The Amazon/Hachette controversy

I have been watching with amusement this whole thing play out. The established and wealthy authors, you know them, James Patterson, Scott Turow, et al., are all saying that Amazon is messing with the midlevel and entry level authors who need their income from Amazon sales and are being deprived of it because of this long-standing dispute between two mega-companies. To hear them tell it, it is the little guy who is being damaged by this feud. And they’re right, but they don’t say why.

These authors all got big advances because of who they are, and they will never get royalties because their sales will never cover the advances. This is how it works for successful authors. So it is irrelevant to them what gets paid to authors as royalties. All of the Big 5 pay their authors only 17.5% royalty on ebook sales( 25% net which works out to 17.5% of list price). The rest of the money is split between Hachette and Amazon, with Hachette getting the lion’s share. This is pitiful. What Amazon has offered is to pay 100% of the proceeds to the authors while the dispute is ongoing. It had offered to do less earlier and was told that it was a nonstarter. So they upped it to the 100%. Hachette has not responded but all the pro-Hachette authors and groups say that Hachette cannot pay authors more than their contract states unilaterally.

I wonder who their lawyers are for them to think this is true. It is pure hogwash. Hachette has not been negotiating at all, let alone in good faith, so any losses their authors suffer can be laid at Hachette’s door for this delay and this failure of compensation to the true victims of this stalemate.

I am planning on self-publishing my work. The first novel is in the pipeline and the second is being written (and I would still be writing it if not posting here). I am fairly sure I will publish on Amazon’s KDP and CreateSpace. It will be a business decision on my part. Amazon has the broadest marketplace, the highest royalty rate if one wants POD (Print on Demand) to accompany an ebook.

The POD option through CreateSpace allows those without ereaders to obtain the book in paperback form. It is the best of both worlds for readers. They can get a self-published book very quickly, within months as opposed to years with the Big 5. If a sequel (or prequel, in my case) is to be written, do the readers have to wait a year or more? They do not. As long as I keep writing at the rate I know I can, books could be available every two to four months, a half year at the outside.

POD books have one drawback, and it is with the brick and mortar stores. They will not stock POD books because they have to pay for them and cannot return them if they don’t sell. I intend to buy some of my own books and enter in agreements with local bookstores that they can return them to me, if they don’t sell. I can negotiate with those local bookstores because I can make my own deal with them about what they sell for, and who makes what money. This is a freedom I would never have with the traditional publishers.

Am I happy about all this? Let us say I am empowered by it. The books will stay mine, I will hold the copyrights and will not have to worry about my catalog being sold to another publisher. If I want to retract my books (though I cannot think why I might), I can do so. They will remain mine and not go into some black hole from which they will never return.

If you are reading this, you are already part of the digital revolution that is shaking the old school to the core. Ebooks are the future if for no other reason than to stop the wasting of paper and the energy needed to print books that might never sell. If the establishment publishers understood this, we would all be better off. But if they insist on maintaining their high prices, that’s cool. My books will also cost less than theirs, in print or electronically. So bring it on Hachette! Hurt your authors, hurt your end consumers, the reading public. We will prevail for you are on the wrong side of history and this movement. Or understand the future of your business, treat your authors properly and keep a piece of the pie.

What do you think? Please comment!

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