What Publishers, Authors & Journalists Can Learn from Indie Rock and Music Blogs

By Jason Boog Comment

At Book Camp New York on Saturday, this GalleyCat editor gave a short presentation about lessons the publishing world can learn from the indie rock scene: “Love Is a Mixtape: What Publishers, Authors and Journalists Can Learn from Indie Rock and Music Blogs.”

We believe that the publishing world will someday resemble the fractured landscape of rock music. This new world will be filled with nimble publishers and self-published authors, but also feature dramatically reduced profits for many writers.

Drawing on a few key lessons from indie rock musicians and music bloggers, we have tried to reshape GalleyCat to prepare for these momentous changes. Below, we’ve listed the five lessons we learned alongside five pieces of advice from a indie rock band manager.

Five Lessons We Learned from Music Blogs

1. Don’t be exclusive. Make you site as big and welcoming as possible. We used to be overwhelmed with press releases, but we created our New Books section to give every writer, from Stephen King to a self-published author in Kansas, an equal opportunity to be featured on Galleycat.

2. Hold real life events. That’s what keeps the best music blogs afloat—festivals, concerts, and visits from bands. We tried to build more real-life events at GalleyCat from the eBook Summit (December 15, 2010) to the Mediabistro Book Club (February 17, 2011).

3. Let your readers create on your site. We built a literary mixtape of the Best Novels of 2010, hosted the World’s Longest Literary Remix, and regularly create curated Twitter lists—connecting readers and giving them a real contribution on the site.

4. Link out to other sites constantly. We try to maintain a balance on our Twitter feed—every post about a GalleyCat story should be matched with a link to an outside blog.

5. Reach out to aspiring writers. During National Novel Writing Month, we posted daily content for these marathon novel writers. Next week, we will launch a Best Kickstarter Project of the Week—teaching writers how to use Kickstarter to raise money with an interview with a new Kickstarter author.

Five Lessons We Learned While Talking to an Indie Rock Band Manager

1. Most successful indie rock stars earn a teacher’s salary through record sales, touring, and merchandise. For publishing, that means we have to adjust our expectations.

2. Rock shows drive revenue, not record sales. For publishers and authors, we need to create better festivals and events that can add value.

3. You have to work for every fan, from blog interviews to hanging out in bars after the show. Writers need to do the exact same thing.

4. Venues are more important than ever in the rock world. In the same way, bookstores will play a key role—hosting and developing new kinds of events.

5. Kickstarter has become a powerful resource for cash-strapped artists. In the same way, more authors will turn to the service to support new writing projects. UPDATE: We have launched our Best Kickstarter Publishing Project of the Week feature–so submit your nominations!