Note to Indie Authors: Brace for Hard Landing

Yep, that’s you landing ass-first.

Okay, enough is enough, powers that be. It started after reading CJ Walley’s “Amazon Studios; A Warning to All Screen Writers.” That was followed by “Amazon Is Punishing Authors for Running BookBub Promotions.” (I’d link to the article, but the link has been cut. No, I’m not  kidding.) Yet the pièce de résistance came when I learned from Andrew Liptak that Goodreads is changing its giveaways program, making it harder for readers to discover indie books.”

Consumers will know and love Amazon for its ridiculously low prices and crazy delivery times. Writers – and the publishing world as a whole – will know Amazon for the bully it is. I suppose the easy argument here is that you don’t become the juggernaut Amazon has become by playing nice. Just as every person on a reality TV show has been saying since “Survivor” gave the word a questionable meaning – “I didn’t come here to make friends, yo.” – so too does Amazon know that making enemies is of no real importance to them because they, like Walmart, have such a commanding market share.

But Goodreads? Come on! I’m particularly sensitive to the Goodreads Giveaways because I once benefited from it…when it was free! It was one of the few ways indie authors could promote their books to audiences they would otherwise (most likely) never reach.

For example, if not for the Giveaway, Aditi Saha (then the #1 Book Reviewer at Goodreads, now #7) would never have read my first novel, A Father’s Son, and I would never have had the chance to make her acquaintance and be honoured with a five-star review.

Was it not enough that I, as the author running the Giveaway, had to pay $40 in  shipping (plus the cost of the book) to get Aditi a free copy to her home in India? I guess not. Now Goodreads wants to charge a hefty price (see above article for details), and an even heftier price if you want premium “shelf space” on their Giveaway page.

Really, this just seems like overkill on an industry that barely survives as it is. With Amazon’s apparent attack on BookBub, its alleged viciousness with screen writers on Amazon Studios, and now Goodreads effectively saying that if you want to reach a global audience, you’re going to pay through the nose (which will already be bruised, battered and bleeding), it’s going to be tougher than ever for indie authors to reach people outside their immediate friends/family/market, let alone make a few bucks along the way.

A sad day, really.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Note to Indie Authors: Brace for Hard Landing

  1. A sad day indeed, Richard. I learned that we have to be careful what we get behind, especially when it comes from a large corporation. Sadly, I guess we tend to learn it a little too late. However, as you say, you can see it coming from someone like Amazon but not Goodreads.

    My biggest issue with all this is the barriers it puts up to creatives from vulnerable backgrounds. We’re in danger of making writing the domain of the middle-class upward and that’s absurd for a medium that requires nothing more than a pen and paper.

    • You’re bang on the money there, CJ. Everyone raves about how many more people are writing these days, and how more books are published in this day and age than ever before, but when it comes to critical issues like ownership of rights, royalties, self-investment, etc. it’s become a financial and administrative nightmare for a lot of people. My condolences to you for what you went through…

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