IndiePaper, Building the Future of Publishing

written byAswin Mohan

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Building your dream company can be really hard, especially when you're a bootstrapped IndieHacker toiling against the big players. This book outlines my journey about building IndiePaper, my learnings along the way, my fuck-ups, features I need to implement, roadblocks everything. Rather than writing about the experience maybe two-three years down the line, I decided to write my experience weekly in the form of a Serial book, and what better platform to write a Serial Book than IndiePaper itself. Come join along for the ride.

Making a company can be hard, really frigging hard.

When I quit my job I never thought making something on the internet, getting it to the hands of the people who care about it and being profitable would be this hard.

When you spend enough time on Twitter you start to see people quitting their jobs, starting their companies, making a million dollars in a fortnight, helping a ton of people who rave about it again on Twitter and I thought "Well that sounds fun, let's try some of that for a bit". Fast forward four months, no job, 50¢ left in my bank account and writing a book about the entire journey on an online platform ( In my defence the online platform is the thing I am making, so it's a win). Is it gruelling and heartbreaking? Yes, do I love every second of it? Hell yeah!

Why write a book then?

Anyone who's built anything knows how time-consuming it can be, even if you spend every waking second on it, it's going to be behind schedule. So why spend a couple of hours each week working on a book about a platform you're going to build rather than working on the platform itself?

Turns out there are a number of benefits of writing a book detailing the journey of building a platform on the same platform itself.

Dogfooding, using your own product - While building out a platform we are concerned with the big picture, the backend architecture, tests, making the UI look great, making sure everything works the way it's supposed to. Even after diligently working through everything, a lot of subtle issues only show up when you buckle down and use your own product as the target customer. I fixed a lot of annoyances that I never even knew existed until I sat down and wrote the initial draft of the book, one major bug with payments that would have been costly. This is the most important reason why I'm writing this book on IndiePaper, kind of like a final test of IndiePaper. You can only improve the things you know about, and using your product in production by yourself with a goal is the only way to get those deep insights that can make your product exceptional.

Recording the journey - Starting a company is incredibly hard, but one who does make it big only talk about the experience years even decades down the line. By that time they likely would have forgotten most of what caused the company to become successful and would only mainly focus on what they did right. Recording my journey through building a company as I am building one would mean all my readers would get a real understanding of what I went through and how I tackled the problems that came up and how I fucked up the rest. I believe this would later be a guide to everyone thinking about starting a company on their own.

Marketing - I am a solo developer and as you make guessed, I like building stuff more than getting eyeballs to it. It's not that marketing is bad, it's just that I love the nitty-gritty of development more. I'm hoping writing this book would bring more eyeballs to IndiePaper.

Funding, I'm an IndieHacker with a near-zero bank balance. IndiePaper costs around $250 to run every month, and currently, it makes no money. So I'm planning on releasing the chapters concerned with money for only subscribers. That way I can get IndiePaper off the ground without taking external funding this early and also test out the payment integrations. The chapters will be made free once IndiePaper achieves ramen profitability.

Accountability, outlet and people - I'm doing all this alone, and that can sometimes get really lonely. Even if I made tremendous progress on a hard problem or found a witty solution to something, I don't have anyone to share it with. That combined with working alone can take a hit on productivity. I just want to share the story of IndiePaper, things along the way just as an outlet, and having a weekly update with the readers and authors would add a sense of accountability to myself.

Isn't writing a book hard? (Shameless Plug)

Not on IndiePaper, just Sign up, start a draft and start writing. When you're finished hit publish and boom!!, you just published your first book. Well that's how this book is made, and that's really easy.

So subscribe to the book, and expect a chapter every Tuesday. I'll be sharing what I did for IndiePaper that week, how the week went, key metrics, blockers and everything along the journey. Stay tuned, and Welcome to the future of Publishing.