Amazon vs Indie Authors
It's time for us to stop relying on giants!
When Kindle Vella was first announced, the majority of writers were thrilled. At least from the few who I follow on social media. They couldn’t wait to start the process of uploading their story into Vella. There were a few who were reserving their judgment on this new Amazon venture (present company included) because we’ve seen this happen before with other start-up and let-die programs they’ve done.
What had new writers most excited? The prospect of Amazon, yet again, doing the heavy lifting of promoting their new baby idea. This opened the doors for not just indie authors, but a niche type. The web serial world. The kind of writers who post their work on Wattpad and RoyalRoad. Where heavy hitters like Pirateaba manage to make a great living earning 5 & 6 figures a month on the content they release regularly and consistently, using a simple site like WordPress. I’m sure Amazon looked at this niche audience and figured they could tap into it. You can’t fault Amazon here. After all, they are a money-making business.
Let me repeat that for the people in the back: Amazon is a money-making business.
Of course, you can argue that all businesses are money-making, otherwise, they would quickly go out of business. But let’s look at Barnes & Noble, for example. They are a money-making business also. And yet they are one thing that Amazon isn’t: A bookseller.
Amazon sells books. But they are not a book-seller only. They sell hundreds. No thousands. No, hundreds of thousands of other products that have absolutely nothing to do with books at all.
And yet, when Amazon trots out “Kindle Vella” every indie author and newbie writer who decides to take a chance and upload their unedited and poorly designed story into it decides to blame Amazon when their first payout is under $0.10!
I’m willing to bet easy money that when Amazon came up with Kindle Vella they were hoping and expecting (as the “Big 4” also do) that the user (ie. you) would do the heavy lifting for them and bring your massive audience to your new home.
Much in the same way that you were expecting Amazon to use their billions of dollars to promote Kindle Vella for you. But why should they? No, seriously? What would they gain from it? They lose absolutely nothing if it doesn’t stand on its own. While you might think Kindle Vella is their baby and therefore they would want to do whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t die? That isn’t their purpose in life. Their purpose is to sell us everything so that we could want for nothing. And believe me, they do a hell of a job.
But at the end of the day, Amazon is not in the book-selling business. So if Kindle Vella happens not to be a money-maker like they hoped, you know what they’ll do? Shut it down. And in about 6 months to a year, there will be Kindle Whatevers. They’ll send us all an email. We’ll all go “ooh - aah” and think up some story we can dump into this new thing. And the whole thing will start all over again.
Do you want to know what should happen? Two things:
First, Amazon just needs to let it go. They really need to just stop trying something new just because they insist on grabbing every last penny from every last corner of the globe. Cause as I said, Kindle Vella means nothing to them but a figure on a ledger. If it makes money. Great. If it doesn’t? They don’t care. There are probably five other “Kindle Vella” ideas waiting in the wings for their shot. And trust me they’ll get their turn at bat soon enough. The question is, are you going to fall for it every time?
Secondly, we (as in indie and newbie authors) need to stop running to Amazon every time they cook up some new money-making scheme. Cause at the end of the day, their money-making scheme is not so you can make money but so they can come up with more loopholes and more ways to keep whatever pennies you bring them. What we all need to do is become self-reliant. We need to stop relying on Amazon to make our direct customer sales. Instead, we need to make those sales ourselves on our own website. Sell our own books from our own online store. It’s the twenty-first century. Don’t tell me it isn’t possible cause I know so many authors who do this already. And yes, I know, but Amazon KDP and Kindle Unlimited just can’t be beaten. And you might be right. But eventually, you can stand on your own. By all means, use Amazon KDP and Kindle Unlimited to build your email list and when you are at a place where you have a large enough superfan base you can rely on, ditch Amazon. By then you won’t need them. It’s the fans you need. Not the big giant corporation who doesn’t care about you and never will.
Okay, I’m going to get off my soapbox now. And the next time I hear someone complaining that Amazon didn’t do enough promotion to help them sell their book I’m going to point them to this post. You gave Amazon nothing to upload your book. What makes you think they owe you anything?
And if you aren’t convinced that the best move is to drop Amazon eventually, answer this question for me: What will you do if/when Amazon should decide only Big 4 authors can use Amazon KDP or Kindle Unlimited? When they decide it’s just too much of a hassle dealing with indie authors?
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