(*This blog post was updated on June 29, 2014 to reflect modified number of e-books sold and given away during free Amazon promotions.)
My name is Joanne Lewis. I am a writer but I am not Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Michael Connelly or Stephen Colbert. I’ve had two agents and am now unagented. I had a publisher but now self-publish. I am of the majority of serious writers who write at 3am, when the baby is down for a nap and when not at our paying jobs.
I have five published novels and, as of May 31, 2014, I have sold approximately 21,500 and have given away about 27,750 e-books. That’s at least 49,250 of my books that are out there for people to enjoy. This is beyond my expectations. I am thrilled.
This would never have happened without Amazon.
As I understand it, Amazon wants a bigger cut from the Hatchette Book Group’s e-book sales. Hatchette is a French conglomerate, which includes U.S. imprints Little, Brown & Company, Grand Central and Hyperion. When Hatchette refused to comply with Amazon’s request, Amazon removed the pre-order buttons for Hatchette books, which in turn incensed Mr. Colbert and others.
Amazon says it is looking to strike a better deal with Hatchette that Amazon claims will be beneficial to its customers. Hatchette and its affected authors are stating, in general, that Amazon is a bully who is trying to own the sandbox.
I am not going to claim to know all the ins and outs of this feud however in all that I have read, I have heard little from the voice of writers like me. Writers who would never have had a chance to prove to the world that even though they are not Mr. King or Ms. Rowling, they can design plots and character arcs, create suspense and mystery and provide entertainment to readers.
Amazon has given me this chance. My books are available at Barnes & Noble, on iBooks, and many other sites, yet I would venture to say that 99% of my sales are through Amazon.
Thank you, Amazon.
To me, this battle between Amazon and Hatchette is a case of Goliath vs. Goliath. Is Amazon really protecting their Davids? Is Hatchette looking out for the best interests of their Davids too? Or is this merely about the mighty getting mightier?
I do not believe that when Mr. Colbert tells his readers to not buy from Amazon, that he is trying to steer sales from independent authors like me. He’s trying to bring down Goliath. I get that. However, what I would like him and others to know is that while I understand and respect this dispute, without Amazon, myself and other indie authors do not have the opportunity to sell tens of thousands of books across the world.
I’ve heard the argument that indie authors are part of the problem and that the agent and traditional publishing pyramid allows the worthy books and talented authors to funnel through while keeping the muck out of the way. I dispute this, as the business of publishing and the joy of reading are subjective. Proof is evident through the many well-received books that are not published traditionally and the poor ones that are. Here is the case of the traditional publishing industry wanting to rule the sandbox.
Throughout the world and time, big corporations and conglomerates have arm-wrestled each other while claiming to have the best interests of the populace at heart. I do not know how to settle this conflict except to offer the following:
David slayed Goliath once. How about if we call a truce and let all of us, whether your last name is Connelly or Lewis, get back to the business of writing, publishing and selling books?
Can’t we make room in the sandbox for everyone?