Today my mother tweeted me an article regarding the future of book distribution. And it scares me to see the literary world heading in the same direction recording distribution has gone: SOUTH. We are all artists in my eyes but the difference (and its a major one) is that most musicians/recording-artists/pop-stars’ money is generated through touring and merchandising. For an author, the tour will cease to exist if bookstores continue to be run out of business by conglomerates, particularly Amazon. Here is a link to the article:
I recently signed a short-term deal with Kindle in which they promised to promote me as long as my e-book editions are not sold through any other retailer. They promised a monthly check for the thousands of Amazon Prime members who would have access to my books for free via the Kindle Lending Library.
My books are my own. They are all self-published through Lulu. I own the rights and can sell them however I wish. When they were finally approved for international distribution last January I knew selling them in print would be hard, especially due to my limited resources and the fact that I have done all of this (the writing, covers, editing, promotion, blog) all by myself. I knew my market was a tough one for print editions but through a website called myebook.com I was able to offer my e-book editions for free.
My books are not written for everyone, they don’t provide an escape from reality because they are based on my personal experiences. However, they are written to provide the reader with insight into their own lives. I do not include personal details such as names, dates, places, etc. My books are lessons I have learned through mistakes I made. Some lessons are recurring because as humans we are prone to make the same mistakes. The reading is difficult for most and provides a different perspective. This phase of my writing forces the reader to look in the mirror. Making a profit was not my intention, I wanted to generate something credible and artistic and based on the countless emails I have received over the years I believe I accomplished my goal.
This past June I reached a total of over 200,000 reads/downloads on myebook.com and felt I could possibly reach a wider audience through the Kindle Select Program. By doing that I had to prohibit my publishers from distributing the e-books so that Kindle would promote them for free. What I failed to realize is their promotional efforts are only used during a five day period in which they allow customers to own copies of the e-books for free. But for me to receive the check I was promised, the Amazon Prime members must own a Kindle.
No one I know reads their books on an electronic device, including me. I have downloaded hundreds of books to read on my laptop but fail to finish a single one because to me reading a book should be a private experience devoid of the multiplying distractions provided by the internet. Don’t get me wrong, I love the internet and would have never gotten any exposure if it were not for the opportunities provided to independent artists. I am blessed to have reached as many people as I have. But with Amazon becoming a monopoly of sorts by signing book deals with up and coming authors, book retail-chains are boycotting them due to their questionable tactics.
I did well during the days my books were offered for free. Kindle did their job and promoted the hell out of them, generating me thousands of downloads across the world and landing four of the six in the top twenty lists of their categories. A dream come true for me due to how personal the material and how many obstacles I have had to overcome. Once the promotion was over the sales ended and I have not sold a single copy since. I am signed with their program until the end of this year and am planning the second free promo schedule to coincide with several of the book’s original release dates. But my future with Kindle will not remain exclusive come 2013. I don’t think it’s proper to limit an author’s audience to one particular device that, according to the above mentioned article in the NYtimes, many retailers such as Wal-Mart have stopped selling.
I will continue to provide free promotions through my publishers and have always chosen the minimum purchase price for both print and electronic editions. Reading this article disturbed me because I consider myself an artist, first. Yes, like everyone else I need to eat and would love to support myself solely through my writing. And I hope to achieve that one day. The first draft of my ambitious memoir, RAW is finally complete and I hope to get some feedback from a professional editor soon. I would love for it to be released as a trilogy but I am willing to negotiate. I just want the story told and my editing skills are limited to poetry alone. I will not self-publish the details of my life. But at the rate things are going in the world of publication, particularly the memoir/self-help genre, I may never reach the masses with my memoir. However, I will never stop believing because without faith my inspiration to write at all is reduced to less than nothing.
If you read this far, thanks and have a great afternoon
- Charles Stross: What Amazon’s ebook strategy means (delong.typepad.com)
- Book publishers have long been playing into Amazon’s hands (guardian.co.uk)
- Why E-book Distribution Is Completely and Utterly Broken (and How to Fix It) (scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org)
- The Truth About ISBN Numbers (writingishardwork.com)