So you can read my books

Monday, March 3, 2014


The gold rush days of Indie Publishing are over.

(This image is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.)
KDP opened a new world to many struggling authors.  

ACX, an Amazon-owned company,  provided an access to audiobooks that most struggling writers would never have had.

ACX even provided stipends to make it easier for authors and narrators to connect!

We were drunk with the opportunities provided.  We never asked WHY?
We should have. 
Amazon needed content for its new family of Kindles ... lots of inexpensive content in a wide array of genres.  

There is a strange effect when you first get a Kindle:

You start to read more than you used to.  It is a fact. 

 Amazon needed an enormous amount of cheap books in a variety of genres to satisfy that sudden growth in reading and to sustain it.

Mr. Bezos looked at the standing joke of unpublished authors, hats in hand, standing unrewarded at the doors of the Big 6 -- Instant resource to be harvested.


At the beginning it was wonderful.  Amazon needed our experience to be REWARDING to draw us in.

We had control at last: title, cover, price.  We even made money!  WHAT A CONCEPT.

KDP Select allowed us to promote our books with free giveaways!  

If we charged $2.99 or more, we got to keep 70% of each sale!

Then, things started to change:

Did we want to keep our 70% cut?  We had to join KDP Select, giving Amazon exclusive rights to our books.

Buy hey, most of us were unpublished before KDP, so why not, right?

March 1st, ACX has given its customers 2 weeks notice (notice the symbolism?)

that they were dropping their royalty rate to us to 40%, taking the lion's share for doing nothing new.

Plus no escalator clause, allowing us to reap 90% should we sell enough audiobooks (which was an absurdly high number anyway).

What's going on?  


Amazon is famous for its tight lips.  But there are rumblings that:

ACX offers generous incentives to valuable authors to produce through their services. 

ACX pays the first $5000 in production costs, mandating that the narrator must be paid $300 per finished hour. 

That is well above the SAG-AFTRA usual asking price of $225 pfh. 

So, they’re obviously cutting costs on the relatively unknown Indie authors 

to make up for the generous subsidies that they’re extending to the Big Name authors.

Audible/Amazon has enough content in its inventory.  Now, they need to lure the lucrative valuable Large Names into the fold.

Indies were simply used to inflate their catalog, and now they don't need them anymore.

 So why the window to let us lock in the old rate? 

It's not out of the goodness of their hearts. It's in their best interests in some way. 

There are rumblings that ACX's exclusive contract with iTunes will soon be up.  iTunes who pays 70% to its vendors.  

This 2 week window may be to tie as many authors exclusively as possible to ACX for 7 years ... in order to deny them to Apple.


 Amazon launched the 70% payment option on 20 January 2010

This was about a week before the iPad was unveiled.

Now, B&N is collapsing with its Nook.  KDP now insists that you join KDP Select to get 70%.

Amazon may think its 70% rate has served its purpose of fragmenting the publishing industry and now has market dominance.

Consider how the 35% scenario would affect the indie publishers:

 The drop in income would cause them to lay off staff, pass on contracts, and tighten their belts,

As with the Gold Rush in California, 
the Indie Gold Rush is over.  

People still made money in California afterwards.  

We will, too.  

We will just have to keep from succumbing to an Ostrich Denial and innovate according to prevailing conditions.


  1. Which is why we don't want monopolies. Oh well - i hope you're doing well.

  2. Rusty:
    Amazon seems to be walking the Monopoly Tightrope at our expense!

    Yes, I am healing well on my forehead -- my nose not so much. But time will tell. I can no longer say NO SKIN OFF MY NOSE! :-)

    Thanks for visiting!

  3. I guess that's why they say never put all your eggs in one basket. Sorry all of that is happening.

  4. Alex:
    Sooner or later Amazon's greed will affect ebook authors as well. I feel like Churchill watching Hitler take over the eastern European countries. He tried to warn Parliament, Hitler would come for them, but they chose to ignore an uncomfortable premise. It happened anyway.

  5. Screw over a bunch of small time writers in order to mess with a huge company that won't notice at all? Sounds about right.

  6. J E:
    Mr. Bezos has always believed in crushing the opposition in any way he can even to the extent of his company eating losses -- so he sees no problem in his Indie vendors eating losses to help Amazon.

    Besides, Amazon sees Apple as a threat in that it is being courted by the Big 5 Publishers to help break Amazon's stranglehold on the publishing industry.

  7. I've never done audiobooks, so I hadn't heard about this yet...but bad news!

    And you're right, I'm sure the changes to indie e-books will come swiftly.

    Thanks for the heads up.

  8. Connie:
    We Indies were necessary to Mr. Bezos at the beginning. Now, not so much.

    He's courting the larger fish now. We are just dead weight.

    Long ago, Caesar organized a coalition, known as the First Triumvirate, made up of Pompey, commander in chief of the army; Marcus Licinius Crassus, the wealthiest man in Rome; and Caesar himself.

    Pompey and Crassus were jealous of each other, but Caesar by force of personality kept the arrangement going.

    In the end, there was only Caesar. In the end, Mr. Bezos plans for there to be only Amazon.

    He needed fodder for his first stages: we were it. Now, we are not needed.

    Thanks for visiting and staying to chat.

  9. I've been thinking along those lines--- never been able to articulate them.

    Amazon is insidious in its ways -- thanks for giving perspective and history to demonstrate that.

    And I hope you're recovering well.

  10. Thank you so much for this heads-up. Now I want to go check out my one and only book on Amazon to see how the royalties are going to play out in the future. I never did like the way Amazon was plotting its way to being a monopolist, and there are rumblings that Bezos is a ruthless employer.

  11. This was such an informative post! I had no idea things had changed for indie writers on Amazon.

  12. D Biwas:
    By the time a company reaches the status of Amazon, morality is merely a ghost of a word. It is all about crushing the opposition.

    Amazon has great customer support, but we authors are mere vendors to them -- plenty more of us when they use us up.

    Employees walk in fear of receiving one of Mr. Bezos's "?" emails -- just that one character, "?", and tons of reports had better be done on the subject heading.

    What with Russia threatening to collapse the U.S. economy should we intervene in their war, Amazon's greed seems petty somehow.

    When you deal with a monopoly-in-the-making like Amazon, you take your chances and hope it is to their best interest not to hurt you.