As I’ve mentioned before on my blog, I had a rough decade trying to break into comics. Nobody gave me a shot, nobody looked at my books, nobody cared. So I switched over to writing novels and it has been a blast. The communities are so much healthier and more diverse, the opportunities more exciting, the costs less and the enjoyment more. I publish my books through Amazon and the Kindle. I see Amazon being taken to task lately for some of their practices; from their purchase of Comixology to the battle with Hatchette. I wanted to share my story so you guys can see why I support Amazon one hundred percent.
I’d spent every extra dollar I had for years to make those two Legion comics. I had to take money from the devil himself at points and then fight to get the rights back from them. I still have a third issue of the book that only needs lettering and a fourth issue that only needs coloring; if I spent the money, I could sell these issues as well. I don’t really want to do that though, but not long ago I did.
In 2009, Comixology sort of went live. Before that, they were really just a fan site to organize comics. The business we know them as today started only five years ago. I was excited because it meant that I had another shot at selling my comics again. Image might have ignored me, Diamond might have ignored me, but digital was the future anyway, so I was eager to get the books on the site.
Except Comixology didn’t sell creator owned comics. Not for years. I think it was two years of constant complaints from creators and customers that finally got them to accept creator owned work. I was signed up from the beginning, right from the beta launch. I submitted Legion Unleashed #1. It seemed to go okay.
Want to know how many copies I’ve sold? I mean they already had the big boys established on their site, obviously not too many people are going to find my little book on there. I can’t check how many issues I’ve sold by the way, because the website always has errors.
I spent 2 years trying to publish the second issue. Two years of constant back and forth e-mails every month, wondering what the hell was wrong with their site. Comixology said it was my computer. I told them I’ve had two different computers, I’ve used three different internet browsers, I did everything I could on my end to upload the new issue. It never went up and every time I contacted them, the whole process would start again because each person who I spoke to would have idea what was already done. Apparently just putting the book on the site for me wasn’t an option. So what you have is a difficult site to use, a useless customer service department and a library of comics that you pay almost full price for but you don’t actually own. You see the books stay in your library on their site but when their site goes down or gets bought out, you just have to hope and pray you still have what you paid for.
Comixology was nothing more than a digital extension of the same bullshit that you experience with the comic industry.
Writing novels and publishing through Amazon and Kindle has been a dream come true. Never any real problems I can’t work around or that aren’t my fault and never any stress or pressure about content or the work itself. I sell books, for the first time in my life, I’ve actually sold books. I’ve made money. Hugh Howey has gotten rich thanks to Amazon and their self-publishing model. If you are an American citizen, there are tons of other offers too; Kindle Worlds, free Audio recordings of your novels, etc. Eventually these options will be available to everyone, around the world. There are huge lists of links for authors as well; where to find or how to design cover art, how to get your book translated, marketing tips, etc.
Which brings me to Hatchette. Let’s be honest, how many Hatchette books do you REALLY buy every year? Other than the thrill of being part of a mock outrage scene on Facebook, what do you gain by supporting Hatchette? They are nothing if not a symbol of the old-fashioned, outdated modes of publishing and distribution. Does Amazon care about me as an author? No, but they try to pretend real good. Hatchette doesn’t even do that, they only care about their own authors and their selective lines. Sure if I was one of the chosen few that was published through one of their brands I’d have a different perspective but I am not. I am not one of the chosen ones, I am just like you. Amazon allows me to read free books and give away free books and sometimes make a few bucks. What has Hatchette ever done for me?
We all love to rail at the big corporations and their bullying tactics but this is two big corporations fighting over how much discount they get or receive. A victory for Hatchette is a victory for the old model of business, Amazon is the biggest because they give people what they want. If you buy one of my books from them, they recommend my other books. They don’t recommend you someone else’s books and that it what I love about Amazon. Their marketing is driven by your tastes, they don’t try to sell you another big companies book you don’t want just because they have a partnership with them, unlike Comixology (before Amazon bought them).
Amazon is not a bully, Amazon is Batman and the independent authors are the people of Gotham. We’re not the rich, or powerful, we’re the forgotten ones who have to try anything to get by. I don’t know if that makes Hatchette the villains or the police and I don’t really care because in Gotham, everything is corrupt. Batman (Amazon) may be harsh at times, but at least I know the rules of the game. If you have wait to get the next J.K. Rowling book until this dispute is worked out, so what? There are thousand authors out there on Amazon, new writers with new voices who might surprise you.
Stop listening to the Mock Internet Outrage and understand that Amazon has provided opportunities to thousand of artists of all different styles, people who would not have any opportunities without them. Their voices don’t carry as far as the Mock Outrage, but we support Amazon because unlike every other publisher and website, THEY HAVE SUPPORTED US.
There are authors who are outraged, authors who claim Amazon is cutting into their small profits by not letting customers by their books. But these authors should be demanding a higher percentage of sales from their publisher, Hatchette. If they are giving you pennies on the books you write, why in the hell would you expect Amazon to make the same mistake? Every single one of these authors could take their book from their publisher and put it out directly through Amazon and make as much as they want to. The problem is they locked themselves into deals with Hatchette and now THEIR bully got bullied by MY bully. They made bad decisions because they wanted the fame and fortune that came with being part of a world wide publishing house, who refuses to comply with their biggest customer, Amazon. You see Amazon buys books, a lot of books, which they keep in their warehouses. They sell them to you, to make money. They want a deeper discount from Hatchette. Don’t they deserve it as the biggest customer?
Support the big guy who supports the little guy. Support Amazon.