Diversification is good. Amazon’s market share must be kept in check. This is something self-published authors and the Big 5 publishers seem to agree on. Self-published authors stress the importance of placing titles with every available distributor, while publishers and their pundits worry about how much of the book market Amazon currently controls. If these two parties agree, they can’t possibly be wrong, can they?
Not so fast.
There are costs to diversification. The greatest cost is the loss of impetus for change. If we celebrate diversity simply for diversity’s sake, that means we will publish with anyone, no matter what. So our eggs go into and reward shitty baskets.
Discrimination is an ugly word when it comes to people, but it is an absolute necessity when it comes to markets. As self-published authors, we are the customers of retail and distribution platforms. We are the customers. We agree to pay ~30% of our earnings in exchange for the delivery of our goods. We are also paying for a reader review architecture, technical infrastructures, recommendation algorithms, customer service for our readers, and various other services.
We are not paid a royalty. Royalties are doled out by publishers or producers who provide creative inputs. What we offer is a fully-constructed product ready for sale. We are publishers. Every distributor we do business with lures us in with their payment splits, user base, and merchandising opportunities. We pay them for these services. They aren’t paying us for manuscripts. Continue Reading →