Amazon is like what America used to be.
While listening to a recent debate about whether or not Amazon is good for readers, some heavy hitters on both sides of the argument discussed the pros and cons about the behemoth that is Amazon. The arguments often strayed from the primary focus and, instead, postulated about what would happen if Amazon became a monopoly instead of its current state, that with hefty competition from Google and Apple.
However, one argument often quoted by the traditionally published side is a study which says the average self-published authors sells closer to 200 copies and less than 2% of self-published authors make over $100,000 a year.
That may very well be true, but the stat is meaningless. Here’s why.
People from the traditionally published world see the writing landscape from their own world view. They think of writers as writers and Amazon as the publisher and since most self-published writers don’t make money, that is somehow a reflection on Amazon.
Amazon is not the publisher. They are the opportunity to publish.
Self-publishing means the writer is the publisher. A publisher is a company. To dismiss Amazon for providing the opportunity to publish is like dismissing America for providing an opportunity for small businesses to exist.
The stats quoted in the study are probably accurate. Like any other small business, most self-publishers fail for the same reasons. They don’t have a quality product. Their product does not stand out in the marketplace. They don’t know how to market. They don’t know how to reach their audience. Their consumers don’t care about their product. And lets not forget two important items for every small business… they lack luck and connections.
Self-published books fail for the same reason any other vendor on Amazon’s site fails.
Can Amazon help or hurt these self-publishers? Sure. The same way the government can help or hurt small businesses. That’s just life. You want to play in the Amazon landscape then you have to play by their rules the same way you have to abide by government regulations in regards to a small business.
So, traditional publishing advocates, please look outside of your own world view and see the bigger picture.
Self-publishing is a business and Amazon is one of the avenues that make it a possibility. This promotes more options with genre mash ups that aren’t limited by book shelf space. This, in turn, promotes more material from which readers can pull. Some of it good, some of it bad. The best thing about the free market is that consumers decide what rises to the top. Some of it is great literature, some of it is fifty shades of crap.
Is Amazon a land of opportunity? Absolutely. Your success or failure is entirely up to you.