Where would I be without Amazon?
With the ongoing PR war between Amazon and Hachette (and the Big 5, generally), all centered on an increasingly confusing contract dispute, I’ve been thinking a lot about that ubiquitous online beast. This amorphous Aladdin’s Cave of All Things Retail. And, say what you will about their pluses and minuses – and there are many of both, no doubt – its simple existence has changed countless lives.
As a relatively unknown writer who self-publishes, I now know that what I do will land in the hands of readers. That after it’s beta-read and edited, properly formatted and polished to a beautiful shine, I’ll be able to head on over to KDP, download the book and the cover, hit Publish and, in very little time at all, have my latest work Live.
Ten years ago, in a world without Amazon or KDP, this wasn’t the case. Ten years ago, the manuscript would have sat ignored as I labored over the query letter. It would have gathered dust as I tried again and again to crack some unknown query/synopsis code that would merit the attention of Those In New York.
Ten years ago, my only hope for some kind of a career hid in some tacit “you’re good enough” nod from the Gatekeepers of Traditional Publishing, because, back then, my being “good enough” sat squarely and forever in the hands of Unreachable Others.
Long story short, ten years ago I would not be the writer I am today.
My focus has always been on the telling of the tale. Yes, it needs to be well-written with attention to proper sentence structure and an engaging narrative. And, yes, the characters you create need to be not only unique, but also easy to identify with. These are all basics in the writing of a good book.
That was my focus. Still is my focus. Writing a good book. And, like so many before me, the hoops one needed to hop through to get a good book into the hands of readers who craved a tale well-told were too onerous. This hopping of hoops killed careers before they could ever find their footing.
I know it would have killed mine.
Then along came Amazon.
Amazon opened the doors. Instead of hoops, Amazon offered opportunity. Seeing an industry denying undiscovered talent their chance to be heard, Amazon stepped to the plate.
Single mothers in the Midwest found their romance novels becoming bestsellers. Goth kids dressed in black discovered they’re not alone, their zombie books collecting earnest raves from their peers. Retirees who’d put their dreams of Writing on hold so they could pay the bills and raise a family reinvented themselves as novelists with a lifetime of stories to tell.
Would any of them have found a home with the Big Five if they’d had to hippity-hop through all those hoops? Would these everyday, average, ordinary folks with neither connections nor celebrity been given the time of day by the Big Five if we were still stuck in a World Without Amazon?
In short, what Amazon did was good for writers and even better for readers.
Because Amazon understands that readers don’t care who publishes who.
A recent study (http://authorearnings.com/reports/the-50k-report/ ) showed 41% of Amazon’s genre ebook bestseller list comprised of smaller, indie published books and single author-published work compared to 22% for books released by the Big Five.
Furthermore, and surprisingly, these non-Big Fivers appear to be making more from their work than those who sit under the traditional publishing umbrella ( http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org/do-self-publishing-authors-earn-more/ )
At the end of the day, you simply can’t deny how greatly lives, and an industry, have been changed by this Amazonian opening of doors. A change more traditionally based writers and publishers are still struggling to adapt to.
And I, for one, am grateful. Safe to say, as long as Amazon keeps ‘em open, I’ll continue to walk through, armed with new stories to tell.
Screenwriter, playwright, actor, and author of Martuk … the Holy and The Martuk Series, Jonathan Winn was born in Seattle, WA. He currently lives in the US.
Martuk … the Holy: Proseuche is his second full-length novel and can be found on