Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

The (not-so-much!) Joys of Amazon

I’ve about had it with Amazon. Honest to God, every effin’ time I try to do anything with any book on Amazon, I end up with my hands full of sh!t. This time? Well. Sumbeach, that’s about as articulate as I can get right this instant.

How about a couple of pictures, each worth a thousand words?

Cookbook

Naughty June 2016

I’ve posted these things, plus promotional copy and links, on websites, Facebook pages, Facebook Groups, and Twaddle from here to Hell and onward to Gone, day after day after brain-banging, mind-numbing DAY over the ten days or two weeks.

NINE Facebook pages and groups plus Twitter have been urging people to hurry on over to Amazon and buy these astonishingly wonderful books as dawn cracks on Thursday, July 21. Posts at these nine sites have gone up every single day, along with associated posts that gave me a chance to mention the alleged sale, EVERY DAY for the past day after day after endless day.

Understand: because no two FB pages or groups seem to post the same way, you end up dorking and dorking and dorking around to get them to do what you want. One page will respond to an inserted URL by inserting the web post with the image that appears closest to the top. Another will try to insert ALL the images in the post. Yet another will slap in the images in the righthand sidebar, which bear no relation at all to the content you’re trying to plug on FB. And still another will insert nothing. So for about 99% of them, you have to delete incorrect data and then go into your computer, track down the correct images, and  insert them. Then at Twitter you have to write all new promo copy, because of Twitter’s frustrating word count limitation, which is crimped even further by the need to add hashtags. And by the fact that Twitter reduces the character allowance to account for the size of the attached image. To minimize that, you have to convert your URL to Bitly, another time suck.

At one point, I figured the average number of time-wasting search-and-clicks per Facebook posting was 8. So 8 x 9 = 72 endless click-search-click-search-search-clicks per posting!!!! PER AD. There are two ads involved here.

Even if you’re pasting the promotional copy into each Facebook page/group (which cannot do for all of them), this process adds up to about two hours of mind-numbing computer diddling-around. Per session.

Multiply that by ten days, and you come up with a conservative(!) estimate of about 20 hours spent on this annoying, excruciatingly boring task.

So comes dawn’s early light today, I go on Amazon to check…because, you know, during this whole exercise a still small voice in the back of my mind has been nagging, whaddaya bet? whaddaya bet? Well. If I were a betting woman, I would’ve bet that Amazon would once again give me the shaft.

And I’d have been right.

Naturally, not one of the six books I’d set up for the Amazon Countdown Sale promo program offered any kind of markdown.

Well, except for the “take it for FREE” offer for those who subscribe to Amazon’s free borrowing program. That’s the one where Amazon spies on you to see how many pages you’ve clicked through. If the reader doesn’t “look” (snark!) at enough pages, the author doesn’t get paid. Yeah. Readers “buy” the book but the author doesn’t get paid.

Not that you get paid much in the “borrow” program anyway. You get a fraction of what you’d get if the person bought the book at the ludicrously tiny amount you can get away with charging for an e-book.

IMHO, Amazon is the single worst thing that has ever happened to publishing and to creative work.

Yes, it lets every would-be hobbyist writer get his or her work in front of a (mostly imaginary) public. And yes, it lets everyone get around the gatekeepers at real publishing houses.

But you know: those gatekeepers served a purpose. They knew (still do know) what sells and what doesn’t sell. When they decided to accept or reject a proposal or a manuscript, it was based on some real insight not just into the intrinsic quality of the work but also into its marketability. Even with those gatekeepers, if you’ve ever gone to a charitable book sale or a used book store, you’ll see that the market is simply awash in books, books, books, and more books: many more books than any single reader or even a group of readers could reasonably keep up with.

But now the market is more than awash. It’s DROWNING. It’s fuckin’ SUBMERGED in dreck! I just read a “published” book by some wannabe Great Writer of the Western World that’s full of punctuation errors, spelling errors, and…oh hell. The idea is good. It’s a salable concept. But the published bookoid is a mess:  the copy has apparently never been graced by either a copyeditor or a proofreader.

Both of those, BTW, were provided as a matter of course, free to the author, by real publishing houses.

Amazon single-handedly has degraded the overall quality of literature available to the public, destroyed the publishing industry, and further impoverished the lot of writers and artists.

And if you weren’t already wasting your time “publishing” (le mot juste is something more like “posting”) books that no publisher’s editor in hir right mind would look at twice, you get to waste it anyway jumping through Amazon’s endless “promotional” hoops to no avail.

“Disruption” is just a techno-euphemism for “destruction.”

Here’s what I’m gonna do:

I will leave the 40 or so books we have on Amazon there, since they generate all of about $12 a month…well, in a good month.

But meanwhile, I will convert them all to ePub (which I should have done in the first place!) and post them all on Smashwords — assuming I don’t have to pay through the schnozzola to get an e-book formatting expert to do the formatting so that SW will accept it. If I can’t, then I will post them all to Barnes & Noble. And I will post the Camptown Races bookoids at an online retailer that specializes in “romantic erotica” (no kidding: who knew?).

Then I am going to forget about it. If they sell themselves, bully. If not, WGAS. All of the energy and all of the time I’ve spent on trying to create and sell books? That will be fully diverted into trying to sell editorial and indexing services.

The Copyeditor’s Desk has been supporting this folly. It’s about time it started supporting me, instead.

Author: funny

This post may be a paid guest contribution.

4 Comments

  1. Sorry you’re having such trouble Funny….I’ve often wondered exactly what you bring up about the “self-publishing” market and the “barriers” that Amazon supposedly removed. In this neck of the woods I know of a couple of “30-somethings” who spent tooooo much money on “self-publishing” childrens’ books of all things. Only instead of e-books they paid the extra dough to have them printed out on “dead trees”….not cheap. The one couple wound up losing their home trying to make a go of this….”business”….and one could say this broke up their marriage. Hearing the mechanics of this kind of venture IMHO, it sounds like a “racket”….

    • LOL! It almost sounds credible.

      In fact, print-on-demand is VERY cheap. It costs about $2 to $3 apiece to produce a nice hard copy, assuming a) you have the skill to do the cover design yourself (admittedly, you do need some publications experience and the right software) and b) you print in b/w only. I just sold two copies of the cookbook for $40; if you set aside the value of my time, that’s about a $37 profit.

      Count the value of the hours devoted to writing and production, and you’re only about $3000 in the hole. 😀

      Children’s books, however, are expensive to produce because they need to be printed in color. Print-on-demand technology doesn’t yet lend itself to color production. So instead of on-demand printing, you have to go to offset printing, where a typical print run is around 10,000 copies. And that is, indeed, very expensive.

  2. That explains a lot….These folks did one book….and had a lukewarm response….So she wrote another…..no dice….and finally the third….Like you said the “minimum print” was/is breathtaking. And did a lot of this with BORROWED MONEY. They had cases of books every where….Very sad….Caused them to split…..

  3. Amazon has some amazing technology for readers, though. It is hands down my favorite app for e-book reading. I like the interface, the ability to choose my text size, and the ability to sync from the cloud. This last one is hands down my favorite feature. I can read a book on multiple devices, picking up exactly where I left off. With any of the epub reading apps I’ve tried, I have to keep reading the book on that device only. With Amazon’s sync, when I’m waiting in a line and need to entertain myself I can take out my phone and read the book that I was last reading on my tablet the night before. Awesome!

    I have noticed that books even from major authors often have typos and grammatical errors, though. I guess whomever is in charge of the quality control isn’t doing their job. As an example, I’m currently reading Deadeye Dick by Kurt Vonnegut. Pretty major author, and the book was originally published in the 1982 so it’s not as if there hasn’t been time to catch any issues with the book itself. I’m assuming it’s the technology that has caused the errors, but would think that someone should be correcting machine reading issues. Oh well.