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About that Amazon thing…

Look, giving them exclusive rights to sell/distribute my ebooks, even for 90 days at a time, doesn’t make me shit unicorn kisses any more than you’d expect. But I like getting my stuff in front of readers.

Once upon a time, I could get a couple of hundred people to read, or at least briefly view, stories right here on the blog–back at the beginning of my Weekly Challenge thing, which got some nice publicity. That number’s down about 25 percent since then, with a fair amount of turnover having happened along the way, and all signs point to at least half of those remaining being more interested in publishing tips than fiction. Or at least my fiction.

So I’m going to write less about publishing, and publishing snafus, and try to focus on the fiction. Even this post is being timed so it’ll go out via an email that also includes a couple of posts about fiction. (Incidentally, I don’t like the way the current emails include only an excerpt of each post, with a link back to this site. Seems like extra hassle to me. So in the near future I’m going to switch to a different mail list service, and include the full post each time. Just letting you know.)

I’ve tried making stories (and books!) free on Smashwords, and through them B&N, Sony (they applied DRM without my consent! Argh!!), iBooks, and lots of other places. I tried Google, too. A few readers found me, but mostly they were–weirdly–on Smashwords itself. I also received some very nice reviews, which it pained me to pseudo-delete by unpublishing the books and stories. But I did it anyway.

In principle, Amazon “should” have price-matched all those free stories eventually. They didn’t. The only thing I’ve had perma-free on the ‘Zon was Thursday Night Game–and that one took a lot of effort. Not only from me; several readers and buddies helped lobby to get it done. And for a while it seemed to work–lots of people read the story. Unfortunately, Amazon made their “free” stuff harder to find, and the download-rate dropped off a cliff. Also…I got a few reviews, and a lot more feedback via Twitter and email, but those guys never seemed to go on to buy any of my stuff. Maybe if it’d been the first of a series…but it wasn’t. Oh, and once I made the story exclusive to Amazon? The ‘Zon figured out that they didn’t need to price-match anymore, so: it’s no longer free, except for maybe five days out of 90. So much for that little adventure!

“My” readership is small. This is pretty much okay with me, as I know quite a few of you folks by name. You say stuff to me. I like that. And I get to write, when I write, for people I sort of know. It may not change what gets dumped through my keyboard a whole lot, but it’s still a good feeling. Truthfully, though I’d love to appeal to (and attract…I mean fictionally! mostly!) more readers somehow or other…it’s not going to change my life a hell of a lot either way. Because I’m already insanely lucky to be living as I do, with my goofy little family, and I’m fully aware that I’ve done very little to deserve any of my good fortune. Nobody who meets us can understand what my wife sees in me, for instance. (Me either.) (But shh!)

The thing is, all that said? I can still get several times the reader-count by going all-in with Amazon, compared to anything and everything I’ve tried on other platforms. In principle I’d rather that everything I wrote were available on all sites where people look for stuff to read. I don’t like the exclusivity thing even a little bit. But my primary goal in publishing (as opposed to my primary goal in writing, which seems way the hell fuzzier from here) is to get my stuff in front of as many readers as possible. For now, that means going all-in with Amazon. This decision sucks donkey-parts I don’t want to get too specific about, ’cause I like to think this blog is sort of a G-spot, but that’s the deal. (Come on. You smiled. At least a little. Didn’t you?)

If this chaps your hide? I get it. Let me know, and we’ll work something out. But I gotta do what I gotta do. I think.

If you want to argue with me about this whole idea? Please do! You might convince me. But…I’ve killed my Facebook and Twitter accounts, which action pleases me no end. I don’t intend to do anything ever again via so-called “social media.” I’ve demonstrated to my own satisfaction that if it’s possible to pull large numbers of readers to this site from Amazon (or any other retailer), I clearly don’t know how to go about it. So this is what’s left. Even if it feels like caving, in a non-spelunking sort of way, and leaves me with a noxious finger-stink to type. In principle, I could use soap for that. Right?

Oh, and I’ll probably try some pay-per-click advertising for The Secret when it comes out in a few weeks, too. That used to work pretty well for me, back when I sold software. Either way: it is what it is.

And it ain’t so bad, really. Right? I’m kinda just doing whatever I want over here. {8′>

Have fun out there!

Published inMy FictionPublishing


  1. Rebecca

    I’m a reader, not a writer and I use Amazon to get my reading material. Your plan works for me. The Secret is still at the top of my wish list, your teaser chapter hooked me well.

    Donkey-parts….hahaha. Yeah, I laughed.

    • David

      You know what? I use Amazon for book-buying too, and almost daily. I’d love to spread my business around, but the other sites I’ve tried just don’t do it for me. I’ve heard of people shopping on Amazon and buying elsewhere…but nah. Doesn’t seem fair. Though sometimes I do shop in actual physical stores and then buy online–not solely because of the price; also the e-Ink reader experience is so much nicer than lugging around physical books, and searching for good-enough reading light, that I haven’t managed to read one of those clunky things in over a year. This, from a guy who used to spend absurd amounts of time scouring the world for first-edition copies of anything he liked…

      I make sure I have my books backed up somewhere besides Amazon, though, just in case they get persnickety with me somehow. You never know. Facebook refused to let me log in without sending them a copy of my driver’s license a few weeks ago–possibly because I use stuff like Tor to hide my physical location, and my browser tells many sorts of creative lies to web servers all the time, and I never gave the site the kind of personal-profile answers people who already know me don’t have to read online?–so I decided that meant I was finally done with ’em. Which felt good. For all I know Amazon might develop an anti-privacy stance too at any moment, in which case the heck with ’em. {8’>

      Anyway, thanks for answering about the donkey parts! Believe it or not, I always worry a little bit when I…er…stick stuff like that in. What if, this time, it’s more offensive than funny? Could happen!

      And now I hope the rest of The Secret lives up to your expectations. Either way, though, getting it off my hard drive and into the world feels pretty good. Or the anticipation does. Something like that. {8’>

  2. I don’t know how you feel about Wattpad these days. I’ve spoken to a few users who enjoy having readers read their stuff for free even though they done the indie publishing route to limited success. (But define success, yes? Everyone has their own personal parameter and we all don’t need to sell like Stephen King to succeed, is my personal belief.)

    But recently, I also encountered a user who posted a tenth of his ‘completed’ book on Wattpad, marked it complete due to the issue with Amazon exclusivity and I think I found him cos he was being ‘twittered’ about by one of the official WP employees. I got the sense he was not a WP regular but simply a drop in ringer, being ‘featured’ by WP. Oh yes, he comes from a ‘group-world’ too. Paid a membership to join a writing society and won a contest. Wee.

    Take of that what you like. There is STILL this ‘eyeball getting’ function of being ‘featured’ mechanically, on WP.

    I think you heard about Anna Todd of “After” WP fame getting a Simon and Shuster deal? A few users I’ve spoken to are still citing the silliness of Simon and Shuster’s claims to the outside of WP world, how After got billions of reads. Sorta like a clash of the real business world and the social media one. Likes DO NOT equal dollar signs.

    Which, still, in some ways, WP is.

    But you might take a look at this.

    All the best.


    • David

      I tried Wattpad. I got almost no eyeballs over there, and decided it wasn’t worth investigating to find out why. Maybe I was wrong to quit, and maybe I wasn’t. If I were really going to try to push my stuff now I’d probably try advertising directly with Amazon. Though that’s not as simple as it appears either.

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