Unless you’ve recently emerged from a three-year coma, you’re probably aware that there is some controversy when it comes to self-publishing on Amazon. There are those who think Amazon is the holy grail for authors and publishing and there are those who believe that without effective competition, they will single-handedly ruin the industry. It’s not my nature to see things in black or white and though I’m admittedly closer to the pro-Amazon camp, I hover somewhere in that gray area between the two. And I’m pretty sure there are others hovering right along beside me.
Amazon is a distribution center that allows authors to market their books and sellers (mom & pop as well as international companies) to market their wares. Amazon has rules. If you piss off enough customers by providing poor customer-service, they kick you out. If you try to sell a knock-off as the real thing, they kick you out. And whether it’s an e-book, a Disney product or an NFL jersey, you’d better have the right to sell whatever it is you’re selling or you’re in BIG trouble and they kick you out. There’s no forgiveness. Once you’re kicked out, you don’t get to come back. Ever. Unless they change their policy.
Overall, I’ve been pleased with my Amazon experience, but I do have a couple of complaints. In a knee-jerk reaction to the outcry against paid and/or false reviews, they’ve gone a little too far (IMO). I’m not sure what criteria they use for determining what is and isn’t a legitimate review, but some valid reviews have been pulled–a review of my book included. Since the number of posted reviews numbers is in the kazillions, I’m assuming they use algorithms rather than assign employees to read through them all. I don’t like it, but as one who carefully picks their battle, I’ve decided I’d rather spend my time writing rather than protesting. For more info on this issue, click on the A new and better response from Amazon at the bottom of the page. This author was more satisfied with their answer than I am, but I’m willing to live with it.
Another complaint–Amazon also pays a lower commission on e-books sold in Europe and so far, I haven’t been able to find out why. If anyone knows the answer, let me know because it’s annoying the heck out of me.
There’s a growing fear that Amazon is fast becoming a monopoly. So where’s the competition? Is there a major traditional publisher willing to stir things up in the self-publishing field and knock the Amazonian giant down a peg or two? After dragging their feet for several years, Simon & Schuster has teamed up with Author Solutions to form Archway Publishing, a division that will give authors the opportunity to self-publish for a fee. Are traditional publishers finally getting on board? And is it a good thing if they do? It all depends on how they go about it. I’m posting two links with opposing viewpoints on the Simon & Schuster/Author Solutions team-up.
The first is by David Gaughran who doesn’t think much of the new division. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2012/11/28/simon-schuster-joins-forces-with-author-solutions-to-rip-off-writers/
The second is by Leslie Kaufman who sees it as a step in the right direction. http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/simon-schuster-introduces-self-publishing-service/
If you aren’t completely confused, bewildered or disgruntled by now, check out the articles below.