Monday, May 21, 2012

Remember, It's All About the Readers

A friend just called from Edisto Beach, my second home, and marveled at the reviews of Lowcountry Bribe. She noted  one in particular from a Simon & Schuster author, and read it to her college-aged daughter who happened to be visiting.  "Ooh, tell her to buy that beach house for sale and move down here," said the daughter, with visions of my millions in the bank.

I told my friend what I made per book, and that my agent received a portion of that tiny amount and she went silent. "Ewww," my friend said. "That's not fair. You do all the work."

JA Konrath posted one his best pieces ever on the exploitation of writers. He explains SO well about how writers have always been exploited, comparing them to railroad labor in the 1800s. Comparing them to the horse Bower in Animal Farm by George Orwell. . . a poor animal that supported the evil pigs to the day he was sold for slaughter. Ignorant and blindly loyal.

I agree with him. I believe Apple and the five publishers in cahoots with Apple, conspired to capture the market against Amazon. Yes, that's illegal, and that's why the Department of Justice has filed suit against them. (Read more about the details of the suit at Nathan Bransford's blog.) There are better ways to deal with the huge shift in publishing these days. They are fighting to keep things closer to the old ways instead of embracing the new.

Amazon cares about readers. Authors should care about their readers. Apple and the Five cared more about profits. I understand one has to run a business, but one has to also move with progress. Amazon is staying ahead of the pack, obviously, or the others wouldn't have felt the need to collude and impede Amazon's progress. They eventually broke the law. People, there are better ways to fix this broken industry than this.

But back to what's important . . . the readers. Yes, it should always come full circle back to the readers. Like any business, you should be customer-driven.

Readers want to be empathetic toward authors, admire them, and feel akin to them in some capacity. If you stick to your writing, always writing, making it clear that you'd do it no matter what, your readers support you even more. When readers see that you'd write if they paid you in peanut shells or M&Ms, they marvel. You're doing this for them. Of course, you're also doing it for yourself, because you are compelled to write your stories. It's in your DNA. But being so martyred as to endure the shenanigans of the publishers in all their craziness, can only help you in the eyes of your readers . . . just as long as you can afford to pay the power bill to keep your computer going.


Civil War Horror (Sean McLachlan) said...

You're spot on as usual. One quibble:
"Amazon cares about readers."
NO, Amazon cares about making money, which happens to coincide with making readers happy. If Amazon could make money doing something that would hurt readers' interests, it would do so if they thought the cost/benefit analysis added up.
Corporations don't care about anything but profits. That explains several of the messes the world is in.
Not that I'm dissing Amazon. They're making some great options for writers, even established writers like me. I decided to go with Createspace and KDP for a couple of my books. I did this because, and only because, it was the right choice for those particular books.
And don't ever think Amazon cares about authors. The whole Kindle Select is showing that to be false.

Rose Godfrey said...

Just ordered your book, so you will have a few more pennies toward that beach house.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks, Sean. I still think Amazon is "considering" the readers more than the others. They see the readers as their food chain, so gotta keep them fed and reasonably happy coming back. And no . . . nobody cares about the authors. We're on our own.

Hope Clark said...

Thanks so much! Remember to throw up a review on Amazon when you finish! Those reviews are the few things Amazon caters to FOR authors.


Sidney Blake said...

I can't tell if you're joking here or being serious, since the start of the article seems to be about writers not getting the fair share of the pie.


Hope Clark said...

Writers never get a fair share of the pie from the gatekeepers and distributors. But the readers know who's in this for the right reason, and their volume, in the long run, is what keeps authors alive in the business.

Robin said...

Authors are like teachers. We do it because we love it, not for the pay. Of course we'd love to make millions but a lot of times your passion doesn't make you the bit bucks!
Spoken by a passionate author and teacher.