Has Amazon Declared War On The Indies?

This post, by Dan Holloway, originally appeared on his The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes blog on 6/15/11.

(And could that be the best thing that ever happened to us?)

So – hands up who calls themselves an indie? Hands up if you’ve enjoyed selling on Kindle? And hands up if you think you’ve got less lazy since you started selling on Kindle? I don’t mean time lazy, I mean idea lazy.

Still with me?

OK, I’ll start. Today sees the end of Amazon’s Sunshine Deals summer reading extravaganza, and for many indie authors it can’t come a day too soon. The effect on those of us tenuously in the top 100 has been devastating. Sales have tanked (from around 120 a day to 40 a day in my case) as ultra-cheap books by established authors have demonstrated that readers’ love of all things indie actually referred to price not content. And they’ll be with us for a while to come now they’ve worked into the recommendation algorithm.

But that’s not the most worrying development. The US forum moderators kicked all promotion threads into a “Meet Our Authors” forum, and today it seems at least two global changes have kicked in. The “insert product link” button no longer lists books, so you have to manually type in/paste a live link to a book, and the brackets many of us used after our book titles have all disappeared.

Those were two of the indies’ biggest marketing tools – the former offering readers simplicity, the latter being an attention grabber. These changes affect everyone in theory, but in practice impact the indies most.

So this is war on the indies, right? Well, quite possibly. Almost certainly Amazon is clearing the way for its own publishing programme.

But so what? I’m an indie. I’ve been saying for a whileI think we’ve seen a change in what that means as more and more people with mainstream genre books have “gone indie”, meaning they’ve self-published, usually through Kindle. Heck, I’ve had a genre book in the top 100 bestsellers for almost 3 weeks. But for me whilst that’s great, and it’s been a financial lifeline at an incredibly difficult time on a personal level, it has nothing to do with REALLY being indie. I argued in April that the real winners on Kindle would be prolific midlisters who built a fanbase and didn’t rely on market vagaries – they would successfully replace the modest-income-addition they’d lost as publishers dropped their modest-income-addition-generating midlist.

 

Read the rest of the post on Dan Holloway‘s The Man Who Painted Agnieszka’s Shoes blog.

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