I’m going to be doing a a bit of fortune-telling with today’s entry, a la Winter 2012. It wasn’t me doing the telling, but it still counts, so I’ll redact some parts and get to the point.
She said: I predict in the not-so-distant future, Amazon will segregate indie writers and trade published authors into two separate book stores umbrella-ed under Amazon, separate but equal.
We said: What about our visibility? What about all those also-boughts? What about search terms and keywords? What…what…why?!
We were all worried. But, with a bit of navel-gazing, we managed to convince ourselves Amazon wouldn’t do that to us, because … they just wouldn’t!
We talked ourselves into believing that Amazon, with the freshly minted Kobo store and iTunes biting at its ankle, has a reason to keep us happy so they can stay the course of being the briggest (bright married with biggest, a new word!).
But the truth is this: Amazon would do that to us. And now, slowly, they are.
We are, essentially and in many way, science experiments for the shopping-giant. We are taste-testers, we are tryer-outters, we are eager and clawing for new ways to break the publishing world in two. We’re susceptible to they frothy, pretty ploys.
For example, Select. In its hay-day Select was likened to a gold rush. You took your free days, promoted them on blogs that hung a shingle on pumping free books, and, just like that, you’d “give” hundreds, if not thousands, if not tens-of-thousands, of books away. Each free book was ground down into a scale that converted free to paid, so, coming off an exhilarating free run could likely land you in the PAID best seller list, cha-ching-ching! In the words of Charlie Sheen, #winning.
But then Select changed … and changed … and changed, until blogs were put on notice that their affiliate status could be yanked if a certain percentage of clicks were for free book. Free is now all but defunct. .99 is the new free.
We, Select-authors, were prepared for this, so we bent in the wind and many of us have survived … it had been coming, but still, it changed things. And now, we’re strapping ourselves in for yet another devastating change that will, if our crystal-ball prediction is to come true, spin us around like fucking tops.
It’s not really a secret that on the Amazon boards readers are clamoring for this. They don’t want to see our weak-sauce books mixed with “real” books. They want to see only Harlen and Patterson under mysteries, not some Joe Schmo from the deep south with his genre-bending, piece meal, hard-boiled stuff that’s good but not great. They have pleaded and bemoaned this for…maybe ever? They don’t want to have to slop through the trenches to find a read-worthy book.
And Amazon did as Amazon does … they listened, they put their customers first … they took action.
So, today it came in the form of a “search term” … you can now find Indie books by looking for them. We’re no longer one big happy cluster of books, publisher (or lack thereof) be damned … no, we’re split — them and us. This, dear friends, is a hop, skip and jump from separate stores. Hunker down, it’s coming.
As of right now, at this moment, the search term isn’t easy to find … so I’ll link it:
There we and we’re dressed up: Amazon calls us cool, creative and different.
But not cool enough or creative enough to just be authors. No. Not that. We’re different then regular authors. They pretty much said so themselves.
It feels a little bit like putting lipstick on a pig, no?
On one hand, this is brilliance. For Amazon. They keep their peas in one pile and their carrots in another. They keep the naysayers from staging a coop. They still sell all books, but they’re flexing their discretionary muscle when it comes to just how they continue to do so.
On the other hand, it sucks. I’ve never had a lot of luck with “also-boughts” … but many writers I know have. They get boosts and jumps from big name authors who also write in the same wheelhouse, for many, this has afforded them the ability to quit the 9-5 and just write. I worry for them. I do.
Over the past years many of us indies have tried to break the stereotype of indie books. We’ve tried to come up with great context, worked with great editors, hired out great cover artists. We’ve worked and worked and worked … and now, for all that, we’ll back slide. A book no longer be just a great book … it will be a great indie book … no longer can an author who doesn’t have a powerhouse published behind them be just a great author … now they will be a great indie author. It’s not the end of the world, but still … it feels like regression to me.