Publishing – it’s all about what’s right for you

I had a fantastic weekend at the Southern California Writer’s Conference down in San Diego. Michael Steven Gregory and Wes Albers successfully set the tone for the conference, while their backup band of Rick Ochocki and Cricket Abbott (I know I’m missing names here – forgive me?) do some very heavy lifting of their own to make a successful weekend.

One has to try hard not to have a good time. If you’re looking for rigid or formal – this is not for you. If you’re looking for a relaxed setting where smiles and laughter are the main menu, then you need to come to their next conference in September in Newport Beach. It’s an honor for me to be a part of this conference.

I gave four seminars over the weekend, and in each of them, I brought up publishing options because I wanted to clear the air about this whole “one is better than the other.” That’s not true at all. For some, e-publishing is appropriate. For others, commercial publishing may better scratch an author’s itch. What’s important – vital – is that authors RESEARCH all the publishing options out there in order to determine what is going to offer them the most success.

I really wish I had read Jim Hines’ blog post before this past weekend because I could have added his valuable information regarding Amazon’s DIY publishing options. I had no idea that Amazon carried this much power over an author’s book, which affects their royalties. This is important stuff. For instance, if a bookstore offers a special sale price for our author’s title, they still get paid the same royalty rate. The bookstores – or Amazon – are free to sell the book for whatever they want. They still had to buy the book from us (well, our distributor) for the same price they normally would, so the royalties don’t change for our authors.

But Jim is saying that Amazon authors are at the mercy of arbitrary discounting, which WILL affect their royalties because Amazon is their publisher. Amazon decides to drop a $2.99 book to .99, and the author is only going to get royalties on .99. As Jim says, if a retailer tried that with one of his commercially published books, his publisher would draw first blood. If the publisher tried playing footsie with the royalty rates, his agent would draw first blood.

And rightly so.

And this is when going it alone means sometimes feeling alone because you have no one to do battle for you – or with you. Does anyone think one little DIY author can do battle with Amazon?

Luckily, Jim didn’t loose much money during the pricing glitch because his income stream isn’t dependent upon his DIY books. But what if he’d sold 1500 units? 5,000 units? That loss would have been higher. And who are you going to complain to? Amazon is a huge corporation – not unlike the Big Six – and they are free to make decisions that are advantageous to their bottom line. Nothing more, nothing less.

Author-friendly is a relative term, and no one should be fooled. Take care in not giving your personal feelings too big a voice. Don’t let, “Oh, they’re so benevolent” color your decision-making. Know the facts.

3 Responses to Publishing – it’s all about what’s right for you

  1. Aston West says:

    Ah, but you’re considering Amazon a bookstore with the example above…when in fact, they’re acting as the publisher (I’m assuming this is related to the KDP select program?). If a publisher chooses to discount a title, and if the contract is set on “net” then the author would end up getting royalties on the discounted price as well…

    Unless I’m missing something…

  2. Voidwalker says:

    Unfortunately, I see a huge conflict of interest for Amazon, but hey, they are big and bad and nobody will tell them what to do. 😦

  3. Todd, you’re correct that authors who are paid on net would see a reduced royalty. But I don’t see a lot of publishers who pay on net doing special sales for their books, so the matter may be moot, or very small.

    Voidy, you make a keen observation. We see Amazon as one entity instead of being comprised of numerous offshoots. And because they’re so secretive, it’s hard to find much information.

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