The first six months of Pandora's Mistake being free, I got over 10,000 downloads on it and I did ZERO advertisements for it. ZERO.
I spent $800 advertising it on its release day. That $800 turned out to mean that I spent over a dollar for every book I convinced someone to download. These were books I was GIVING AWAY for FREE. And people are turning up their nose at it.
|Searching for people to give free books to on Amazon is almost as difficult as trying to find water in the desert.|
You may say that I just suck as a writer and that must be what is happening to me (and you're entitled to your opinion, I support you if you want to hate me or my writing), but I've learned a lot since I released Pandora's Mistake. I've changed my writing based on reviews. My story went through way too many critique partners and an editor. You may still think it sucks anyway, but those are the facts. I put in a lot of effort to try to make my new books better than my old books are.
It used to be hard to sell a book for $2.99 a few years ago. Now, it's just as hard to give away books for free. If authors are sitting down, telling each other that the writing on a FREE book isn't good enough or the cover isn't good enough when they are making NO PROFIT on this book for people to download, think about what that means for authors. We're in such a high state of competition right now that you have to have a nearly perfect product in order for people even to consider downloading it at no cost to them. That's intense.
People don't go to the grocery store and turn down free samples because someone's handing out string cheese and they'd prefer something more gourmet.
|Your Gourmet Cheese Sample Is Ready|
Then, on top of all of that, pirating is getting worse than ever. People are finding sites to download authors' books for free (if their books aren't already available for free.)
They don't even need pirate sites to do this. People are "purchasing" books on Amazon and then returning them the next day to get them for free. There have even been cases where readers have done this and sent the author a message about how they shouldn't be charging for their books at all. And then getting angry when the author is offended that the person doesn't want them to make a living.
|People Are Using Amazon Like It's A Library.|
The fact is that authors are no longer valued on Amazon by either customers or the company itself. Amazon makes it very difficult to get a hold of them about any issue. (As a customer, you can get them to call you in less than five minutes. As a seller, you e-mail them and wait a week.) They're constantly changing the rules. First, they pressured us to be exclusive through Kindle Unlimited (because Amazon is the only web-site where any books get sold and they'll limit your visibility if you don't go along with KU.) Then they kept changing the rules of Kindle Unlimited. We get paid less and less every month per page. They changed our page count to make it shorter, so we get less money even if people read the whole book.
I've felt so much pressure from all of that, that now you can get all four of the novels I've written for less than two dollars in total (two are free, the other two are $0.99) and just in case that's too expensive for anyone, I kept those two paid novels in Kindle Unlimited.
It's become a toxic relationship. We're all so desperate for Amazon to approve of us. They keep dangling the golden carrot (our dream to make a living as an author) in front of our faces. They make it next to impossible to catch it. But we keep trying and we keep dreaming. Because that's what authors are-professional dreamers.
|Mmm. Delicious dream carrots.|
And when we complain because we dropped thousands of dollars on our books between editing, professional book covers, and advertising, big name authors will tell us to stop complaining. If our books were any good, we would get paid or something like that. (Because the world is fair and we all always get everything that we deserve! *sarcasm*) And as I keep hearing over and over again,"No one owes you a living."
It has a speck of truth in it. No one owes us a living, it's true. But if you just keep accepting people treating you poorly and paying you very little...If you keep going back to it over and over again...If you do nothing to retaliate against any of it...Then people will take advantage of you forever. Because you accept nothing in return for your work and you're happy about it. No one owes me a living, so why even bother trying to convince them? ;) If they want to hurt us by giving us less profit, then we must deserve it, right? There is never any other motivation for them doing so?
It's just kind of how the world works. When you're not valued, then neither are your complaints. In fact, people will be irritated with you for even bothering to complain at all. People, if they read this, might be irritated with me as well for writing this. Because they don't want to hear stories about people struggling. They want to hear the stories about people making it and pretend the struggling never happens or that it's the fault of the people struggling. They might not want to buy my books because they only want to buy books from rich authors. But that's another topic altogether.
I'm still going to self-publish novels with Amazon. I like trying different things and not putting all my eggs in one basket, which means staying with Amazon in addition to other things. When most people say this about self-publishing, they mean that they don't want to be in Kindle Unlimited, but I think we need to go bigger than that. We need to not depend on Amazon at all.
Because, the fact is, Amazon bans authors sometimes from ever publishing with them again for life. You don't want that to happen to you and you to lose your dream because of it. You don't want anyone to have that much power over you.
Think that Amazon doesn't ban authors for life from publishing with them? Read that link. You get no warning about it and you may never be able to get your account back again. They're also not going to give you a reason why they're doing it.
And these kinds of things have been happening for awhile. If you have links in the wrong parts of your books or content in your novels that Amazon finds objectionable, even though they give us no guidelines about what is objectionable or not, then you're screwed. Your book might get banned or your account might get banned. You've worked so hard and a blow like that is painful.
When people go back to a personal relationship over and over again where they're not appreciated, we call it being a doormat and say that maybe the relationship should end. But if people get in a business relationship where they're never paid or appreciated and expected to do a lot of work, people get told to suck it up. Just read the comments on that "The Passive Voice" article I linked to above for some examples.
|Protection From Toxic Relationships|
People make so many excuses for Amazon when there really is none. They just know they're the only place we can go to and that they don't need us, so they want us to suck it up.
So, between readers being unwilling to pay authors for their books and Amazon wanting to pay as little to authors for their books as possible, I've decided that I need to try new things in addition to the old. (I won't be taking my books down from Amazon any time soon.)
I already have been writing hubpages, but in addition to that, I'm also working on a web-site where I'm going to be posting "Choose Your Own Romance" stories and making them available for free. I make money online this way through advertising revenue. Hubpages has its own advertising revenue, but in both places, I also use Google Adsense, which is a very popular way people make money online through their web-site or through videos or articles.
It's a way of dealing with all these people who want free content from you, but also still making money from it. You get paid every time someone clicks on the advertisements on your site.
Now, you don't want a web-site so covered in advertisements that people can't load the page or even figure out where the content is among all the advertisements surrounding it. That will make people run for the hills.
But a moderate amount of advertisements might help a lot of authors make more money from writing. Because you can give the books away from free and depend on the advertisers to pay you instead.
A lot of people have been doing this for awhile. Youtube is like the self-published version of television. Anyone can make an account and upload videos. They use google adsense to advertise and get money from views.
Television networks do this as well. They need commercials to make money on their television shows.
It's a good idea for authors to take advantage of this, too.
And I don't mean just by writing articles, although that's great, too! The web-site I've been working on lately is going to have full length novels on it for people to read.
And because "Choose Your Own" stories involve a lot of hyperlinks, I don't think it's a good idea to post them on Amazon, since they've been banning people for having things like table of contents (which is full of hyperlinks) in the wrong place.
Google Adsense has also made me see how Amazon and a lot of its rules and bannings are done just to make things difficult for people because they don't care.
I can't say for sure how great Google Adsense is. I may run into problems with them someday. I haven't been using them for long, but they are already a step above Amazon so far.
For instance, they have several pages explaining what content is restricted or not:
Romance and erotica authors have been wanting Amazon to do a similar thing with them for a long time, too, since so many romance and erotica books get taken down without an explanation as to why, other than they broke the girls.
They don't have the ambiguous Amazon rules, where Amazon wants you to guess what content is banned or not because it's "about what you would imagine."
And it seems if you get in trouble for content, they will contact you personally through e-mail and tell you which pages are a problem, which is also refreshing.
---Google makes a lot of its revenue on advertisements and it needs people to provide content for those advertisements, so I feel that the site will probably value me more than Amazon does because they need content providers to make a living.
Maybe I'm wrong. Maybe this whole thing will blow-up in my face. Or maybe this is the direction books will go in the future.
Maybe we'll sell everything on our own web-sites instead of on Amazon.
I just want to say that you're not crazy if you're upset by the way Amazon is treating you sometimes. You're not being spoiled for trying to value yourself and find something better or wanting to do something to change things.
A lot of the same people who are stark defenders of Amazon now, were complaining about how little publishers paid authors in the past. They were saying how Amazon makes the midlist author make decent money now and how they're being treated better by Amazon than large publishers.
J.A. Konrath and some of his thoughts on midlist authors and making money on Amazon: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/10/kindle-numbers-traditional-publishing.html
But that's quickly not becoming the case anymore and there's nothing wrong with pointing that out and wanting to do something about it.
I just thought I'd share what I'm trying to do.
Those of us who started self-publishing years ago, know how different the market is now. My paychecks back then were three times the amount they are now and I'm selling the same amount of books on average. That's why we're disgruntled. That's why we're saying something.