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Readers Against Indie-Publishing – The Wrong Battle Is Being Fought
I recently followed a discussion on the Amazon forums about how to avoid indie authors. When I saw the title, I frowned, and clicked on it to start reading. Considering the title, the negativity was expected, but it was a bit harsh at times.
It’s no secret that the indie scene is underrated in almost any medium. There are many differences when you look at independent creations in art forms such as books, movies, painting etc. However, in every scenario, there is usually a higher body that the public is looking for to find the latest and greatest. In books of course, that’s traditional publishing.
Back to the topic at hand though, the bias in the thread is pretty obvious. Readers don’t want to sift through low-quality books, and want a way to weed them out of what they see. Low quality isn’t what it says though, they want to weed out indie books, and only see books from big publishers.
However there is also an argument that can certainly be made. However, it was pursued wrongly. The answer is not to remove all indie books from search results, but to change KDP’s publishing standards. I think changing it as follows is an effective approach for readers, Amazon, and independent authors.
First, divide publishing into two categories. Free, or for sale. Books published in the free category will basically be published like all books published on Amazon today. There are no standards, and a special area in Amazon’s eBook store is dedicated to free titles. Those who publish something for a small group of friends or family, or authors who want to offer any of their books for free can publish it there, using the current system.
The big change comes when the publisher in question chooses to sell the book. At this point, you’ll do everything the same as now, only the book won’t sell soon after. Instead, it will go through a review process. At this point, people may begin to say that Amazon does not pay people to read books by independent authors, with an excessive number of all being added every day.
And that argument can be very valid.
However, there is a solution that will benefit all parties. Thanks to digital downloads, creating and sending entertainment is no longer a hassle. No physical copies needed, just a few clicks of the mouse and you have it. This is the point that should unite Amazon, readers, and independent authors. The review process will involve sending free copies of eBooks to good reviewers and bloggers, or other beta readers. They check it for quality, both in terms of story and proofreading. Each book is sent to more than one reviewer, and their reviews are weighted. If the quality meets certain standards, in each part of the criteria, not a general score, then the book is published for sale on Amazon.
There may be some questions for readers at this point, such as why eBooks specifically, and how Amazon trusts the word of reviewers and bloggers on what to publish. How to set it up, maintain, etc. Those are all valid questions that should be answered by the parties in question.
All I can say though is this. Amazon has nothing to lose by giving away free copies of eBooks to reviewers. What they stand to gain is a slough of material that is easier to convince customers to buy. The current mentality with independent publishing seems to be making some money from everyone, and every published author will do that. Isn’t it more effective even if there are quality products that people don’t need to ask before buying? Some people say that Amazon is making money from the deal, so they don’t care. If that’s true, they should be concerned. They may technically be making money with the current system, but they are losing a lot of money that could be made. The market for independent books is damaged, and damaged markets don’t sell well.
This situation will help to solve it. By having Amazon partner with these reviewers, in exchange for money if they want or for other benefits such as exposure as an official Amazon partner, free books, or whatever else it does, the independent publishing world will see an improvement.
Digital downloads are a great money maker, and offer the convenience of beingshipped to anyone who wants to on Amazon without paying them. This will encourage authors to expand into the eBook market if they are currently only publishing in print. eBooks are a growing trend, and Amazon knows that. The more digital downloads they have available, the more money they can make without having to store, package, and ship anything.
There are many useful reasons for Amazon to do this presented, but what about indie authors? What does he get out of it? All he gets is not much recognition, and a stamp of approval. These are two of the biggest obstacles for any independent author. Readers are burned by many sub-par works, stories that don’t seem to be spell-checked or read after being written. Every independent author must struggle to overcome two road blocks. If your books are available with both stigmas reduced, sales are more likely. More sales means more recognition, and more recognition means more readers. Amazon can then promote indie works, leading to more sales for them, and authors alike.
At this point, I want to focus on how I imagine the review process actually works. The books will be graded, as mentioned, in different categories. A specific score is required in each category, which will be determined after compiling the results of each reviewer’s scores and notes. It’s not based on “do you like the story or not” but the quality of the writing, frequency and degree of mistakes, etc.
I’m not saying it’s easy to do. Change is rare. It is possible that things will continue as they are, but the market may be damaged beyond repair. Amazon, and probably many other businesses that offer independent publishing services, need to think about how they want to approach their publishing game.
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