Weekly Update – March 9, 2021

I’m happy to report that the audition process for the Action Figures audiobook project has taken a turn for the better.

The first several auditions I received were disappointing as a whole. A couple had promise, but nothing wowed me — until last week, when I got a really exciting audition, and word from an old actor friend of mine she might be interested in the project. I’m hoping to wrap up auditions this week and move on to the recording phase.

On another note…

You may have heard that there is a consumer-led Amazon boycott this week, a call to refrain from buying anything from the retail giant, using their Alexa products in your home, viewing anything on Amazon Video, etc., to show support for workers whose efforts to unionize have been thwarted by the company.

To be clear: I support the unionization of Amazon workers and I support the boycott. Amazon is absolutely a problematic company, and consumers should take the action they deem necessary to send the message that Amazon needs to do better.

Now, whenever similar past initiatives have popped up, there’s often been a corresponding response among indie and small press authors begging consumers to make an exception when it comes to buying books. A lot of indie authors are able to make a living on their writing thanks to Amazon, so of course they’re going to be squirrelly about even a week’s worth of lost sales.

Further, Amazon is largely responsible for the rise of independent authorship by giving writers a truly national, even global sales platform. Fifteen, maybe even just ten years ago, an indie author couldn’t get their books on Barnes & Noble’s or Borders’ websites, but Amazon let them all in, and gave indie authors the tools to produce professional-quality products.

Amazon rightfully deserves a lot of the criticism it receives, but it deserves credit where it’s due as well.

Anyway, the immediate point I’m making is this: Amazon is a necessary evil for a lot of us, and it’s not easy to break away from the Zon and sustain our income levels. Some have done it, absolutely, but they’re what’s known as “the exception to the rule.” For every author who successfully “goes wide” — diversifies their retail outlets so they’re not selling solely through Amazon — there are several more who have tried and have never generated enough sales traffic to justify leaving Amazon, partially or entirely.

Consumers are a big part of the reason why so many of us can’t make a go through other retailers. For all their Amazon-bashing, they still turn to Amazon on a regular basis, and probably always will. And even when they say they’re going to spend their money elsewhere, they don’t do it — not to any appreciable degree.

After receiving a lot of feedback from readers, including people who wanted my books but didn’t want to give their money to Amazon, I tried going wide. My entire catalog was on B&N and Kobo for more than two years, and I saw a grand total of four sales between the two platforms in that time. I literally sold twice as many books through my website in that two-year period. I promoted these other retailers aggressively, told people directly at shows that they could buy my stuff through B&N, and they always said, “Oh, great, I’ll look that up when I get home!”

And yet, more than 95 percent of my total sales were through Amazon.

The hard, unfortunate reality is, a lot of indie authors, myself included, can’t survive without Amazon. We just can’t.

We’d love to, but we can’t.

And even if another viable platform popped up to challenge the mighty Zon, we wouldn’t be able to all jump ship and continue to make sales on-par with Amazon overnight. There would be a transitional period during which our sales would drop off, perhaps too sharply and for too long to keep us going until things leveled out again, so that would drive us to resist making that change.

We’ve all thought about this, a lot. I’d love to no longer be so beholden to Amazon, but I am. All I can do is make the best of it and be honest about my decisions — which, yes, are almost entirely financial. I’m in no position to take a moral stand and abandon Amazon as my primary retailer. I’ve gotten spoiled by having a home and food.

I may say that flippantly, but it’s true nevertheless.

Go ahead and boycott Amazon this week if that’s your thing. I certainly won’t hold it against you.

All I ask is that you don’t hold it against me when I go back to pushing book sales on Amazon when it’s all over.

WRITING PROJECTS

Action Figures – Secret Origins: Audiobook on hold until 2021, currently auditioning narrators.

Action Figures – Issue Ten: Unintended Consequences: Editing and cover art in progress. Tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

Action Figures – Issue Eleven: Draft one underway. Scheduled for a winter/spring 2022 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Sworded Affairs: Audiobook recording is underway. Tentatively set for a winter/spring 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – Elfish Motives: Third draft of book five is finished. Tentatively scheduled for a spring/summer 2021 release.

The Adventures of Strongarm & Lightfoot – book five: First draft is into the third act.

APPEARANCES & EVENTS

  • None scheduled

MISC.

The New England Speculative Writers group has a new preview book for newsletter subscribers. Pick it up and read the opening chapters to Well-Behaved Women – Awakening and other stories.

If you’d like to make sure you don’t miss any news from me, remember that I have a weekly newsletter that features some of the stuff you see posted here plus new, newsletter-exclusive material. Click this link to sign up.

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