Next week, I will be raising the price of that preorder on retailers to account for the extra staff I need to hire to pivot, yet again, for Amazon’s policies.
Amazon’s policies are ultimately to blame. They expect literal perfection out of a book. I currently have one professional editor and sixteen proofreaders. I also do numerous passes on each book.
There are eighteen people working together, and we still miss things.
Amazon has zero room for error. They allow readers to submit errors, and they immediately punish authors for those errors.
This costs money.
At the end of the day, people who use the retailers have to pay for the additional costs this policy creates. If I could charge less at the other retailers, who do not have this policy, I absolutely would. However, I cannot.
Amazon’s policies literally bar me from selling the book for cheaper elsewhere. Here is an example of an older nastygram Amazon sent me, just establishing this policy has been place for a long time and it is enforced:
That warning came roughly 24 hours after I had switched the prices at all vendors. Walmart, which is distributed through Kobo, typically takes 3-5 days to change. But Amazon literally has no chill, which is why I often extend sales on Amazon a few days beyond everyone else. Else I have sanctions threatened against my account.
So, that’s that. If I could charge more solely on Amazon, I would.
Now, onto the Patreon issue, as people seem to be confused.
This Patreon is only charged when there is a new release. Each release will be $5.99. And, because math in the publishing industry is what it is, I am paid substantially more on Patreon at $5.99 than I am at retailers at $6.99. (For the curious, Patreon charges a platform fee of 9%, roughly. Amazon charges $30% plus a $0.09-$0.14 delivery fee per book. Other vendors are typically a straight 30% fee unless I’m using Draft2Digital, which I DO use for some distribution.
So, the math on how this works for you is simple. You pay me $5.99 the first day of the month the book releases. When the book is ready, 3-7 days prior to the retail release, you will get the book.
I have to fix the Patreon notes because of the piracy issue. It was made clear I can’t do my initial plan for 4-6 months prior due to piracy. If I’m being pirated out of the gate, 3-7 days before, I will be pirated 4-6 months before without question.
Piracy hurts. I lose literally tens of thousands of dollars per release. The piracy losses are actually higher than what I earn on my books.
And I still have to pay my staff, etc.
Ultimately, Amazon’s policies mean I need to hire a new staff member to do an additional editing pass on the book. That’s in addition to my current staff. That costs money. A lot of money.
And just like I would expect every employee ever to ask more money from their employer for extra or harder work, that’s how it works. SOMEONE has to pay for the additional staff. Yeah. That person is me. And I don’t pay the cheapest on the market for my staff.
But if eighteen people, at current, cannot get a book to perfect before retail release… nineteen won’t be able to, either. (Because we are humans and humans autocorrect.)
If you found typos… congrats. Your brain autocorrects differently than my staff’s does.
For those of you who feels this is drama… could you pay the extra thousand or so dollars a good new staff member will cost me? Per book?
I am hoping to find a proofer who is a little cheaper than that to help make a corrections list on my older titles, but… editorial is not cheap. That is coming out of the earnings of my new titles, because I’ll be blunt… most of my money comes from new titles.
Someone has to pay for all this extra work, and that someone is me.
If you don’t like that the prices have to be adjusted to cover additional expenses, please go contact Amazon.
Ultimately, their policies are the cause behind the price increases. If Patreon isn’t your thing, well, I’m sorry. I’m still running into hiccups trying to find a way to sell books directly on my website without running into huge tax liabilities.
Should I figure it out, well, you’ll be the first to know. Because I’d love if I could only pay the lower fees to sell my books. It would also let me sell bundles on my website. (And yes, the bundles were removed from vendors because of how often they were targeted by people filing often-incorrect reports.)
But to give you an example, yesterday, the Vigilante Magical Librarians collection was hit. 42% of the errors reported weren’t errors: the reader had wanted me to write in a different style to suit their preferences.
The rest were either actual errors or questionable, so I addressed those. (And by questionable, Amazon does NOT allow authors to just refuse to make changes.)
Read that carefully: Amazon does not allow authors to refuse to make changes. That means if some reader, some random Joe I did not hire or ask for input, submits an “error”, I have to either a: write what the reader wanted or b: get into an argument with Amazon over why I shouldn’t change that “error.”
That’s not okay.
That would be the equivalent of me coming into your job, hovering over your shoulder, and forcing you to justify every single thing you do in your work.
(And if I had been hiring an editor, and they had a 42% error rate in “correcting” errors, they would have been immediately fired without question. As I’m ethical, I would pay them for the work, but they would be fired, and if anyone asked for references, I would report this editor had a 42% error rate. No sane author is going to hire somebody with a 42% error rate.)
So, some of you will surely count this as drama.
This is why my per release Patreon will be remaining at $5.99. If you’re on a budget, you’re covered. You can get the books at the original rate.
But for those who feed the retail system, yes… the cost of additional work and staff is passed on to you. Otherwise, I can’t afford to write, and then nobody gets books.
Better to raise prices by $1 per book and maintain the ability to write, especially considering the additional staff I’ll be ultimately required to hire than the alternative.
And yes, quitting is always an option. It isn’t an option I particularly want to do, but it is an option. The quitting might just be Amazon only and selling my books directly on my website, but in reality, right now… Amazon is the majority of my earnings.
I might have to quit the entire lot unless enough people jump off Amazon, and the reality is… the majority isn’t wanting to jump off Amazon, no matter how much damage the company does to those who are providing your entertainment.
At the end of the day, I am a human. I’m even a human with feelings.
And that means I will maintain my freedom to be a human with feelings and share those feels. I also understand you use me as a way to escape from reality and obtain joy.
But… no, I will not be quiet when a policy, such as Amazon’s, results in mental health problems, illness (physical), and a loss of money. And yes, somebody has to pay for the time, effort, extra staff, etc.
Writers don’t write for free. I love to write, but this is how I pay for my home, feeding my family, and so on. And while my husband and I have discussed trying to move somewhere cheaper, in reality… he has his dream job, and I will not ask him to sacrifice his dream job for lower rent at this point in time. (But some days, I wish I lacked in the morality and ethics required to do so.)
I, also, have my dream job… but with Amazon’s malicious policies, some days, it definitely feels like a nightmare.
In reality, that $1 extra just covers the expenses Amazon creates with their policies. That’s it, that’s all.
But writers are people, too. And we’re absolutely allowed to become frustrated when readers make use of malicious tools that cost us a lot of time, effort, and money–and stress, in the form of understanding these malicious policies can result in our accounts being closed and owed royalties not being paid. And yes, if Amazon closes down an account due to the number of errors reported by readers, we do not receive our royalties.
Even though the books were purchased and consumed. Amazon does everything it can to keep as much money as possible.
So yes, every time someone does submit an error in that tool, right or wrong, it is yet another tally against me in Amazon’s system, that may one day lead to my account being closed.
Right now, whenever I discuss errors with Amazon, the customer service agents always include a line that basically reads (paraphrased): Your account is currently in good standing.
Which makes one message clear: if I don’t provide perfection, my account may no longer be in good standing… and accounts that are not in good standing are not paid.
So, next time you see an author upset over error reports, it’s not just because someone is upset we aren’t perfect.
Our livelihood may be taken away from us at any time.
Food for thought. I hope you have a better day than I am having.