The other day, a story broke about Amazon offering refunds to customers who purchased indie-gone-traditional author Jamie McGuire’s Beautiful Disaster before it was picked up by Atria Publishing. According to a blog post by the author, Amazon sent out emails to customers who purchased the indie version of the book notifying them that the book was no longer available and they could request a refund. Shortly after the email went out, McGuire began seeing negative sales in her KDP account.
As an indie author, I can understand her distress. Every penny we earn is precious (and most appreciated). While I’m not sure I agree with her telling her readers to not ask for a refund—after all, they have every right to, even if Amazon is violating its own ToS, and even if it’s costing her money—I do think this is yet another example of why indie authors shouldn’t put all of their proverbial eggs in one basket. McGuire is no longer indie, but self-published authors should heed this and other recent incidents, and take some steps to set up other little honeypots so that you have something to fall back on.
See, Amazon is a business at its core. We may not always understand its decisions, but we need to remember that they’re out for their own interests. Amazon has done a lot of great things for the modern author, but they’re not here to cater to us. We have the choice to use Amazon and the other self-publishing platforms, knowing full well that they are simply companies looking to make a profit. In order for them to make a profit, they have to keep their customers happy. I’m not saying this was a smart move on Amazon’s part. (To be honest, it doesn’t make much sense to me at all, but that’s another rant for another day.) Indie authors should not rely solely on income from Amazon. I currently sell my ebooks through:
- Barnes and Noble
- Drive Thru Fiction
- Smashwords (which distributes to iBooks, Sony, and a few others)
Come April 2nd, I will be selling the trade paperback of Sade on the Wall through Amazon’s CreateSpace, but am distributing to Barnes and Noble and other big box stores. Should the great giant Amazon ever fall, I currently have all of my TPB’s files on my two computers (and DropBox), and could relatively quickly upload them somewhere else (such as Lulu). While Amazon certainly brings me the most income, Barnes and Noble is a close second, with Smashwords in third place.
(Hold on—let me revel in those words for a minute. I never thought I’d be able to say that!)
I’ve set up these various honeypots because I’m a big believer in having something to fall back on. I don’t look down on indie authors who only publish through Amazon, but I do think it would be a great mistake to continue do so in the long run.
I should also add that I don’t hate Amazon. I’ve had nothing but good experiences with their customer service team, as an author and as a customer. They are, however, a business—plain and simple.