Challenging the 800 Lb. Gorilla

Anyone who follows publishing news knows that Amazon and its Kindle ereader are the major players in the ebook market. Anyone who’s written a book and plans to self-publish knows this. I know it. Since 2011 is the year I plan to publish my writing for the first time, I’ve spent an enormous amount of time educating myself so I can make the best choices of where to publish, what to charge, how to promote, etc. The result is that I won’t be publishing my books on Amazon.

On the face of it, that may look like the most stupid and self-defeating decision any writer can make. And I’m prepared to reverse it if my challenge proves, as so many people are saying, that you can’t make it as a self-published writer without Amazon and the Kindle. But that reversal, if it comes, will only be when I’ve proved for myself that it’s true.

This isn’t a choice that I’d encourage most self-publishers to make, but I don’t need to make a living from my writing, and I’m not interested in getting rich. That leaves me free to challenge, test, and question the popular consensus and find out whether it’s even true. And I have the further advantage of being a cross-genre writer without a hope of reaching any best-seller list, getting a publishing contract, or being optioned for a movie. That’s an advantage? Am I insane?

If you write a commercial novel in a popular genre, and do a good job of it, the chances are that you’ll be successful whether you do or don’t publish on Amazon. But if you do use Amazon, you’ll never know whether you might have done well without it. Granted, most writers probably wouldn’t even care. Get published, make money, get name-recognition.

But if you write books that challenge normal publishing standards by crossing genres and challenging readers, rather than giving them what they’ve been trained to want, then you might want to continue along a bumpier path and find your own way to your own kind of success. Of course, if you don’t succeed even by your own more realistic standards, you’ll never know whether it was because you made the wrong choices or because your book just isn’t that good. But if you do succeed, you’ll have proved that it isn’t necessary to follow the path of least resistance. Either way, your life will be much more interesting. You’ll have poked the gorilla in the eye and lived to tell about it.


5 thoughts on “Challenging the 800 Lb. Gorilla

  1. I’ll be interested to see how this works for you. We’re both kind of doing our own thing. You’ll see if you can make it without Amazon, I’m going to see if I can make it while still offering a good amount of my fiction online for free.

    Keep us updated on how it goes. When are you thinking you’ll publish your first book? And which one will it be?

  2. I plan to always keep some stuff free. The LJ version of Boundaries will probably stay there. And that will be the first one I’ll get out as an ebook. In a couple of months, if all goes well.

    Since I’ll be blogging quite a lot about indie publishing, I’ll definitely be updating on my successes (if any) and failures, of which I expect quite a few.

  3. Intriguing that you would opt out of the most used book search option. I look forward to seeing how this pans out for you. How do you intend on marketing your book?
    I hope to have a book published this year too but it will only be epublished, for various reasons, and I couldn’t even contemplate cold-shouldering Amazon. Why would you? You can always extract the Amazon sales form all others which still gives you an idea of how well received your work is outside of that particular forum. One interesting idea is how often do Amazon searchers use other sites such as Play, Waterstones, Smiths, etc. If it is a very few then extracting Amazon sales from your overall total would be a doddle and definitely worth contemplating.
    Using Wattpad I too have posted some free stuff, but find that a lot of the users of that particular site are teenagers who can’t be bothered to edit their work. Reading horrendously punctuated material makes my brain ache.
    Good luck. PS Nice page. Will keep popping back.

    1. I’ll be publishing primarily ebooks, and possibly adding print later, through either Createspace or Lulu. I’m boycotting Amazon as a publisher, so it’s not a matter of separating sales, but trying to prove that you can survive as a writer without them and the Kindle.

      I tried Wattpad for a very short while because someone touted it as influential. If you’re a teenager, maybe. But it’s a terrible site overall.

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