“You are a start-up … The next great business is you.” —Hugh Howey
Perusing my morning Tweets I came across a post by Doris-Maria Heilmann @111publishing ‘Is Amazon Really a Great Deal for Indie Authors?’ (here) To summarize the article, Heilmann suggests that while Amazon might have seemed like the savior of the Indie Publishing world at one time, like all great heroes, they have now become pretty much the only ‘Big Dog’ in town.
While its true Amazon might look like they hold all the cards, and have worked very hard to try to convince authors their only hope of success is to put all their novels into the Amazon basket of KDP, I personally don’t think they are the only viable gig in town.
Smashwords for instance, offers authors the same ‘Free’ publishing eBook services, distributing their books in all the major eBook stores (KDP authors can only sell through Amazon) a generous % of the royalties (60% through major e-book retailers; 70.5% when purchased through affiliate e-book retailers; 80.5% when purchased on Smashwords*), an author page as well as the ability to set up a publishing dashboard that will allow a single author to publish under multiple pen names (something this author plans to take advantage of).
While Smashwords may not currently have as long an arm as Amazon, they are, in my not so humble opinion, a more than viable option for those of us who refuse to kowtow to the ‘Big Dog’ propaganda.
(There are other sites such as Lulu, Booktango [just heard about this, haven’t checked it out yet] who offer free, or for a small or not so small fee, e-publishing services and distribution.)
Now we all know Doris-Maria Heilmann isn’t the first blogger/writer to comment on the Amazon’s monopoly issue (and she won’t be the last). But what I haven’t read or heard a lot of people talking about (at least in the world of self-publishing) is the fact that the only reason Amazon has become the largest self-publishing site in the world, is because of the hundreds of thousands of authors who have published through them.
Authors who, even though they have put all their eggs in one basket, are under no contractual obligation to remain with them.
Authors who, because they have already demonstrated authorpreneurship abilities by the very act of self-publishing, have the power to take that pioneering spirit to its conclusion by taking control of their ‘business’ and building their own publishing platform, instead of leaving it in the hands of Amazon to tell them where and when they should publish.
If, and this is a big IF, Amazon has become the Big Dog, it has done so on the backs of its authors.
Which also means those same authors hold the power to change the landscape (unlike the Big 5 who own their authors and their books, for the length of the contract). Maybe not the company (eBook publishing makes up only a small, but profitable percentage of Amazon’s overall worth), but certainly its publishing interests.
In the mean time, sites like Smashwords, who’s only venue is self-publishing, offer authors a larger publishing distribution, a generous percentage of their royalties as well as the freedom to market their products in as many avenues as those authors have time and ambition for.
In my not so humble opinion, just as the uprising tide of tens of thousands of self-publishing Authors helped Amazon to change the landscape of Traditional publishing, so to will those same authors change the landscape of any one single entity who tries to herd them back into a conformity not of their choosing.
In other words, Authors, not Amazon, hold the real power. It just takes time for them to wake up and smell the grass on the other side of the fence.
Sharing the journey,
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*Quote Source – Writers Circle, ‘E-Books: Pros & Cons of the Top 5 #Self-Publishers’ (http://buff.ly/1x7KiXH).