Subject: KDP Author Says: Sod Hachette
Date: 2014-07-04 08:48
Dear Mr. Bezos,
I have been an enthusiastic Amazon customer since early 1996, and thus consider myself to be one of your first. A couple of years later, you guys sent me a nice mousepad with one of my orders. I added up what I had spent with Amazon to that date, and it was already thousands of dollars, so I wrote back and suggested that, for that kind of customer spend and loyalty, I deserved at least an Amazon t-shirt. You sent me a t-shirt. I've been in love with Amazon ever since.
And that was prior to Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
As it happens, I have been a fiction writer since 1994. Eventually - after literally thousands of rejections - I got picked up by Macmillan, who published my first two books in 2006 and 2007. The second sold less well than the first - so they unceremoniously dropped me. (*) That was it. Dream over.
And then along came KDP. And in December of 2012, I had the first month of my life when earnings from my writing actually paid my bills - thanks utterly and entirely to KDP. My earnings have gone up from there, and I have been writing full-time ever since. And I have now achieved my dream of being a jobbing novelist.
ALL THANKS TO YOU AND KDP.
And I have, not at all incidentally, been freed from the cartel practices, unconscionable contract terms, and not to mention soul-crushing rejection and frustration, of the Big Six publishers in London and New York, and the literary agency system. Now I write books for my readers, who buy them. Now I am free.
ALL THANKS TO YOU AND KDP.
Thank you very, very, very much indeed. And please don't ever change it (KDP). And sod Hachette.
Very sincerely and respectfully yours,
Michael Stephen Fuchs
If you're new to the Amazon/Hachette imbroglio, or in general to the revolution in book publishing that is currently occurring, please see Barry Eisler's piece in the Guardian:
…These are strange things to say about a company that sells more books than anyone. That singlehandedly created a market for digital books, now the greatest source of the legacy publishing industry's profitability (though of course legacy publishers are sharing little of that newfound wealth with their authors). That built the world's first viable mass-market self-publishing platform, a platform that has enabled thousands of new authors to make a living from their writing for the first time in their lives. And that pays self-published authors something like five times as much in digital royalties as legacy publishers do.
The double standard makes even less sense when you consider that legacy publishers pay authors only twice a year. (Has there ever been anything like that in any other industry?) They generally pay us only 12.5% in digital royalties, compared to the 70% we get from Amazon. They insist on taking control of our copyright not for a reasonable term, but forever. They've done all they can to try to keep the prices of books artificially high, which hurts consumers and costs authors money. They have a record of zero innovation. And they've run the industry for decades in a way that has benefited the few while stifling new opportunities for the many.
And if you've been convinced (and still are) that Amazon is the bad guy and Hachette the innocent victim, here's a comprehensive and compelling point-by-point refutation of that nonsense by J.A. Konrath.
It's worth noting though when I noted it to Macmillan's CEO, I didn't get much of a response that, without question, Graham Greene wouldn't have made it if he were a Macmillan author today. Both his second and third books were monumental commercial flops.
Oh, in my case, there was also the small matter that they completely fucked up the publication of my second book review copies went out three weeks late, the dust jackets didn't fit the books, and the marketing plan they produced literally consisted of four bullet points handwritten on a loose piece of paper. (One of the bullet points was, I recall acidly, two words: "young people".)
Of course, these errors and lapses on their part were of zero interest to them when sales were poor and they decided I'd had my shot. (And if you think any of this is uncommon i.e. incompetence and shoddy treatment by publishers then you haven't talked to many authors.)