Why Web3 Should be Part of the Publishing Strategy for Indie Authors

By now, every indie author has heard about, and probably participated in, some discussion of “KU" vs wide. There are pros and cons to each strategy, which I'm not going to discuss here. Instead, I'm going to tell you that if you are a wide author, Web3 should be part of your publishing strategy. The idea behind publishing wide is to reach a wider audience and avoid being too reliant on one platform. And Web3 can do both of those things.

But what is Web3? And how can does it fit in with your publishing strategy?

What is Web3?

Web3 is the next generation of the internet, also known as the decentralized web. It's built on blockchain technology, which is a digital ledger that allows for secure, transparent, and decentralized transactions. Web3 is all about decentralization, meaning there is no central authority, like Amazon or Apple, controlling the platform.

The Benefits of Web3 for Indie Authors

Web3 provides indie authors additional monetization streams with NFTs (non-fungible tokens), which are unique digital assets that represent ownership of a piece of content. We typically think of NFT's as digital art, such as the Bored Ape, but they can be any piece of digital content. There are music NFT’s. You can collect podcast episodes. On Mirror, you can even collect a copy of this article for about a buck and a half. Which means that you can create an NFT of your books, which are known as literary NFT's.

Unlike with Amazon, where you only know who bought your book if the reader tells you they did, you can see who purchased your NFT. You can see what other NFT's they've bought, giving you insight into their interests, what they are willing to spend money on. Nowhere else is that kind of market research possible.

But you don't always have to pay for an NFT. Sometimes the creator will give them away. Using smart contracts, you could offer airdrops to reward your biggest fans with free content, maybe an exclusive short story, maybe a pre-launch offer. Your ability to use NFTs to create a sense of community and loyalty around your work is only limited by your imagination.

Well, and the size of the market. At this point, literary NFTs are a niche in a relatively small market. However, this was also the case in the early days of ebooks and Amazon's KDP. And look at where they are now. As more authors and readers become familiar with the concept of NFTs, the market for literary NFTs will grow.

(NFT) Winter is Coming

You may have hear about the so-called crypto winter. Sales of NFT’s are down, and larger projects aren’t selling out. You may have even heard about the cryptocurrency crash last year. Those things are all true, but there are ebbs and flows of all markets. Bitcoin has crashed five times that has always rebounded and gained in value. Plus, I would like to introduce you to something called the Gatner Hype Cycle.

Gatner Hype Cycle

Gatner Research produced a graph of the typical cycle of interest for innovations. Related the the diffusion of innovation theory, it charts interest against the progression of a technology through the innovator and early adopter phases into the beginning of the early majority phase. In it, a technology is first invented (duh), and excitement for builds and builds as people imagine unlimited possibilities with it. This is what we are seeing with generative AI right now. As you can see below, the line is nearly vertical at this early juncture. But eventually, it reaches the Peak of Inflated Expectations. The dot com bubble is another good example. Except that what we're ridiculous ideas with no real value then are multi-billion dollar companies. Everybody left at the idea of selling dog food on the internet, but now Chewy is worth $32 billion.

But eventually the bubble bursts. The excitement fades. People wake up. And the technology enters the Trough of Disillusionment. People start to write off the technology as a fad with no real use case. Eventually, interest in the technology bottoms out and starts to build again at a slower, more sustainable pace called The Slope of Enlightenment. I think that name's a little ridiculous, but I'm not a research analyst. At this point, less than 5% of the potential audience is using the technology. That builds until it reaches the Plateau of Productivity, which seems weird to call it a plateau when roughly a quarter of the potential audience is on board and they claim that is when the high growth phase begins.

Hype Cycle Example. Olga Tarkovskiy / CC-BY-SA-3.0
Hype Cycle Example. Olga Tarkovskiy / CC-BY-SA-3.0

But this crypto winter? If publishing wide is just another term for decentralization, then this is just another term for the Through of Disillusionment. And that's exactly where Gatner places NFT's in the 2022 edition of their chart (https://www.gartner.com/en/articles/what-s-new-in-the-2022-gartner-hype-cycle-for-emerging-technologies). It even predicted the crash in their 2021 report. But they predict the plateau of productivity, signaling beginning of widespread adoption, in 2 to 5 years.

That feels like a long ways away. After all, the pandemic started 3 years ago, and the time before that feels like a distant memory. But you you want the first mover advantage. There's a reason Amazon is the biggest ebook seller. And there's a reason that it was a lot easier to make six figures on Amazon in 2012 than it was in 2022.

I realize that I sound like some scammer right now (I'm not selling anything, I promise), but you really want to get in on the ground floor. When the market starts any traction in a couple years, you'll want to be an established presence.

I first heard about Bitcoin in 2010. Back then the price of a single BTC was measured in hundredths of a penny. I didn't see its potential and didn't take it seriously. Now it's worth more than $28,000. I'm not saying that if you sell your books as NFT's they will appreciate 2,000,000,000% in 13 years, but It will grow in value.

NFTs and the Environment

NFTs and cryptocurrencies have received criticism over their environmental impact. The energy consumption required to mine cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has raised concerns about carbon emissions and its impact on the environment.

However, there have been efforts to introduce new technologies that are more eco-friendly. One of these is the Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus algorithm. Unlike Proof-of-Work (PoW) that requires massive energy usage, PoS is more energy-efficient. It relies on validators who hold a certain amount of cryptocurrency to verify transactions. Validators are chosen based on the amount of cryptocurrency they hold, so the higher their stake, the more likely they are to be chosen. This reduces the energy consumption and carbon emissions significantly.

There is a growing trend towards using clean energy sources, such as solar and wind power, for mining. This is because the decentralized nature of blockchain technology allows for mining operations to be located in areas with abundant renewable energy resources. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies actively encourage miners to this, by rewarding validators who can prove their use with additional currency. As of 2022, nearly 60% of Bitcoin mining used renewable energy.

But I want to sell more than one book

One aspect of NFTs that can cause confusion is the concept of editions. You may be mistaken that only one version of an NFT exists, but that is not always the case. While each NFT represents a one-of-a-kind item, that doesn’t mean that there is necessarily only one. Think of an NFT like a signed hardcover. Even if you sell 100 signed hardcovers, each one will have a slightly different signature, making it unique.

Each NFT is part of an edition. Just like in traditional publishing, an edition is a new version of the NFT. You could have a 1:1 edition, meaning there is only a single one exactly like it in the world, or you could have 10, 100, 1000, or any number you wanted. There are some marketplaces that allow open editions, meaning there is no limit to the number of people who could collect it, just like there is no arbitrary number of people who can buy your book on Amazon.

Or if you do have a limited number of copies available in an addition, and it sells out, you could create a new edition with a new cover. This also means that you can create a rarer first edition with a unique cover, and sell it for a higher price. Once it sells out, you crate a more nominally priced edition.

This can be a great way to appeal to collectors or fans who want to own a special version of your book. You can create different editions with varying levels of rarity or exclusivity, which can help drive up the value and demand for your NFTs.

How to Sell Literary NFTs

While the market for literary NFTs is currently small, there are several marketplaces where authors can sell their NFTs. Let's take a look at some of the most popular platforms.


Readl is one of the first literary NFT platforms you will read about when you first start exploring the Web3 space. Readl operates much like a traditional web2 ebook seller. They operate an online bookstore and take a cut of each sale. Unlike the ebook retailers you're used to, their commission is only 2%. And it stays 2% no matter what price you list your book as.


OpenSea is the OG of NFT marketplaces, and until recently, the largest. Blur has recently surpassed them, but I can’t figure that place out at all. OpenSea isn’t a literary NFT marketplace, and you can’t actually sell ebooks there. So why is it included? Because it has a feature where you can sell an NFT with unlockable content. So you sell an NFT of the book cover, and when someone collects it, they gain access to an additional file, in this case, the ebook itself.


Solana has their own literary NFT marketplace, run on their currency, but it's not open to just anyone. Same with Tezos. There are a few other notable NFT marketplaces on the Tezos blockchain, the most notable is Objkt. It seems primarily for poetry and other image based literary NFT’s.


PageDAO isn’t a marketplace. It is a DAO, or Decentralized Autonomous Organization. DAO’s are basically the web3 equivalent of a co-op or community organization. PageDAO is focused on authors and books. Membership costs 50 MATIC, which is about $55 at the time of this writing. This gets you access to adding your book NFT to their OpenSea collection, and a few other exclusive marketplaces.

Metalibrarian Minutes

This isn’t a marketplace, but a newsletter about the literary NFT space. I highly recommend joining it here. Issue 17 should hopefully be up on Readl soon, and has more discussion of different NFT marketplaces he’s explored.


Incorporating Web3 into your publishing strategy as an indie author can offer numerous benefits, from greater control over your intellectual property to a more engaging reader experience. While the market for literary NFTs is still small, it's likely to grow as more authors and readers become familiar with the concept. And with the various marketplaces available for selling NFTs, there's no reason not to give it a try. So if you're an wide author looking to take your publishing strategy to the next level, consider exploring Web3 and literary NFTs.

Subscribe to Ash Roberts
Receive the latest updates directly to your inbox.
Mint this entry as an NFT to add it to your collection.
This entry has been permanently stored onchain and signed by its creator.
More from Ash Roberts