Readers…I Thank You

TLDR: Please read this petition written by various authors to our readers, in support of Amazon during their negotiations with Hachette. It gives the other side of the story you’re unlikely to see in major news outlets (many of which own traditional publishing houses). And THANK YOU for your support and being an awesome reader!

It wasn’t that long ago that I was working data entry as a temp at a large oil and gas company. It was definitely a place where I was very unhappy and felt unvalued as an employee. I was in a place where I had to take what was offered, and even if I could have had a better job, I almost felt like it was impossible to find one.

That was when I first started writing Apocalypse, and shortly after self-publishing the book on Amazon, I was informed I was being laid off. That was early 2013, and so much has changed since then, thanks to Amazon and my wonderful readers.

I went on to work at a warehouse, which I actually enjoyed a lot more than my old job. I say I enjoyed it more, but that certainly doesn’t mean I enjoyed it. Despite often working 10-12 hour days in the summer heat, I also wrote on the side and often sacrificed my social life to make it happen. I’d come home so tired that writing was the very last thing I wanted to do, but I did it anyway, because I was so committed to making it that I was willing to sacrifice anything.

And I’m so glad I did, because by the time BookBub made my book take off, I had three books in my series with a fourth on the way. Readers finally found me, and readers have been the reason why I could finally leave my job last March (I’d moved on to a job with air-conditioning, thankfully, that was much better all-round).

Amazon has been catching a lot of flak lately regarding their negotiations with Hachette. Because Hachette (and other big publishers) are owned by media conglomerates, it’s not surprising that they’re winning the PR battle. It certainly doesn’t help that many big names, such as Patterson, King, and Gaiman, are sticking up for Hachette – as one might expect.

However, the typical author’s experience with a big publisher is very different from the treatment of their all-stars. The majority of writers have unconscionable contracts which offer very low royalties (try 7.5%-15%, and you’re doing well), demand the rights of the work for the author’s life plus seventy years, along with forcing authors into non-compete clauses, meaning the author can’t publish with any other publisher, including the author, if that author wanted to self-publish something.

But left out of the conversation are the most important people in the book industry – the readers. There is a lot of misinformation being spread in all the Amazon bashing, which is understandable given that they’re a large company and you have people like Steven Colbert waving the banner.

At the same time, though, Amazon has made it possible for me, and thousands of other authors, to self-publish through Kindle Direct Publishing. This has allowed you to find my books, and not only find them, but pay a very affordable price of a free first book, followed by $2.99 installments. You could read my entire series on Kindle for less than the price of a single hardback book marked at $28 at your local Barnes & Noble.

Make no mistake: without Amazon, you would never have read The Wasteland Chronicles, not to mention the works of many other independent authors I’m sure you enjoy. Despite what Big Publishing would you have you believe, Amazon is the best thing to happen to publishing in years, if not decades, ushering in a rise of new voices due to a removal of publishing barriers, barriers set in place by traditional publishers that make absolutely zero sense in today’s digital world.

Furthermore, Amazon wants lower prices for readers. They have a history of having unbeatable customer service. Any time I’ve had to call Amazon for any reason, they have treated me with utmost respect and the problem was solved in minutes. They accepted a return from me, no questions asked. They care about their customers, and their history proves that – and they’re willing to take on suppliers who would charge more when charging more does not make any sense – in this case, Hachette wanting higher prices for their books.

In contrast, Hachette and other Big Publishers have a history of treating writers and readers alike poorly – authors because of unconscionable contracts, and readers because they want to charge as much as they can squeeze out of you. In the digital transition, they’ve made little attempt to change their archaic business model, much more connect with their readers. Authors continue to be offered poor contracts, while authors who self-publish through Amazon make anywhere from 35-70% royalties.

There are so many stories of independent authors who were rejected by various publishers, for various reasons, who went on to self-publish through Amazon and sell thousands of books – and in some cases, millions. And it’s because of Amazon – and even more, readers, that we get to do what we love for a living to bring you more books.

That’s why I urge you to read and sign this petition, by authors and for readers. We believe Amazon is right, because they are fighting the publishers from keeping e-book prices artificially high. Without Amazon, there would be no pressure for publishers to lower their prices, because big publishers absolutely refuse to compete with one another in almost every aspect of their business. This is bad for readers, and this is bad for authors – no one benefits except for the big publishers.

So, please, I humbly ask that you read the petition and get the full story, because you certainly won’t hear it from most major news sources. Once again, I thank you personally for reading my books and allowing me to do this for a living. Every day I wake up and absolutely cannot believe this is my life now, and I have you to thank.

All that gushing aside, it’s time for me to get back to work.

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