Monday, July 7, 2014

Oh, Those Poor, Amazon-Hating, Rich Authors

How’s your Monday going so far?  Typical?  Or better than expected?

Mine is off to a good start!  Would you like to know why?

Okay, but first I want to say that we’ll discuss your story assignments tomorrow.  Today’s topic has kinda taken the lead here.

You know that I’ve talked about the Amazon/Hachette controversy in another blog entry.  You also know that I’m a firmly independent author, and that my stories would never have seen the light of day without Amazon.

Now, you’ve probably seen comments from big name authors concerning this dispute, among them James Patterson, Scott Turow, and Douglas Preston.  The latest entry from the dispute is the open letter that Douglas Preston has written, asking you, as the reader, to sign in support of, apparently, legacy publishing.  A few hundred people have signed, and that’s their right.  After all, the big author names have made millions of dollars from legacy publishers.

It breaks my heart to see that a few of the authors that co-signed Mr. Preston’s letter are some of my favorite authors.

It breaks my heart that they’re wrong.

They don’t want change.

They don’t want the Big 5 publishers to go away, even though the Big 5 broke the law when they all got together, did a little price-fixing, and forced high eBook prices on everyone, especially Amazon.  Recently, Amazon refused to accept those high eBook prices, with good reason. In the dispute with Hachette, Amazon began charging Hachette’s full list price for Hachette’s authors, and removed the ‘pre-order’ buttons from any Hachette title.  They still sell book published by Hachette.  They just don’t stockpile them.  What Hachette doesn’t understand is that most readers, like me, have budgets, and have only a few dollars that can be spent on books.  A lot of readers are quite voracious, and can devour two to three books a week.  If my book budget is, say, fifteen dollars, I have a choice.  I can either buy one new bestselling book from one of these millionaire authors, or I can buy five books, at three bucks apiece, from independent authors.  Hmmm…wow.  One book…or five…as much as I read, the five books would be the better value!  And the stories are as good, or better, than the millionaire authors’ stories!

Another point is that, unless you have a mega-bestseller, most legacy authors don’t earn enough to make a living, and actually are living advance-to-advance.  Keep in mind that an advance from a publisher is the equivalent to a loan against future sales.  If you don’t meet sales to cover your advance, a publisher can request that you refund the difference.

Royalties are approximately 12-12.5% of the sale price.  Often, legacy authors have to continue writing new stuff so that they can get advances on the new stories…just to put food on the table.

Along comes Amazon.  It allows authors to self-publish.  It allows authors to keep the rights to their work.  It pays authors up to 70% royalties.

Mr. Preston’s letter goes on to request that you, as the reader, email Jeff Bezos, the man who created Amazon, and tell him that you want high eBook prices again!

Mr. Preston’s letter says that Mr. Bezos is rumored to read every email that arrives in his box at this email address:  I ask every one of my readers to first, follow J. A. Konrath’s blog.  In particular, please go here, and read Mr. Konrath’s comments.

After that, I ask my readers to do two more things.  First, please email Jeff Bezos at Amazon at the above email address.  Please tell him “Thank you for keeping prices low.”  Also tell him that you support him in the dispute between Amazon and Hachette, and ask him not to bow to pressure from the millionaire authors.

Second, please go to and sign the following petition:

Thanks to Amazon, more authors than ever before have been able to put their work in your hands.  Ultimately, it comes down to authors and readers, and readers decide with their pocketbooks what authors are worth reading.  No one but you should have the power to dictate what you have the opportunity to read.

I proudly signed the petition at  That’s why my Monday is off to a great start!

Thanks for listening to my rant today, and we’ll discuss your weekend writing assignment tomorrow (Tuesday).  Meanwhile, pick up a book, or a Kindle, or a Nook, or whatever you choose…and

Keep reading!

Michael (T. M. Bilderback)

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