Don't Ride The Doom Train

That pesky Mayan Prophecy, inscribed in stone as shown at left, has probably created anxiety in many people. I guess if the world didn't end on the 21st, you are still around to read this blog post.

A lot of people ride the Doom Train. A whole bunch of them gathered in Bugarach since that French village is supposed to survive the apocalypse.

A lot of authors invest in doom and gloom. They have lifetime passes on the Doom Train, as I call it.

I'm rather certain that you've seen the latest "the sky is falling" articles. One in particular that has been posted to every author's forum I'm on asserts that Amazon is out to kill indies and predicts that only the big 6 publishers will rule the bestseller lists in the near future.

Every week, I see stuff like this. You probably do also. If you're already a bit depressed about declining sales, it's easy to buy a ticket on the doom train, and it's even easier to feel that you're going to fail no matter what you do. Or don't do.

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Reality Check

Let me be your reality check so you can perhaps relax and embrace the New Year.

1. Yes, indies don't get the concessions and benefits they offer big traditional publishers. No, that doesn't mean you can't make a living as an indie publisher.

Sure, I suspect that Amazon and big publishers have some kind of mutually beneficial relationship. Since I'm not privy to their contracts, I don't know for sure. I do know that you can't let stuff like that sabotage your efforts. You're an author. You'll always be an underdog. Only the tiniest percent of authors are anything but underdogs. So just accept that going in and deal with it.

2. Yes, I believe that we indies fueled the demand for the Kindle just as I believe we indies are building the audience for audio books for Audible. No, they're not going to give us -- or at least the vast majority of us -- special benefits or breaks because there's no tangible benefit we can give Amazon in return other than continuing to use KDP.

That doesn't mean you should give up or be bitter. This is the best time ever to be a writer. You can put your work directly in front of an audience, and you don't have to meet some insane number of sales to keep doing that same thing. Most writers, if they're competent and savvy about marketing, can make a very good living doing this -- at least as good as they would make as a mid-list author with a publisher.

3. Yes, the Prime Select program is an attempt to maintain a majority stake in the ebook market. Amazon once had 90% of that market. Now it's more like 65% I think. No, that doesn't mean you have to enroll your book in Prime Select. For some, it makes sense. For others, it doesn't. Try it and assess the results for yourself.

4. Yes, Amazon will continue trying to enroll authors in Prime Select, i.e., giving only 35% royalty on India sales UNLESS you're in Prime Select. I think the other countries that have come online or set up that same way. No, you shouldn't panic. Be realistic. Are you such a household name worldwide that you're missing big earnings by not getting 70% royalties in India or Brazil or Japan? You can probably look for more restrictions like this as they continue their effort to corner the market.

Emulate Amazon

Amazon is always testing to see what will appreciably benefit their bottom line. You should be doing the same. Spend more time analyzing your marketing efforts from the book cover to the product description and less time reading the doom and gloom forecasts of every Chicken Little blogger. The sky is NOT falling. It may be darkening with thunder clouds so now is the time to seek shelter by making sure each of your books is the absolute best marketing package it can be.

Spend more time analyzing your promotion efforts. Learn how to use social media appropriately if you want to go that route. Learn how to increase your Name Recognition because that will pay more rewards than just about anything.

Takeaway Truth

In the end, the only thing an author can do to ensure success is write. Get more books out there. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Put your books with all the ebook sellers if you decide to abstain from Prime Select. Promote your books on other ebook sellers. Build those audiences. And don't worry about what you can't control.


  1. I knew there was a reason I loved you, Joan! Instead of worrying about things out of our control, we should be writing.

  2. Hey, Suzan! Wishing you the best in 2013!

    Happy New Year.