Friday, December 9, 2011

A note to my readers

To my readers

Many of you enjoy my books while a few of you wish my emo bunnies would die.  Either way, I thank you for reading. :)  Writing is one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done in my life.  It's a lot like reading, but I'm right there with the characters, helping them to decide what to do next.  I find myself tearing up when they're sad, my heart races when they're in danger and I grin when they say something funny.  Of course this means I'm probably a bit crazy, but that's okay.  It's fun here in emo bunny land.


I love it when people read my books though.  I have had fans tell me how much they liked a story, how it made them laugh, how they didn't expect what happened next.  Hundreds of people have rated and reviewed my stories.  A few hate them, which is okay, but many more like or love them.  Either way, it is so amazing that people read my writing and respond to it.  I hope I never lose the sense of amazement I feel about it.

Exclusivity

This is a fancy sounding word that means only one person or company gets something.  It's generally a requirement of serious relationships. ;)  Amazon posted an offer yesterday that would require an agreement of Exclusivity from Indie Writers.  That means if I accepted the offer, I would only be able to publish my books through Amazon.

Here's the thing: if they were offering me a million dollar publishing contract, I would probably have to take it.  I would because I have a family and times are hard.  A million dollars would buy me a house, cars for me, my wife, my daughter (I have to buy her one when I get rich, cuz she's on my book covers) and the ability to write full time.

However, this is no such thing.  It's an offer to be part of a paid lending library for Kindle users.  Those authors who participate would share a $500,000 pot based on how many times their book was borrowed.  And each author who participates is not allowed to distribute their book anywhere else.

My promise to you

I promise that I will do everything I reasonably can to make my eBooks available to every reader in the world.  If I find it necessary to become exclusive with a company for the survival and comfort of my family, then I will break that promise. :(  However, I will try to avoid that if at all possible, even if it means taking the offer to a different publisher to see if they'll give better distribution. ;)

I want people to read my books.  I want them to do it on the reader they prefer.  I know many of my fans like to read on their iPad, Nook, Kobo or Sony readers.  Some even like reading on a smartphone or computer.  Not everyone likes Amazon.  Not everyone in the world can order through them either.

Right now, my books are available internationally through Smashwords.  They are available in 32 countries through Apple.  Kobo has made deals in England and France.  Amazon distributes through many countries, but charges a $2 surcharge for every book. :(  B&N is only available in the US (they really need to work on that)  I'm honestly not sure about Sony and Diesel's distribution.

The offer

Yesterday, Amazon made Indie Authors using Kindle Direct Publishing an offer to join their KDP Select program.  It sounds very nice.
  • Reach a new audience - Distribute books through the Kindle Owners' Lending Library and reach the growing number of US Amazon Prime members.
  • Earn a whole new source of royalties - Earn your share of $500,000 in December and at least $6 million throughout 2012 when readers borrow your books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
  • Promote your book for free to readers worldwide - The newly launched Promotions Manager tool will allow you to directly control the promotion of free books.
  • Instant feedback - Check real-time performance of your books in the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.
The problem

Lower on the page Amazon says this:

When you choose KDP Select for a book, you're committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information.

So if I were to join this program, I would have to remove my books from Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Sony and Diesel.  I'm simply not willing to do that.  I'm not willing to shut out readers because they don't buy from Amazon, especially if my readers are in territories that are charged the $2 surcharge by Amazon.

Oh, and I seriously doubt I'd get more than a few dollars of that $500,000 pot.

Other responses to the offer

One of the companies this affects most is Smashwords.  Smashwords is a small company started a few years ago that allows Indie Writers to self-publish their writings as eBooks.  It is how I distribute my works to Apple, B&N, Kobo, Sony and Diesel.  To participate in the program, writers have to unpublish works already submitted through Smashwords and anyone they distribute to.


Smashwords' response to the news is here:  http://blog.smashwords.com/2011/12/amazon-shows-predatory-spots-with-kdp.html

I've listened to a lot of Indie Authors respond in forums such as Kindleboards and author groups, such as Indie Writers Unite, Indie Authors Group, and Book Junkies on facebook.  Some are firmly against it while others have decided to jump in.  Many aren't sure what to do.

Writer Beware is one of the absolute best sites for any and every writer.  They discuss the fine print of the program:
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2011/12/fine-print-of-amazons-new-kdp-select.html


Feelings from Marsha Ward of American Night Writers Association
http://anwafounder.blogspot.com/2011/12/amazons-kdp-select-program.html

One of my writing friends, Guido Henkel, wrote his feelings in a blog post:  http://guidohenkel.com/2011/12/dear-amazon%E2%80%A6-heres-what-i-think-of-your-kindle-select-program/


Conclusion

So please feel free to enjoy or hate my books on your favorite reader.  I'm writing more and they'll be published on all the online stores I can find.  I truly hope they bring you a giggle or a laugh and that the characters in them intrigue you.  Writing is extremely fun for me and hearing from you fills my heart with joy. :)

All my best,

John H. Carroll

4 comments:

Jarrak said...

Poor little Emo Bunny but at least he doesn't have to deal with the corporate mindset then is trickling into the indie writers world.

I don't think anyone would begrudge an author making a living maybe even a good one even if means sacrificing some independence and choice. It's a shame that sort of fencing exists and no doubt it will get more common place and even promote the side stepping of DRM type protections for those readers who don't, can't or won't drink the kool-aid.

Thanks for being open about your options, this interaction is maybe the reason why I am reading so much more self-published work, it generates a sense of involvement something you don't get with the latest big budget hardback book purchase.

John Carroll said...

@Jarrak

Being an Indie really is a lot of work and things like this make it more stressful. I want very much to succeed, but I care about my readers. It feels good when my writing is enjoyed and the part of me that doesn't have to support a family doesn't care whether I make a dime. Regrettably, the part that does care is a bully and keeps kicking that part's ass. It's very confusing in here. ;)

Wherever I have the option, I do not activate DRM. Most stores allow me to keep it off, but some put it on everything.

I really appreciate all the support you give me. It's guys like you that make me want to write more. :)

Thank you

Beth said...

Good comes from everything. My reading about this, caused me to find a response by you, which led me to your blog - which took me to find and read one of your books - which I got from B&N. Loved reading about Emo. I guess I'm an old demented child. Keep writing.

John Carroll said...

Hi Beth,

That's wonderful. :) Emo is a lot of people's favorite including mine, to the point where I actually have a bunny named Emo. :D

I'm really happy that you enjoyed it and I am definitely continuing to write. :)