The Reality of Amazon and the Digital Publishing World
Amazon is being proclaimed the Death Star of publishing by authors (Scott Turow called it the Darth Vader, but let’s go bigger), bookstores, the Big 6, the Little 17, and the Weird 55 and all life as we know in the known, and unknown, universe. All I’m seeing is people on both sides sharpening their blades and slashing at each other. From Joe Konrath’s “Amazon is going to destroy you”, to the Author’s Guild post, to the various boycotts. One would think they’re offering small children up to Satan somewhere in Amazon’s corporate headquarters in Seattle the way some are reacting. Or at least a virgin or two. Like they could find one. Well, I’m sure they’ll be selling them soon enough.
Here’s the deal. Amazon is a business. They started out with books. My take, after sitting in a sales force recruiting breakfast in Seattle last year for military academy graduates, is that books are their badge, but overall retail is their main concern. The word ‘book’ was never mentioned in that meeting. China was. As in distribution warehouses being built there. Amazon sells motorcycles! They’ll be selling body parts soon (at least according to some). They’ll be selling real estate once they figure out how to do it. And that’s the key: they’ll figure out how to do it, because Amazon is active rather than reactive. Amazon was founded in 1994. Went on-line in 1995. Only 17 years on-line. I had to ask myself, how much had I changed my business model in 17 years? Not much until January 2011. When I went 100% indie. Turned 180 degrees as an author, joined forces with Jen Talty and formed Who Dares Wins Publishing. (isn’t it kind of cool how our new logo, which Jen did, encompasses the world?) We went from selling a few hundred eBooks that month to earning seven-figures. How have other authors, agents, publishers and bookstores evolved and changed since 1995?
Not a single one of the Big 6 (and why isn’t it the Big 7 and let’s include HQ?) prepared for the digital onslaught of eBooks despite the very obvious and damning evidence piling up. Can we say destruction of the music industry ten years ago? Netflix shifting from DVDs to download? Blockbuster? Ellora’s Cave? War Games? The Terminator? HG Wells?
Look to the right. There >>>>>>. That way. Do you see six titles for FREE including my first original release Chasing The Ghost, a book about a damaged Special Ops soldier, Horace Chase, caught up in lies and deceptions and whose protagonist is very near and dear to me? Buy them NOW! (That’s called subliminal messaging) They are in Kindle Select and are free this week. Authors argue about Select and some damn it because it requires 90 days exclusivity in the program. That’s called marketing and each author’s choice. I choose to enroll at least one title a week for FREE this entire year because I can. (Psst, next week I’ve got a blog post coming where I will, once and for all, give you the single secret handshake for successful digital publishing– if the Illuminati don’t get to me first).
Now look below those six titles to my new release Black Ops: Section 8. It’s exclusive. On Nook, aka Barnes & Noble. For 30 days and is already in the top 25 overall and climbing. I helped PubIt come up with Nook First last year. That’s called networking and running a business. The first book ever in the program before it was even named that, was The Jefferson Allegiance. Within 48 hours it was the #2 overall book on Nook (couldn’t beat out some pesky title called The Help) because Barnes and Noble said something to me I’d never heard in 20 years of traditional publishing: “How can we help you sell books?” I about dropped the phone when the B&N rep said that. And I’ve had a Kobo Rep say the same thing. An Amazon rep. One of the Little 17. I will have six of my new titles in Nook First this year along with other titles from Who Dares Wins authors such as Colin Falconer. (Check him out! Big time in Australia but not one of the Big 6 or the Weird 55 would give him a shot in the US, because you know, Aussies aren’t popular in the US– go back home Russel Crowe and Nicole Kidman).
For some strange reason, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Readerie (something we’re going to help launch because it’s an exciting concept to allow lending of books where authors still make money) and other platforms want to do this radical concept in publishing: sell books from authors to readers.
Not distribute books.
I’m not playing Amazon against B&N against Kobo against Smashwords against the Ewoks or the Little 17 although I am done with the Weird 55. I’m working with all of them because I run a business. It’s called being an author. In order to successfully continue to do that, I must sell books. To readers. They want to help me do that. I want to help them do that. Let me help you. Help me. Help you. Help me. Help you. (Give me a call? Drop me an email?)
And that’s my point. This is a business. Not a slap on the back, happy go lucky, fellowship of the book. Because all these middle people screaming about Amazon would shove the door shut in my face in a heart beat if my books didn’t help their P&L statement and many have done so over the last 25 years.
Amazon might well destroy some middle people. If so, perhaps those people weren’t prepared for the future? Maybe they aren’t changing their business model fast enough? My take at Digital Book World last month listening to many “gurus” who are with publishers or advising publishers is that they are a year behind the digital explosion. Such a lag can be fatal in today’s business world. I saw presenters stumbling to remember terms and programs that should be second nature to a digital publisher: Thus Jen Talty and I wrote The ShelfLess Book: The Complete Digital Author with an official pub date of 26 Feb, but it is already available in eBook on the various platforms.
When I received a mission tasking as a Special Forces A-Team Leader after being alerted, the Battalion Commander never came in, gave me the tasking and asked “How do you feel about it?” He told me to do the mission. He, higher headquarters, the National Command Authority and the United States of America didn’t give a damn what Captain Mayer felt about the mission. They expected me to get it done. We weren’t supposed to be concerned when the intel guy said 50% casualties expected for the first Green Beret teams on the ground, you know, like yours! My team sat in our secure Isolation facility and came up with the best damn plan we could, briefed it back, got mission approval (or not approved and relieved of command for being an idiot and not planning expertly for the future), got on the plane and jumped, choppered, swam, rode a horse, walked, skipped, wtf, we needed to do to get there. And then we did it.
Amazon, Nook, Kobo, etc. are shortening the distance and time between the author and the reader. That is the reality. That is the future.
Now get your parachute on and get on the damn plane. See you at the IRP (Immediate Rally Point) on the DZ (Drop Zone).
Posted on February 21, 2012, in Promotion and the Writer, Write It forward and tagged Amazon Kindle, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Bob Mayer, ePublishing, Jen Talty, Nook, The Future of Publishing, Write It Forward. Bookmark the permalink. 61 Comments.