Amazon has struck again in the form of a reader, who was very probably trying to be helpful without understanding the damage they’re doing. (I REALLY understand that most readers who use this tool are trying to help. The reality is… good intentions, shit roads.)
As such, I’m thinking about making some significant changes to how I publish in the future. This is what is being considered:
For all books currently up for preorder…
1: I would be moving all Amazon release dates back a month. (and I am seriously considering cancelling all Amazon preorders and doing live releases when the new editor is done each book.)
2: All other vendors will remain at the same price and release date, with my standard editor team (currently two paid, professional editors and my proofreading team) being used.
3: I will use the payhip store to allow people to purchase directly from me, which will open on release day. (This uses bookfunnel, so people who do use kindle can acquire the book and read on their kindles. Smashwords would also be available, which allows books to be read on kidnles.)
4: When Amazon’s version is released, all vendor prices will be increased by a dollar. Should extra typos be located, errors will be corrected.
There would be no more Amazon preorders.
The increase of price represents the additional editor I will now have to hire because of this “error reporting” tool. (5.99 to 6.99, 6.99 to 7.99, 7.99 to 8.99…) While the book is getting edited again to limit how “helpful” readers can be on Amazon, the other vendors will be able to sell the book. (This would be another editing pass on top of what I’m doing.) (And I literally just hired another editor like two months ago to help with this, now I’m going to have to hire ANOTHER one on top of the ones I already have.) Because yes, it would be a thousand extra to hire that additional editor, and I raised book prices last time to account for the higher expenses… I wouldn’t be getting any extra money at the end of the day with the price increase. I would be breaking even for the most part… (I don’t sell THAT many copies of my books, y’all… I’m not a NY Times bestseller… and most times, I hadn’t been able to hit USA Today, either… I HAVE hit it, but that’s the exception not the rule…)
My staff needs to be paid… and yes, I need to be paid, too.
Amazon currently pays the least per copy, pays the slowest, and has this tool, which puts negative flags on my account when used. (And yes, these readers might get books removed from sale on Amazon due to the report tool being used. Amazon has two methods of addressing errors: (1) they flag the book as being poor quality (2) they remove the book from sale.
You have likely noticed that I no longer offer boxed sets of books, which a lot of people used to enjoy.
Readers reporting errors had gotten the Beginning set removed from sale. (The threshold is pretty low for sales removal, and it does not account for length of the book. It goes by raw numbers. So a very long book, like Beginnings, may have more reports on it just due to length, and get removed from sale.)
Being constantly threatened by a vendor (aka, they threaten they’ll remove our books from sale) because of unverified reader reports (and yes, revenge reports are a thing), is well, miserable.
Would I like to do this? Not particularly. It’s a lot of extra work, I already have $2,000+ in editorial bills on most books. Having to increase this number again (and find another paid editor to add to the process) is a nightmare for me. An expensive nightmare that means fewer books may be produced, as I don’t underpay my editors… they’re working hard for the money, and they deserve a fair pay. Each editor needs a few weeks (usually a month) to go through the book, although sometimes it is quicker, especially if there isn’t a line for the editor.
So, going to $2,000ish for an editorial bill for a book up to $3,000ish for an editorial bill for a book really means that the projects that don’t make as much money can’t be done as frequently, and I will need to adjust my entire game plan for how I release books moving forward.
And then series that don’t sell well? Well, they will take even LONGER to get done, because I need to release more books that pay for those heightened bills.
I take home less than 30% of what I earn right now, between expenses and taxes. Losing an extra thousand a book because of Amazon is not my idea of a good time.
The delay between the other vendors and Amazon would let me, at least, keep publishing on a semi-brisk schedule rather than just move everything back and having to start charging more to everyone again.
And if I could just leave Amazon’s prices a dollar more than elsewhere, I would… but I cannot. That is against Amazon’s policies. (I literally can’t mark anywhere lower than Amazon unless the book is a completely different edition with different content. I could, for example… have a short story exclusive to all other vendors and charge a dollar less for that edition, as it has different content in the book. But if the books are identical, I have to charge the same exact price.)
I am SO very tired of being threatened by Amazon because a reader reported errors in their system.
And yes, I am truly at the end of my rope regarding this system, and Amazon only cares about Amazon, not about the authors. They take the highest cut of any direct vendor… and they offer the least benefits of working with them in addition to the slowest payments.
And yes… Amazon’s tool is going to result in books releasing more slowly, and I’m seriously considering canceling preorders and completely revisiting how to do this career. This has gotten out of hand, it’s horrible for my mental and emotional health… and NOBODY is paid enough to put up with this sort of shit.
I had not budgeted needing to hire yet another editor to do yet another proofreading pass on my books. I’d only budgeted to hire one extra.
But with this tool? It’s going to get to the point, sooner than later, where something has to change. That something may be releasing everywhere but Amazon first and rewarding the non-abusive vendors with rights to sell the book, with Amazon getting the leftovers a few weeks later.
If this plan bothers you, I recommend contacting Amazon customer service and complaining, bitterly, to Amazon’s customer service team over the tool, how it is driving your favorite authors from their platform, and suggesting it should be gotten rid of because Amazon is a distributor/vendor, not a publisher/editor.
I’m thinking about it.
Please note that I understand that most of the readers making use of the tool believe they are helping authors without understanding how much damage they’re doing.
I hate that tool so, so much.
And yes, today is one of those days where I really wonder if this career field is worth it. Will I quit? No.
But fuck it, I’m thinking about it really hard right now.
Working at 7-11 would suck, but at least then the hours would be set, I’d have SOME benefits, and I wouldn’t have to work after hours all the time doing my best to get everything done in a timely fashion.
And yes, I worked on my birthday because of Amazon. No, I’m not happy about it. There is nothing happy about working on my 40th birthday because readers have a tool allowing them to report errors.
if you don’t understand why I’m upset over this issue, put yourself in my shoes a little.
Would YOU like having to stop having a good time on your birthday to address reader error reports on Amazon’s schedule rather than yours? Because we’re on a time limit to correct those errors, and it’s a very short one… and we don’t get a say in how we correct those errors.
Per Amazon, who rejected my rejections this morning.
I’m really just ready to quit, all because of a vendor’s error reporting tool.