Into The Great Wide Open
Hi folks. It's been a long-ass time since I've posted anything, hasn't it? Well, there's a reason or two. Mostly, I haven't had the time. I've been working a whole lot and as such, I haven't had a lot of time to do anything creative, let alone launch any projects. But I haven't been doing exactly nothing, despite the title of my last post back in April. I did actually start writing again and I'd hoped to have a new book out by the end of the year. Likely, I won't, but there's a pretty good reason for that as well.
But first, we need to have a frank discussion about Amazon.
Understand, when I first realized back in 2012 that self-publishing my latest book as an ebook was the best and most logical direction for my intentions, I spent countless hours researching the best way to do this without being scammed. I did something that I would have thought was a no-brainer and read the terms of service for a number of publishing companies and services. I decided then, based off what I read and anecdotal evidence on a number of websites and message boards, to publish exclusively through Amazon. It was a decision that would prove to be the right one for me. Through Amazon's Select program, I had promotional opportunities that helped me reach a larger audience than I ever could have on my own. Since the introduction of the Kindle Unlimited program, a solid half of my royalties have been from pages read.
I'm forever grateful to Amazon for the role they've played in bringing ebooks and epublishing to the many and I'm even more grateful that through them I've been able to define my own success. For many years, I've advised a number of new authors to take the chance and go exclusive, at least at first, for the much needed boost in exposure. I stand by belief that Amazon has done more for small independent authors than any other platform, but I also can't ignore the larger picture.
Publishing is one tiny component of Amazon. To most people, it's a place full of magical buttons that can be clicked for the near instant gratification of having that thing purchased on a whim delivered the same day. What most those folks don't take into consideration is what happens every time they one-click that impulse buy. It's no secret that Amazon doesn't have the best track record for wages, working conditions, environmental concerns, and a host of other issues. Hell, even those of us who do take these things into consideration are guilty of buying without thinking about the impact my purchase is making.
Rather, I hadn't, but I'm trying to be more mindful now. I'm not opposed to boycotting companies whose values are not inline with mine. Some, such as fast food chains with anti-gay agendas and lower than living wages, are easy to avoid given my lifestyle. Some, such as art supply stores who think they can control my reproductive rights, may sell things I would normally buy at prices lower than other places, but my convictions on said subjects are strong enough that even thinking their name gives me a sense of rage that just isn't worth it. And still others, like mega-stores whose owners are obscenely rich while their workers have to have government assistance to afford to live, are easy for me to avoid because despite selling just about everything right down the street from me, there's another mega-store right next door who also may have views I oppose, but at least pays what I know to be a decent wage and offers decent benefits.
But it seems I've let my Prime membership cloud my thinking when it comes to online shopping. These days, if I have a pressing need for water filters, exercise equipment, or whatever else, I'll check my local options first, preferably with businesses that I know are paying fair wages and offering safe and comfortable working conditions. And while I will still purchase ebooks from Amazon as a means of supporting small authors, it is time for me to look at other options.
I've decided not to re-enroll my books exclusively with Amazon. As each book's enrollment period expires, I'll be bringing my ebooks into a number of other markets, including many library catalogs. This doesn't mean that they'll be off Amazon, but it does mean that I won't be offering the same type of free promos that I have in the past (however, if you think about it, having my books available to libraries makes all of them free for everyone, so there's that). The first titles to come out, appropriately, are my first series, The Eyes of The Sun. The first books will be going live in a few weeks with the whole series to be widely available by the end of October.
This also means that for the moment, my physical books are unavailable. I'm in the process of converting them to another distributor, but given that I've recently switched from a Windows computer to a Chromebook, it's going to take a bit of fiddling to get the updated manuscripts in order.
Understand, this isn't me trying to "stick it" to Amazon. I'm not telling people to stop using them to publish books. Hell, there's still a lot of good that site does, such as wish lists, which allow folks to have others buy things for them while still keeping a degree of anonymity (which is a great tool for teachers who aren't given a budget for classroom supplies-which is another rant for another time) as well as offering a low-cost marketplace for small independent makers to sell their wares to a larger audience. But when it comes to the everyday purchases, I am hoping that other folks will begin to realize that the convenience of ordering anything they want and having it arrive withing hours to a couple of days comes at a heavy cost. I'm calling on Amazon, a company run by one of the richest humans in the word, to take the appropriate action of increasing worker's wages and work safety, as well as examining the environmental impact so many oversized cardboard boxes have. I'm calling on the owner of Amazon to consider this planet and its inhabitants instead of funding a space colonizing pipe dream.
Perhaps, Mr. Bezos, if you're that interested in space, you might simply read some of the many sci-fi titles published on your platform. I can even make some fine recommendations for you. But please, let's try to avoid creating a hopeless dystopia on the backs of your warehouse workers, shall we?
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