Jan 312015
 
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By Suz deMello

Amazon is known for its ruthless business practices—it doesn’t merely squeeze competition, it strangles it until it dies.

Amazon currently sells 40% of all new books sold in the USA. Their percentage of the market in ebooks is even larger—perhaps 66% according to the above-cited Salon.com article.

Amazon is not only a bookseller, but a publisher, and it favors its own imprints and minimizes the ability for readers to find its competitors. The most famous example is that of Hachette. Check out Stephen Colbert’s clips on the issue.

Well-known is Amazon’s dislike of sexy covers, adult-oriented books and erotica; it seems to especially target purveyors of steamy books. Though Amazon touts its independent publishing program as a boon for writers, many indie published authors, especially in erotic romance, complain that Amazon’s search engine has made it difficult if not impossible for readers to find their books. The Kindle Unlimited program has cut further into their book revenues. Ellora’s Cave, one of the most prominent publishers of steamy and erotic romance on the web, has downsized radically, citing a massive drop in Amazon sales of its books as the reason.

Well-known erotic romance author Selena Kitt had this to say (and a lot more):

If you’re an erotica writer, you know that Amazon has a double standard. If you publish a title and put it into the “erotica” category, there are certain things that aren’t allowed in the title or on blurb. But if you put that same title and blurb into the “romance” category, it’s fine. Half-naked couples in a hot, torrid embrace are just fine in romance, but strangely, in the erotica category, they’re often filtered and sometimes even blocked.

The loyalty of many customers to Amazon is misplaced. For example, Amazon often does not feature the best online price for a book or other item. A couple of cases in point:

On 30 Sept 14, the price of one of my shorties, Highland Vampire, on Amazon was $2.51. The price at Harlequin’s site was $2.39.

Being the daughter of Brits, I’m a tea drinker and lately have been into using loose teas (they really do make a better cuppa). Initially I had been purchasing from Amazon—isn’t that the place we’ve all become accustomed to checking first? Then I went to the Twinings Tea site and found that I’d been grotesquely overpaying.  My fave Darjeeling at Amazon costs $8.24 and it’s an “add-on item,” which is some sort of irritating practice at Amazon—I couldn’t get the tea without buying other stuff, and I couldn’t find a work-around for that bit of Amazonian weirdness.

The same tea is almost half the price—$4.49—at Twinings.

Like many, I have come to rely on Amazon for so much! I listen to music on my Amazon music player on both laptop and cellphone, and download music from Amazon as well. I’m an Amazon affiliate. I also buy books for my Kindle Paperwhite, which I love, from Amazon.

But maybe it’s time to cut the cord. Why should I fund an entity that seeks to exploit me, maybe even put me out of business?

I’ve taken down my Amazon affiliate ads—that won’t hurt, as they’ve never earned me a penny. I’ve changed my email signature line, which used to direct folks to my Amazon author pages, to instead include my website and blog. Other changes will be harder.

I’m an Ellora’s Cave author. I also have books placed with two other publishers that have disappointed me in myriad ways—see these links:

www.harlequinlawsuit.com  and scroll down to #9 at

absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=194729–scroll.

So I’m going indie. But Createspace and KDP are fabulous platforms for self-publishing. How ethical is it, given my concerns, to use those platforms?

And beyond my personal worries, there’s the greater problem. Amazon sells a huge number of books, films, music and other creative and factual works.

Should one entity control so much of what goes into our minds and thoughts?

Will Amazon destroy erotic literature with its changing algorithms and prejudices? Will Amazon make it impossible for some books to flourish?

Does Amazon threaten our freedom of speech and thought?

***

About the Author:

Best-selling, award-winning author Suz deMello, a.k.a Sue Swift, has written nineteen books in several genres, including nonfiction, memoir, erotica, comedy, historical, paranormal, mystery and suspense, plus a number of short stories and non-fiction articles on writing. A freelance editor, she’s held the positions of managing editor and senior editor, working for such firms Totally Bound, Liquid Silver Books and Ai Press. She also takes private clients.

Her books have been favorably reviewed in Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Booklist, won a contest or two, attained the finals of the RITA and hit several bestseller lists.

A former trial attorney, her passion is world travel. She’s left the US over a dozen times, including lengthy stints working overseas. She’s now writing a vampire tale and planning her next trip.

Find her books at http://www.suzdemello.com

–For editing services, email her at suzdemello@gmail.com

–Befriend her on Facebook, and visit her group page.

–She tweets @Suzdemello

–and posts to Pinterest

–and Goodreads.

–Her current blog is TheVelvetLair.com

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Jun 052014
 
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By Nobilis

There are a lot of things authors have to write that aren’t stories—and because they’re not stories, we often we have a hard time with them. If we are seeking publication with a publishing house, we have to write summaries and query letters. If we’re self-published, or writing for a small publisher without much of a marketing department, we often have to write cover copy ourselves, as well as bios. For some of us, even coming up with a title can be a trial. And, uh…some of us also write blog posts.

This is kind of weird when you come right down to it. I mean, we’re writers, right? Writing ought to be easy across the board, right? But for many of us, it’s not. Writing fiction feels different than writing all these other things. Fiction is fun, fiction allows us to live in that special place inside our heads for a while, the place where miracles are an everyday occurrence. Writing marketing material, however, is firmly grounded in the realities of the commercial world and our attempts to carve ourselves a place in it. We’re not writing from the inside, we’re writing from the outside. We’re focusing first on how the reader—now cast in the role of potential customer—will interpret the words we put down, and how those interpretations are going to affect our careers. There are real consequences.

It’s intimidating.

But keep in mind, we learned to write fiction. We can learn to write this other stuff well, too. With experience comes skill, with skill comes confidence, and with confidence comes accomplishment. We just have to DO it, remembering the three laws of getting sh*t done as writers:

1. Write.

2. Finish what you write.

3. Submit what you finish.

It’s that simple.

What? I haven’t hit my wordcount yet? Okay, alright…

Step one is write. That means put words together. Don’t worry about using the right words, don’t worry about style or spelling or anything else. Just write purposefully in pursuit of your goal. Don’t worry about whether it’s good, just write. This even applies if you’re trying to figure out a title; write one title after another, even the stupid ones, until you’re all titled out.

Step two is finish. That means not only writing through to the end, but also revising, polishing, and editing, almost always with at least three other good pairs of eyes looking at your work. It’s not finished until you’ve polished it—unless you’re Roger Zelazny, and you’re not.

Step three is submit. Chances are, if you’re writing something like this, it’s because you need to, so this step is pretty straightforward.

Okay, how are we looking for wordcount? Good? Alright, then we’re done here. Go write.

—–

Learn more about Nobilis and his work at his…

Website: www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

 

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