When Joe Konrath launched his latest attack on trad pub, in the form of a “translation” of Macmillan CEO John Sargent’s statement to Macmillan authors, we looked on in amazement as Konrath appeared to take hypocrisy to a whole new level.
Konrath slammed Macmillan for even thinking about putting Macmillan backlist titles into subscription services, saying that these services devalued books, and that authors were badly remunerated, even noting that indie authors were complaining about Kindle Unlimited’s lousy payout.
But as we asked in comments on the Amazon-affiliate blog The Passive Voice, which carried Konrath’s post (LINK),
“If subscription services are such a bad idea, why are your titles in one at all, and why is it they are in the one that, unlike Scribd and Oyster, treats indies as second class, imposes conditions on indies other publishers are not required to meet, pays indies less than other publishers, and will not even tell us in advance what that ever-diminishing payment will be?”
Konrath didn’t respond to that. But other authors picked up on the apparent hypocrisy and successful indie author Mel Comley, on Konrath’s own blog, coyly asked Joe exactly why he had all his titles in KU if subscription services were such a bad idea.
“I’ve taken them all out after this period”, adding lamely, “to compare numbers.” (LINK)
And so we end 2014 with a bang! Konrath adds his name to the list of big-hitting authors like HM Ward who are deserting Kindle Unlimited after seeing their income plummet.
It’s not clear when Konrath will be officially out, but the wording offers room for further speculation. Konrath says he’s taking all (not some, all) his titles out “after this period”. The mixed tense suggests he’s pulling them when the current 90 day KDP Select runs finishes.
(Edited) But why wait? When KU launched, all Select titles were included but it gave indies the chance to opt-out. Konrath clearly chose to stay in despite his belief subscription services devalue books. It seems that opt-out is no longer available, which presumably means Konrath is leaving KDP Select itself, and with it Amazon exclusivity, and going back to all the big retailers.
A safe bet this news will make a lot more indie authors question the value both of being in Kindle Unlimited, and in KDP Select.
Hugh Howey perhaps the exception. Howey left KDP Select back in 2012, but in September of this year was saying going all-in with Amazon was his inclination. (LINK)
Howey of course was one of the authors who got the red carpet treatment from Amazon and was allowed to be in KU and sell on other retailers too. And needless to say he has seen a lot more sales/borrows from Amazon as a consequence.
With logic that beggars belief Howey then concludes that being exclusive with Amazon, with just 65% of the US ebook market and sweet FA of most of the global market, reaches more readers than being available on all retailers everywhere and on Amazon as well.
If Howey cannot grasp the simple fact that Amazon is tilting the playing field in his favour to keep him on board, increasing his titles’ visibility at the expense of other authors not exclusive with Amazon then there’s no hope for him.
Or maybe Howey really believes that 65% of the ebook market is somehow bigger than 100%.
By all means go exclusive with Amazon, Hugh, while they are rigging things in your favour. You write for a living, not for free. But don’t pretend you really think that somehow Amazon’s KU has magicked out of thin air millions of new readers equivalent to more than 35% of the US ebook market. Most KU subscribers are the exact same Kindle readers who were previously paying full price for our books and now getting the same books for less.
Or just maybe you will do the right thing and join Joe Konrath in pulling your titles from KU. KU might not be hurting your pocket, Hugh, but you know as well as we do that for most indies it’s a different story. You can’t champion our cause by looking the other way.
2015 was already promising to be a watershed year for the industry, and this latest show of disaffection from Konrath, one of Amazon’s most vocal supporters, makes the prospects for 2015 all the more interesting.
Now it’s time for the other Amazon cheerleaders like David Gaughran and the aforementioned Hugh Howey to declare their hand and draw a line in the sand. Come on guys, grasp the nettle.
Hard through it may be to understand, we don’t need more posts telling is how scammy Author Solutions is. We don’t need more posts telling us how evil trad pub is. Seriously. We’ve got the message. You’re preaching to the choir.
Here’s the thing, guys. We indies know about Author Solutions. It doesn’t affect us. We know about trad pub. If it affects us it’s already too late because we are contracted, or we’ve made a conscious choice to go down that route.
What Amazon does affects us all, every day, whether its “royalty” cuts at Audible or stealth “royalty” cuts through KU, “royalties” that vary from country to country, lower “royalties” at certain price points, demands for exclusivity, etc.
Apple manages to pay us 70% (or more accurately to charge us just 30%) across the board regardless of list price, regardless of where the sale is made, and without demanding exclusivity.
Scribd and Oyster manages to pay us a full “royalty” rate for our borrows in their subscription services. No exclusivity required.
Meanwhile Amazon has been turning the screws. We’ve seen KU payouts drop from around $2.30 to below $1.40 in less than six months. For ordinary indies not called Hugh Howey Kindle Unlimited is Amazon’s digital equivalent of a sweatshop factory in China or India. No wonder Joe Konrath is calling it a day.
Come on guys, give the Author Solutions bashing and Trad Pub a bashing a rest for 2015, and start addressing the real issues that affect us indies every day. Kindle Unlimited is top of the list.
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