This may only appeal to a small subset of readers, but I find it interesting so I thought I’d pass it on. Now full disclosure is I am an Amazon Affiliate, which means that if someone passes through my site and buys something off Amazon I get a small fee. I made enough last year to pay for my webhosting fee (Yippee! Raking it in!)
I buy a fair amount of self-published books, many from this corner of the internet. Stuff from authors/bloggers like Matt Forney, Cappy, Rollo Tomassi,
Ian Ironwood , and Athol Kay and well known self-pubbed novelists like Hugh Howey. For whatever reason, these authors decided to go the self-published route. Besides some general preferences and formatting things that are maybe non-standard in the publishing industry, the content has been high-quality – which is what we’re buying anyway.
Amazon in general is a strong supporter of those of us who decide to self published. They provide 70% royalties on E-books between $3-10, which incentives authors to price accordingly and benefits consumers with less expensive reading options than printed books. In exchange for these high royalties, it is on the author to coordinate all editing, formatting, cover design and so forth to his or her satisfaction, which costs time and/or money to do it properly. And Amazon makes money by taking their cut, plus selling you Kindle’s and the like. The percentages and pricing structure right now appear win-win-win for author, Amazon and the consumer.
Compare that to the traditional Big Publisher model where royalties to authors are somewhere in the neighborhood of 12.5-17.5% of book price. In turn, Big Publishing takes care of all that hard stuff like editing and covers while them and your agent all take a slice of the pie. If you have a good book idea, and Big Publishing likes it, you’ll get an advance – many I’ve heard are maybe $10-30k total. To get paid more, your book has to sell, and most don’t thereby many authors get one kick at the cat for getting paid, then the Big Publisher will end up pulping your books that didn’t sell and squatting on your rights. This means you can’t self-publish unless you lawyer up and buy/get them back (at a cost).
So one of these Big Publishers (Hatchette) is in a negotiation with Amazon, who is being portrayed in the media as a big, bad, bully. Take this CNN/Money article: Amazon stabbed me in the back.
Hachette and Amazon.com have been embroiled in a bitter feud since earlier this year. It’s gotten so bad that Amazon basically told customers two weeks ago that if they want a book published by Hachette, they should go buy it someplace else.
For Miller, a first time author, the timing of the kerfuffle is terrible. She worries that it could destroy her chances of a successful launch.
“I am at risk for being associated with a publisher that has a bad relationship with Amazon,” said the 28-year-old, who works out of her parents’ home in Los Angeles.
Miller says it’s a betrayal, “I feel like I’ve been stabbed in the back by a company I supported.”
I couldn’t help but laugh a little, and not just at the fact the 28 year old is still living at home and feels entitled to wealth and riches from bloggin’ (Ha! Unless you are Tim Ferriss or Mr. Get Rich Slowly or a few others, bloggin’ is fun but isn’t often luctrative enough to win at life unless you hustle like mad). She’s mad at Amazon when she should be mad at her Publisher that she has a contract with. She, and many other authors, are suffering the consequences of the company that is paying them while they are negotiating with a retailer. A negotiation where both side try to maximize their position, which they both have a right to do.
I’ve been following Author/Blogger Joe Konrath (he writes about writing) for awhile now and he has weighed in heavily on this battle for those that want to hear from the self-pubbed crowd. He’s a former Big Published author now doing very well in the self-published side of things. He has multiple posts about this topic:
Guest Post by Michael Sullivan (another author both traditionally and self-pubbed)
Honestly, this stuff doesn’t really impact you or I very much, but when big media like Colbert and Money start throwing mud that is likely undeserved, it ruffles my feathers a little. As one soon to be self-pubbed (stay tuned, July) I like what Amazon has to offer but will also be using other platforms (Kobo, B&N, itunes) as well.
Traditional publishing doesn’t really have a place for those of us in this land of misfit toys, but our messages have an audience, so we make our own way, grinding things out and hustling ourselves since that’s how we roll. It would feel odd to do it any other way. And with the option of 70% royalties, the chances of making a little something on the side is much better than 15% (+/-) royalties the big boys offer, (as if they would want us). Anyways, there you have it, now you likely know a little more about the book-selling industry than you wanted to.
…and I must end with my standard message – keep reading and learning folks, use the local library as that is your greatest free resource on most topics.