Essay About The Writer’s Mailbag: Installment 188

Happy Happy, Joy Joy!

I’m doing the Happy Dance as I type this.

February is here, January is gone, and spring is closer to reality.

I’m a bit tired of the mud and that’s the reason for the dance.

No, it’s not a blizzard, and we haven’t had to deal with extreme cold temperatures, and we haven’t had any power outages. I get it, many of you have it much worse.

But I’m tired of the mud!

So while you read the rest of this, I’m going to do my dance and sing a song of my own creation . . . “One Step Closer To Spring!”

THE MAIL IS HERE, THE MAIL IS HERE!

AMAZON

From Paula: “What do you think of Amazon, and Kindle, and the whole self-publishing scene? I ask this because, for some reason, I’m suspicious and distrustful of the whole process, and I was wondering what you thought.”

It’s weird, Paula, but I was just thinking about this topic yesterday.

I live fifty miles from Seattle and the Amazon Corporate Headquarters, so that particular company is featured on our news quite often. Yesterday there was a story about the new Amazon convenience store, the one without any clerks or checkout. You just walk in, grab your items, and walk out. Everything is scanned, including you, and people love it because it is so fast and it saves them so much time.

And then there was a story about Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owning the Washington Post . . . and then a story about Amazon opening new office space in Seattle called The Spheres . . . and their space program . . . and record profits . . . and Bezos could become the first Trillion Dollar Man . . . and the search for a location for their Second World Headquarters, probably in Washington D.C. . . and quite frankly the whole thing makes me a bit nervous. I’m reminded of the novel “The Day of the Locust.” If you haven’t read it, that reference means nothing to you.

Here’s the thing: I’m naturally skeptical of huge corporations, so when I see one increasing its power at a frightening rate, like Amazon, my warning antennae rise and start shrieking. Amazon makes me very nervous. I think they are the P.T. Barnum of the 21st Century, all glitter and amazement for the public . . . but I don’t trust what’s going on behind the scenes. As a species, we don’t seem to learn from the past. We’ve been duped before by glitter and amazement. Our need for inexpensive and our thirst for convenience have hurt us in the past and they will hurt us in the future.

As for Kindle, our choices as writers are limited. For me, personally, I wish the Kindle phenomena had never happened. I think it opened the flood gates and allowed the market to be inundated with crap, driving down prices for serious writers, and lowering the standards of good writing for all.

Aren’t you sorry you asked, Paula?

Another Kindle Question

From Keith: “What do you think of the pricing policies on Kindle? They suggest prices whenever you self-publish, but I’m never quite certain those are the correct prices for my books. What do you think?”

Here we go again!

I don’t trust Amazon! I know I’m sounding paranoid but so be it.

I have a friend . . . an acquaintance, really . . . who has self-published fifty-two “books” on Amazon Kindle. I use the word “books” with reservations, because each one is a twenty-page pamphlet about things like “Being A Better Parent,”and “Finding Happiness.” He sells each one for $.99 and he makes a lot of money doing that, and I’ve read a few of them and they are dog doo-doo. That annoys me. In my opinion, Amazon should suggest a price of $.05 for each, but they suggest $.99 to make money.

They suggested I charge between $4.99 and $7.99 for my last coloring book. I priced it at $8.00 just to be stubborn. There is something about Amazon that just doesn’t sit well with me. Can you tell?

In a perfect world, I would take my books to a printing company, like I did with my first novel “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday to Today,” order 100 of them, pay the $6 per book fee, and have complete control over the pricing of it and the marketing of it.

But this isn’t a perfect world, so we are all forced to play the Amazon game.

I’m sure some of you will disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. Just know you won’t be able to convince me otherwise about Amazon.

And More About Publishing

From Brianne: “When is the best time of year to release a self-published book?”

Brianne, we are told by many experts that the best time for book release is September and October. That way your book is in the minds of people as they prepare to do their Christmas shopping. From a marketing standpoint that seems logical to me. Conversely, the worst time, for marketing and sales, is early summer. People are far too busy to purchase books to read when the weather improves. That’s not to say books don’t sell in the summer, because they do, but they sell better in the fall.