Sunday, December 28, 2014

Amazon Kindle's "all you can eat" buffet for readers not popular with some self-published authors; is "getting published" too easy?

Authors are finding that Amazon’s latest gimmick, “all you can eat books”, is undermining their potential to make a living from writing, according to a front page story in the New York Times on Dec. 29 by David Streitfeld, link here.  The gripe is with Kindle Unlimited, which offers readers unlimited access for $9.99 a month. Another problem, according to the story, is that Amazon Unlimited requires self-published authors to sell exclusively through them.  I wonder if that would preclude free display online, which I do with my books, with some controversy resulting. The article suggests that self-published authors, at least those who sell on this platform, form a union.  But the could work with the National Writers Union (link) with which I had some contact while living in Minneapolis (1997-2003), and which tried, not very successfully, to develop liability insurance for writers. 

The article notes whether “getting published” became too “easy” once the personal computer was invented.  You no longer had to type and edit a manuscript by hand.  I had created “only” two novel-length manuscripts before 1981, when I bought my first TRS-80.  I then took off, as I have explained in detail on my “media” blog on Wordpress.   Once I went public about this on the search engines, there was no turning back and deciding on some other second career.  Other writers might find the same thing, if they really need to go back to work and manipulate their social media presence to please their employers instead of themselves.  There are no double lives anymore, just as there are no victims.  

But deciding to “give up the day job” and make a living as a writer is obviously a questionable undertaking.  I got into book publishing not to “make a living at it”, but because of the double-edged moral dilemma (the way my college expulsion, Vietnam era draft, and later “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military) I felt my life demonstrated.  I had built up enough financial stability that I could do this without its “paying its own way”, but that very fact angers some people.  

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