Is Amazon broken?

Before I move on to the shameless self-promotion of my new book, I’d like to address an issue I’ve been seeing on various writer’s forums (that I don’t participate in—I admit, I’m an ardent lurker). There seems to be this sense that the whole Amazon-Kindle self-publishing scheme is failing in a big way, and that the entire system is irreparably broken.

I don’t know if this is actually true or if it’s simply panic on the part of writers who have finally realized—with their fifth or sixth book or whatever—how unbearably difficult the process is and that there’s probably little hope that their careers as writers will ever progress in a significant way.

Here’s what is true: There have been many, many ‘glitches’ in the system, particularly in the area of sales-reporting. This has been true from the start: when you’re dealing with millions of writers, statistically, things are bound to go wrong. But this is little comfort when it happens to you. Also true is that there are millions of pieces of work out there, floating about in cyberspace. Now they all fit out there very comfortably and get along in co-existence, but not so well at the Amazon website, where they fight and try to trample each other, in a true book-eat-book world.  It’s true that readers are overwhelmed for choice, and it’s also true there is a massive amount of competition for eyeballs. But it doesn’t mean the sky is falling in. So don’t panic yet.

If you’re born to be a writer, you’ll be a writer no matter what. You should not base your worth as a writer on your sales figures, or lack of them. Just write, and take joy in that.  As for Amazon self-publishing, the cumbersome and glitch-prone system seems to be working exactly the way it’s supposed to. It’s really a giant slush pile, and its customers are the acquiring editors.  As far as I’m concerned it’s still infinitely better–and certainly more democratic– than the query-letter and over-the-transom  routine.

But what do I know? Maybe the Amazon-Kindle thing is imploding. But if it does… will I stop writing? Probably not. It  wouldn’t matter much for me, being at a low point sales-wise anyway.  The real tragedy would be that my books suddenly shoot to best-seller-dom– and then the whole thing crashes. That would just be my luck!

2 thoughts on “Is Amazon broken?

  1. You know, Kathy, how much I love books. What I see across the board, from NetGalley (with whom I have severed ties after 200 reviews) to self publishing reminds me so much of the public education system’s idea of “teaching to the test” (and not beyond it).

    I’m sure you have gotten the emails: “…blah blah blah….please leave me a review, even one sentence.. pretty please”. With the unspoken being…I need to get farther up the algorithm so Amazon will think I’m Sally Field, and “like me”…. But yesterday took the cake for me, and left me very sad.

    Yes, Amazon’s system is broken when a well known self published author tells me in an email:” if your review is three stars or less….consider sending it to me first…” Meaning:” if I can’t keep my reviews above 4 stars Amazon will hate me and my world will end….”

    Holy Shades of the Anne Rice lawsuit Batman! I remember reading in LM Alcott how dear the $25 dollars she had to shell out to the publisher to guarantee he’d recoup his $$ should there be no sales. Little would he have imagined that all these years later that Little Women would still sell as it does!

    What will the future of publishing for authors look like? Right now, a lot of authors get together and try to bribe readers to at least say Hi (gene Crave $1K amazon cards, Authors XPX 40 book give aways for example) As I read and write reviews I get discouraged. And as I turn 60 in a couple of weeks I know I am slowing down as the world speeds up and instant gratification is the norm. As an author I have heard you and others who bemoan the same thing.

    these are my ramblings. I support you and others as best I can, but cut yourselves break, and your reviewers too.

    “Can you hear me now Amazon?”


    1. Thanks for your input Andrea. I guess this whole self-pub business has made all us a little crazy! The point I wanted to make was not to be worrying about sales and reviews but to just love your work and enjoy the process. By the way, I turn 60 on Monday! I’m more stressed over that than my books!


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