Exchange’s advanced search option to find the exact service you’re looking for.

For more information on this new platform for self-published authors, head to www.indiepubexchange.com. 

Podcasts for Writers and Self Published Authors

Podcasts for Writers and Self Published Authors

Rule 89 of the Internet. If it exists, there’s a podcast of it.

If you think the indie author world is niche enough that finding podcast content would be difficult. Baby, you don’t know podcasting.

There are all kinds of books that swear they can teach you how to write. You just need to buy their book and spend hours reading it! One small problem though, you’re a writer and you’re already surrounded by books you need to read. Podcasts can be a great way to augment your writing, planning and organisational skills, while also keeping you up to date on the latest news in your industry.

Driving in your car and learning the finer points of character development. Cooking dinner and listening to tips on worldbuilding.

Sitting in front of your computer, writing about characters, or even worlds, that come entirely from your imagination, means locking yourself in your own head. Writing can get lonely. No matter if you’re writing at home by yourself, or surrounded by people in a cafe or library, once you start writing, you’re in a world by yourself. Sure the hope is that one day readers are going to venture into this world that you’ve created but, in the meantime, it can get pretty lonesome.

Podcasts also offer a sense of community. Here is a voice in your ear that totally understands the situation you’re in and is in the same boat. Week in week out, with each new episode, you get to know the hosts and listen to interviews with other authors, as they give invaluable advice.

Let’s get started…

Writing Excuses

These guys are the big guns. They’ve been around for a long time (right now they’re in season 13) which means that there’s a big back catalogue so you can really dive in and binge listen.

Their tagline claim is that each podcast is only 15 minutes, and although that isn’t always accurate they’re never longer than 25 minutes. They get to the point fairly quickly, covering topics that really get into the mechanics of writing, but broken up into manageable, easily digestible bites.

If you want to give them a try then I’d recommend starting from the beginning of season 10. The previous seasons kinda leap from one topic to another, but season 10 is arranged as a class, with each episode building off the last. The aim is that, by the end of the season, the listener will have written a complete story of their own.

Tl;dr – Popular, short, digestible pods, from experienced podcasters. Perfect for a short commute or while getting ready for work.

 

Death of 1000 cuts

This podcast is only in its second series but it’s already a classic. The presenter really sets this podcast apart from others because of his personality. Tim Clare is a funny guy, it’s obvious that he’s having a great time doing what he loves and he passes that enthusiasm on to you, the listener. It’s easy to start listening to a podcast when you know you’re going to be learning something and have a great time as you do.

So much of the advice offered to writers is about the architecture of writing. Those big things that we all have to think about; character arc, planning, pacing. And that’s great, don’t get me wrong, you need to be thinking about those things too. But there’s not much out there that actually discusses the actually nitty-gritty of writing. Sure, it’s great that you know how your characters are going to develop in the current scene that you’re writing, but it doesn’t help when you’re staring at your screen, agonising over what word to write next.

That’s where Tim steps in! He spends time talking about how to write prose, what you should be thinking about on a sentence by sentence basis.

Tl;dr – A fun (and funny) podcast for anyone who’s ever worried their prose might not be good enough and wants to learn how to make it better.

Helping Writers become Authors

Katie Weiland has been putting out great content for years. She’s a published author, with two books aimed at helping writers: Outlining Your Novel and Structuring Your Novel. Her website is massive, with blog posts stretching back years. It’s an amazing resource that I’d highly recommend everybody take a look through.

Katie’s podcasts cover all sorts of diverse topics; from characterisation to marketing. However her main focus is on story structure and she has a lot to say about it!

A lot of writers worry about relying too heavily on story structure. If every story uses the 3 act structure, then won’t it seem formulaic and dull to the reader? Katie is here to explain why you need to follow the rules of writing, and how to use them to make your story flow smoothly.

Tl;dr – Insightful, energetic and prolific. Her podcasts are 15-20 minutes long and, like with her blog posts, she has a back catalogue of podcasts that goes back years.

 

Sell More Books Show

With a title like “The Sell More Books Show” you know what to expect here. Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral have been hosting this show for 5 years and have developed quite a following in that time. It’s a light, fun podcast that covers a lot of industry news and tips for self-published authors of all stripes. There is definitely more of a focus on the marketing and selling of books than you’ll find on other self-published and writing focused podcasts, and so it’s a great addition to your podcast list to fill that niche.

Tl;dr – Two friends with tons of industry experience dissect the news and give tips on how to be a successful indie author.

How to Choose (and buy) a Pre-Made Book Cover

Your book is in the editing phase and boy, is it a doozy

Your long days of writing and editing and rewriting (and worrying the book will never end) are finally behind you.

It’s time to get a cover.

Unless you are rich in design skills yourself (or have a lot of money to throw at a custom book cover design) chances are pre-made covers are the perfect fit for you.

 

How does it work?

The process itself is quite simple and is basically the same regardless of where you get your cover.

Step 1: You find a cover you like, contact the seller, request whatever alterations are allowed by the terms of the website (often this is only the author name and any credits included in the design)

Step 2: The seller confirms the cover is available and they can meet the request.

Step 3: You pay, and the artist sends you your cover in the form of an image file (usually by email and typically it’s a .jpg).

That’s it. Pretty easy stuff. Now…what should you look out for when picking a cover?

Cover Quality

 

This part of the process is very subjective, but look at the covers in your genre. Go to Amazon Best Seller lists, check out what’s currently selling.

Look at A LOT of them.

Not just the top ten. Remember that Stephen King is going to sell a million books no matter what’s on the cover. You want to look for themes that show up repeatedly in your genre. Preferably covers by indie authors like you. Make notes, save some of the images to use as a reference.

 

Have an idea for what will work in your genre.

 

Terms

Questions you should ask about the company you’re dealing with:

  • How flexible is the company or artist you’re buying your cover from?
  • Do they have a money back guarantee?
  • What’s their turnaround time (and does it really matter to you)?
  • Do they offer any alterations or revisions other than the author name?

Ultimately, some of these will matter to you and some won’t, but more flexibility is better.

 

Price

This one seems obvious, but actually deserves a bit more time. People are drawn to lower prices, but remember that this cover will likely be the face of your book (your book!!!) forever.

This isn’t the time to try to save $20. It’s the time to find the right cover for you. One that you really like and that suits your story. One that people will get excited about.

When you find that cover, buy it. You’ll thank yourself later.

Shopping for pre-made book covers right now? Check out the bookspry.com pre-made cover collection!

Reddit for Writers: Best Subreddits for Authors

Reddit for Writers: Best Subreddits for Authors

No matter if you’re sitting alone at home, or surrounded by people in a cafe, writing is always lonely work. It’s you and your brain, creating characters, worlds, and plot. It helps to be able to find places that will allow you to connect with other, like minded people, and Reddit is a perfect site to connect with fellow writers and discuss pretty much every aspect of your writing (or your reading, as we discuss in our Reddit for Readers article).

Reddit.com is a site made up of thousands of communities, known as subreddits or subs. Each community is different, each one built around a different topic. Some are small, with few subscribers and others are larger with far more subscribers. Some subs are small but subscribers post and comment frequently, keeping the sub active.

There are so many subreddits! So many! In 2008, there were 10,000 subreddits. As of 2018, there are 1.2 million. That number is only going to get larger, and as it gets larger there are, potentially, more communities that would be interesting to you. The only problem is, when there are so many subreddits, how on Earth can you find the subs you want?? It’s like searching for a needle in a haystack.

This is a list to make your search for subreddits easier; 

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/r/Writing (~580,000 subscribers)

This is a big subreddit, and if you’re looking for a subreddit about writing, then is probably the very first one you’re going to find (for obvious reasons). It’s an inclusive community, there for everyone who writes, so that means that there are published authors on there, self-published writers, fanfic writers, people who have some great ideas for a plot and just want somewhere to chat about how to get started. r/Writing welcomes them all.

 

If you’re writing in a specific genre then it’s a good idea to talk to other people writing in the same genre as you. I haven’t included all genre-based subs on this list, but these are the biggest and the most active. The following genre based subs are great places to explore the stereotypes, tropes and technology of your genre:

 

/r/Worldbuilding (~320,000 subscribers)

A large and very active subreddit that is a great place to brainstorm your world building ideas. If you’re writing sci-fi or fantasy stories then this is a great place to discuss your ideas and make sure that everything makes sense. Maybe you’re stumped because your plot needs a certain type of technology in you story, but you’re not sure how it would work, then this is the place to ask for help!

 

/r/Screenwriting (~284,000 subscribers)

This is a large, active and very well organised sub. I’m not a screenwriter myself, but I really like this sub. They are a welcoming and friendly bunch who are always willing to help you out with your sorting out the wrinkles and holes in your plot. I’d definitely recommend that everyone join this, whether you’re interested in screenwriting or not, there’s a lot of overlap in the tools and techniques different types of writers use.

 

/r/Erotic authors (~15,000 subscribers)

A great community for getting started in publishing erotica. Actually, no scrap that. This is a great place for getting started in self-publishing. Sure, they talk in terms of publishing erotic, but make no mistake, these folks have a real understanding of the mechanics of self-publishing and how to market. Discussions here tend to emphasise the nitty-gritty of publishing success and marketing strategies, rather than storytelling. Which means it’s actually a really useful subreddit for anyone interested in Self-publishing, even if you’re not writing erotica.

/r/Self-publish ~20,400 subscribers

This is a friendly sub to join if you’re not sure where to start on self-publishing.

 

/r/Sci-fi writers ~13,000 subscribers

A great community for exploring your sci-fi ideas. Really supportive and creative atmosphere, where everyone is willing to chip in and help you work out the science and mechanics of your story. However there is little emphasis on actual publishing.

 

/r/Writers of Horror ~5,000 subscribers

All about the inspiration, and helping each other develop storylines and plots. This is another great place to get help with genre specific writing.

 

Tools for Authors

Reddit isn’t just about being sociable. There are subreddits that can inspire creativity, ones whose only goal is to try and help you with your writing. These subs are aimed at making you a better writer:

 

/r/Destructive Readers (~17,200 subscribers)

This is a subreddit that I love to hate! This is a place to post your writing and have people just tear it apart. Readers will tell you all the mistakes that you made; why that paragraph that you agonised over, carefully making sure that every sentence flows, actually sucks and you need to rewrite it. This is tough love! It’s difficult to hear some of these criticisms. It’s certainly easier to just ignore this subreddit. No-one likes being told they’ve done something wrong! But, as painful and as brutally honest as this subreddit is, the purpose of this sub is actually really good. It may be called Destructive Readers, but the purpose of all this criticism isn’t to simply be destructive, the purpose is to make you a better writer. Putting yourself out there, exposing yourself, is incredibly tough – but I guarantee this sub will make you a better writer.

 

/r/Writing prompts (~13,000,000 subscribers!!)

This is a massive sub with lots of subscribers and it is incredibly active. People post short writing prompts, then writers come along and write short stories based off that prompt.

Yeah, you’re in the middle of writing your novel/screenplay/autobiography, do you really need another distraction? Yet another writing project? Isn’t the life of a writer already too full of all kinds of tempting distractions and opportunities for procrastination.? Yep, but this one is actually worthwhile!

One of the greatest problems can be getting started on a writing session. It’s been far too long, (no matter how long it’s actually been, it’s been too long) since you last sat down and wrote, it’s tough to get back into that creative groove. This is a great way to get your brain fired up and the creative juices flowing.

You look through the today’s prompts, There are loads to choose from, and you can always scroll past todays and keep on looking at older prompts if nothing grabs your attention.

There’s no minimum to what you write, and no maximum. You can write any length. If you end up straying from the prompt then it doesn’t particularly matter.

So there you are, your brain firing off new ideas, words pouring through your keyboard and suddenly you’re creating something, you’re creating an entire unique story. Just a few minutes earlier you were feeling stuck and didn’t know where to start.

It’s basically a really great writing exercise to get you started.

Now, here’s the thing. By posting it online, people can see it. And people are going to read it. And they might even comment on it. For me, that’s one a joy of this community. I hate showing my writing to anyone else but this sub has really helped me with that. It is such a supportive community, with all sorts of positivity and energy, even for the shortest offerings. Subscribers have a genuine eagerness to read and that’s why this is such a great subreddit.

 

SHAMELESS PLUG!

We have our very own collection of writing prompts that you can get on Amazon!
Click here to check it out!

 

/r/Word Count (~2,400 subscribers)

This is a small and very quiet subreddit. There isn’t much chatter going on here. You simply make a post, saying how many words you wrote today, or this week. You’ll get some upvotes for your post, but probably not any comments. This is a place where you can proudly declare how hard you’ve been working! I love this subreddit because it keeps me honest. It’s tough to slack off when you know that you’re going to be publicly held accountable for how much you wrote today!

 

/r/Writer Chat (~2,100 subscribers)

So you joined reddit because you want to talk to other writers but posting messages and waiting hours for a reply isn’t the social activity that you hoped it would be…Well, then this is for you. The subreddit has a live chat that you can join any time of day. You don’t need an account to join the chat, just type in any nickname and get chatting straight away. If you like that nickname, and you want to use it in the future so that people can recognize you, then you’ll need to start an account to reserve that specific nickname.

There does tend to be more writers wanting to chat at the evenings and weekends, those are the busiest hours. Still, even during the quieter hours, there’s always people around. I really love this chat, not because I’m a sociable and chatty person, but because of how easy it is to start a fifteen-minute writing sprint, competing against anyone who’s hanging out in the chat and wants to join in too. I find writing sprints to be such a great way to buckle down and start writing. Getting into a writing sprint where I’m competing against other people always makes me write faster! I’m definitely more productive when I’m doing writing sprints.

 

/r/Review Circle (~1,300 subscribers)

This one is for the self-publishers. If you have a published work and you want to get some reviews, then this is a place to ask for it. There’s no guarantee that you will get reviews, even though you’re giving away a free copy of your book. Still there’s no harm in asking and the more reviews you can get, the better your book will look.

 

/r/Hire an Editor (~400 subscribers)

You’re want another pair of eyes to go over your work to check for spelling and grammar mistakes? Or maybe you just want someone to tell you if the plot actually makes sense? Well, this is the place! 

 

/r/Hire a Writer  (~10,000 subscribers)

This is a place for writers who are looking for work.  The jobs that get posted here tend to be small, one-off projects, but it can be a good way to dip your toes into the world of paid writing.

 

If you’re a writer, then there’s a very good chance that you love books. I know I do! I just love the look of them! I love the feel of a book in my hands. Whether it’s a brand new book and there’s that special feeling that I’m the only one who has ever opened these pages, or whether it’s second hand, with a cracked spine and dog-eared pages, I still love them. Which is why I enjoy these subs:

Lifestyle

 

/r/Writers things (~1,100 subscribers)

Because we all need more memes in our life and memes about writers make me feel like I’m not the only procrastinating writer in the world. Alright, this one probably won’t make a better writer, but it is fun!

/r/Book Haul (~9,000 subscribers)

This is a sub where people post pictures of the books that they’ve just bought. It is surprisingly addictive. I know that I often get excited when I see what books people have bought! Most times these are photos taken after a shopping spree in a second hand store, and I’m often very jealous of the bargains that people have found! 

/r/Bookshelf (~24,000 subscribers)

Here people post pictures of their beautiful bookshelves. I just love zooming in and seeing what books people own!

/r/Writer Motivation (~7,000 subscribers)

This is a small sub and unfortunately it’s not terribly active. However I still subscribe to it, because a) I need all the motivational help I can get b) the only way to make a sub more active is to participate in it! Most of the posts are memes or jokes about writing.

Alright! We finally got to the end of the list! I have just one more sub for you. Maybe I haven’t listed enough subs for you and you want to keep looking. This sub is the place to start searching for what you’re looking for:

/r/Writing Hub (~8,700 subscribers)

This is not an active sub, and it hasn’t been active in years. Yet thousands of people are still subscribed to it. Why on Earth would anyone still be subscribed to a sub that has basically been dead for the last four years? Because on sidebar of this subreddit is a list of all the other subs that are useful for writers. It’s a really useful catalogue. Unfortunately, because the sub is older and inactive, the list of subs is no longer complete. I wouldn’t recommend subscribing solely for this catalogue, but I would recommend that everyone take a few minutes to check it out!

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