About four years ago, I pulled my novel Red Soil Through Our Fingers from distribution on Amazon. My reasons at the time are outlined in a blog post wrote at the time. While I believe the reasons I had for my boycott are still valid, I’ve had to weigh continuing it — at least in my author life — against the cost of maintaining it to my growth as a writing life . The result is that, after long deliberation, I have resumed distribution of my published writing on the Kindle Bookstore.
The two things anyone will tell you are absolutely essential for an indie author in the present are 1) social media, and 2) Amazon. Having also given up basically all social media around the same time (it was essentially a boycott of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and all of their subsidiary services), I eliminated nearly all of the avenues available to an indie author to build and maintain a community of followers and fans.
For the last few years, this didn’t actually matter that much — for a variety of reasons (see upcoming IWSG post on January 5!), I had largely stopped writing. But as I’ve started to reengage with writing and set new goals, I’ve had to consider the implications of cutting off the two main supply lines of oxygen to an indie writer’s prospects. Like it or not, Amazon and mainstream social media have grown to have a complete chokehold on anyone chances of getting their work out to a community that would.
Despite protests to the contrary, Amazon has near-total global monopoly on ebook content. About 75% of ereaders in the United States are Kindles. In the UK it is closer to 90%. And while it was possible for Kindle users to access my books by purchasing a copy on Smashwords and manually downloading and transferring the mobi file to their Kindle device… I’m sure no one ever does that. Especially without any other way to find me on social media.
I decided that I had to relax at least one constraint.
And if it was between turning Kindle distribution back on versus returning to social media, the choice to me is easy. Creating new accounts and grinding in the cesspools of what Facebook and Twitter have become in order to establish a following again seems both time consuming and detrimental to a contentedness I regained only after giving them up. Not to mention how fake I would feel posting things just to try and keep an author following! And besides — I have a newsletter for reaching out to my community, and I’m just fine with that.
I can’t say I’m happy about it per se, and I still continue to boycott Amazon where possible in my personal life; however, I do hope that this change allows more people to access my work going forward.