We Have Some Answers!

Rarely do I ever do two posts in one day … however, this is a revisit to a prior post about Amazon and their new incentive program and before it becomes old news, or gets overlooked, I wanted to share this … Enjoy!

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On December 4th I posted a blog about how Amazon was attempting to monopolize the market by taking the lion share of Indie authors, essentially removing our works from the competitors shelves by systematically offering us amazing perks and bonuses.  You can read more about that here.  Very hush-hush in the beginning … the details are now being leaked … it stacked up to almost being an offer you can’t refuse (read: me using my big, bad, mafia voice).

At the time I initially posted, I suspected that Amazon did fear no longer being king of the eReader castle with their beloved Kindle and needed to figure out someway to continue to draw the readers and newbies into their lair.  Whether that’s right or wrong … it does appear that the rumors were true.  Amazon wants you — and they want you exclusively.

Mark Coker at the Huffington Post shed some light on this ongoing issue with his article which can be found here.

Pun totally intended … but man, Amazon has made it a jungle out there.

The brass-tacks are this:

-Amazon is giving up $500,000 per month IF you opt into their lending program … so while you’re not “selling” books, you are still netting a potentially huge profit.  The example given was, if your lent book sums 1.5% of all the books borrowed, you stand to make a tidy sum of $7,500 for that month.  The pool is shared between all authors with no promises … you may do well, you may not.  It’s a gamble.

-Exclusivity deals are signed in 3 month spurts.  You’re not locked for life … but pulling yourself down from other sites like B&N, iBooks and ePub as well as Smashwords, even for that period, can drastically hurt your sales, visibility and really fumble your accurate sales data.

-If you violate the agreement, you may lose the ability to sell through Amazon forever … as in, the rest of your life.

-While the deal spans 3 months at a time, if you fail to opt out at the close of your 3 months, you’re locked in for another 3 … or … read the above dash.

These are things you, as an author, should know.  I’ve always said, when your an Indie — you’re more than an author, you’re a business owner.  All things considered, this must work for you if it is going to work at all.

My reaction to that is this:

I love Amazon.  I own a Kindle, and I do believe it’s kind of magical.  I do a shit-ton of shopping on Amazon, and they are already a monopoly when it comes to me spending my money.  But … that’s me as an individual, as a person … not me as a business woman running my own little thing out here in Indie Land.

Do I think it’s a sweet deal?  Heck yes.  If your sales via Amazon are proven, if they account for most of your business … signing on to this would make you, in the words of Charlie Sheen, WINNING.  You’re selling, you’re lending, you’re moving books, you’re making money … you’re one flippin’ happy ass author.

…BUT…

If you’re new, you stand to really shoot yourself in the foot.  Like, with a 12 gauge shotgun.

I get perpetually stuck on asking myself WWHCD?  WWRHD?  WWLBD?  WWPD?  I doubt they’d be for this sort of business deal. I think they see any limitations as just that … a limitation.

I believe the first 3 months of a new book are so important … especially for a new author.  That’s why PR is so big … the bigger splash you need, the bigger market you allow yourself to breach.  If we’re talking an older book, I might feel differently, but I don’t think Amazon has given that kind of loop-hole.

So my question is …

How do you feel?  Are you going for it?  Thoughts?  Share … curious minds want to know …

 

 

 

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All Your Eggs, One Basket Only — Amazon Continues To Muscle The Market

Right now, the hot topic seems to be Amazon’s continual push to become the absolute end-all-be-all of the publishing world … especially when it comes successful independents.

On the forum I frequent an author recently posted about a deal with Amazon she’s been offered.  An exclusive deal where she would agree to not list her books on any other site — no B&N, no Kobo, no ePub, no iTunes — and in return for her sacrifice, Amazon would help boost her sales with special help, the kind only Amazon can offer.

The author, who also happens to be wildly successful, made note that nearly 80% of her sales happen to come from Amazon … with the other sites coming together to create the lagging 20%.  For her, it makes perfect sense.  Amazon is her readership … that’s where people find her and fall in love.  Taking the deal is simply good business … even if it means giving up the 20% in the other realms, Amazon’s muscle will probably more than make up for that on their end for her willingness.

The details of this deal remain super secret, Amazon is contacting authors privately to discuss the inner workings of their proposal, so the exact terms are unknown and they are asking those approached to keep quiet until a later date … but the floating conversation seems to swirl around the fact that signing on doesn’t mean forever and always, giving authors the back door if they ever need to escape.

It seems to me that Amazon is continuing to push the boundaries of becoming a monopoly.

When Amazon launched the Kindle, it was absolutely the best of the best of the best, and it held its place as King of The E-Readers for a good, long time.  But, B&N has seemingly caught up … along with Kobo, Apple and Sony all trailing not too far behind.

My guess is, if Amazon no longer feels they can beat them in the device market, they will attempt to outwit them in the library department by offering better books with a larger selection for a lower price.  But … they can only do that if we agree … because, lets face it, Random House, Harper Collins, Penguin and the like would never polarize their readers by making titles exclusively available through only one online resource.  Amazon … they need Indies.  We are all sort of like the wild cards, the ones that will take the crazy chances … getting an author to agree to only sell through one online source when so, so, so many are available with the simple click of a button … that’s pretty much a wild idea.  But, who better than us to take a different path?  After all, isn’t that what we do?

Amazon has always been the warm light in the Indie world.  Self-published authors will tell you, with very little prompting needed, that Amazon cares more about them, takes them more seriously, supports them more vigorously than any other outlet combined.  KPD is a true doorstep, once passed an author will find advice, a real person and someone who will help them if they need.  That alone allows them to be the front-runner for those going it alone into publishing.

But … all of your eggs?  One single basket?  I’m not so sure …

I think this it is a brilliant idea for the already published author who has a strong readership on Amazon and knows exactly (as in dollars and cents) what she would be giving up by giving up B&N, ePub and Apple.  For a new author, like myself, it’s probably not a smart business move.  My market remains untested, unknown.

Independent authors have to be more than just writers … they have to be business men and women.  When I think about this deal, I think about traditional publishers.  I think about how they conduct themselves in this literary web … which is almost as new to them as it is to us.  Would they limit themselves simply because Amazon would give them more muscle?  I doubt it.  They understand that the key to selling books is giving the reader — all readers — the opportunity to buy them.

Think about whole hoopla surrounding the release of the Fire.  Amazon was able to ink that exclusive deal with DC Comics, and B&N fired back quickly that they would no longer sell DC Comics in-store because they are all for equal opportunity.  If their Nook Color readers couldn’t buy DC Comics on their tablet, then f-it, they wouldn’t do business with DC at all.  Period.  Done.  Kaput.

When I consider self-publishing, I think of eBooks as only one avenue of sales in a city full of them.  I do want to be carried in brick and mortar stores.  I do want to give readers the chance to find me wherever it is that they find their books.  I simply could not, at this point in time, go along with Amazon.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t support or understand how others could, nor does that mean I won’t ever reconsider when I’m working with brass-tack data.

I think the bottom line is this:

Independent authors are starting to have opportunities.  Some will help us, others will hurt us.  But, we’re being taken seriously enough by big brands that they want us all to themselves.  We’re absolutely doing something right …

**Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below**