I remember in the old days, back in 2010 (*rocking like the old-timer I am, in a chair on the porch*) when the ebook market was the wild west of publishing…There was gold in them thar hills, I tell you! So. Much. Gold! Those of us who got in early? We made out like bandits. Now, I know this isn’t 2010 anymore, but the metaphor of the gold rush still applies. The avenues to “easy money” have mostly been closed off in indie publishing. As Amazon continues their attempt to dominate the ebook market, other income streams narrow down to a trickle. And Amazon themselves continue to squeeze indie authors, offering them less in profits, while their algorithms force them to spend more money in ads to make a larger sum.
Depressed? Dejected? Don’t worry. This isn’t the end of indie publishing. It’s just a shift in the market, and the best thing about indie authors is their ability to adapt. Yes, the market will continue to be flooded with new authors and more books. As the pond gets bigger, there will be a larger gap between the “big fish” and the “little fish,” and it will become even more difficult to gain visibility. But if you stick with it, and do all the right things, you can still make a career as an indie author.
2017 holds a lot of promise. It may not be the gold rush anymore, but there’s still a lot of gold in them thar hills—you just have to work a little harder to find it.
I think upping your marketing game this year will be key. Learn how to create effective ads with the biggest bang for your buck—or hire someone reputable who can do it for you. Amazon Ads will start giving Facebook ads a run for their money. Bookbub will continue to be effective (but less so than in previous years – we may have reached a saturation point there…) To be fair, most mailing list sites are less effective now than they’ve been in years previous. That said, many are still worth investing in to get the most eyes you can on your books.
Unfortunately, I do believe that Amazon’s market share will continue to grow. However, I think we are starting to see the giant just beginning to stumble, now that they have to turn a profit and actually pay shareholders (and this isn’t limited to selling books). Amazon has made several missteps this year, and they’re battling widespread fraud (again, not just in ebooks) and I see this trend causing mistrust, both in their customers and their vendors.
Amazon algorithms will continue to give boosts to KDP Select books, but given the issues that have recently come to light about “Kindle Unlimited” (not the least of which is Amazon’s inability to actually count the “pages read” they’re using to pay out to KDP Select author participants) authors may become more selective about their use of KDP Select as a marketing tool. Authors may put only certain books into the program, or put books in for just the first 90 days and then use sale prices coupled with a Bookbub ad (or a cluster of other smaller ads) to push the book wide. I believe authors will continue to use KDP Select, but many will begin to back off from the “all in” philosophy. Personally, I’ve never been a proponent of putting all your eggs in one basket.
Still, Amazon will remain the elephant in the room, and I believe their own imprints will continue to dominate the top book spots on the site. Because of this, we may see authors seeking to go hybrid this year, whether it’s looking to become an “Amazon author,” or submitting to traditional publishing houses.
I think growth in 2017 will be in foreign markets (where Kobo already has a foothold), as well as audio (where the market is still growing by leaps and bounds) and direct sales (which means sites like Gumroad and Patreon will gain even more popularity with authors). And while we’ve seen some small pubs down-size (like Samhain) and other smaller sites collapse (like All Romance Ebooks / Omnilit) others like Excitica and A1 Adult Ebooks (and their sister sites) will be around to pick up the slack. And as Amazon and other vendors crack down on more “adult” material, these sites will offer niche markets for subsequently disenfranchised readers and authors.
My best advice for 2017 is to work smarter, not harder. It may feel as if you’re on a writing treadmill, forced to release something new every thirty days or so, and the truth is there are plenty of authors doing just that. And some prolific authors have found success doing so. There is certainly something to the formula of “writing to market, writing fast and publishing often.” But don’t worry if you’re not the 5-10K-a-day sort of author. You can still be successful writing just a book or two a year. How?
Work smarter. Make sure you’re growing your own mailing list—and engaging with your readers on a regular basis. Don’t let them forget you exist (but don’t spam them—or annoy them—either). Readers like engaging with authors. And what they seem to enjoy most is authors with big personalities. So find your author persona and work it! I’ve seen authors do this in many different ways, from the inimitable Chuck Tingle to the sassy Jordan Silver. Take the best parts of you—the parts that others tend to be drawn to—and amplify them by ten. Turn up the volume. Be bold. Do and say the things that will make them remember you, in your newsletter and on social media. Just make sure you’re doing it from a genuine place. You’re just turning up the volume, not changing the channel!
Also, remember that no author is an island. Find other authors who write things similar to you and work out a way to cross-promote and cross-pollinate on a regular basis. Trust me, even if you’re the most prolific author in the world, you can’t turn out books fast enough to keep up with readers. Cross-promoting keeps readers on your side. They’ll start looking to you for recommendations and it will help keep their interest while you’re writing your next novel. And if you find you really click with another author, you can always consider an author partnership. After all, two authors can writer faster than one!
I don’t think 2016 was a great year for indies—but I do believe 2017 has the potential to be. No, 2017 won’t be anything like the gold rush year of 2010, but it’s still full of possibilities. I think the indie author community has grown together and become stronger over the years, and their future is still quite bright. Indies know how to adapt. They’re natural entrepreneurs, and even when the learning curve is steep, they’re willing to jump into the deep end to learn how to swim.
Looking forward to 2017, I think indie authors will continue to innovate, push the envelope, and transform the face of publishing itself.
Today, I saw a video from Dave Koziel on YouTube. He apparently felt it necessary to explain to his viewers that his methods weren’t really “scammy” and why he, himself, is not really a scammer. Watch the video for yourself. (I don’t recommend eating anything beforehand, though, if you have a tendency to get queasy…)
You see, Koziel admits he’s not a writer but more of an internet marketer who hired ghostwriters to write his hundreds (literally, hundreds) of 8,000-10,000 word “books.” He would then publish those books under pen names on Amazon. In KU 1.0, those 8-10K books would yield $1.30-ish a borrow. After KU 2.0, Dave clearly found himself with an abundance of short books that paid about half-a-penny per-page-read. So about $0.40-$0.50. That’s quite a pay cut.
Then Dave realized, if he bundled all his books together (and, you know, published them under different titles, changing up that order with every new title) he’d get paid more and could maximize his “Kindle real estate” so to speak. In fact, he discovered, if he got his reader(s) to click to the end of that mass of titles, even if they didn’t read them, he’d get paid for a full read!
This is particularly interesting to me because, as I revealed in a previous post, a representative at Amazon had directly told me, at the very beginning of KU 2.0, that “skipping to the end of a book” would not result in a full read. Dave Koziel, on the other hand, says that Amazon directly told him that yes, skipping to the end of a book does result in a full read, and that they somehow planned this by design.
So, Amazon – which is it?
Clearly, the evidence shows us that skipping to the end of a book does, indeed, result in a full read. We now have conflicting reports about whether or not that was intentional, or even known, by Amazon.
Dave Koziel took it upon himself to put a call out to his readers at the beginning of his books, asking them to click to the end if they wanted him to get paid for all his hard work (or in his case, his ghostwriters’ hard work and his cash outlay…) He explained to them that Amazon had started paying authors by the page read, and in order to get fully paid, they had to skip to the end.
What reader, who picked up a book because they liked the cover/blurb enough to borrow it, wouldn’t click to the end after that plea?
Koziel claims he was just being honest with his readers. And his scam wasn’t a scam, or even a loophole – that Amazon told him they’d designed the system this way on purpose. I don’t know if that’s true or not. I do know that Koziel and the others he taught his “system” to clearly had some ethically questionable morals, but they weren’t technically doing anything against Amazon’s TOS. As with the short “scamphlets” (making books so short, just opening them would get a reader to 10% and count as a $1.30-ish borrow, no matter what content was inside) this “loophole” was built into Amazon’s system.
The shocking thing, to me, was that Amazon decided to pay authors by “pages read,” when in fact, they couldn’t actually count those pages. They threw out a communal pot of money to the authors and like some literary Hunger Games, we were forced to fight over it. And the thing is – the game was rigged. Not just Amazon’s algorithms that favor their own imprints (they do) or Amazon giving authors sweetheart deals in Kindle Unlimited.
No, this game was rigged by Amazon’s own design. In the first version of Kindle Unlimited, they created a perfect storm where erotica authors (who already wrote short) could get $1.30-ish per borrow for a 5000 word story. This made authors of 100,000 word novels mad–and allowed scammers internet marketers like Dave Koziel to create scamphlets–so Amazon closed that loophole. But it turns out, Amazon had “fixed” the loophole in Krap Unlimited 1.0 only to create an even bigger one in Krap Unlimited 2.0.
So the game’s still rigged.
David Gaughran and Phoenix Sullivan recently pointed out how many of these scammers have taken courses like Koziel’s and run amok with them, adding even scammier ideas along the way to the mix. These scammers are using giant click-farms to drive their books up in rank on the free charts (and Kindle Unlimited subscribers can still borrow books while they’re free).
They’re stuffing their titles full of keywords (a practice Amazon cracked down on years ago and have since let run rampant again) even going so far as to put keywords at the beginning of each title so they’ll appear high in the search rank. (This has made it nearly impossible to find anything on Amazon – they’ve effectively broken Amazon’s amazing search engine.)
While many authors have learned that adding a “bonus book” at the end of their titles can increase pages read (a bird book in the hand, and all that) and actually add value for readers – scammers have taken it upon themselves to add thousands and thousands of pages of “bonus” content. Sometimes they just put all their ghostwritten books in to increase that page count to 3000. Or they translate those books with Google Translate into twenty different languages and put those at the back. Some are even so bold as to just put gobbeldygook culled from the internet with a link at the front with an incentive (win a Kindle Fire!) to skip to the end.
They’re also putting their books into as many categories as possible (most of them unrelated to the actual content) and sometimes aping the looks of covers, titles and even author names, to appear high in searches for popular books.
So… why isn’t every author out there doing this? Well, the reality is, some of them are. They’ve found out about the loophole and have jumped on the bandwagon because… if you can’t beat them, join them? After all, the loophole is still open. Amazon has done nothing to close it. Skipping to the end of a book still results as a full read, right this very minute. Amazon recently capped the amount of pages read per book at 3000. They have also now disallowed (sort of… in certain cases… about what you’d expect?) putting the table of contents at the back of a book.
Of course, none of that has actually fixed the problem. And that is ALL the action they’ve taken. That’s it. They still have a loophole big enough to drive a $100,000 a month Mack truck through!
As Phoenix Sullivan pointed out: “How many ethical authors are feeling pressured into adopting black hat techniques seeing how many black hatters are making bank on them with seeming impunity? Some days even I’m tempted to grab a few EINs and a handful of throwaway email accounts, put on a black hat and go to town. I understand the system—all I need is one good month to game it…”
Authors learned very quickly that Amazon is where the real money is. Amazon allowed self-publishing stars like Joe Konrath, Amanda Hocking, and Hugh Howey to rise to the top after being rejected by the gatekeepers or legacy/traditional publishing, to make thousands, hundreds of thousands, from their work.
When self publishing first became a thing, everyone claimed that with no gatekeepers there was going to be a “ton of crap flooding the market!” Oh noez! Of course, what they meant was a “ton of crap writing” from authors who couldn’t write up to legacy standards.
I don’t think anyone thought, “from hundreds of ghostwriters paid by internet marketers!”
Forget devaluing our work by offering it for $0.99 or free. Forget devaluing “literature” by allowing self-published authors to publish directly to readers. That wasn’t the “race to the bottom” everyone worried about. THIS is the true race to the bottom.
Dave Koziel claimed he wasn’t doing anything wrong. He says he’s not a scammer (even though he admits he’s not really a writer.) He’s a self-proclaimed “internet marketer,” just looking to make a buck on the internet. Nothing wrong with that, is there?
Actually, there is.
Koziel is just one example of his kind. (In fact, he teaches and sells internet courses to others who want to copy what he’s done.) And if Koziel alone has hundreds of ghostwritten books, and they’re not plagiarized or written like a third grader (two things he claims in his video…) then the reality is, he’s accumulated material at a rate that no reasonable writer could accomplish. Only a few outliers (Amanda Lee, I’m looking at you, girl! 😛 ) can reasonably write 10K a day without burning out. But Koziel can hire 10 ghostwriters a day. 100 a week, if he wanted to. He can mass-produce titles at will.
Granted, the system itself is the problem when everyone is vying for a piece of the same pie. The more scammy you get, the more money you make. Yay you! But as the system starts to erode, and more and more mercenary types get on board, the further things collapse. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with hiring a ghostwriter (Patterson does it all the time in the legacy world – and no one cares) there’s a problem when people start taking advantage of ghostwriters and working it all like a “system.”
If you pay a ghostwriter well, and that ghostwriter does a good job, that’s a legitimate business transaction. But most (if not all) of these odesk-type ghostwriters are undercharging (that hurts legitimate ghostwriters) because they’re overseas (there’s outsourcing again) and IMers can (and do) take advantage of that. There’s a difference between an author who has a story to tell who hires a ghostwriter (either because they don’t have time to write it, or because they don’t have the skills) and an IMer who gives an army of ghostwriters the trope-du-jour and says, “write me as many stories as possible.”
These guys may hire click farms, as Gaughran and Sullivan noted – but guys like this are also getting legitimate readers and building a following. (They talk a lot about building mailing lists so they can accumulate a way to sell all their scammy internet marketing things, not just books…) So what’s wrong with what he does? Clearly he doesn’t see anything wrong with it. But there is something wrong with it. I call it the Jurassic Park problem. Remember Jeff Goldblum’s speech to Hammond about cloning dinosaurs? When Hammond asked (like this guy Koziel) what’s wrong with what he’s done?
“I’ll tell you what’s wrong with it – it didn’t require any discipline to acquire it. You read what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t earn the knowledge for yourselves, so you don’t take any responsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to accomplish something as fast as you could, and before you even knew what you had, you patented it, and packaged it, and slapped it on a plastic lunchbox, and now you’re selling it. Well… you were so preoccupied with whether or not you could, you didn’t stop to think if you should…”
Since Koziel likes YouTube videos so much – here’s one he and all of his minions should watch:
The problem is now we really are competing for readers with this guy. It’s like the outsourcing to other countries that corporations do to trim margins in any business – it’s a slippery slope. And now what do we have? A digital sweat shop environment. Writers terrified of falling off a 30-day cliff, utilizing voice software like Dragon to keep up and write as many words as possible as fast as they can, creating shared pen names to try to get a foothold in a flooded market.
It’s hard enough to gain visibility on Amazon these days, when there are plenty of excellent, legitimate writers out there putting out some great books. Because the reality of the gatekeepers was not that there was too much “garbage” out there to publish – the reality was always that there was never enough room at their table. There was plenty of stuff leftover that just went to waste – that’s the stuff that writers can now self-publish, now that the traditional gatekeepers are gone. And much of it is great stuff – books readers prove, with their buying dollars – they actually want to read.
Today, self-publishing authors don’t have to worry about getting past the gatekeepers. But they have to compete with internet marketers who see Kindle as a “business opportunity” and who are using it, solely, to make money. We’re competing with someone who can scam Amazon’s system (which, admittedly, is Amazon’s fault – they’ve made it “scammable”) and they’ve proven with hard numbers that they can take upwards of $100,000 or more a month out of the pot.
There are people in the world whose ethics are very fluid. Who think, “Why shouldn’t I take advantage of this giant money-making loophole?” And when those people don’t stop to think if they should, just because they can, and they decide to take advantage… there are plenty of people who come afterward who feel like they have to, as well – just to level the playing field.
How can a “real author” (as opposed to a scammer internet marketer) compete in a self-publishing world where scammers internet marketers can buy and publish hundreds of titles at a time? Where they can make enough money scamming publishing their deluge of titles to spend those ill-gotten gains on Amazon marketing (Dave Koziel says he was paying Amazon to market his “books”) and Facebook ads, outspending legitimate authors by thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands?
Who can compete with that? Unless an author is going to throw up their hands and decide (a temptation that Phoenix Sullivan so eloquently expressed above) “The hell with it, if I can’t beat them, I might as well join them!” how is that author going to have a chance?
In his video, Koziel says he can see why authors might be angry at him… but I don’t think he really does see. He feels he’s simply taking advantage of a legitimate business opportunity. Like most internet marketers, he’s looking at the short-term gain, and not paying attention to the long-term consequences. Or any consequences at all.
Granted, Amazon created this monster. All of these loopholes, from the scamphlets in KU 1.0 to today’s garbage-stuffed tomes in KU 2.0, could have been prevented with a little forethought on Amazon’s part. I told them this was a risk when they decided to change to paying by pages-read and they either a) lied to me, knowing readers could skip to the end for a full-read or b) they actually didn’t know that skipping to the end would result in a full-read. I’m not sure which is worse.
But if Amazon hadn’t started down this road to begin with, most of these scammers “internet marketers” wouldn’t have gained a foothold in the first place. Now they’re like sharks circling in bloody waters, and they’re not about to leave, unless someone cleans up this mess. And even if Amazon takes action, KDP and self-publishing is now a hunting ground they’re not likely to give up any time soon.
Even if Amazon cleaned up the waters tomorrow, these scammers internet marketers would continue to work the system, looking for ways to game it. Like the raptors in Jurassic Park–they have no ethical dilemmas whatsoever–they’ll continue to test the fences for weaknesses.
As Koziel’s video goes to show. These internet marketers will say and do anything to make money in the system. They haven’t paid their dues. Goldblum’s argument applies categorically – no discipline was required to obtain it, so they take no responsibility for it. Because they’re not writers, because they don’t care about the craft, telling a story, supplying a reader with real value and creating a real relationship between author and reader (rather, they just want to collect mailing list subscribers so they can spam them…) They remove themselves from the “system” they are gaming, and see it as just that – a system to game.
To them, it is a game. And thanks to Amazon’s lackadaisical attitude, they’re winning.
It’s readers and real authors who are losing. Because of the crap (real crap – now we know what it looks like) flooding Amazon’s virtual shelves, because of the keyword-stuffed or deceptive titles muddying up the search waters, real authors and readers are the ones who lose in this game. Readers can’t find what they want to read (I know, as a reader, I can’t find anything on Amazon anymore in the Kindle store, because of the keyword stuffed crap) and authors can’t compete with scammers internet marketers who could care less who they hurt with their scams.
They do hurt people. Real people. Because KDP Select is paid out of a communal pot, there is a finite number that decreases when scammers internet marketers decide to make “books” their “business.” Except they’re not writers, and they don’t really care about books. Or readers. Or the self-publishing community. Their idea of “paying it forward” is to monetize their scams “knowledge of the system” and sell it to others so they, too, can be scammers internet marketers.
Not once do they talk about craft–about plots and voice and point of view. Those are pesky details they outsource to someone else. They’re not even providing outlines – just pointing to the best-selling trope of the hour (what is it this month? is it shifters? billionaires? navy seal shifter billionaires?) and letting the ghostwriters do all the heavy lifting. While they sit back, package and re-package the “work,” publish and republish titles (sometimes dozens of times – and Amazon doesn’t care) with new ASINs when they drop too far in rank (to gain those extra five free days in KDP Select) and find any possible way to scam internet market themselves as high of a paycheck as they can manage for the month.
Never once thinking about or caring about the authors who are writing real stories, for real readers, who can’t humanly produce on the mass level in the digital sweatshop environment these scammers internet marketers have created – where Amazon has allowed them to flourish. This is where we all work now, thanks to the scammers internet marketers.
Thanks to Amazon.
I hope Dave Koziel meant it when he said he could understand why authors were angry with him – perhaps his video is proof that maybe, just maybe, he’s growing the seed of a conscience. Maybe he’s finally thinking, albeit a little too late, whether or not he should do something, instead of focusing on whether or not he can.
But I don’t live in a fantasy world. I know Dave Koziel and those like him are just doing what they do. They’ve found a lucrative hunting ground, and they’re going to continue doing what they do (while occasionally justifying or spinning it in a YouTube video) until they can’t do it anymore.
In the meantime, authors and readers continue to lose – and their trust in Amazon wanes.
Excite Spice has over 10,000 subscribers now and we continue to grow at a steady rate. We’ve found some of our best advertisement has been the availability of new boxed sets on Amazon for readers to discover.
To that end, we’re putting out an open call for stories to include in boxed sets that will be used to draw in more readers to see your books! Excite Spice is still just $5 for you to advertise in (and many of you have seen good to great results, depending on your promo) and will always be free for readers to join. I’d appreciate your help in making Excite Spice another great platform and option to profile your work.
I will be putting these boxed sets in KU at $0.99 for borrows.
If you are interested in being in any of the bundle/boxed sets, click the link, fill out the form, and attach your manuscript. At the moment, I don’t have any dates or deadlines. I’ll assess what kind of interest I get, collect stories/novellas until the boxed sets are full, and then determine a release schedule.
-LENGTH: stories should be 5K or longer
-HEAT: bring it! Anything that isn’t Amazon-blockable
-THEME: see below. Have an idea? Pitch it!
-EXCLUSIVITY: Can be already published, should only be available on Amazon (for KU purposes) during publication
-TERMS: 90 day publication with automatic re-up for 90 days (unless bundle is performing very poorly) – so a 6 month KU committment.
The Erotica Readers and Writers Association has been around since 1996. It pre-dates my foray into the erotica genre by ten years, and is coming up on its twentieth anniversary. Adrienne Benedicks has run it from the beginning, and I remember finding my very first publisher (Stardust, now defunct) on their Author Resources page. Adrienne is now retiring – and moving to greener pastures and a warmer climate! She felt it was time to pass the baton, and I was honored that she thought of me.
In recent years, as Amazon (and other retailers) have pushed back against erotica authors, I have seriously considered giving up on the genre altogether. But in the end, I simply can’t walk away from something I’ve invested nearly ten years of my own time and energy into. Besides, I love erotica as a genre. And I love erotica authors. I have never met a more fun-loving, open-minded, good-hearted crowd of people. Erotica authors are the first line in the defenders of the freedom of expression. They go places others are often afraid to venture, and tackle topics that far too many shy away from.
I have some great ideas about how to develop the Erotica Readers and Writers Association into an even stronger community and resource for both readers and authors that I’m sure I will be implementing in the future, but truthfully, what’s in place right now is a gold mine that, I’m afraid, too many people don’t know about!
For instance, did you know that the Erotic Readers and Writers Association has a lively discussion list? In fact, they have several! The Parlor is a place where everyone can discuss whatever’s on their mind, Storytime is where authors can offer their work for critique, and the Writers’ List is a place where authors can network and talk about all things writing related. I’ve been a part of those discussion lists for the past year, and it’s been a great experience to connect with new erotica authors and erotica lovers.
For those who are already a part of the ERWA, I want to assure you that I have no intention of dismantling the site or bringing a bunch of new changes in too quickly. The site has grown and changed organically over the past twenty years, and I imagine it will continue to do so over the next twenty years.
Self-publishing and the rise of ebooks have given erotica a newfound freedom of expression that was unheard of twenty years ago. If I look into my crystal ball to see what the next twenty-years holds for erotica, I have to admit, it’s a bit cloudy. But I do know one thing – as a genre, erotica isn’t going anywhere. As long as there are humans, the expression human sexuality in all its forms will be explored by the most daring and adventurous of writers, and read by the most curious and open-minded readers. That much I do know.
My hope is that erotica’s future is so bright, we’ll all have to wear shades.
But wherever the future of erotica as a genre may lead, I intend to be a part of that, for a long time to come.
Erotica authors were impatiently waiting for July 1, for a look at the new dashboard and the opportunity for a glimpse into the Bezos crystal ball at what they might be paid for the month of July, when the Kindle Unlimited changes took place.
Looks like the numbers are (kind of) in… and the outlook is rather dismal. Erotica shorts authors knew it was going to be bad. I just don’t think most of them thought it was going to be quite *this* bad. Because it looks as if authors will be making about $0.0057 per page. That’s slightly less than half a penny a page, folks.
This was every erotica shorts author’s face when they heard this news:
But we’re erotica authors. We are the most versatile, adaptive and scrappy bunch of people I have ever known. And if Amazon thought we were going to take this lying down?
Bwahahahahahahahahahaha. Then they don’t know us very well!
Introducing the #releasetherate campaign
The objective is twofold:
1. Get Amazon to tell us how many people are borrowing our books, without which our page counts are utterly useless
2. Get Amazon to tell us how much they mean to pay us – NOW. IN ADVANCE. No more of this, “Enroll your books, choose to go exclusively with Amazon, and we’ll tell you later how much you’ll make” crap!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQ)
1. We don’t want to make Amazon mad at us!
Look, if we don’t stop this ride now, we may never be able to get off. And this particular ride ends at welfare-ville. So let’s not go there. There are plenty of erotica authors who have made a nice living from writing. And we are satisfying a very voracious readership. Why shouldn’t they have books they want to read, too? And why shouldn’t we get paid for them?
2. We’ll just opt out of KU and distribute our books everywhere!
Yeah, losing 50-70% of my erotica shorts income? I’m mad.
Erotica authors are awesome. They provide you with some great, fun, thrilling, and let’s face it, damned hot stories to get lost in – they deserve to be paid for their work. Don’t you think?
I really don’t think a short story’s worth should be judged by the time spent reading or writing it. O’Henry would be appalled by this new system. Plenty of people pay a hefty ticket price to ride a roller coaster. That only lasts minutes. The length of something should not determine its worth.
AUTHORS: WHAT YOU CAN DO
A. PULL YOUR EROTICA BOOKS FROM KU. If you want to keep your longer romances in, great. But if you have erotica get it OUT.
B. COMMENT, LIKE, SHARE THE FOLLOWING FACEBOOK POST & TWEET:
Don’t yell. DON’T USE ALL CAPS (even though I am 🙂 ) Be nice. Concise. And clear!
Tell Jeff, hey look, this is simply a courtesy for business owners. We need to know these things to run our business.
-Show us the borrows. How many people are actually borrowing our books?
-Show us the money. How much are you actually going to pay us?
-Tell him you pulled out (heh). I understand not everyone will. But if you pulled out, yell it from the rooftops!
D. ASK EVERYONE YOU KNOW to email firstname.lastname@example.org We want him inundated with letters. We want him yelling, “Oh Em Gee, STAAAAHHHHP these self-published authors, Jane, get me off this crazy thing!”
Here’s a form email you can give to your readers:
Hello, Mr. Bezos
I am an avid reader, and I am contacting you today on behalf of my favorite authors who participate in your Kindle Unlimited book subscription program.
Under the new reporting system, authors have no idea how many individual people are borrowing their books through KU. This is vital information and authors NEED to have it. Please amend the KDP reporting system to share this information, which you are already collecting anyway and shared up until July 1, with authors.
Also, authors have no idea how much to expect to be paid. The email they received today suggests the payout could be as low as $.0057 per page. As a reader, I want as many authors to keep as many books in the KU program as possible, and it would help if Amazon would tell authors how much they’re going to be paid. It’s not fair that they have to guess and hope for the best when they sign up for KU and give up the fixed royalty rates they receive outside the program.
TEXT YOU CAN USE TO SHARE WITH YOUR READERS
(and feel free to right-click and use the graphic at the top of this page).
Many of you know that I’ve been a HUGE proponent of the Kindle Unlimited program. It’s allowed me to gain a broader readership and new fans who would have never discovered me without being able to borrow my books and take a chance on them through KU.
That said, you may not be aware that Amazon made massive, sweeping changes to the KU program starting today. Beginning today, they will only be paying based on pages read, rather than books borrowed.
This change has left authors in the dark regarding royalties since Amazon isn’t telling us how many readers are borrowing our books or how much we’ll earn for each page read.
How can authors make good business decisions without knowing how much money they are earning? The short answer is, we can’t. And that makes many of us question whether we should remain part of the Kindle Unlimited program at all.
That’s why I’ve joined #releasetherate, an author-led initiative with a simple goal: getting Amazon to release more information to authors. We’re not asking for much. We’re asking for two small pieces of data that Amazon can easily produce that will help self-published authors make informed business decisions.
1.) Number of units borrowed per book — Amazon has this data; they have been providing it to us since the Select program began. Why withhold that number now? The only reason is to confuse authors. Give us the total number of customers who have clicked the “Read for Free” button on our book’s sales page. Or, at the very least, give us the total number of customers who have read a minimum of one page of our book.
2.) #releasetherate – Authors are aware that Amazon has a ballpark rate-per-page-read that they are expecting to pay for Select and KU pages read in July 2015. We hope it’s not the .0057 cents per page based on the June 2015 Select Fund and pages read, a rate that would decimate the income of many authors and make it impossible for us to remain part of the Kindle Unlimited program.
If you’re an author or reader who feels that Amazon should #releasetherate, please help us spread the word by sharing this post.
And if you’re as angry and frustrated about the lack of information being provided to authors, as I am, please let Amazon know by sending an email to email@example.com and letting him know that withholding basic business information from authors is making many of your favorite authors wonder if Kindle Unlimited is really the right program for them after all.
Well, authors and readers, the heyday of erotica shorts filling Kink Kindle Unlimited may be coming to an end. I hope you made hay while the sun was shining, authors. And readers, I hope you got your fill of the all-you-can-eat buffet that was Kink Kindle Unlimited while it lasted, because many of the erotic shorts that glutted the program may be going back to sales-only and being distributed wide, if the rumblings of authors about this new “pay-per-page” system is any indication. I know some (non-erotica) authors who think this is a great thing!
For erotic or non-erotic authors, this is a slide toward being paid by the word. And not words SOLD, like our old friend Charles Dickens, but words READ. If I go into a restaurant and order a steak, but I fill up on drinks and chips and salsa, do I get to send the steak back because I’m no longer hungry? No. If I buy a DVD but never open it (I have Keanu Reeves in “The Day the World Stood Still” AND “Pumpkinhead” on my shelf still in shrinkwrap… sad…) do people not get paid for it? Uhhh no. If I get sick in the middle of a movie and spend 3/4 of it in the bathroom, do I get my money for admission back? No. If I pay for concert tickets and my car breaks down on the way, do I get my money back? No.
So why in the world would an author not get paid for a sale/borrow, based on the initial interest of the consumer to buy/borrow it? Why are authors opting into Kindle Unlimited (the best place for a self-published author to make the most money with the vendor who happens to have the largest share of the ebook market) now going to be paid by “pages read?”
Because Amazon’s been losing money on Kindle Unlimited. And this is a way to “spin” it to make it look as if Amazon is actually listening to authors, while screwing both short and long writers. Yay! Oh wait…
One particular piece of feedback we’ve heard consistently from authors is that paying the same for all books regardless of length may not provide a strong enough alignment between the interests of authors and readers. We agree. With this in mind, we’re pleased to announce that beginning on July 1, the KDP Select Global Fund will be paid out based on the number of pages KU and KOLL customers read.
So those of you who were complaining that “short erotic dino porn” was glutting up the Kink Kindle Unlimited program and eating up all your precious borrows in the global fund pot? Be careful what you wish for. You got it now. I guess we’ll see how many people are actually reading to the end of your 500 page epic fantasy tome. 😉
I predict that many “shorts” authors will opt out. (Poor Chuck Tingle – from $1.30 a borrow to… probably less than a $0.99 buy would net. But I guess we’ll see! Not that I’m dissing Chuck Tingle – if there’s an audience for Sharknado, there’s an audience for anything!) Not that you should, but many may, just out of fear. But shorts are, in our attention deficit world, not necessarily a bad thing. Erotica writers have always written short – and we’ve generally been paid more for it, too. (Much to the chagrin of authors in other genres!) But for those, like this guy, who say that anything under 30 pages is a “scam?” Dude, go tell O’Henry that, eh?
I know there are scammers out there who have been taking advantage of the Kink Kindle Unlimited program – writing (literally) 500 words, throwing it up there with provocative covers and blurbs to make people one-click, and boom! Just opening it is 10%, so they now collect $1.30ish per borrow. And that sucks. There are always a few bad apples, right? But let’s not lump shorts writers in with scammers, okay? To each their own. If my readers want to read a hot little short about an illicit relationship between stepsiblings, why not? That’s not a scam. Nor is it or should it be penalized, simply because it’s short.
I predict that mystery, thriller/suspense and horror writers will make a killing. People read those books to the end to find what happens! I predict short chapters with “cliffhanger” endings. I know people have been complaining about serials and cliffhangers – but I think we’ll see more of them. Because cliffhangers! I predict the sweet spot will be 25-35K. 50K at most. I predict pages of short, snappy, untagged dialogue! 😉 Oh the places authors will go…
As a publisher (and self-published author) I had some questions for Amazon about the new system. Below is a summary of what I was told. I’m providing it to you as information. Do with it what you will!
**Borrows will be displayed as PAGES now instead of BORROWS. So TOTAL number of PAGES (not broken down by number of borrowers) will appear on the report where the “borrow” appears now. We’ll be getting no other information besides this. We won’t know the number of people who borrowed each book – will will JUST know the TOTAL number of pages read in each book.
Pages will display and count in the report as they’re read by the reader. This will be when a user syncs up. Whether that’s hourly or monthly. Pages will appear as they’re read/synced, and you’ll get paid for those during the next payment period.
The 10% rule applies no longer. Pages are pages. They click into it and back out? One page. Click in and swipe left? Two pages. Swipe all the way through the backmatter? You get paid for all the pages.
There will be an SRL (Starting Read Location) determined by Amazon (start of Chapter 1). The ERL (end read location) defaults to the end of the Amazon book. If someone flips all the way to the end, you’ll get paid for backmatter pages. However, linking from the TOC to the end of the book? That would be two pages, no matter how many there were in between.
They do not have “average number of pages read” information up to this point (yeah, sure) and cannot provide that information currently.
Page averages will be done using the new “KENPC” system. The current page estimation system will change to the new (KENPC) one once the new KU rolls out in July.
You only get paid for pages once. If they read the page again, it doesn’t count.
Rank – ghost borrows for rank will still have the same effect. A person borrows, rank goes up, but they may never open or read the book, meaning you may never get paid for it. But authors will still get the same rank boost for being in Select.
For the first 90 days, everyone enrolled in KU will be able to opt out AT ANY TIME. You are NOT TIED TO THE 90 DAY PERIOD. This is the best and most important news (which is why I saved it for last? heh) This will apply for at least the first 90 day period of the new system.
So authors, if you’re thinking of jumping ship, Amazon wants you to stay. They’ll let you opt out as you wish for the first ninety days. Clearly, they’re trying to prevent a mass exodus here. That, of course, will depend on how much a “page” ends up being worth. And we’ll have to wait until mid-August to find that out…
Ooooo a cliffhanger! I see what you did there, Bezos…! Curses!
After getting such conflicting information about whether or not we were going to get just the metric, “borrowed pages read” replacing the number currently in the “borrows” column, or whether or not we were going to get “borrowed pages read” AND “number of borrows,” I asked Amazon to clarify.
I was told that they have been getting an overwhelming amount of feedback (you go guys! 😉 ) about not getting BOTH the number of borrows AND the number of borrowed pages read.
In light of that, they are CONSIDERING this as an option. They cannot say that it will be out by the time the program is implemented in July, nor can they say that they will ever give both numbers (number of borrows AND number of pages read).
But they have heard the outcry from authors, which has been far bigger and more vehement than they expected, and they may introduce both numbers in the future.
For now, we’re going to have to deal with “borrowed pages read” replacing the number currently in the “borrow” column.
P.S. EROM and EROTICA AUTHORS: www.excitica.com: When KU stops paying you, come to the dark side. We have cookies! 😀
Excite Spice has over 4300 subscribers now and it’s growing! We want to grow even more! To that end, we’re putting out an open call for stories to include in boxed sets that will be used to draw in more readers to see your books! Excite Spice is still free for authors to advertise in (and many of you have seen good to great results, depending on your promo) and will always be free for readers to join. I’d appreciate your help in making Excite Spice another great platform and option to profile your work.
I will likely make these permafree OR I will put them in Kindle Unlimited at $0.99 for borrows (for a 90-day time span). If I do the latter instead of the former, you will get paid (minus Excessica’s 10%) and if any individual bundle receives a Kindle Unlimited bonus, that will also be split among the authors.
I will also be putting something of my own in all of these bundles myself. So if you ever wanted to be in a bundle with me, you’ll have those bragging rights. (If it’s something still worth bragging about?)
If you are interested in being in any of the bundle/boxed sets, fill out these forms. At the moment, I don’t have any dates. I’ll assess what kind of interest I get, collect stories/novellas until the boxed sets are full, and then determine a release schedule.
-LENGTH: stories should be at least 5K or longer
-HEAT: bring it! Anything that isn’t Amazon-blockable
-THEME: see below. Have an idea? Pitch it!
-EXCLUSIVITY: Can be already published, should only be available on Amazon (for Kindle Unlimited purposes)
-PAYMENT: Author split (minus Excessica’s 10%) if book is priced at $0.99 in Kindle Unlimited.
After a rocky start in March of 2014, we’ve now opened our doors again with a fully functioning web site that will ultimately become THE home for erotica and erotic romance!
EXCITICA is run by Selena Kitt (that’s me!) New York Times bestselling and award winning author of erotica and erotic romance fiction with over one million authored books sold. She has run her own publishing company at eXcessica for six years and has been one of the most vocal authors against the corporate censorship of erotica. She has developed eXcitica to create a home for erotic works of all flavors.
EXCITICA like the rest of the distributors, still doesn’t allow underage sex, bestiality (although shifters are fine, even sex in shifter form!) or necrophilia (vampires excepted!) but we do allow many of the things the other distributors don’t, like incest, pseudoincest and nonconsent.
What does EXCITICA do for erotica and erotic romance authors?
First and foremost, we give you 60% of your profits! W00T! Cha-Ching! Secondly, with Selena Kitt’s brand and name behind it, EXCITICA will soon be known far and wide as the place to go for HOT reading!
Small Publishers: You are welcome! We have room for your entire catalog and the uploading interface is simple!
Taboo writers: EXCITICA is home for you! EXCITICA will be known among readers as the place to go for the books they can’t find anywhere else. Like yours!
Erotica writers: Even if you publish “just vanilla” erotica (and we all know that’s still HOT!) EXCITICA will be your home too! Readers who read taboo don’t JUST read taboo erotica and your books will be there to discover when they want something a little bit different!
Erotic/Romance writers: No one can live on taboo alone – and if you are an author paying attention to the market, you know that dark erotica readers don’t just read taboo and dark erotica – they read romance too. A lot of it! And they’re going to like yours! And if you write dark erotic romance? (And we all know how hot that genre is right now!) You’ve found your real home with EXCITICA!
What does EXCITICA do for readers?
One of the biggest problems with erotica at the big distributors is categorization. Some have none at all. Amazon, the largest distributor of ebooks, added a few token categories to erotica – two years after Fifty Shades of Grey was first published! It’s hard to find the erotica you want on the big distributors (especially since places like Amazon often go out of their way to actually hide it from you, using the ADULT filter on certain titles!) and it’s even harder if you’re looking for anything out of the ordinary or taboo.
That’s one of the things EXCITICA has strived to do – categorize things for readers (and writers) so that every fetish, every niche, has a place and can be found. The better a writer categorizes their work, the easier time a reader will have of finding it. From incest to pseudo incest, to cuckold to dubcon, to gangbang, pregnant, or creatures, EXCITICA has categorized it ALL! And if you write it or read it and you don’t see it? Contact us, we’ll add it!
Am I worried about EXCITICA being censored or shut down?
Only mildly. Of course, writing in the genre has its risks. I think we all know that, and it’s been proven over and over as the corporate jackboot of censorship has come down harder and harder on our necks.
But my goal in creating EXCITICA was to give all erotica, in all its different flavors, a real home. A SAFE home. A place where almost everything was welcome, and readers nor writers would feel ashamed about it. To do that, I had to be sure that we wouldn’t go through any more drama like we did during the Paypal fiasco.
But the good news is that, since Visa clarified its position about paying for the WRITTEN WORD when it comes to erotica (and Paypal reversed its decision not to pay for “certain” type of fiction) Paypal has nothing to fear, and neither do we. EXCITICA will accept Paypal – and Paypal has publicly stated they are fine paying for any and all erotica that doesn’t have nudity inside the ebook.
That means EXCITICA does have a few tiny rules:
We do not publish picture books of erotica. Graphic novels and comics are welcome, but photographic stories inside ebooks are not.
We do not publish bestiality (shapeshifters are fine) necrophilia (unless you count vampires) or underage sex.
No sexually active characters under the age of 18. References to past relationships and sex before the age of 18 is fine, but no detailed sexual content with characters under the age of consent in the U.S, is allowed. We require that your work have an legal age disclaimer stating that all characters are above the age of 18.
You should be approved right away and you can start uploading your books!
NOTE: We are in a soft launch right now – we’re still working out a few bugs here and there, taking feedback from authors and readers alike. We won’t fully launch (with big time advertising, contests and all that exciting stuff!) until the beginning of the new year. But we DO want to hear from you, so please contact us if you have any feedback for us!
And we would LOVE it if you’d check out all our social media profiles, “like” us and spread the word! And if you want to keep up with what we’re doing?
As an erotica author, every time I get a letter from Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) in my inbox, I have a brief moment of panic. If you’re a self-published erotica writer, I’m sure you know the feeling. When erotica authors get notices from KDP, it’s usually the Amazon Book Team writing to tell you to bend over, because they’re about to screw you in one fashion or another. Today, however, I received a very strange email from KDP – although I suppose it’s no surprise, they’re still asking me to bend over and be their bitch.
By now you’ve all read Amazon’s latest PR move in the Hachette feud. I’ve kept my opinion to myself in this matter, for the most part – at least in terms of my blog – because I don’t have a dog in this fight, a pony in this race, a chicken in this… well, you get the idea, let’s not beat a dead metaphor. I’m not a Hachette author and I’ve never been legacy published, nor will I ever likely be, nor am I (technically) published by Amazon or any of their imprints. Taking sides in this fight, to me, is like being the grass rooting for one of two elephants fighting overhead. Either way, I’m about to be trampled. But I’m an erotica writer in the self-publishing world, so I’m used to it by now.
Apparently, Amazon wants me to take up arms and protest against the horrible injustice being carried out by legacy publisher, Hachette. Amazon (seriously MIS)quotes George Orwell, they claim Hachette hasn’t played fair, and essentially come across as a whiny girlfriend who thinks we should all get together and beat up some guy she doesn’t like – a guy she’s actually been cheating on us with all along behind our backs.
So Amazon is asking me to take sides – to specifically choose their side. Why should I do that?
Most self-published authors would jump if Amazon said how-high – and many of them will, in this case. I won’t. I’ve heard the arguments of the Zonists. Yes, Amazon has given self-published authors a platform they never had before. Yes, Amazon has offered up their store/traffic to self-published authors, which is far greater than we could have generated on our own. Yes, Amazon markets self-published books, their algorithms/also-boughts drive more sales, and they process secure payments and hand us money every month. But they haven’t done so out of the goodness of their hearts. They haven’t done so because they truly value authors as content creators and want to invest in our collective futures.
I know, because I’ve been spending my own time actually helping authors, for years, before Kindle even came to the forefront – I started Excessica to help not only myself but other authors like me, who wanted a chance to run with the big(ger) boys. (At the time, it was a little outfit called Fictionwise – but they were the biggest dog in town!) I spent a lot of my own time and effort and money (when I could have selfishly been creating more of my own content, mind you, which would have made me far more cash in the long run) editing, doing cover art, formatting, uploading, marketing for other authors. I did it because I DO value authors as content creators and I DO want them to make as much as they possibly can from their own work (which is why Excessica only takes 10% – and we didn’t take anything at all in the beginning.)
Does Amazon put its money where its mouth is when it comes to truly valuing authors as content creators?
No, I’m afraid they don’t.
Amazon likes to say they support self-published authors, but what they support is their own bottom line. They use us when it’s in their best interest (like when Amazon came knocking on my door, desperate to increase their numbers, asking Excessica’s 100+ authors and 500+ titles to go all-in with Amazon KDP Select before it was first announced) and discard or discount us when it’s not (who found out about Kindle Unlimited before it was unveiled? Anyone? Were you asked if your KDP Select book could be included? Of course not–they already had you by the balls under contract in KDP Select for at least 90 days…)
Of course, that doesn’t let Hachette off the hook. They don’t support authors either (and, to be fair, treat them even more poorly than Amazon currently treats self-published authors). These are two giant corporations in the middle of a feud, and like all “feudalists,” (ha) they believe we peasants/authors are around for their profit and amusement, to be used at will and tossed aside when we’re no longer of interest. Ask any midlister whose contract has been cancelled how sympathetic Hachette is. Ask any erotica author whose account has been cancelled by Amazon how sympathetic they are to “their” authors.
Hachette has already pulled out their big guns, asking their authors to name-drop and get involved in this fight, and like trained monkeys, they’ve danced to Hachette’s tune. Now Amazon is attempting the same trick–see, Hachette, we have trained monkeys too, says Bezos! In fact, our trained monkeys are even better than your trained monkeys – look how many of them we got to sign a petition! (And we didn’t even have to take out a full page NYTimes ad to do it!) Amazon asked authors to CC them in their emails, I’m sure in part so they could tally up the number of responses and rub it in Hachette’s face.
The fact is, Amazon is using me again. They want something from me that will pad their bottom line–and they’re taking money out of the pockets of the very authors they’re asking to support them! They tell self-published authors to ask Hachette to “stop using their authors as leverage” – while Amazon decides to use “their” KDP authors to try to leverage their own position in their little feud! This is Amazon-logic. It’s the logic of elitists, of a 1% who think the 99% consists of stupid sheeple who simply do whatever they’re told. Because if you follow this action to its logical conclusion, self-published authors are being asked to slit their own throats. I’m being asked by Amazon to tell a legacy publisher to capitulate, stop colluding, and lower ebook prices to reasonable levels. Why would I do that? If legacy publishing keeps their prices high, self-publishers benefit. We can easily, consistently undercut agency pricing, every time. That’s a huge advantage. Amazon wants me to tell Hachette to lower prices so they can sell more books – so that Amazon can sell more books – and in the end, decrease my own piece of the pie?
Gee, Mr. Bezos, if you wanted me to bend over and take it, you could have at least offered me some flowers and candy! Maybe if Amazon had started by offering me a higher royalty, it might have softened me up a little? I mean, there are a lot of things, and I mean A LOT, that Amazon could do to sweeten things up for self-published authors. They could do them out of the goodness of their hearts. Of course, they won’t. They could do them because they value self-published authors as content creators and believe they should receive a fair wage for fair work. Of course, they won’t. They could do them because they want us to say “how high” when they say “jump.” But, apparently, they feel they don’t have to. Apparently they think they can yank up our skirts and give it to us whenever they feel like it. Amazon = alphahole? Not a bad analogy…
If you want me to put out, Amazon, perhaps you could, oh, I don’t know…
1. Give self-published authors an Amazon representative. Every self-published author should have one – that’s only fair.
2. Give self-published authors back the pre-order button. You took it away when you deactivated Mobi as a publishing platform and never gave it back. Now you dole it out to authors you feel are “worthy” of the pre-order button.
3. Allow self-published authors to join Kindle Unlimited WITHOUT exclusivity.
4. Give self-published authors something reasonable – say 60% of list price for borrows – in Kindle Unlimited.
5. Hachette got to pay for coop on Amazon to get their books out in front of the reader – offer the same thing to self-published authors. Why can’t we pay to get our books out in front of readers too?
6. Hachette gets full control over their books – including choosing more that two measley categories for each book. (Or, in the case of erotica, just one!) Give self-published authors the same treatment.
7. Stop serial book returns. You give readers carte blanche, let them return dozens of books, and take money out of self-published authors’ pockets.
8. Define your terms of service more clearly and make your policies and guidelines transparent.
9. Actually TELL us when you’re going to start a program like Kindle Unlimited and ASK if we’d like to be included, rather than opting us in and telling us we can opt-out if we like.
10. Let us make books free at will. Let us price at whatever level we like. In fact, let HACHETTE price their books whatever way they like too. Let the free market be… you know, FREE.
Those are just ten easy things Amazon could do to sweeten up their relationship with self-published authors, to show us that they take us seriously as content creators. Just as seriously as they take Hachette and the other legacy publishers. Will they do them? Oh, maybe. Eventually. In their own time. But not because they value self-published authors. That, I’m afraid, is a delusion. Self-published authors talk about being afraid of biting the hand that feeds them, but what they really need to be worried about is being trampled underfoot of the giants fighting over their heads.
To me, Amazon’s letter smacks of desperation. This is a midnight booty call, folks. Do we answer midnight booty calls? No – we have more self-respect than that. Don’t we? I sure hope so.
Amazon’s calling self-published authors to unite and that’s all well and good, but in the end, we have to have a reason. Indies are independent. It’s right in the name. Simply providing a platform for us to sell on doesn’t cut it, I’m afraid. That’s not enough incentive for self-published authors to rally around a retail giant asking us to cut our own throats in order to keep ebook prices down for consumers, while they pay their own warehouse workers minimum wage, cut off affiliates in states where they might have to pay sales tax, and have an overall 6% effective tax rate.
Not that I think self-published authors shouldn’t unite. I believe they should. And some day, there may actually be a good enough reason to compel most of them to do so. I doubt that reason lies in supporting Amazon’s fight with Hachette. But if I were Amazon, I’d pay closer attention to the self-publishing community, because we’re not playing peasant to their feudal lord and we only look like sheep. We’re really wolves in sheep’s clothing, every one of us, and we have quite a bit of bite, especially as a group. Amazon knows this to some degree – they’re trying to activate that rabid capability to their own defense.
What Amazon doesn’t want you to know, what they don’t want self-published authors to wake up and realize, is that we have far more in common with Hachette and legacy publishers in this matter than we do with Amazon. I know this because I’ve been a small co-op publisher since 2008, and have been using Amazon as a distributor since then. In fact, through Excessica, I have more power than most self-published authors in fighting against Amazon’s strong-arm tactics. Most self-published authors, even though they are, essentially, publishers in their own right (they simply have an author stable of one), have little to no power in negotiations with Amazon. Right now Amazon is dictating terms to Hachette. They can choose to play ball, or they can take their bat and mitt and go home. What are you going to do, when Amazon decides to change your publishing terms? When they want to tell you that you can no longer sell your book at $0.99? When they tell you your royalty rate is now 50% instead of 70%? Or 35%?
I know some self-published authors will rally around Amazon, afraid of biting the hand that feeds them, but I also know that many will not. Many authors will find Amazon’s midnight booty call just as offensive and appalling as I did. And in the end, if we don’t unite for Amazon, we may still combine our forces and use our powers for good. Amazon should watch their backs, because self-published authors may unite all on our own – some of us have already begun. The numbers Amazon is trying to leverage surely do exist – but I’m afraid they may not always come down on the side Amazon wants them to. Marie Antoinette threw bread to the peasants and told them to eat cake – before those peasants all grabbed their torches and pitchforks and decided to storm the castle. She ended up headless. In the end, I’m pretty sure the full force of united self-published authors is not an opposition Amazon ultimately wants to deal with.