Currently reading - Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews
JUST A REMINDER: Over the next few posts, I'll be reviewing the some of the players in non-traditional book distribution. I DO NOT advocate any particular company. What you'll be reading is my thought process as I work through my decision-making. I can, and probably will, make a ton of mistakes. Your mileage may vary.
With the book market is a wild state of flux, it's every woman for herself. There's a ton of smooth talking charmers who want to part you from your money. (PublishAmerica, Author Solutions, or Harlequin Horizons, anyone?)
But there's a big difference between vanity publishing and indie publishing, the primary one being the flow of money. To paraphrase the great SF author Harlan Ellison, money should flow to the writer. Anything else is bullshit.
(Editorial Note: Angie Benedetti pointed out Ellison was actually quoting James D. McDonald, who coined Yog's Law. I know James D. McDonald better as the mastermind behind Atlanta Nights, a deliberately bad novel written by McDonald in collaboration with several fellow members of SFWA to prove PublishAmerica was a vanity press, not a legitimate publisher. McDonald and his cohorts went on to publish Atlanta Nights through Lulu.com with all proceeds going to the SFWA Emergency Medical Fund.)
You, the author, should be getting the money minus your overhead. And you're going to have a certain amount of reasonable overhead costs with ANY business. Your job as the business owner is to keep your overhead low and maximize profits. Sounds simple, but it means doing your homework.
Let's start with Amazon. Their timing for introducing the Kindle dedicated e-reader was nothing short of excellent. The e-book market has been steadily growing for the last ten years. Their Kindle uses E-ink, which is much easier on the eyes for those people who have issues looking at a backlit screen for extended periods. Their market share in the book industry has been criticized as a monopoly, but this also means they're able reach a large number of potential customers. Amazon was also the first major book retailer to welcome the Jo Blo indie publishers.
I strongly suggest you thoroughly read Amazon's terms. Amazon's subsidiary CreateSpace allows an indie publisher to stock paper books, in addition produce works on other media. Amazon's big draw though is the percentage split on Kindle e-books. Under Amazon's terms, the author/indie publisher receives 70% of the gross income, not 25% of net income, which is the current standard term with the Big 6 house.
Let's do the math. I'll use $10 for the book's retail price for simplicity's sake. If you publish a e-book with Amazon, your income would be $7. If you publish an e-book through a Big 6 house, they sell to a retailer for roughly 50% of the retail price, meaning they only get $5. They get to deduct their overhead cost, so let's assume overhead is $4. $5 minus $4 equal $1. You, the author, receive 25% of $1, or $0.25. Who doesn't want $7 in the hand rather than a quarter?
(For a much better analysis of the money, go read Dean Wesley Smith's breakdown on cash flow.)
The second big advantage of course is Amazon's reach through the internet. You don't have to worry about whether you can ship books to the only bookstore in Cicely, Alaska. And if you still have your world rights, you can sell to your fans in France or Germany through Amazon as well.
The last big advantage is that Amazon pay authors/indie publishers on a monthly basis compared the Big 6 only paying bi-annually.
Disadvantages can include Amazon's sometimes arbitary changing of terms, but so far I haven't heard of them doing that to the indies. If someone has a story, please feel free to share.
As I've said before, I like to do pro/con lists, and right now there's a lot of pluses on my Amazon list.