Why authors hate Amazon

I would like to love Amazon, seriously I would, but here’s the thing: Amazon hates authors. I have been working with them for over ten years, and I can tell you right now, their bullying tactics never stop. First, if you are an indie author who publishes with them, there is no contact and zero support for anything. If you are unhappy, something goes wrong, or they screw up, you are on your own— cast adrift in the kafkaesque world of their online queries dept. You should know now, no help is coming. Not ever. Then there is the money. Almost “vulgar to mention it” But here’s how it works. Authors are ‘encouraged’ to sign up for a share of the Kindle money pot. If you do this, Amazon subscribers can download your book for basically free and you trust that Amazon will credit you with a share of the kindle money pot every quarter—or when ever they deem fit. Trouble is, that amount is vanishingly small. And all the while, book scammers are gaming the system, stealing a share of the Kindle money pot with fake and stolen books. This ensures real authors like me lose out. Don’t sign up for Kindle, or KDP distribution I hear you say. Sure—you could do that—but Amazon will ensure your book is never bought by anyone. They do that. I have experienced it first hand. They can also de-list your book or refuse to publish it, or other wise sabotage distribution if you publish with other online distributors. I have experienced that too. Sure you can complain. [remember that kafkaesque world of algorithms and virtual ‘assistance’?] But that’s not advisable. Remember those nice reviews you once had? Suddenly gone. The author profile—shuffled down to the bottom of the pack. And I can tell you right now the Amazon pack runs very deep— deeper than the infernal world of Tartarus—and that, my author friends, is somewhere you don’t want to go. Not ever. Because, once you are on Amazon’s shit list, they will do other stuff to you too. Those paperbacks that you were trying to sell competitively, so they matched the prices of other authors— you will find they are suddenly priced at thirty forty even fifty bucks a pop on Amazon’s online store. Sure the Kindle edition will still be four bucks , but Amazon is taking 99.9%+ of that money. You could complain. [The kafkaesque world of algorithms awaits your query with interest.] De-list you book and go else where? The byzantine world of traditional publishing perhaps? Good luck with that. Once Amazon has got your book and sold a few, they are not letting it go, not ever. It’s in the small print dude. Once you have published a book with Amazon they own it and you. Traditional publishers and literary agents therefore avoid Amazon published books like the plague [Another kafkaesque reference for you] Sure, there are a few exceptions, big name authors who broke through into the bookshop world of “real publishing” but they are a rare breed indeed.

Amazon meanwhile, with its bottomless supply of money and publishing power, plays a good PR game. There are no end of mid level authors who will sing their praises for table scraps, or the chance of a TV mini- series.“It happened to Michel Connelly, it could happen to me!” Sure it could. Keep dreaming kid. The Amazon algorithm, meanwhile, has raised the price of your seven dollar paper back to thirty—forty—even ninety dollars a pop. And even Ernest Hemingway can’t sell at those prices.

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© 2016 by Tony Bulmer.