The Indie Author’s Journey and Trends in Book Publishing Post-COVID-19

In a world that’s constantly evolving, the realm of book publishing is no exception. The COVID-19 pandemic brought about significant changes and challenges for authors and the publishing industry as a whole. To gain insight into the emerging trends in the world of books, we sat down with Michael Webb, a successful indie author who has taken the publishing world by storm. Webb shares his journey and the lessons he’s learned along the way, highlighting the impact of the pandemic on the industry.

Webb started his writing career just three years ago, and describes his foray into writing as a “bucket list idea.” He initially envisioned it as a fun endeavor, writing a book to share with friends and family. He had no grand aspirations of making a fortune or securing a traditional publishing deal. However, as he delved deeper into the world of writing, he realized that to succeed, he needed to do it right. His first book, “Last Shadow Night,” published in April 2021, exceeded his expectations by selling 40,000 copies to date. “At first, it was just a kind of a bucket list idea. I thought it’d be fun to write a book and share it with friends and maybe sell a few copies to friends and family. I had no interest in making a ton of money, and had no interest in getting picked up by a traditional publisher. I just thought, write something to put it out there.”

What’s noteworthy about Webb’s journey is that he has not abandoned his day job. He’s employed at Ferguson Enterprises, a plumbing distribution company, where he manages a shared purchasing center. He has been with the company for over two decades. This dual existence demonstrates that it’s possible to balance a day job with a thriving writing career, a trend seen in many indie authors who have entered the scene in recent years. “I wake up at 5:00 am and I write for probably a couple of hours before I start my day job. Usually, on the weekend, I’ll put in a few hours, sometimes on weeknights if nothing is going on at home or my family’s gone.”

Michael Webb — author of The Last Shadow Knight

Webb’s story mirrors the experiences of countless writers who turned to their passion during the pandemic. With many activities on hold and people stuck at home, writing became an escape and a creative outlet. Webb notes that the pandemic triggered a surge in indie writers. Job losses and remote work allowed people to tap into their creativity, leading to a significant increase in the number of aspiring authors.

Webb states “So many things ground to a halt in 2020. Activities people were doing, going out stopped, travel stopped, and a lot of people got into writing when COVID happened. Now I had a little bit of a jump on it; I started about six, seven months before things kind of slowed down.”

What sets the indie writing community apart is its freedom from traditional rules and expectations. In contrast to the sometimes restrictive guidelines imposed by traditional publishers, indie authors can write the stories they want to tell. They are not beholden to conventional tropes and plot structures. This creative liberty has given rise to unique and diverse stories that resonate with readers in a way that traditional publishing often struggles to achieve.

“So when you go to the Indie world, there’s no rules, there’s no one telling you you can’t do this or that. Now sometimes those rules are there for a reason, and the people who deviate from them often, their books end up falling flat because they didn’t hit the tropes that they need to reach their audience.” Webb states

One of the key tools in an indie author’s arsenal is beta readers and alpha readers. These are individuals who provide valuable feedback and critique of a work in progress. Webb acknowledges the importance of this process in enhancing the quality of his novels. Beta readers help identify plot holes, character inconsistencies, and pacing issues, turning an unpolished story into a refined and engaging narrative.

“I found that’s what took me from this unpolished story of junk because it was not a great coherent story that was well put together. Every iteration of the story helped me get better and better.” Webb expresses
The conversation naturally shifts to the topic of artificial intelligence (AI). Webb expresses a balanced perspective on AI in writing. He sees AI as a tool that can assist authors in various aspects of their work, such as generating plot ideas, crafting book blurbs, and even writing chapters. While AI can be helpful, Webb cautions that it can be predictable and sometimes lacks the uniqueness and creativity of human writers. Nonetheless, he encourages writers not to fear AI but to consider it as a supplementary tool in their creative process.

“AI, I believe, is going to be a tool that authors could choose to use or not in story outline construction, writing ad copy for advertisements, writing blurbs. So this thought of creating something from nothing, of this back-of-book blurb, I used AI, and it helped me generate ideas, most of which I changed, some of which I kept, but it was easier for me to do it that way.”
As for the impact of the pandemic on Webb’s book sales, he mentions that his sales didn’t experience a significant drop post-COVID-19. In fact, the pandemic led to increased book sales as more people turned to reading and exploring new hobbies. His experience reflects a broader trend of surging interest in books during the pandemic.

“My book sales I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a plummeting. But their sales readers increased during Co. You know, a lot of people stopped going out, a lot of travel stopped, and people had more free time.”

Webb provides valuable insights into the evolving landscape of book publishing, particularly for indie authors. The pandemic has accelerated the growth of indie publishing and the sense of community among writers. Webb’s journey from a bucket list writer to a successful indie author illustrates the possibilities for those who are passionate about storytelling. The freedom to write without constraints and the support of the indie writing community are just some of the many trends that have emerged in the post-COVID-19 era.

There was also a surge in writing, creating a diverse and dynamic indie publishing community. As technology, including AI, continues to play a role in the writing process, authors are adapting and embracing these tools to enhance their craft. The future of book publishing appears bright, with more authors finding success and more readers discovering captivating stories in the indie publishing world.


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