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.
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 Bezos looked at the standing joke of unpublished authors, hats in hand, standing unrewarded at the doors of the Big 6 -- Instant resource to be harvested.
KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING was born.
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Buy hey, most of us were unpublished before KDP, so why not, right?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?
THINK LIKE AMAZON.
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.
SOON EBOOK AUTHORS MAY FEEL THE PINCH
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.