Hi everyone. Yeah. I’m going to talk a little bit more about my own experiences as an indie author, which have not all been wonderful. I hope you don’t mind that I refer to notes every now and then, because frankly, the material is important. It’s important for you to understand what happened and how it happened. And what I want to get into a little bit today is the history of indie publishing in terms of the importance of Amazon, the significance of Amazon. Okay. I mentioned before that everything was really great in 2011 and I thought, Oh, you know, I’m selling well, people like my books, they’re putting up good reviews. So the more books I write, the better I’ll do. Right? So I’ll just keep coming out with a book a year and hopefully everybody will keep buying and I’ll do great.
So as indie authors, we are basically freelance writers who write fiction. We are freelancers and any freelancer will tell you that it is a mistake to rely for most of your income on one big client. That is a very well known freelancer rule. It pays to diversify.
I didn’t, I mean, unless they happened to like my Facebook page or something, and even then Facebook is not a great marketing tool. I hate to say, it just isn’t, you don’t get a customer list out of it. You get a contact without an email. So how do you stay in touch with your most devoted readers? That’s something Amazon cannot do for you or won’t do for you, anyway. So that was a big mistake, relying on Amazon so much, but it was at the time unavoidable because you had Amazon, you had Nook, you had Smashwords, and Amazon was doing everything in its power to grab hold of everything. Pretty much of all the markets in everything. Now, as you may or may not know, a hearing recently took place in Washington, D.C., and Amazon was one of the big tech companies that went before this subcommittee, and I’m not going to go into the politics of all this.
Facebook is not a great marketing tool. I hate to say, it just isn’t, you don’t get a customer list out of it. You get a contact without an email. So how do you stay in touch with your most devoted readers? That’s something Amazon cannot do for you or won’t do for you, anyway.
I just wanted to mention that because they are subject to antitrust scrutiny at this point is what I’m saying. But I could have told you that was going to happen. But anyway, people were signing on, indie authors were signing on. The date in question is December 8th, 2011, which has been identified by Mark Coker (the founder of Smashwords) as the day indies lost their independence, or may have. Well that’s, you know, maybe, maybe so, maybe not. But we certainly lost a lot. We lost a lot of marketing power. We lost a lot of our ability to make a living. People were signing up in droves for this thing called KDP Select where you could be exclusive for three months at a time and be able to give your books away for free or all sorts of promotional things you could do. I don’t know.
I mean, to me at the same time Amazon was using retailers as their–what was it, their free showrooms or something like that, you know? They would say, “Oh, you see a price at Wal-Mart that you think we can beat, just tell us about it. You know, you see it there, buy it from us.” I thought that was kind of shitty. And so, on the whole, I just refused to get involved. I didn’t want to, I had never planned to be exclusive with them. I signed up for something, non-exclusive distribution, and then they changed the terms on me. And it’s like, hang on here. Just hang on. There’s something very wrong going on here. So I won’t get into all of the history just yet, but that date, that is the date that things really started to go wrong for indies.
I had never planned to be exclusive with them. I signed up for something, non-exclusive distribution, and then they changed the terms on me. And it’s like, hang on here. Just hang on. There’s something very wrong going on here.
And I will only finish with a quote from Mark Coker. Mark Coker is the founder of Smashwords. (Here’s my Smashwords profile!) Smashwords has been around since the very beginning of all of this practically. He has consistently spoken up against Amazon’s predatory tactics. Here’s what he wrote in 2018:
“December 8th, 2011, was the day Amazon launched KDP Select and began stripping indies of their independence. The independence of indie authors wasn’t stolen from them. Instead indies were coaxed prodded, browbeaten, extorted, and tricked to gradually surrender it.”
That is a direct quote from Mark Coker of Smashwords, and personally, I agree. Although I would have added the word “bribed” myself. That’s it for me. I hope this made sense. And I hope to talk more about it in other videos. Take care.
PS: There are no affiliate links in this post. Nor am I being sponsored or paid to say this.
PPS: And speaking of the man, read this. Yes!