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Monday, May 26, 2014

Whiny Writers Trampled in Battle between King Kong and Godzilla Is Just Business

There's a lot of hand-wringing in publishing about the current negotiations between Amazon and Hatchette. I'm not going to link to all the diatribes against Amazon by Hatchette authors and their agents. I think it's telling that Hatchette is using its suppliers in a disinformation campaign against Amazon. What's even more telling is that Amazon is keeping silent.

Why am I not linking to these essays condemning Amazon? It's sad and rather depressing that several writers I admire have become...whiny. These are the same writers who constantly state "it's only business" when someone else gets caught beneath the feet of two behemoths. But now that they are the ones being trampled, they rage and cry and wail, specifically against Amazon. If they say a word against Hatchette, their contracts will not be renewed or possibly current contracts will be cancelled, and these writers know it.

These are the same people who didn't make a peep when Barnes & Noble and Simon & Schuster were duking it out last year, and fellow authors were caught in the crossfire. Why? Because "it's just business."

So why is Amazon exempt? There's this perception among the Big 5 and their writers that Amazon is destroying their business. I'm sorry, but after music and video went digital, even my blind old eyes could see the digital train heading for books. I was buying e-books years before Amazon debuted their Kindle. So the publishing companies had some warning and chose to ignore it.

Writers had the same warning and chose to ignore it as well. Unfortunately, as Jeff Bezos said, complaining is not a strategy.

What these people are not getting through their heads is Amazon doesn't give a shit about them. Hell, let's be totally honest. Amazon doesn't give a shit about me either. Neither does Apple. Or Kobo. Or even Barnes & Noble. I simply provide them a way to make money.

And truth be told Hatchette doesn't give a shit about these loyal authors either. Hatchette US is not a poor, little anything. It's part of a French conglomerate that's currently the world's third largest book publisher. If Hatchette cared, they would guarantee that writers would not lose their contracts because of poor numbers during this brouhaha.

Funny. Simon & Schuster didn't make any guarantees either last year and some writers were dropped by them once the dust settled because of their shitty numbers. Had the writers done anything to deserve this? No, it's just business.

I have no illusions as an indie writer. I'm at the mercy of the retailers. Nothing proved that so well than the Kernel Pornocalypse last October.

But I adjusted. I changed covers and descriptions and interior crap to get my books back online. And I also started investigating some other e-tailers so I'm not dependent on only one or two sources of income.

I understand the Hatchette writers' fear, anger and frustration, but I hope the Hatchette writers get a clue that they are being used. They really need to be looking at how to cover their own asses. Devise contingency plans. Anything productive because whining sure as hell isn't a solution.

Because after all, it's just business.

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