Monday, July 14, 2014

A Place At That Table

The war between Amazon and Hachette continues. Most of the writers I know haven't taken sides. The specific facts are being held secret but one thing we can all be sure of is that it's about the money. And by that I mean how much Hachette makes and how much Amazon makes on the books they sell. Both love writers only in so much as they make money for their companies. Both love readers because they buy the products Hachette and Amazon are selling.

Like many writers, when I started bleeding out that first novel, I imagined it on the shelf in bookstores and libraries. Book tours and signings ... and of course those lovely paychecks that would allow me to quit the day job and write full time. The dream slammed into the heavily fortified gates of the big boys of publishing. At that time, about eight years ago, they had no place for a science fiction romance though perhaps it would be labeled dystopian today. A small publisher took a chance on it and on my next ten romance novels. Shortly thereafter, speculative fiction romances took off.

I would love to sign a huge money contract with a big publisher but I'm content to be where I am, working with two small publishers. If they would ever listen to someone like me, I would tell the traditional publishers to get off their entitled asses and catch up. They jumped into the paranormal romance trend after small publishers made it popular. They dragged their feet getting into the digital market. And now Hachette is selling books right from their website? Did I hear that? Well guess what, Hachette, my small publisher has always done that. And not only do they sell them at a discount, when they sell a book directly from their website, they make more money and pay me a higher percentage. Win for them and win for their writer. Is Hachette paying their writers more if they skip the middle man? Or are they only providing links so readers can go to a different middle man than Amazon. Didn't investigate that.

It's not that I'm not concerned about the ongoing publishing war. There are probably ways it could affect those of us with small publishers too. Is Amazon a bully? Sure. Just like Walmart is to their vendors. Do most writers sell most of their books through Amazon? Sure. We all have a place at this table but we won't have much say in what is served.

So my romance books are available on my publisher's website at a discount. Here is an interesting article from The New York Times titled Amazon, a Friendly Giant as Long as It's Fed.

Do you feel like this battle affects you? Any advice to traditional publications if they want to stay in business? Do you shop at any of the 'bully' stores like Amazon and Walmart?

Don't forget to visit the IWSG site today for another enlightening post. Check out the new links found on all the pages.


  1. I've always been leery of Amazon. Of course it's a business so they need to make money, but what happens when they crush all competition and make everyone bend to their rules? The deal will not be sweet for anyone then.

  2. Think I'm happy with my small publisher. Sounds like the bigger ones can't keep up anyway.

  3. All about the money indeed. Big publishers are hurting because of amazon and because they refuse to pull their head from the arse and change, they did it to themselves, so I have no sympathy for them. But Amazon pretty much has a monopoly on everything, that can be bad.

  4. so confusticating!!!

    i also worry about the pirate sites that give my book away for free!! and there's apparently nothing we can do about it, because the big authors are there too! i try to tell myself it's okay - like the llibrary and if they like it, word of mouth... but it doesnt make me feel much better =(

    too many selfish people, not enough standing up for what's right and good! wah.

    btw, thanks for supporting my broken branch falls blog tour!

  5. I have many writer friends who are very happy with their small publishers - lots of great ones out there!

  6. I think that this is confusing (or maybe even a non-event) for the average book buyer. As more booksellers close up shop, Amazon is becoming the Go-To place for books. More and more folks have kindles and it is pretty easy to download what you want and avoid paying shipping.

    I wasn't aware that small publishers often sell books at a reduced rate on their website... so I am willing to bet that the average reader doesn't know that either.

    I don't know how to solve this one, but I recognize it is a problem.

  7. Amazon definitely has the corner on the market, but in some ways that's a good thing. At least people know where to really hit a large audience with buyers confidence. I'd just as soon sell my book through my publisher, which they're doing for pre-sales. I make more. They make more. We get to give away extras for the same price... Yup. Sounds like the way to go to me.

  8. A small publisher can be the best of both worlds, if you find the right one. I'm very happy with mine, even though they don't sell from their website--but I agree that's a big perk. You're right that the Big Five tend to learn from the smaller publishers. Then they buy them. :-)

  9. I do not buy from Amazon or Walmart because I refuse to contribute to the decline of Western Civilization.

    Great spin on this issue, Sue!

  10. I know it doesn't help authors, but it's another reason I'll keep heading to the library...

  11. Amazon is where I make most of my sales, and it's like I'm holding my breath waiting to see what will come out of this.

  12. I'm watching the battle with Amazon, but don't figure Hachette for any less of a money grubbing bully than Amazon, really. We'll see in the end, though. Authors have come out saying they're happy with Hachette, so there's that.

  13. Hi, Susan,

    Truthfully, I haven't been paying much attention to what's been happening with Amazon & Hatchette, other than reading a few articles about what's been going on.

    I've been disillusioned with publishers for a while now. I've worked with two, one of which was a total ripoff, but anyway...

    At the end of the day, I can but hope that the authors will be the ones who benefit.

  14. The box stores have the clout and as long as we patronize them, they'll continue to have it. The problem about not buying through them is we pay more at the check out. Dilemma.