Recent weeks, months even, have brought much controversy and angst to the Indie writers’ world. It has brought a whole new meaning to the term ‘sturm und drang’. Conversations on posts, Facebook, Twitter and other social media abound with laments, anger, anxiety and cries of ‘foul’.
Penguin buys AuthorHouse, proclaiming its intention to offer the services AuthorHouse had always offered, raising the issue of vanity publishing, scams that rip off naïve new writers and questions about the integrity of the parent company.
We discussed the furor over sock puppets and paid reviews from those who never even read the books they claim to review.
Then we discover that reviews, honest ones, written by authors on books other authors have written have been removed by Amazon. Their explanation has raised the ire of most of us. The major thrust of that being that Amazon will not allow posting of reviews by anyone that could be seen as in competition with each other. They will not offer any rationale beyond that, in spite of countless queries and protests. This issue has caused the greatest outcry because we rely on reviews to boost the profile of our books and to give readers an idea of what to expect. This led to a discussion of whether reviews even make a difference – a debate that has no resolution.
We decry the changes to the KDP Select program, and fear that these changes are aimed at holding back self-published authors. We ask each other about conspiracies against Indies.
Another in this onslaught was the announcement that Simon & Schuster will also be offering the ‘self-publishing’ services of AuthorHouse, refueling the outrage against ‘vanity publishers’, a long list among which AuthorHouse ranks among the least trusted.
Just as I write this, we learn that Barnes and Noble has acquired Fictionwise and that operations there are winding down – another blow to Indies who have published and distributed through them.
Who knows where the next piece of bad news will come from?
These events have all arisen within a relatively short, recent span of time. We have not had the opportunity to get over one before the next one hit us. The result has been heightened anxiety, anger and controversy among Indie writers. I daresay some have succumbed to depression and fatalism. The overall mood is dark and full of negativism.
We are left with many questions and no answers. None of us can predict where this trend will lead. We have no idea where the publishing industry is headed. As individuals we have no control over these events.
What do we do with all this negative energy? How do we deal with the anxiety?
Since we cannot affect any influence upon the Big Six or Amazon I believe there are only two positive options open to us. To some they may be obvious, but I believe that in the face of so much uncertainty many of us lose sight of them.
First, we must continue to write. We must write good books, well edited, carefully formatted, with interesting professional-looking covers, titles that grab readers and at prices that we believe readers will agree to pay.
Secondly, we must continue to support each other, to network together, to offer each other opinions, information and leads. We must promote each other and offer tips when we find them. We must find encouragement and strength from that mutual support. Few of us can achieve our dream alone. Together, while it will take time and sustained effort, we can – and we will.