Amazon is the online stop where most indie authors go to find a place for themselves. It is a place to build a brand but also hides its double-edged sword. Let’s find out why and see if Amazon is truly a bad guy for indies.
Amazon Back In My Day
Amazon started as an online bookstore. Do you remember the old days where we had the landline Internet, and we had to tell our mom to get off the phone? If you’re my age, you probably remember. No one knew, is Amazon truly a bad guy for indies? No on knew because we weren’t there yet.
I would have Napster running, shhh! I’d have Wikipedia when it was not that great yet. Oh! I didn’t use Google back then. It was Yahoo that was “all the rage!” Seriously, having an email was “something!”
Well, I also shopped on Amazon. I liked looking at the books they had. Amazon was small back then. They were just a bookstore. Then they grew to have more and more until they became what we now know as the indie author place.
Amazon In 2019
Amazon is a distributor. It means that they are those who distribute your books to Amazon because, in reality, despite KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) belongs to Amazon, you’re doing business with KDP.
Some argue that Amazon doesn’t have to support the work of indie authors and so we should be grateful they allow us to use them to do so. I believe it to be from good intentions from Amazon. After all, as I’ve said above, at the very beginning, Amazon was the first online bookstore.
We all know that Amazon is a multi-billionaire corporation. Are they evil? Of course, they are, like all the others of their kind. But, that doesn’t mean they don’t have good intentions.
Bad people are everywhere and good ones too. Let us not forget that many places allow what Amazon does to their authors. So, is Amazon truly a bad guy for indies? Let’s dig deeper and find out.
The Good, The Bad, The Ugly Amazon
The significant part of Amazon is its easiness. It’s quite easy to publish through Amazon if you have just a bit of technical knowledge of how to use Microsoft Word and a basic understanding of programs. Super easy!
KDP is quite user-friendly, and if you wish to print, KDP now offers it in Canada as well! You are allowed to have author copies. They already have the prices of minimum and maximum ready for you.
The process is not stressful, and what they offer is a variety of many ways to have your book appeal to the audience. They don’t own your work or you, for that matter.
You can publish with them and have either your digital copies or prints publish anywhere else too. They changed their policies for it and made it so that indie authors are free. Remember, Amazon/KDP is only a DISTRIBUTOR, not a publisher.
Does it sound too good already? Of course, it does! Amazon has a side that is darker than the indie community knows about. They are fussy when it comes to a specific genre.
Note, not all genres suffer from this, only one primary genre containing sub-genres that can make some of the audience uncomfortable. The sad thing is, it could be so quickly resolved!
The Romance genre suffers from a part of the audience that feels offense toward it. Despite authors advertising their work as 18+ or for a mature audience and making it clear, some people do report them to Amazon.
As a result, often, Amazon takes the work down. What Romance are we talking about? The ones that are quite spicy: Reverse Harem, BDSM, MM, WW, LGBTQ+, and more.
Strangely, Reverse Harem novels find themselves affected more than Harems. Moreover, when you think about it, it brings a question of sexism in itself. Sadly, when those authors display any covers that are somewhat revealing due to their genre, again, some shoppers report them, and Amazon follows the law, “The client is always right.” Flash news, they aren’t—I’m a freelance artist believe me, I know.
A simple resolution to the problem would be to have an option on Amazon that gives shoppers the option to hide mature content. Furthermore, when shopping for books, shoppers could hide anything with sexual content. That way, authors could sell their work without fear of shunning or haters.
Is Amazon truly a bad guy for indies? They allow haters but is there a way or an algorithm that exists to spot haters? Maybe talking to a person when you are an author to defend your case should be in order.
The Ugly Amazon
Because the bad isn’t enough, Amazon has an ugly side too. Amazon protects their buyers like no other companies I’ve dealt with so far. I can’t complain about it because they took my side many times when products were not what the sellers advertised. For the regular store side, I cannot complain because they had my back more times than I can count.
However, when it comes to art, maybe Amazon needs a refresher. Do you remember when buying a book or a VHS, even a cassette or vinyl? I’m old! There was no way you could return those to the store if the plastic were off. A book, no plastic, it didn’t matter, you bought it, it was yours.
Amazon should enforce that policy when it comes to books at the very least. Artists already have to fight to make themselves a name. Offering the possibility to get your money back when buying an indie book is insulting. The reason is not that because a buyer bought it and didn’t like it, they shouldn’t get their money back. That is beside the point. The buyer read the book.
Take this as an example. If you go to the theaters and pay for your ticket and watch the movie, you hate it, are you getting a refund? No. Do you ask why? You are not getting your money back because you watched the movie. That’s the reason. You can’t even leave the theater and go back!
The Kindle Effect of Amazon
The Kindle is the digital tablet that possesses the most useful for reading novels. Amazon is well aware of that. The possibilities with it when you are an indie author are vast.
You can choose to have your book available for rent, you know like you were a kid and went to Blockbuster to rent a movie. You can have it enrolled in programs Amazon offers as well and more.
I always give people a choice when they buy it to have a Kindle friend borrow it for fourteen days. It’s my way to say “thanks” to the buyer. I also offer all my digital novels for 0.99 cents when a buyer gets the paperback version of my novel.
Nevertheless, Kindle has a dark side too. Sadly, people can also get their money back. Kindle books are already cheaper than paperbacks. Indie authors make next to nothing with those! If the novels are part of the KU, Kindle Unlimited, authors receive royalty per reading page.
Again, Amazon should revise their policy and have a “no-backsies” on paperbacks or digital books. Art, as such, is already hard to create, prepare for release and release.
The process involved in the making of one single novel is time and money consuming. Is Amazon truly a bad guy for indies? They aren’t perfect, they are space for improvement. However, we should bring it up to KDP’s attention.
Is Amazon The True Bad Guy?
Amazon has its flaws, like any artificial entity or us. However, I believe their biggest flaw is not themselves per-say but the manipulation created by haters and buyers. Amazon has a great preoccupation with being so well-reviewed as “best customer experience” that they forget about their indie artists.
Amazon places great importance on their customer satisfaction, which is excellent, but like everything in life, sometimes too much is like not enough. In the end, it’s indie authors like us that suffer or at least a specific genre does.
An easy way, as I’ve said before, is providing the option to hide specific content so that buyers and shoppers can still enjoy the ride, and indie authors can sell without fear.
Am I still selling with Amazon? I don’t see how I couldn’t. I don’t believe they are the ones to blame. Specifically, I believe in the points I wrote about today, “haters” are the ones to blame.
Is Amazon truly a bad guy for indies? Nobody’s perfect but in my personal case they are helping more than running me to the ground.
Is Amazon Bad For Indies?
Amazon is the central selling place for authors, and they know. Do I think they take advantage? Not in my specific case. They offer many ways for authors to make money and have a reliable brand for it.
The grip they have on indie authors is significant because of the number of authors out there. We cannot dismiss that some authors are also haters and leave bad reviews as well as complaints to Amazon to gain popularity.
I firmly believe the real “bad guys” if you will, are those complaining and hating on a specific genre. So easily resolved. Haters! If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. Just keep scrolling!