What Wednesday: Indies and the Vitriol Against Amazon

What Wednesday: Indies and the Vitriol Against Amazon

Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of vitriol against Amazon from indie authors on my feed. I haven’t clicked any of the articles they’ve linked to because I’ve mostly been fixated on their comments: ‘I won’t be surprised if Amazon fails.’ ‘All they want is money.’ ‘Amazon will collapse.’ ‘Amazon never does anything good.’ So on and so forth…

I’m astonished by these comments because our careers as indie authors wouldn’t exist without Amazon and its Kindle. Amazon is the reason why self-publishing is becoming an increasingly acceptable way of getting one’s book out there. Amazon is the reason why so many careers have launched. Amazon is the reason why there are successful authors out there that agents and big publishers wouldn’t give a chance. Amazon is the reason why many indie authors were able to find publishers, albeit much smaller ones. And Amazon lets our publishers and us put books on their website for free.

We receive 70% of the profits. We can list books for free to get our names out there. Amazon has opened up so many opportunities out there for writers whose voices would otherwise not be heard. I have one author friend who is successful because of Amazon. She found a literary agent, but that literary agent could not find a publisher for her, so she eventually had to drop her agent and fly solo. And she has Amazon to thank for this. I have another who is still with his literary agent but opted to self-publish the book the agent had since so many publishers kept rejecting it. He has Amazon to thank for this. I have Amazon to thank for making it possible for my current publisher to exist.

As indie authors, we’re really shooting ourselves if we wish for the downfall of Amazon. The downfall of Amazon can mean the downfall of our careers; I don’t foresee another online retailer being able to overtake Amazon’s ability to sell books, unless this retailer is able to create an e-reader far better than the Kindle–which is difficult considering the Nook couldn’t beat the Kindle.

I am grateful for the existence of Amazon. Yeah, book sales aren’t any easier, but at least When Stars Die will have a chance on the market, a chance to find new readers. I don’t wish for Amazon’s downfall. This is like wishing for the downfall of my own career. For now, most readers flock toward Amazon when purchasing books online, so Barnes and Noble or Smashwords or Lulu or whatever aren’t going to help book sales for many indie authors if something happens to Amazon.


You can now pre-order When Stars Die! preorderYou can purchase it here.

The Reality of What Indie Authors Make–It Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

The Reality of What Indie Authors Make–It Isn’t What I Thought It’d Be

I added this old man in for laughs.
I added this old man in for laughs.

Rachel Thompson recently addressed the topic of the reality of how much indie authors can truly make. I apply this to people who are even traditionally published, be it with a small press or big press. First-time authors end up finding out that they have to use their advances to pay for the marketing of their book, but with the proliferation of the internet, there are some cheap alternatives to actually get your book out there, and there are plenty of authors who have found success with the internet alone.

Now I don’t know what sales on my book are, but they might be low, and they might not be. I’m just starting out, so I hope to get to where she gets one day. I mean, really, the reality she seems to posit is actually fairly good, compared to the reality of most indie authors, which is actually much lower for the average one. But I suppose you just have to be business-minded to find success with this market, and I am not–hence, why I have a publisher.

Rachel Thompson, on the other hand, uses much of what she makes to pay for travel to conferences, conferences, Google Adwords (which is such a difficult thing to use that her husband has made a business around it), still having taxes taken out of what she makes, paying money to market her social media effectively, editing of all books (which is understandable, considering she is indie), and the fact that she still has to have a day job–which, well, most authors do.

Okay, so let me break it down for you on the figures Rachel Thompson puts forth. She makes 36,000 dollars per eighteen months, which is about 2,000 dollars a month. Me being with a press and all, I could live off 36,000 dollars a year, 2,000 dollars a month, considering where I live, too–this is assuming I’m not having to sink money into marketing costs myself–also, the fact that I will be getting married to someone who makes about that much money, so our incomes combined would allow me to be a full-time writer. I actually use some of the money I make at my part-time job to pay for blitzes and other things that help increase exposure, as well as my publisher helping out with the marketing aspect of my book.  So perhaps this post is preaching more toward people who are with small presses or traditional houses, where they don’t really have to sink too much money into their own books.

In any case, after all costs, Rachel is left with 7,000 dollars, which isn’t even the average advance a first-time author makes. In fact, a 7,000 dollar advance from a house is pretty darn good. She says this covers 3.5 months of rent, but if she’s working another job, she still seems to have 7,000 dollars left over.  She admits she isn’t complaining, but when I was going into her article, I expected the figures to be abysmally low for an indie author, and they’re apparently not.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is that I would kill to make 2,000 dollars a month for my book, even if I did have to sink it into the marketing of my book. If 7,000 dollars were left after it all, that’s extra money to me, extra money to do whatever the heck I wanted with–an advance, essentially. Now I will admit that money is not my priority, but I do want to make money off my books so I could eventually go full-time. However, I may never go full-time because there are other things I love, like editing and PR and all that, and I don’t think I could quit those, even if my writing alone afforded me to.

All in all, I thought the figures she would posit would be much lower–which is the whole point of this article. To me, she is very successful, money-wise, to be making 2,000 dollars a month, even if most of it has to go toward the marketing of herself and her books.

Now tomorrow I will talk about how much I do love marketing my own book–and how all authors, even with big houses, should do so. After all, that book is their baby, so why wouldn’t they want to help out with marketing it? You can’t rely on your house alone to do so. 

***In Other News***

There is a cover art contest going on–I think it is, you can’t really see the covers–and I would love it if you could all vote for When Stars Die. The top ten people will receive something awesome. So just click here. Thank you!

What Writers Owe Readers and Vice-Versa

What Writers Owe Readers and Vice-Versa

tumblr_mmvohvsRXb1rnvzfwo1_500Okay, so I’m really sorry, but I don’t remember where I received the link for an interesting Huffington Post article I read yesterday that was essentially a rant more than a column (it’ll probably show up in my related content feed, so you’ll probably find it at the bottom). However, I can give you the gist. The writer of this article I read believes readers owe writers nothing and writers owe readers nothing in return. The writer feels this way because of a FEW entitled writers angry that reviews aren’t being left for books readers have read. Now, in this light readers really don’t owe writers anything. The book is there for their entertainment, not for the purpose of being reviewed or to help a writer’s career. So if they want to buy a book at a second-hand book store, that is their business and not the author’s.

However, I believe we writers do owe readers a good book, but we also don’t owe them the book they want.

In any case, I found a flaw in the article. It was very hateful, to start. Essentially we writers should be left to our own devices to drown in our careers. Sure, we can posit all we want that readers owe us nothing, but then when does that stop? Mid-listers and small press authors and indie authors depend on reviews to be noticed, depend on reviews for sales, depend on reviews to make money. If we impress upon readers they owe us nothing, they really will owe us nothing and then it’s very possible our careers as writers will flounder. Then we won’t be writing and readers won’t be reading.

I have 40 interested reviewers for my book so far. I am allowed to expect that they owe me a review or a quote in exchange for a free ARC. Does that make me entitled? I don’t think so. I am depending on reviews, word-of-mouth, to really push my book out there, and if I’m not getting those reviews, I’m going to be upset. You just got a free book. Write even a one sentence review. I don’t care if the review of my book is bad. Even bad reviews can still garner sales because readers can read that review and still discover something in that review that they like that the reviewer didn’t like. I’m not going to be hurt. I’m not going to attack you. That is your right as a reader. I am just going to be grateful you took the time out of your schedule to give my book a chance at all.

Now outside of giving free books in exchange for reviews, readers don’t owe us anything. They bought our books. That should be good enough. I am going to be grateful to every reader who buys my book, even the ones who bought it and discovered it wasn’t their cup of tea. They gave me and the book a chance, and that is enough.

The mentality, too, that writers owe readers nothing is a little dangerous. Sure, we owe them nothing insofar as to what we want to write, but we owe them a darn good book because a darn good book will help our sales. A fantastic book is the best way to ensure good sales, along with an expanding base of followers THAT YOU INTERACT WITH. A darn good book will also foster literacy and hopefully inspire people in their lives and affect a change in their lives. I certainly want my book to inspire someone.

I don’t write for the money. Period. But if I spend years pouring everything I have into a book, I expect compensation of sorts. You wouldn’t expect a chef to give you a free meal without some sort of compensation so don’t expect a writer to give you a free book without some sort of compensation either.

The arts seem to be the one thing where receivers of art hold this entitled attitude that we should starve for our work, while all other vocations are expected to receive compensation. We need to put more value into our arts than that.


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Publishing Snobbery

Publishing Snobbery

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I see it everywhere, on Twitter, Facebook, you name it. Traditionally accepted authors are being lauded as some golden goose while their deals appear in PW and are mentioned by other supposed big shots. Then there are those who choose to self-publish, and no one really pays them attention because they want their book out, the whole proof-is-in-the-pudding thing. Self-published authors will only receive their congratulations once their books have been read already and their ratings and rankings are good. So traditionally published authors get parties before their books even go to editing because they’ve made it through gatekeepers.

Then there is me, me who is with a small press. While I received congratulations and rounds of applause, I have also come under scrutiny by people who either don’t know me well or people surprised I got accepted in one shot. I get it. People do need to be more aware of small presses because there are presses out there with hidden fees, presses that are in fact vanity presses, but I’ve done my research, know my rights, and I take full responsibility for the contract I signed. I am not going to profess to be a publishing guru because I don’t work in publishing. I am simply publishing’s writer. But I know enough not to fall for a scam, and I hate being put under scrutiny just because I am with a small press.

I don’t need to be babied, and I certainly don’t need to be made to feel like my small press is somehow inferior to one of the big six simply because it doesn’t have the money the big six does.

Call me an indie snob, but do you truly know why I ruled out the big six a long time ago in favor of small presses? Because I think the current model is failing the mid-listers. I don’t know if I’d be a mid-lister, but I’d rather not take that chance. I’d also rather not query for ungodly amounts of time, then have to wait even more for an agent or editor to read what I’ve written. Life is short. Dreams can end in an instant. I’m so glad I subbed to AEC Stellar on a whim. No agents. The only gatekeepers were the owners themselves. It’s empowering to me to take charge of my own dream like that. Now I have a contract, and while there is still a waiting game in some aspects, my book is under a freaking contract. It’s not one of those binding ones, but it’s still a comfort.

Scrutiny can help small publishers grow, but it gets to the point where writers are picking apart every facet of it. “Oh, they still use mailing lists? RED FLAGS! SPAM!” Really, people? If I talk like I know what I’m doing, then treat my publisher the same. It’s my opinion small presses and indie authors are going to be the future–you know, the way it was when presses were first launched.

I honestly don’t care if you had to break diamonds to get your literary agent. I’ll give you your congratulations, but don’t expect me to treat you like Jesus. I’ll start lauding you once I read your book and love it. Same goes with small presses and indie authors. Congrats all around, but that will be all until I see your final product.




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