It seems that since about six months after I got into self-publishing, people have been complaining about Amazon. They make everything look shiny for authors to entice them, then change terms for the sake of building a more sustainable model for themselves. They want to make sure the provide a good customer experience, and we’re not the customers. As time has gone on, things seem to be getting more and more dire, but nothing is changing.
Why won’t Amazon listen to us?
There are petitions out there with tens of thousands of signatures, demanding that Jeff Bezos and Amazon stop screwing authors. People scream on Facebook and other social media networks every day about how messed up Amazon is. Why won’t the powers that be take note of our issues and change?
Because we’re not speaking their language. Let me put this simply: The only language Amazon speaks is money. They’re a business and they’re damn good at what they do. They’re not here to make friends or help us succeed. They’re where they are because they will always look out for their own bottom line.
But if they screw authors, they’re screwing themselves…
This is a frequently heard statement, but it’s inaccurate. Firstly, books are a gateway for them. They aren’t in the business of selling books. They’re in the business of selling all of their own products and taking a cut of everything people buy once they click on a book. They don’t give a damn about a $2.99 book sale that’s going to net them less than a dollar. Their sole hope is that while you’re there, you’re going to see something shiny, new, and much more expensive that you simply can’t live without.
Secondly, most authors don’t make enough to make an impact. They don’t need the income from Sloan Johnson when they’re still getting a cut from Stephen King or Nora Roberts. If I pulled all of my books today, they won’t even notice. Even if there was a mass exodus of indie authors, their bottom line will stay well in the black. Face it. We. Don’t. Matter.
So, we’re just screwed then?
That’s certainly one way to look at it. Up until now, the answer has been to scream about how evil Amazon is to authors and bloggers on social media, then get even more worked up when we don’t get results. So what do we do? We bitch some more and then wonder why they’re still not listening to us.
They’re not listening because we don’t make them listen. We still publish our books on Amazon. We still direct our readers to buy from Amazon because we know that’s where we get the majority of our sales. We enroll our books in KU because it seems to be the only way to make money on Amazon (guess what, they did that on purpose because they want to make money and they’re offering a “service” to readers to keep the money coming to them while choking out the competition).
The only way Amazon will even possibly begin to take note is if we stop allowing them to bully us. Being a mother, the subject of bullying is common in our house. My daughter has “friends” who are mean and hurtful. When she’s upset, do you know what I tell her? I tell her to stop hanging out with them. If she continues hanging out with them, she’s allowing them to continue treating her that way.
We have sales outlets who want our books. We have sites who want to help us succeed. But in order to do that, we have to place our books there. We have to encourage our readers to buy through them, even if they have to click an extra button to send the books to their Kindles.
If we want to stop Amazon from controlling our success in this industry, we have to be the ones to step up and force that change. We have to ask our readers to join us in this fight, to demand that Amazon listen, by taking their sales elsewhere. We have to speak their language.