Amazon Not My Best Friend?

Well, duh! Of course they aren’t my best friend. Amazon is a business. It’s a retailer that sells my books (and many other things). Why on earth would they be my best friend? Guess what, bookstores aren’t my best friends either. I may find books within them that will become my friends, but the store itself is, well…a store. And I’m not in the habit of making friends with buildings. Oh sure, walls are great listeners and they don’t interrupt. Well, I supposed if one fell on me while I was talking it could be construed as an interruption, however I’m sure that’s pretty rare. I don’t know the actual statistics for walls falling  on people though I’m sure somewhere, someone has put a number to it. But I digress.

 

One lady thought she needed to point that out while going on a rant about Amazon, self-publishers and arguing on the side of higher e-book prices. You can read the article HERE 

 

These are the things that stood out to me and my rebuttal to her.

 

“Anyone who has followed the coverage of the ongoing Amazon-Hachette dispute knows that some of the most impassioned voices on the pro-Amazon side of the argument come from self-published writers. It’s easy to understand their impulse to defend Amazon’s e-book publishing programs, given that many had tried in vain to publish their books with traditional houses before opting for, say, Kindle Direct Publishing.”

She is either incredibly misinformed and deliberately ignorant. Myself and 99% of the indie/self published authors I know (and I know a lot of them) never even tried the legacy route. Why? Because we had no interest in book contracts. We like having all of the control over our books. We like being able to set our own prices, run our own sales, etc.

 

“One reason for the crossed wires here is that most self-published authors really, really, really hate traditional publishing, which has either rejected them or (in the case of authors who use Amazon to make their out-of-print titles available once more), let them down.”

I don’t know any self-published authors who hate legacy publishers. We may shake our heads when we read about the contracts they’re shoveling at new authors. We may roll our eyes at the derogatory way the legacy publishers tend to treat self-published authors. We may feel saddened when we hear from legacy authors who were promised the moon and then given a tiny, fake rock. But for the most part, we don’t even think about legacy publishers. If the legacy publishers think we hate them, then they have serious ego problems because we are indifferent to them. They exist to us in the way other mundane things do. We pass them by without noticing or even acknowledging them. Hate takes up a lot of time and energy on the part of the hater. We don’t have time to hate them because many of us are far too busy writing, networking with other authors, reaching out to readers, and very often making a living with our writing (or on the verge of it).

 

“Even the science fiction novelist Hugh Howey, a talented writer who has made an established success of self-publishing, does not charge more than $5.99 for any of his titles, compared to the $9.99 a reader must pay for Andy Weir’s bestselling “The Martian,” published earlier this year.”

Um…and that’s a bad thing that his books are more reasonably priced? Especially in this economy?

 

“That’s why it’s in the best interest of self-published authors that traditionally published books retain their higher prices.”

Yes, sure. Let the legacy publishers continue trying to rip people off. That will boost their sales.

 

 

“Five-plus years into the self-publishing boom, many readers express wariness about self-published books…”

Actually, from many of the things I’ve read across the internet as well as the numbers of self-published writers either able to live off the income from their royalties or add a significant amount to their income, numbers that continue to grow, people are becoming more accepting of self-published books. In fact, many are purposely searching them out because they love the wide range of diversity among indie books. They enjoy reading about topics the Big 5 won’t touch or think have no commercial value.

 

“But publishing a book is always a gamble of sorts, and a traditional publisher has ponied up… From the perspective of many readers, this is a meaningful testimonial.” 

Yes, there are people who will only read whatever is on the NYT Bestseller list. Or that were written by certain big names.  However, the majority of people I’ve seen commenting on this, or that I’ve spoken too, or that are chatting on Goodreads and various forums, either never pay attention to who published the book or they actively seek out indies. I’ve heard from so many readers that they are sick of the cookie cutter books churned out by the Big 5. I’ve seen numerous complaints about the poor quality editing and story development coming out of the legacy world.

 

“At present, the author of, say, a self-published thriller available as an e-book for $5 or less does not have to compete with Janet Evanovich, Alafair Burke, David Baldacci and John Sandford on even ground; the big-name authors’ books are typically twice as expensive. There are already more thrillers being cranked out by traditional presses than most people have time to read, and if those titles were all the same price as their self-published brethren, there would be much less incentive to try out the offerings from self-publishers. Self-published authors would feel pressure to reduce their prices even further.”

First she goes on and on about how buyers are more than willing to pay higher prices for legacy e-books, and then turns around and claims that well, self-pubs aren’t really competing with legacy authors because their lower price draws people who won’t pay the higher price. So… are they perfectly happy to pay the higher price for the “meaningful testimonial” of legacy publishing or aren’t they?

 

“As irksome as it may be for self-published authors to acknowledge, it’s in their best interests that traditional publishers like Hachette be allowed keep the prices of their e-books high. That’s on top of the uncomfortable reality that the emergence of a viable self-publishing community has been — contrary to what many self-published authors assert — a great thing for traditional publishers. It provides a minor-league system where they can track the emergence of popular writers without having to risk any of their own resources in developing new authors’ careers. “

Hahahahaha… oh wait, she’s serious. I’m sorry, but why on earth would I work my tail off developing my writing, pay out of my own pocket for editing, design, and formatting, spend an extraordinary amount of time and effort to reach fans, build a platform, and get noticed just so I could turn around and hand it all over to a publisher so they could take most of the money, hand me a pittance and then sit on their rears while they reap the rewards of all of my hard work?  I can’t think of a single reason. I had no need of a legacy publishers validation when I started out and I certainly have no need of it now.  I find it extremely presumptuous of legacy houses to assume that those of us who indie publish are their personal slush piles and that we will just fall to the ground and kiss their feet if they suddenly decide to notice us.  *rolls eyes* Quite frankly, I can’t think of anything a legacy publisher could offer that would tempt me.

And if they are sifting through that trying to find successful indies so that they don’t have to risk any of their own resources, then how is it they have “ponied up?” How does that contribute to, “meaningful testimonial” if they haven’t had to risk anything?

 

“While there’s not much self-publishers can do to influence the outcome of the Hachette-Amazon dispute…”

Guess what? Indie authors don’t care one way or the other. We have more important things to occupy our time than worrying about some legacy publisher and their dispute with Amazon.

 

And now I’m off to more interesting pursuits, like finding the statistics on walls that have fallen on people.

 

11 thoughts on “Amazon Not My Best Friend?

  1. Great article. In terms of readers actively seeking out self-published books… I don’t know if I’ve found this to be true with the readers I’ve spoken with. Sure, some will look for self-pubbed books, but the majority don’t care who published a book. They don’t care if it’s been on a bestseller list either. They just want a GOOD book that touches on topics that are important in their own lives. They discover indie authors because in many cases, it’s the indies who write these ground-breaking, risk-taking, genre-bending novels readers are craving. That’s why indies rock, and that’s why we’ll make it in this business.

    • I agree with you that most readers don’t care who published a book as long as the story is good and often it’s the indies they buy for the reasons you’ve stated. I have ran into quite a few people who actively seek out indie authors (and even small presses) and avoid the big names in publishing for the same reasons. Because they know they are going to find something different when they get indie books (and even some small press books).

  2. Great post! I love your point about why would you work your tail off to hand that over to some big publisher. I intend to self-publish when I finish my novel, and after having done research, I would not even consider traditional publishing. As you said, there’s nothing they can offer that outweighs the benefits of having complete control and reaping the rewards of your own hard work.

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