Sunday, December 11, 2011

One cake, many slices - How do you get what's fair?

Good morning everyone. Before you come read the rest of this article, please look at the following:

And at some point, my good friend Chuck will have a post about it, and I'll link there too. But, I'll go first for now.

We're all writers. We all want our books in other people's hands and on their shelves after we get money in exchange. We crave their praise and encouragement, we are fed and nourished by their desires to imagine.

That money thing though, oh man, that's the tricky part.

You want to see a bunch of writers revert to those apes from 2001? Talk about money and royalties and getting paid.

I used to be one of those people who wanted to charge $40 for everything I did. Now I don't do that, and I'm much happier for it, but I do remember my thinking:

1. I'm not sure I'm good enough to be worth more.
2. With so many other writers out there, how is there going to be enough for me to ask for any more than that?

A lot of that was fear, and self-doubt, bubbling up through me like crappy John-isn't-awesome magma to lay waste to my future paradise.

But that's been abolished now, so we shall celebrate by plunging back into the fray to rescue others.

Amazon (and their Kindle) is what made me make the jump to self-publishing. Well, that, and I'm impatient and think new media should be embraced. Amazon most recently began this service called KDP Select. Allow me to give you a nice analogy.

We're all partying. Perhaps there is nut bark. Perhaps we're rocking out. Doesn't matter. But at this party there is cake. Let's call this cake KDP Select's money.

Now, we're all at this party, and this is such a rocking party that the whole house is packed, the line stretches out the door and down the street and into the next town. But....

There's only one cake. And this party is the only way to get this cake. And we can only cut this cake in progressively smaller and smaller slices to accommodate those people at the back of the line. 

Also, if you want a slice of this cake, you can't go to any other parties or throw any parties of your own. 

Now, do you still want the cake? I mean you're welcome to have some, and thanks for coming to the party, but there is a really good chance that you're going to get a very tiny slice, and I'm not sure this one cake is worth trading away your own ability to have parties.  (Note: I'm not sure ANY cake is worth that.)

I was on Twitter this morning (it's Sunday today) and there were some thoughts being tossed back and forth...and I started the conversation not so sure about what I had to say about KDP and their plan to be whatever it is they're turning out to be. By the middle of that conversation, after I read that link at the top of this post, I know what I want to say.

1. I agree with the sentiment that writers should be their own distribution hubs. It's our stuff, it's our hard work, and like the good folks of The Wire taught me, we should hustle to get it out there.

2. I believe now more than ever a writer can learn/be taught how to be their own distribution hub and their own conduit for success.

3. I think $500,000 is a cruel joke when it's split between so many deserving people, forcing a sort of brainy gladiator eat-your-own environment.

4. It doesn't take very much for a rebel to go mainstream, right Amazon? I mean, one minute you're letting people have options in publishing, now you're doing the same thing people went to self-publishing to avoid? Dirty pool.

5. A writer has to understand what they're willing to do, not do, go with, fight against, accept or rebel against, before they can even think of taking a side - education and information still trump ambition.

I don't think KDP is the way to go. It's not a panacea. It's an extension and mutation of the subscription system that breeds into exclusivity, rarity and scarcity. The competition in writing should be the talent, not the earnings.

You deserve cake. A big fat honking slice of cake.