Author Fail?

This post, from James Melzer, originally appeared on his site on 2/1/10 and is reprinted here in its entirety with his permission. In it, he offers an author platform perspective on the Amazon vs. Macmillan fracas.

I don’t pretend to know a lot about the publishing world. Hell, we’re probably on an even playing field here. The fact that I have a book coming out in March of 2011 doesn’t make me some publishing guru or know it all. I’m a guy who writes books, sells them, and then does his best to promote them however he can. I’ve never been to NYC to visit Simon and Schuster, and I have no idea what goes on in those tall, ivory towers people seem to think they can’t break into. I write books. That’s about it.

Some of you may have heard that on Friday the shit hit the fan between Amazon and Macmillan. Macmillan wants to raise the price of their ebooks and Amazon said no, so they stopped selling all Macmillan titles in protest. Something like that, anyway.

Upon observing this pissing contest between two giants, I noticed something funny about the authors involved. I follow some of them on twitter, read their blogs from time to time, and I wanted to see their reaction to the whole thing, so my spidey senses were heightened during this whole kerfuffle (which still isn’t over yet, BTW), and I watched and read.

Here’s what I saw: Pretty much all of the authors that I know of who are involved were tweeting and facebooking and blogging about Amazon pulling their titles. They posted links to other authors and newspapers and bloggers who were talking about it, and how it’s all wrong.

For the record, I agree. It is wrong.

Pretend for a second that you’re average joe reader. You hear about a book, think it sounds good and want to buy it. You go to Amazon this past weekend and find that you can’t. It’s not there. WTF? You’re inclined enough to go check out the author’s website and find all this mumbo jumbo about Amazon pulling titles and not selling the author’s book. What a pity. The author has posted this big, long rant on how Amazon is the devil and blah blah blah.

Yet he doesn’t tell you where you CAN buy the book online.

Now, you just don’t care and go on to find an author whose book is listed and that you can get delivered to your home in a few days. Done and done.

The author that posted that big, long rant about how Amazon is the devil and blah blah blah just lost a customer. A reader.

My point to this whole thing is that most of the authors involved in this Amazon vs. Macmillan thing were bitching and complaining and linking here and there, but they weren’t telling their readers, their FANS, where they COULD buy their books. Amazon is not the only place online to buy books, yanna. There’s Powell’s, Barnes & Noble, Borders and if you’re Canadian like me, Indigo. Yes, people who are savvy enough know this and would have most likely gone over there to grab a title, but wouldn’t it be nice to hear it from the author who you’re giving your money to? No. Most of them just assumed that people knew.

A simple, “Hey, sorry you can’t buy my book on Amazon right now. Here’s where it can be found,” would have been nice.

Is that too much to ask of an author who wants his readers to find his books? More so, to attract new fans and readers? If someone who doesn’t know you or perhaps isn’t that web knowledgeable wants to buy your book but can’t find it on Amazon, then tell them where they can find it for goodness sake. The average joe reader doesn’t necessarily care about what Amazon or Macmillan are doing, they just want to read a damn book. Hopefully a good one. If they can’t find yours, they’ll go on to another author, and perhaps forget all about you.

Never to return again.