Dear Amazon: Exclusive versus Independent

Oct 20, 2016 | Books, Loreless, Publishing, Reviews, Writing

Dear Amazon,

It’s been a hoot, but I’ve done some soul searching and decided that I am doing my readers a disservice by abiding by your exclusivity agreement.

A few months ago I started my first independent publishing venture with my book Loreless.

At the time everything was new to me. I had an incredible amount to learn in a short period of time.

In order to learn all the various platforms, formatting and producing a physical book and getting my head around setting up a business, I needed to pace myself.

I decided to take things one step at a time.

I didn’t want to burn myself out.

Exclusivity

Initially, I chose to publish the novel on your Kindle platform as, according to statistics, you have the lion’s share of the market. The consensus seems to be at around 60%.

You also offered extra rewards if I entered into your Kindle Select program.

As I understood it is a club of readers who pay a monthly fee to download and read a certain number of books for free.

In return for not spreading my ebook around the rest of the internet universe I was entitled to receive a share of your Kindle Select fund. It seemed like a lot of money, per month the pot contained somewhere between 12 and 15 million dollars.

My share of the pot was determined by the number of pages read from my ebook.

Financial Rewards

My page read count was not incredibly high, over the past two months something in the region of 8,000 pages read.

However, if I convert that into actual books, and go by your count of the number of pages in the ebook, the novel has been read more than 50 times.

As a debut author without a big name publisher behind me, I feel this is a good start. I’m prepared for the long haul and realise it will take time to find a readership.

Slightly troubling is if I look at the price of a fully priced ebook and what you pay out on your Select program.

I feel short-changed.

On an ebook I earn in excess of two dollars per sale, in your Kindle club I earn about a dollar for the same book.

But the financial reward is not the most important aspect of all this. There was something else.

A week ago I published my book on various other online stores: Apple’s iBooks, Barnes and Noble’s Nook, Kobo, and a few more.

It all went surprisingly easy. I suppose because it was a process I had been through already. Through dealing with your platform I was already very familiar with online publishing.

I did have some problems with getting signed up for iBooks but, after a couple of emails, a guy called Brian called me from Texas to walk me through the process.

This was so cool!

For the first time in my online publishing journey I had human contact.

After months of staring at a screen, reading reams of how-to manuals, sending emails and trying to work it out for myself, I heard a voice from the other side.

I no longer felt alone.

I can’t tell you how much this meant to me.

Freedom

Once I had gone through this process I sat back to consider what I had done.

All of a sudden I felt released, a sense of freedom swept over me.

For the first time I felt like I was really being an independent publisher. I realised that by abiding by your rules I had hemmed myself in. I had let myself be incarcerated in your online prison.

It was not a healthy situation for me or for my readers.

Exclusively Independent

I am fully aware that by posting these thoughts I may wake a sleeping giant.

But I feel compelled to do it for my sanity, and for my book. It deserves to be read by as many people as possible.

Like all writers I feel what I have to say is important. I would like my voice to be heard. Unfortunately your exclusivity agreement prevents this from happening.

It prevents my story from reaching everyone and thus its true potential.

Having said all this, I would like to thank you for giving me a kick-start to my publishing journey. It gave me the opportunity to explore my options. It also enabled me to get my head around all the systems associated with online publishing.

But if I am to grow as a writer and find my audience I need to “go wide”.

Somehow, it feels like leaving home for the first time.

Being exclusive is not being truly independent.

Independent

adjective  in·de·pen·dent  \ˌin-də-ˈpen-dənt\
1 :  not dependent: as
    a (1)  :  not subject to control by others :  self-governing  (2)  :  not affiliated with a larger controlling unit <an independent bookstore>
    b (1)  :  not requiring or relying on something else :  not contingent <an independent conclusion>  (2)  :  not looking to others for one’s opinions or for guidance in conduct  (3)  :  not bound by or committed to a political party
    c (1)  :  not requiring or relying on others (as for care or livelihood) <independent of her parents>  (2)  :  being enough to free one from the necessity of working for a living <a person of independent means>
    d  :  showing a desire for freedom <an independent manner>

Your Sincerely,

P. J. Whittlesea

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