More Amazon.comFail


Jeff Vandermeer posted about the sense of entitlement many ebook readers show in the comment sections of the Macmillan/ threads that have popped up since last week. Take a look; it’s an interesting piece.

One thing I think he’s missing is the anger and resentment of self-proclaimed indie authors, who seize on any opportunity to lambaste large NY publishers and their many, many rejection letters. The common indie author shouts of “Last century’s business model!” and “Useless middlemen!” and “Getting between authors and readers!” have been rhetorical weapons the 9.99 Boycotters have snatched up and brandished with gusto.

In the meantime, I’ve disabled the links in the sidebar of my blog. I’ll reinstate them when Boneshaker (and other Tor titles) are restored. It won’t mean much to the Big River Flowing Through All Those Tubes, but it’s what I can do at the moment.

Last, there are four entries in the Valentine’s contest (although not all of them are on the correct post). I’ll be listing my top three tonight sometime after dinner. Last chance to enter!

2 thoughts on “More Amazon.comFail

  1. Though I think that down the line, and probably as little as 10-20 years, any even moderately successful writer is going to be sorely tempted to jump ship.

    If you’re getting 10% of an eBook’s cover price, the eBook format doesn’t need to be anywhere near ubiquitous to make it.

    For instance, I self-published some RPG stuff via — going non-exclusive with them I get 65% of the sales price. I can’t see that going down and I have to think that even their 35% cut is high given that an ebook uses almost zero bandwidth. Given that novels are a larger market, there’s going to be more online services competing to distribute.

    To publish to PDF all you really need is your story, plus cover art, which you can get at a pretty high quality for less than $1000. Then you’d want editing and type-setting. Type-setting is dirt cheap — a one-time investment in InDesign, or even just print straight from Word. Given the simplicity of layout for a novel it’s a good option.

    As far as the publisher’s role in advertising, it seems to me that it’s primary advertising target is bookstores. I’ve never seen an advert for any book I’ve purchased. When I bought Child of Fire it was because Bill Martell’s blog recommended it and I like the genre.

    The other books I’ve purchased recently have been entirely through Amazon’s recommendation spider-web (i.e. other people who bought this book also bought…) leading me to some really nice stuff by Charlie Huston and a couple good spy novels. AFAIK, there is no charge for this kind of ‘advertisement’. A web-seller creates this in order to sell more stuff.

    The last value the publisher adds if they’re not actually publishing, is that they’re a filter. That’s definitely value-added for the consumer. But it’s not 55% of cover price value.

    And since successful writer’s no longer need the stamp of approval as soon as they become successful, every future John Grisham and Stephen King will jump ship and just pay somebody a flat fee to proof-read and format their stories. I think even lower end successes like Jim Butcher would find that route too worthwhile.

    So publishers will dwindle in importance and as they do so, their last remaining true value — as filter — will also vanish. But filters are necessary, so some other filtering system will take their place.

    Print publishers will continue to exist, but I think they’ll be little independent places and print on demand houses for people who want books as collector’s items.

  2. And yet, even successful authors like John Scalzi, who’s making six figures from his fiction, aren’t talking about walking away from their publishers. Most authors don’t, and don’t want to.

    Sure, there are always a couple of people who want to go it alone, but it seems to me that most writers are against

    You can believe that’s because they don’t know their best interests, but I’d suggest they do. Publishers add a lot more value to the final product than you assume. I don’t want to buy InDesign and learn to lay out a book badly. I don’t want to export from Word. I want my books to look professional.

    Look at the pages here. Skim through.

    Now, I was originally going to link to a couple of self-published efforts over there, because so many of them are so wince-inducing, but that wouldn’t be fair. I probably couldn’t do any better, because I’m a writer, not a designer. And I don’t want to art direct the cover of my book. Even if I dropped an even thousand (my covers cost more, btw) I don’t have the skills or talent to decide what would be right for the book and what would be wrong.

    What’s more, I don’t want those jobs. I’m a writer.

    Really, Stephen King could have walked away from his publisher years ago. He could have started his own, hired someone to find the people, kept the profits for himself, and been a big cheese.

    He hasn’t. He knows the value his publisher brings to the final book.

    To sum up, none of us really know what’s going to happen in the coming decades. Ebooks are 3% of publishers’ sales, but ebook readers act like the core audience. Will it grow beyond 3%? Absolutely. Will it push out paper books? Maybe. I’ll have to see it to believe it.

    I do know this: Almost all of the people saying that writers will soon be able to put out there books without publishers are people who don’t actually work with publishers.

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