Monday, July 21, 2014

More Preston Nonsense

From The Bookseller, in bold italics.
Authors United, the group of writers who signed a letter calling on Amazon to resolve its dispute with Hachette, has said it is “developing a long-term strategy”.
The authors include well-known names such as Paul Auster, David Baldacci, Tracy Chevalier, Lee Child, Jeffery Deaver, Mark Haddon, Sophie Hannah, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, James Patterson, Philip Pullman and Donna Tartt.
Hachette Book Group (HBG) in the US and Amazon.com have been negotiating terms for a number of months now. During the dispute HBG authors have found their books subject to delayed shipping on Amazon, and some have had their books made unavailable for pre-order.
At the beginning of this month affected authors signed a letter, instigated by US writer Douglas Preston, which also called on "loyal readers" to email Amazon founder and c.e.o. Jeff Bezos to "change his mind".
Joe sez: The letter is now up to 798 signatures, plus the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust, and the Tony Hillerman Writers Conference.
Color me impressed. They apparently got every author in the SFWA to sign. That's sort of strange, because I think it would be more powerful if the petition maybe listed every one of those authors in the SFWA. But I guess the SFWA had a vote and every member agreed, which is why Preston can add the SFWA to his letter. Or maybe they have some sort of democratic-republic electoral college thingy so the majority speaks for all.

Equally impressive is getting the trust of a dead photographer to lend their support. I mean, who has a bigger vested interest in this issue than Ansel Adams, RIP?

Also, a writing conference signed! That last one is a case of burying the lede, because when a conference develops sentience and can decide to add its signature to a letter, I'd think that's the real mind-blowing part of this story.

But should they keep calling themselves "Authors United"? Shouldn't it be "Some Authors, a Genre Writing Organization, a Trust, and a Sentient Conference United"? 
Why did Preston stop there? Why not add the City of Grand Rapids, the pyramid of Giza, and the Shakespeare Repertory Theater? I have a Mustang, and I admit my car and I sometimes feel differently about the publishing industry. If Preston asked, I bet he could also add "Konrath's Car" to his list of signatories.

But maybe I'm being too picky here. The point is, a lot of authors have joined with Preston to form Authors United.

Except, you know, the thousands that signed our letter.
Preston has now written to the signatories to say that a full-page advert will soon be published in the New York Times, funded by a dozen authors, which will include the letter and the names of the signatories.
Preston also wrote: “This struggle with Amazon may go on for a while. Our group, which we call Authors United, is developing a long-term strategy in case our effort here is not effective. I will be in touch with you about that.

Joe sez: A full page NYT ad! Wow! That has to cost at least $70k! What a bold, impressive statement! You guys are heroes!
“Together, our group comprises many of the finest writers in the English language, with billions of books sold, and we include journalists and authors in every field and genre imaginable and from all levels of success.

Joe sez: Billions of books! Wow! Not just heroes, but rich and powerful, too!

I suppose $70k isn't a lot of money to a group like that, but that's not the point, right? 

I would particularly note that many debut authors have courageously signed this letter. Amazon's recent attempt to dismiss us as a bunch of rich, bestselling authors trying only to protect our income is not going to work.

Joe sez: It certainly does take courage for debut authors, who probably haven't sold billions of books, to sign that letter.

Think of all the money those debut Hachette authors lost out on when Amazon offered to pay them 100% of the price of every book of theirs they sold.

Heck, think of how many of those debut authors could use some of that $70k being used to buy the NYT ad.

Hmm...

So a bunch of rich, bestselling authors, along with a whole writing organization, the ghost of Ansel Adams, and a self-aware writing conference, are blowing money on an ad that I'd argue would be put to better use by helping many of those same debut authors who signed the letter. You know--giving money direct to the suffering authors. Like Amazon offered to. 

Let me think about this a little more.

There have been billions of books sold by this group. I bet, collectively, these authors are worth at least a billion dollars. Seventy grand is like pocket change to them.

A full page NYT ad is a bold statement. In this case, the statement is, "We're so rich we can take out a full page NYT ad." 

But it is still a statement. Authors United feels so strongly that they have courageously banded together to change the publishing industry by making sure authors are treated fairly. For the first time in history, authors have joined forces to influence publishers to raise ebook royalty rates and eliminate unconscionable contract clauses.

They actually have the courage to band together and say, "Hey! We've sold billlions of books, but we're just the 1% of the 1% and 99.99% of our peers are getting screwed by bad publishing deals! So we're going to actually use our power and money to stand up against the hands that feed us and do the right thing!"

Wait... nevermind. My bad. They actually joined forces and are publishing this ad because Amazon took away some pre-order buttons.

But there is still heroism here. As Preston said in his letter:

This is a totally independent effort. No organization, company, or publishing house is sponsoring us.

Well, except for the SFWA and the living/breathing/thinking Hillerman conference (I never would have thought I'd live to see the day when a conference could pass the Turing Test), and good old Ansel Adams, one of our literary greats.

But they may not be sponsoring them, only supporting them. And there are no publisher signatories, so they obviously aren't supporting or sponsoring Authors United either. 

Not directly, anyway. 

If I had to guess, these rich, powerful authors who have earned in excess of a billion dollars actually get their checks signed by publishing houses. But that isn't a conflict of interest at all, because they're doing this independently, and they've already declared they're not taking sides

I mean, they might have called for Amazon, not Hachette, to resolve this dispute. And they might have told people to email Jeff Bezos. But they aren't taking sides. This is in no way self-serving or disingenuous. And the urge to throw up that I'm currently feeling must be entirely unrelated as well.
“We have many loyal and committed readers. They listen when we speak. That represents power; perhaps even enough power to face down one of the world's largest corporations.”

I won't opine about Preston having so much power over his readers that he can get them to do anything more than read his work, but there is a lot of money and power at play here. Money and power that could be used to help authors in mind-blowing ways. To change the industry for the better. To improve conditions across the board.

But instead, they're using it to protect the status quo. And the rich, powerful authors are standing shoulder to shoulder with debut authors who desperately want to someday be rich, powerful authors.

And that, indeed, makes me wince.

Preston no doubt gets better contract terms than EVERY SINGLE DEBUT AUTHOR who signed his silly letter. Is he fighting for them so they can get his preferred terms? Or is he using them so he can keep getting his preferred terms?

Instead of taking out an ad, why not boycott Amazon?

Instead of circulating a letter, why not tell Hachette that if they don't settle right now, you won't ever sign with them again?

Instead of using the media to try to win the court of public opinion, how about you actually take a long look at what you're fighting for and recognize it for the self-serving bullshit it actually is?

Every author who makes over six figures a year and signed that letter should be ashamed of your current behavior. You've conned the hopeful into standing alongside you by dangling the carrot of privilege in front of them. At the same time, you flaunt your wealth with needless, expensive ads, refuse to stand up against your corporate masters--the ones who are truly doing harm in this negotiation--and immediately reject a proposal by Amazon that could have helped those very authors.

I've been blogging for a while. I blog because I'm an activist, and I want to help. Not help myself, but help others who haven't gotten as lucky as I am. I try to remain populist. I try to share information, experience, and advice that others can use. My tone is often harsh, but I do my best to only attack those who are spouting harmful misinformation. I have no skin in this game and no dog in this fight, because I own my rights and didn't sign them away for my lifetime plus 70 years. Whoever wins the Amazon/Hachette dispute makes no difference to me, but I blog about it anyway because I want writers to be informed. This isn't an ideology. It's a business. But there can be helpful business practices, and harmful ones, and I make an honest effort to expose the harmful and spread awareness of the helpful.

However, I've reached a point where I'm so disgusted by the actions of publishers, and the rich and entitled authors who continue to side with those publishers, that I'm dangerously close to losing my cool.

So I'll just let Woody Allen voice my current sentiments.



80 comments:

Elaine Ash said...

What astonishes me are these rich and powerful writers representing themselves as "little guys." They're lobbying against the "little guys" who now have a little bit of power because of Amazon.

Anonymous said...

"1% of the 1% and 99.9% of our peers"

I think it should be "1% of the 1% and 99.99% of our peers"

How's that for contributing to the debate!

Joe Konrath said...

How's that for contributing to the debate!

It's a more significant contribution than anything Preston added.

Fixed. Good catch. Thanks.

Mark Terry said...

"Preston no doubt gets better contract terms than EVERY SINGLE DEBUT AUTHOR who signed his silly letter. Is he fighting for them so they can get his preferred terms? Or is he using them so he can keep getting his preferred terms?"

I won't go after Preston, but I was thinking about this the other day and thinking about how not just bestsellers, but especially the so-called "name brand" bestsellers have such a different take on the Amazon-Hachette negotiations than everyone else in publishing, and significantly more to lose.

I'm not privy to their contracts, but for name brand authors, getting to a spot on a bestseller list when their book is released is a major thing:

1. Potential clauses in contracts that provide extra funds if they hit specific lists

2. It's its own type of advertising, having a book hitting those lists, and it influences booksellers.

Since I've never had a book contract that said, "If Mark Terry's book makes it into the top 5 spots on the NYT Bestseller List he'll get a $100,000 bonus" it's hard for me to relate.

3. Traditionally publishers authors have a seriously limited window for sales, approximately 6 weeks. The so-called name brands technically have longer, but in reality they move the majority of their books in the first couple weeks and get crowded off most lists by 4 - 6 weeks. So, assuming Amazon really was slowing down delivery of books (something I question) that's of real concern to these authors, though not much of a factor for most others.

My point is that many of these writers, Preston, Patterson, King et al., are practically discussing a different topic than the majority of writers, indie and traditional. It's a little bit like talking the gas mileage of a Prius versus a Formula 500 race car.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I'm dangerously close to losing it as well. I know a lot of these guys and like them personally. That they're signing onto this bullshit just kills me.

The hubris is just unbelievable.

Joe Konrath said...

I know a lot of these guys and like them personally

Self-interest isn't a bad thing. All humans have it.

But enlightened self-interest is better for the world.

Dan Meadows said...

Just the fact that they're taking out an expensive full page print ad in the NY Times strikes me as being particularly clueless. And how is it courageous for debut authors to sign that letter? I'm pretty sure that's the precise opposite of courageous. Now signing the other petition, that would have been genuinely courageous. I'm anxiously awaiting the part of their long-term strategy where they challenge publishers to treat writers better. I've got plenty of canned food in the pantry for the wait.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I used to look at my bookshelf and wonder what happened to Author X, because he didn't seem to be publishing any more books.

As a reader, I had no idea that probably what happened was that he was unceremoniously dumped by his publisher and either never published again or had to use a pen name. I've never heard any of these authors speak out about the brutality of the publishing business.

Yet Amazon pulls a few pre-order buttons and they go crazy about "protecting" their fellow author.

T. M. Bilderback said...

Forgive me for being harsh, but I still believe that the entire situation could be resolved very quickly if Amazon would simply drop all Hachette titles until such time as an agreement is in place.

I can't speak for Jeff Bezos, but that would be my ideal resolution, and my response to the media, Hachette, et al, would be, "I don't like the terms they offer, so I won't carry their product."

Seems simple enough to me.

Paul Combs said...

I just published my first novel, and in the days leading up to it I really worried about not continuing to take the rejection from agents and publishers (my book has no Vampire Zombies into BDSM, and thus was always "not for us") in the hopes of breaking through "traditionally. This Hachette nonsense is just further evidence I went the right way.

If Preston/Patterson/King hate Amazon so much, and won't remove their books from the site voluntarily (as you have often suggested), maybe Bezos should just cut them loose from his "Evil Empire." I'm sure that would shut them up.

Great blog Joe. Thanks for everything.

Steve Hockensmith said...

The hubris is just unbelievable.

Not just hubris, but clueless hubris. Clubris?

w.adam mandelbaum said...

Maybe they should take out a full page ad in Hi-Lites for Children? Easy Rider magazine? Better Tomes and Hardons? Publisher's Weaklings?

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Not just hubris, but clueless hubris. Clubris?

ROTFL.

Silas Payton said...

"I have a Mustang, and I admit my car and I sometimes feel differently about the publishing industry. If Preston asked, I bet he could also add "Konrath's Car" to his list of signatories."

I have to go change my pants...I think I just pissed myself!!

Josh Guess said...

A slow clap may have just happened in my office. This post was close to needing it already, but the youtube clip put it over the edge.

Bridget McKenna said...

Oh, and Steve Hockensmith wins the Internet for today. "Clubris" may or may not be the name of my next band, but it's a word I'll look for excuses to use. I suspect I won't have to look very long.

Alan Spade said...

"It's a little bit like talking the gas mileage of a Prius versus a Formula 500 race car."

I agree. But I also agree with Joe when he says "Self-interest isn't a bad thing. All humans have it. But enlightened self-interest is better for the world."

This Authors United thing shows us that some best-seller are either losing money now (Patterson) or fearing to lose money tomorrow (King).

I don't believe it would be in Amazon's best interest to drop all Hachette's titles. Even if on a Vulcan, logical point of view they would be entitled to do that, Jeff Bezos must weigh the emotional wave that would follow.

It will be interesting, though, to see what happen if "Authors United" call to a boycott of Amazon. Would it be followed by all the Big 5 authors? What would be the reaction of the public?

I'm sure the Amazon's team is elaborating some kind of strategy, there, because even if the book market is a tiny part of their business, in terms of image, it is not insignificant.

My personal theory is that a boycott would only hasten the decline of those best-sellers, and the Big 5, because Amazon embodies the progress, the abundance and the low cost of a numeric market versus a paper market based on scarcity and high prices.

With legacy publishing, the high prices plays against authors (high price of entry in the market, high price of the contracts) and readers (high prices of books, windowing, DRM...), only benefiting publishers. It is a very simple thing to understand.

We are going to live interesting times...

Terrence OBrien said...

I think it's great Preston announced this the same week Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited. Wonder which will have a greater effect?

Anonymous said...

SInce none of these dopes are threatening to pull their books from amazon and obviously they aren't going to ask hatchette to do anything new, what exactly is their plan? Will they write scathing letters to amazon weekly? Look down their noses at them? Unfriend all amazon employees on facebook?

I may be missing something here. This sounds a lot like a person asking a store why they carry some things and not others and bitching about their choices but never shopping the competition in protest. That,s just bitching. Which makes a person a whiny bitch.

Screw you Preston. You're just a little bitch.

Werner said...

"...there is a lot of money and power at play here. Money and power that could be used to help authors in mind-blowing ways. To change the industry for the better. To improve conditions across the board. But instead, they're using it to protect the status quo..."

"REEK, Reek, my name is Reek! I don't want to go - I want to stay here!"

The Preston group sounds like Theon Greyjoy from Game of Thrones - so used to the abuse of their master, they lose their identity and do anything to stay in the master's favor.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

What would be the reaction of the public?

Except for the professionally outraged, I assume it would be a collective yawn.

Matt said...

Should we crowdfund our own NYT ad?

Steve Hockensmith said...

Should we crowdfund our own NYT ad?

If we magically had that kind of dough, I would hope we'd give it to a good cause instead of blowing it on a soap-box stunt. Like maybe we could give the money to struggling writers who've been hurt by the dispute.

Memo to Authors United
That would be $$$ = where your mouth is.

Anonymous said...

Amazon vs. Hachette, et al, I get that. I got it probably the third time you blogged about it, maybe even before. But as one who proclaims:

"I blog because I'm an activist, and I want to help. Not help myself, but help others who haven't gotten as lucky as I am. I try to remain populist. I try to share information, experience, and advice that others can use"

and then doesn't address the KU volcano erupting just down the street, I wonder what's going on with you? Honestly, I would have dropped you an email and asked for your input on KU, but I've been all over this site and cannot (maybe i'm just myopic--have fun with that...) find your email address, so I'll just put my email to you here.

Honestly, Joe, I as a nobody Indie feel much more theatened long-term by KU than the Amazon-Hachette quarrel.

Please know that I'm saying these things not only in a kind tone, but in a very hopeful tone that you will turn your lantern on this issue and give us your thoughts.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Preston & the others signing the ad would hand over their books, and the fate of their books, to a publisher without requiring a contract -- but they seem to think Amazon should continue to play nice with Hachette despite their contract having expired.

Good points about the claim they aren't taking sides versus the reality that they are taking sides.

Alan Tucker said...

Who reads the physical NYT?

I'm pretty sure Preston and his cronies will be preaching to the choir in that particular venue.

Regarding Amazon pulling Hachette titles from their site, remember the backlash a couple of years ago when they did that to MacMillan books? Even though it's since been shown Amazon was the one being bullied in that instance, no one cares because, you know, Amazon is Evil, etc. etc. If they did that to Hachette without being able to disclose the terms of the contracts they're fighting over, I'm pretty sure it would be a PR nightmare for Amazon. Poor, defenseless Hachette and its authors are being bullied by Evil Incarnate, Amazon once again.

James Wood said...

And we all know how effective a full=page ad in the NYT can be in manipulating popular sentiment. Just ask all the Americans clamoring about the Japanese stance on the Liancourt Rocks....

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/art/2012/03/123_106133.html

gniz said...
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Alan Spade said...
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Alan Spade said...
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Alan Spade said...

"What would be the reaction of the public?

Except for the professionally outraged, I assume it would be a collective yawn."

Readers used to finding their preferred author's books on Amazon would notice, I believe. I guess one third would be confused, one third would support their favorite author, and one third would disapprove.

Just my gut speaking there, nothing scientific.

Kirk Alex said...

Could not have said it better! Can't tell you what a kick it is to read these posts. Best thing going on the Net––bar none.
Joe, would you & Barry please consider crafting a rebuttal ad & running it in the NY Times? I will donate what I can––gladly––as I am certain so will others.

Paul Levinson said...

Just popping in here to point out that I, as a former President of SFWA (1998-2001), not only did not sign that letter, but have publicly objected to SFWA's signature. As has Jerry Pournelle, a former SFWA President and much better known than I in science fiction circles, and Hugh Howey, a best-selling indie author as well as a SFWA member. The SFWA signature on that letter is by no means the last word from SFWA members about this.

Tracy Sharp - Author of the Leah Ryan Series said...

I snorted when I read the bit about the hordes of loyal readers listening when these writers talk. I think they have an inflated notion of their power.

When extremely rich people start shouting at the moon, most people watch for a moment, then turn away, whistling as they go on about their day.

They really don't care. People adjust. And they do tend to go where the deals are.

Laura Resnick said...

As Paul noted above, there has been discord within SFWA over the SFWA BoD's decision to endorse the Preston letter. I'm not a member of SFWA, and even I heard the protests, they were so loud and public. It's definitely not a subject on which SFWA is unified or speaking with one voice.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

and then doesn't address the KU volcano erupting just down the street

Volcano? By whose definition? To my mind KU is merely an extension of their Prime Library program, which I've been part of for a couple years now and made a LOT of money off of. I don't see how any service that puts more money into authors' pockets can be considered a volcano.

KU is no different that Scrib'd or Osyter or Overdrive books, for that matter. Any hysteria surrounding it is pretty pointless.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Readers used to finding their preferred author's books on Amazon would notice, I believe

I imagine they would, but my response was a reaction to your statement about how readers would react if "Authors United" called for a boycott of Amazon.

That's something different altogether.

Brian J. Jarrett said...

I almost wonder if it wouldn't be better to just let NY have agency pricing back again. While as a reader I think it's terrible, as a writer I'm fine undercutting their prices by 50% or more and offering a better deal to readers. If anything, agency was a boon for indies. The fact that many of us indies oppose agency shows we're more concerned about taking care of readers than NY. We have LESS to gain without it!

And Stephen King...one of my heroes. Disappointing. He's been part of the old world for forty years, so I guess that's where his loyalties lie. Seems if anybody should have some sympathy for starving writers (the ones Hatchet seems alarmingly unconcerned about) it would be him. He had some humble beginnings.

This has become and old guard vs. new guard situation. Or maybe it always has been, but the old guard never paid us any mind until we started eating their lunch.

Tasha Turner said...

When I first read the newspaper title I thought the authors were going to actually do something. Insist on a meeting with Bezos. Picket outside Amazon headquarters. Buy back their contracts for Kindle Single or other Amazon imprints they might have. Silly me. I should know better by now.

They didn't mean they were going to do anything. They think print newspaper gets more eyeballs than the Internet so they are screaming meanie better by taking out an ad.

I suggest they do better next time. Do something.

Adam Lawson said...

Joe: They couldn't add the Great Pyramid because its publishing with Amazon and using KDP Select.

antares said...

w.adam mandelbaum said...
Maybe they should take out a full page ad in Hi-Lites for Children? Easy Rider magazine? Better Tomes and Hardons? Publisher's Weaklings?


LOL funny.

For all the good it will do, any one of these works as well as the New York Times.

Laura Resnick said...

What Tasha Turner said. He wrote a letter that got plenty of coverage. Of all the things to do next, why place an ad saying the same thing in a print paper that's already covered the letter? Seems like an expensive redundancy. For that kind of money, you'd think he and his associates would want to DO something.

Judith said...

Of all the things to do next, why place an ad saying the same thing in a print paper that's already covered the letter? Seems like an expensive redundancy.

I think it's all about signifying to his tribe and reinforcing what can be considered acceptable opinion. One assumes that many members of the media who cover news such as the Hachette/Amazon negotiation do read the print edition and/or hear about the ad.

It's posing. It transforms their fear of disruptive change and of no longer being at the top of the pyramid into a moral cause. Very soothing to the ego.

Mackay Bell said...

I laughed out loud about your pyramid of Giza line. (Though it is well known the major Egyptian monuments are all in favor of self-publishing.)

I wonder if the ad in the NY Times is really their swan song. They can't be happy with how this debate is going, thanks to you and Hugh's counter petition. They probably thought they could debate this in the media, but now they can't without getting questions about the other side. So taking out an ad is a way of not having to answer questions.

And maybe after the ad they can tell the Big 5 they tried their best and scurry back under their rock.

Angry_Games said...

So... I just heard this massive, collective, eardrum-shattering reply from the millions of loyal readers that all stood up and demanded at once that

hahahaha, not really. I didn't hear diddly-squat other than more hot air from Preston. Steve Z will be here soon enough to add some icing on the cake with a lie or two (or another admission that he's easily scammed by technology nerds, which is actually more amusing than the lies he spews and cannot back up with facts).

The desperation has the same sour tank of rank body odor.

Also... I'm very sad. Stephen King is probably the biggest influence in terms of reading AND writing... like Mr. King is still more of an influence than all other authors combined.

It's really hard to watch one of your 'heroes' try to convince other authors that shitty contract terms and the lies publishers tell to get authors to sign with them are good things. You'd think a guy like that would be in Joe's corner, since King has more than enough money to tell publishing to go %#@$ itself (imagine how much MORE money King would make self-publishing, which tells me it isn't about the money as much as it is about the secret little exclusive club that Joe's been talking about lately).

Angry_Games said...

Seriously, Mr. Konrath. I'll donate money to have an "EDIT POST" button added.

Anonymous said...

Joe, any chance you could do a post on the Kindle Unlimited product that Amazon is offering? Really like to hear your opinion on the whole "Netflix for Books" idea.

Ty Johnston said...

Hmm ... ya know, Joe, if you or someone like Howey started something similar to a Kickstarter campaign, I'm sure there would be plenty of indies who would pitch in a few bucks to buy their own NY Times advertisement.

Alan Spade said...

Give money to the NY Times, the best advocate for Big Publishing? Without me, even if the cause is right.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Mr King doesn't realize how things have changed? If his attention could be drawn to the petition maybe he would change his mind?

https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/hachette-stop-fighting-low-prices-and-fair-wages

Matt said...

Give money to the NY Times, the best advocate for Big Publishing? Without me, even if the cause is right.

So the NY Times is out, then what would be the best way to get the alternative view across and make as much noise as possible? If there was a kickstarter campaign, where would the money be spent best?

Jim Self said...

The fact that these big-name authors didn't praise either of Amazon's attempts to shelter authors from the fallout of the negotiations is the most telling. There were no strings attached, so why refuse?

Because it's not about authors. It's about protecting the system that's made them fat and happy.

Joe Konrath said...

Honestly, I would have dropped you an email and asked for your input on KU

Lots of people are asking me about KU.

I believe my position is obvious. I'll do what I always do: experiment with it and report my numbers.

It will take a few months to get enough data to be informed, but that's what experimenting is. At the moment, I'm all in with KU. Amazon doesn't tend to make decisions that hurt KDP authors. And since they require KDP Select exclusivity to be in KU, I'm betting they've crunched the numbers and authors will have an extra income stream.

So I'll say something when I have something more to say than a guess, but at this moment I like the idea, and I've already sent Amazon some suggestions.

Along with advising authors to experiment, I also advise authors to form their own conclusions and not listen to the so-called experts, me included. Find out for yourself and share your data, and that helps everyone.

Anonymous said...

The rumor I heard about KU was that authors would be paid the full purchase price for their book whenever somebody with KU subscription read it. Is that true? If so, is it sustainable? And won't that prompt indies to raise their own prices? If I change my 2.99 book to 8.99, and KU readers can get it without actually paying anything (aside from their subscription fee) won't I make a lot more money every time someone on KU reads it? I guess it all depends on how successful KU becomes. I don't know for sure if my premise is correct though. This is all pretty interesting.

Alan Spade said...

Hey Joe, I've found an ebook for you: the title is How to outsmart your inbox. It's free today: http://www.amazon.com/How-Outsmart-Your-Inbox-Professionals-ebook/dp/B00LV4TDSO/ :)

Christina Pilz said...

I know for a fact that the Sphinx, that venerable monolith, does not, sadly, support self publishing. Which is strange, you'd think it would, all things considered, being so mysterious and independent like it is. It was unable to sign the Preston letter, however, due to a lack of opposable thumbs.

All seriousness aside, I don't think we should put an add in the NY times. For one thing, no one reads that rag anymore. For another, it kills trees. For yet another, it would be a waste of money and time.

Personally, Preston and everyone's idea that putting an ad in the NY times will make a difference is laughable. They're only talking to their own kind, preaching to the choir. At one point, I was aghast at the amount of $70K, because to most people, and most writers (myself included) that would be a lot of money. But with the explanation of the billions and billions these Preston Friends make, it's a drop in the bucket to them. So it says to me, they are only protecting their own interests, which I knew already - I just hadn't realized to what extent.

As for Mr. King, when I first saw his signature on the Preston Petition, I doubted it was a real signature. This is because, in the past, Mr. King has supported and been benefited by self publishing. To hear him tell it, the publishing industry has generally screwed him over - so why on earth would he support something like this? Hell, the man could sell his own books from his own website, and make a fortune - and he could do it exactly the way he wants to do it. Which is what I thought he was doing, but alas.

As someone intoned in a movie once, "We don't know how this is going to look in the morning." When the smoke clears, there will still be books, thank goodness for that.

Denise McGee said...

Taking out an ad in the NYT is indicative of their whole mindset.

"Let's use an outdated mode of media to protest changes to our outdated way of publishing."

Anything new or different is bad.

*shakes head

Jude Hardin said...

Volcano? By whose definition?

Hugh Howey calls it a game changer, and I tend to agree with that. It's a lot different than Prime, because readers can borrow as many books as they want every month instead of just one. And it's a lot different than Oyster, etc., because it's Amazon, where most indies make most of their money.

Like Joe said, we'll just have to experiment for a few months and see if it ends up being a good thing or a bad thing for self-published authors.

Michael Griffith said...

Just a note to the Big 5 and friends: I have an old copy of "Who Moved My Cheese?" you could borrow. You guys really need to read it. Favorite and most applicable quote? "The more important your cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it."

Michael Griffith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jude Hardin said...

The rumor I heard about KU was that authors would be paid the full purchase price for their book whenever somebody with KU subscription read it. Is that true?

No. Self-published authors are paid from a pool that Amazon sets up for KOLL and KU. Historically, with KOLL, the author cut has usually worked out to a little over $2.00 per copy downloaded. It remains to be seen how much authors will be paid for KU downloads. It depends on how many authors opt in, and how much money Amazon puts in the pool.

Mark Edward Hall said...

Logically it seems that KU just might make KOLL obsolete. Why would someone pay to download just one book a month when for about the same money you can download all you want.

KOLL adds significantly to my monthly revenue stream. I'm hoping KU kicks that in the ass.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Why would someone pay to download just one book a month when for about the same money you can download all you want.

I think KOLL and KU hit two different audiences. KOLL is a benefit of having Prime, which includes several other benefits like free movie and TV show streaming and free two-day shipping.

KU is aimed more at the hardcore reader, who may not care about shipping and movies and being able to borrow one book a month.

KU is an expansion of KOLL, but meant for a different type of reader.

Alan Spade said...

Wow! In his blog (http://www.hughhowey.com/kindle-unlimited/#more-33122 ), Hugh Howey said the big publishers were allowed to be paid full price for "their" books in Kindle Unlimited,without requiring exclusivity, while indies are only payed $2 by download.

It doesn't seem fair to indies at all.

In the aforementioned blog post, I think Hugh made a mistake saying that "traditionally published authors are paid too much" : it's the publishers who are paid too much, and a very few traditionally published authors who are. Not the vast majority. Sometimes, shortcuts are your enemy.

Mark Edward Hall said...

@Rob Gregory Browne.

Thanks for clearing that up, Rob.

w.adam mandelbaum said...

I think it is time for a song to accompany all of this dialogue... With apologies to The Association...
INDY
(To the tune of Windy)
Who's keeping more of royalty payments?
Making much more than legacy scribes,
Who's bending down to carry their wallets?
Everyone knows it's indies.
And indies are story guys
That mock all leg-a-cy lies,
And indies make more per book,
Than legacy schnooks!

Sorry folks, a flashback of some bad antacid.

VARNBYRDE said...

Just read Preston & Child's "Immortal" Writing Advice. I have to say, the inspiration received by it is nothing short...well, it is short.

In summary...

So you want to become a published writer?

Answer: YMMV on every cliche in the book but...write, habituate ruthless self-criticism (i.e, "Kill those darling little darlings!"), carve out space, don't copy, get inspired and go to work.

“I have a fantastic idea. Would you be interested in writing it yourself or with me?”

Answer: No!

“Will you read my manuscript?”

Answer: So sorry, also no!

“How do you do your research? Do you have help?”

Answer: We do it all. So, no again!

“How can I get published?”

Answer: Get an agent, scum!

“How can I find an agent?”

Answer: Writer's Digest, of course.

“What organizations should I join?”

Answer: Authors Guild, of course.

So go write something, or *&*#* yourself already. And don't buy anything from Amazon, unless it's one of our books.

*wannabe writer sits in front of his blank page pender-aghast*

I wonder why they're not flaunting the anti-Amazon letter on their own site.

Terrence OBrien said...

"Logically it seems that KU just might make KOLL obsolete. Why would someone pay to download just one book a month when for about the same money you can download all you want."

KOLL is part of the Amazon Prime program. That includes free shipping, videos, and KOLL. Amazon had millions of Prime subscribers before KOLL existed. It was an add-on.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

Great. Now I've got the song Windy stuck in my head. ;)

Anonymous said...

http://youtu.be/XcH8F6Lxqa4

Aimless Writer said...

Am I being naive to say that I really don't care about the Hatchett problem? I went Indie, took control of my own writing and pushed publishers out of my mind. I've been following these posts because I have a lot of respect for you. Your blog has helped me a lot through the years.
I do have a couple of questions...
Why are these authors attacking Jeff Bezos? He's a businessman doing what's best for Amazon, right?
Did Hatchett put them up to it? If I were a Hatchett author I'd be mad at Hatchett because I can see how the Indie authors are doing great.
So am I naive?

Paolo Amoroso said...

A full-page advert in the NYT is so 1.0, so legacy. Indies should post to YouTube a viral video featuring Joe wearing a revolutionary hat and holding a Kindle.

Terri Herman-Ponce said...

Boy, this smacks of revolution. How interesting. How...sad. You'd think authors would be able to unite.

w.adam mandelbaum said...

Oh, if only I could write prose like a loa!But some of us are blessed,and others encumbered by the chains of relevancy,grammar and syntax.

Alan Spade said...

Here, I've found it! The authors' hymn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi3aEGo8y-E

;)

Mark Hayden said...

Hi Joe,

You may already have seen it, but in case you haven't, here's a link to the Waterstone's Blog where someone is trying to say why publishers still matter - and failing. I've posted a response.

Waterstone's Blog

Thanks for continuing such an inspirational and entertaining blog.

Mark Hayden.

Erik Robert Nelson said...

Let's be brutally honest--the fact that they're taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times tells you all you need to know about how these people misunderstand the paradigm change in the publishing industry. This sort of thing may have worked as recently as the 1990s, but no one gives a flip about a page in the New York Times. The text of their statement will be read, dissected, and discarded before the presses print the first copy of their ad. They are finished.

Steven Zacharius said...

You guys have to be kidding me if you don't think a full page ad in the NYT has any bearing? People do read the NYT all over the world. They read it online too and then stories are picked up by the AP as well. At the very least it will get media attention and keep the story in the front of the news.

Angry_Games said...

Wow. Steve Z, you are so... no wonder you got robbed when it came to implementing tech that the rest of us pay pennies for.

I mean, it's obvious you're gullible by the fact you believe the NYT, ANY newspaper, is an important part of our daily lives anymore.

Seriously, where have you been living the last decade or so? Because cluelessly out of touch gullibles like you still cling to the old ways and refuse to see the evolution of technology (and society along with it), it's easy to see why you're unable to grasp reality.

But, hey, I'll play along. So, Mr. Steve Z, Publisher To The Stars, how did that previous NYT ad from Patterson work out? You know, the one where he cried like a baby about how the death of books was coming, thanks to Amazon, and if the government didn't step up and bail out publishers like they did the car mfg's and the banks, humanity would be terminated within a month's time.

Something like that. It was hard to take seriously, and it stunk as if penned with liquid excrement on used toilet paper.

But anyway, tell me how that worked out. I see the government charged right in and... oh, right. They didn't even comment on it. Not a single word. No one else did either, except for the clueless gullibles in NYC and other publishers and Stockholm Syndrome authors who blindly repeat what their masters tell them to.

While you're at it, why not tell us what exactly you provide to an author that makes you think you deserve to own the rights to his or her work for lifetime + 70 years? I'm not interested in your usual bullshit about how if we don't like the law, we should do something to change it. That answer made you look stupid last time, and it will only add to that if you repeat it again.

And don't weasel your way around the question by yammering on about how no one has ever been held to those terms. That's also complete and utter bullshit. You know it the same as I do, so just stop. You look more ridiculous each time you show up and lie about something that we already know the truth of.

Anyway, if you're still in the market for some technology, I could use a sucker like you to fund my new yacht. I'll only charge you $12,500/MByte for storage, and $6,295 for each megabyte transferred.

How about this. You and your pals run your little NYT ad, and make sure you use big fonts and descriptive words about how sad you all are that authors are eating cans of beans so old they've contracted botulism, and it's all Amazon's fault. Make sure you add in how rogue self-publishers are basically taking a crap on a notebook, scanning it, then uploading it to Amazon and convincing others to pay money for it. Don't forget to put nearly as much blame on us as you do Amazon.

Come back and tell me how all of this goes. I'm truly waiting breathlessly for your report.

Kilburn Hall said...

Doug Preston who has had his "literary career," made his fortune, needs to keep his big mouth shut. He is just stirring the pot when he has no dog in this fight between Amazon (online book retailers) and Hachette who represent "brick and mortar" retailers other than his shrinking royalty check. Doug is on his way out and hundreds of new career authors are on their way in and facing a loaded cannon. Yes. Doug is entitled to his opinion - as long as he remains out of the line of fire. I have spent the latter part of two years fighting for authors rights and the setting of pricing standards in this new ebook industry while all Doug can do is whine about how his sales are affected and how everybody ought to calm down. (Because it affects his sales) I have enjoyed Doug's writing over the decades but when he gets between me and my career, and when his opinions affect my ability to make money in this brave new world - Hell no! I will not take my medicine and play nice for this greedy son of a bitch who cares only about his own profits than helping other authors. You want to help other authors Doug? You play nice, stay out of the line of fire, and not stand in the middle of the battlefield.