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.