Oregon writer, Rain Trueax, and Oregon painter, Diane Widler Wenzel co-author Rainy Day Thought. Diane generally posts on Wednesdays and Rain on Saturdays. There may be extra days or changes as situations warrant. Comments are always welcome and appreciated as it turns an article into a discussion.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

What's next?

Since I just wrote about marketing my writing, I thought I'd throw in this article. I know I have a lot of readers who are writers, would like to be, or have the potential to be. This is an issue much discussed among writers in the groups to which I belong.

If you aren't into the various systems Amazon offers, you may not know about this or how it works. Basically all Amazon authors are offered joining this group. As an author, the price you pay, unless you are a very well known author, is to pull all your books out of the other available on-line sellers. Since I have my books in most of the other available sites (Rainy Day Romances), I'd have to delete them and then take the lower fees that Amazon offers through their unlimited reading KU. This was similar to Prime, which I left when I decided it wasn't smart to only have one vendor selling indie books. Sometimes you do things not just to benefit yourself but also for the good of others. This was one of those cases where I looked at how healthy can this be long-term for small writers.

What I have read, and not just in the NY Times article, is that writers have been hurting after this went into place. Whether they offered their books at KU or did not, their sales dropped. The only writers who did not suffer were either very well-known or had a sizable fan base. 

It's not hard to see why readers like KU. A book at almost no cost and on demand. Choices that look to be unlimited. After years of finding books for free on Amazon, readers aren't willing to pay for what they read-- or if they pay, not much. Amazon is virtually offering them a library at $120 a year. Of course, they won't get all the books they might like as some won't be in it, but enough are to make it very appealing.

Who it is hurting the most are writers who need to make a living at their work. It would also hurt those writers who believed the hype that they must pay a professional editor to edit their books, pay another professional to create their covers, and then maybe pay a publicist. By the time they did all that, they better sell many thousands of copies. But if there are 3 million books out there (not sure how many are in KU), once again, how likely is that to happen? Anyway it's all part of this Wild West of indie publishing.

There is another option for writers. If they find Amazon sets up their algorithms to make their books look worse than those in KU, they can sell other places (and I do get some sales those other places), or even sell direct. It can be done, but it is more work for the writer. Amazon has been a great system for writers to get their work out to the public without having to force it to match the requirements of corporate publishing houses, which can mean censorship of many sorts.

Even things like this blog though may not always remain free or reasonable in cost. We have seen an explosion of online connection, but there may yet be a cost we have not seen. I think it's both an exciting time to be out there but one with a lot of uncertainty as to the future.


Tabor said...

I just posted a little about this on my blog. The technology is a double-edged sword most certainly. Also have a monolithic distributed is not a good thing.

Rain Trueax said...

I like the link you posted in your blog, Tabor. It is the issue. It's good to hear what famous authors think about all this-- Ursula Le Guin

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I know very little about the inner workings of publishing on line or really in any other way....But it seems that Amazon is very High Handed, if I understood what you said.......I don't think it is fair for any of these on-line people to dictate where you can sell your books, OR, put another way....Where you CANNOT!

Wishing you a Very Wonderful 2015, my dear Rain.....filled with Good Health and much Happiness!

Rain Trueax said...

Thank you, Naomi and the same to you. One thing about our culture is $$$ seem to dictate everything. Ranch Boss and I were discussing how the universities should offer first entrance to kids in their states. No one should be blocked from attending if they got good enough grades to qualify. That's not how it is right now and a lot because of foreign students who pay more tuition. My feeling is they should get in after there is space but the reality is universities are about making $$$ also. That's why so much emphasis is on grants and not on good teaching; but if we as citizens don't care, what is the hope any of that will change. Our world runs on what makes the most money :( and not what is best in even the long run-- which would be getting our citizens as much education as possible.

Dick said...

The limitations on what I can and can't do with an ebook purchased from Amazon leads me to almost never pay more than $5 for one and I'd prefer to hold that to $4. If it is a book by a well known author, I'll just wait for it to be out in paperback, then buy it at Costco or some other bookseller that offers a discount on the list price. Because of this though, I've read books by a lot of good authors that are virtually unknown.

Rain Trueax said...

I agree, Dick. Unless I know the author based on other books, I won't pay more either. The drawback to eBooks is that we can't resell them :)

Rain Trueax said...

As an added note to this, Farm Boss was looking at the year's sales for the books and saw the precipitous drop in my sales from the month before to the first month KU was in operation. Of course, to readers this might seem a good thing-- assuming that writers continue to write and don't care about making money at it. Otherwise, they might find there are lots of books. $120 a year is a good deal unless everything you find there are books you could care less about. Time will tell on how it works out for Amazon, writers or readers. I keep saying this is the Old West for the rules and what is being tried. :)

joared said...

Interesting post, Rain, I'll share with writers in my group and check what Tabor wrote. They (names I sent you) self-published as have some others I know. Not all maintain their own web site.

I'm writing but for my family but with no expectation of publishing or even putting it into a publishable book form. Occasionally, I create separate unrelated fictional story lines but have not connected them.

One of our group translates select published Spanish writers books into English -- writes movingly, too.

I've definitely been concerned about the route publishing is taking -- also have been very unhappy with the demise of small independent book stores. I even regretted Border's closing. I used to fantasize about having a little book store.

I've long lamented the commercialization of the U.S. I've seen in my lifetime and so many of our citizens accepting it, even fostering and embracing it. No wonder there are some groups, crude, crass and worse as they may be, in other countries who resist/fear/hate our culture.

Rain Trueax said...

Borders was a big loss to us too. I still miss them when we drive by the empty storefronts where they used to be. That was all about financing and capitalism run amok as many of those stores made money-- just not all of them.

Most bookstores today won't take indie paperbacks even if they are offered for free. They owe their souls and their contracts to the corporations. With so many small publishing houses, which are mostly indie also, it's hard to see why the bookstores take that view. An indie publishing house might have a name but otherwise, there is no guarantee of anything-- for that matter corporate houses do less editing or promotion.

The beauty of self publishing is you can put out your book for small groups without a big investment. CreateSpace charges you nothing to publish your book and put it on Amazon. The price for readers to buy these books is comparable to corporate published books. The only time it costs you something with CreateSpace is when you buy your own copies. If you want to look at a proof, that costs but you can see it online for nothing. To buy your finished copy its cost depends on the length of the book. So under $4 for shorter books with less pages. I think they do a good job but mostly getting physical copies, for me, is about being able to give them away. By the time Amazon adds in their percentage, I sold a paperback recently and got I think $1.39 royalties lol.

I get a better deal with eBooks but I certainly am not in it for the money. I am in it for the joy of writing stories and often ones I know won't suit the romance reader who still want-- hero kidnaps heroine in Part I and she falls in love with him in Part II. There is nothing wrong with them wanting that story nor is there anything wrong with me not wanting to write it-- even if it sells.

You might be surprised at who would like the kind of book you could offer. So long as you don't put too much money into covers and editing, you can do it and just enjoy knowing you created a finished product :). If it turns out to be what the masses want, that's a win/win/win. The writing was the first win; the craft of making it look professional the second; and the third-- if somebody else likes it :)