Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Great Amazon Suck - Why Other eBook Distributors Don't

How to Blow-Off Any Chance at a Fan Base.

The Great Amazon Suck - Why Indie Self-Publishers Don't
(Cover: Seattle Weekly)
[Rant Alert]

For all the hype about Amazon, you will seldom see any fan clubs for Amazon or its execs. (Just lots of those "smiley" boxes.)

That became crystal clear when self-publishing a few public domain books to KDP Amazon recently.

The pattern became obvious: your first communication is apparently from a computer, not a person. If you're accepted - great! It's a form email!  If you're rejected, it's one of about five responses that computer spits out.

When you answer that, you'll get someone like "Sophie T." or "Ford K." - who won't answer any query other than a single terse sentence or short paragraph.

Nice bedside manner.

There's nothing about public domain that any of the other distributors have any problem with. They all accept it - no questions asked. They let the market take care of it. And will even pay you like a regular author. Only one other distributor will make you take a lower royalty is Kobo (who says that 20% is  "standard" - compared to Amazon's 35%. But Kobo doesn't mess you around with impersonal emails.)

Having "done the dance" with Amazon over public domain, I've found that they positively will make your self-publishing life hell - and it doesn't mean anything to them. (Example: in every single email - other than the glossy "your approved" ones - they threaten your account.)

Amazon really, really only wants original works.


I've just never had any problems at all with publishing everywhere else virtually anything I wanted, testing all sorts of various texts to all the major distributors. Only Scribd (which isn't a major distributor) has some sort of "duplicate content" script which auto-rejects anything they already have.

Aggregators (like Smashwords) won't accept public domain or PLR at all. Lulu will accept it, but won't distribute it. And those two questionably fit as "major" distributors.

Kobo will flag a book if you don't declare it public domain - but that's an easy fix.

No emails flying back and forth, no suspense, or angst.

In the middle of these Amazon tests, there was a short interaction with an editor who claimed I "infringed" on his work. He was very charming in his first email, but then wouldn't reply to other requests for data (such as emailing Amazon that we'd handled his problem.) My "infringing" book is still blocked, and I'll have to make another version of it and go through resubmission process again.

All for a silly Kindle version. (No, Amazon won't block a hardcopy book. They can't be sued for that.)

What that editor doesn't see is that his reputation - and that of his company - just lowered a few notches. There's seems to be a seedy side to this industry - where people are unimportant.

The moral of this story: treat people like people. Treat them like you'd like to be treated - or better.

What you send out is what you'll get back.

Hope this helps you with your own business.

PS. This reminded me of some work I did with a character who had a problem with being criticized (not my first time). He was himself critical of others,   constantly, behind the back or to the face of everyone around him. I blogged about it to vent - much like this, keeping it all anonymous. Of course, he searched this all out. After our association was over, he sent me a final email, which gave me the links to those posts. Of course, "it was all my fault." But the email itself wasn't worth even reading. His final email just confirmed what he felt about all humanity, not just me. All he will ever attract to himself are those who use critical comments to boost their own self-esteem. The truly talented and gifted will move away from him - he's just shutting down any creative impulse they offer, as an attempt to protect himself from imagined slights. Sad, but everyone dances their own way.

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