Indie Authors vs Lock-In. Or, why I’m locking in!

I believe that a long-term successful strategy for independent authors must include social media and MULTI-channel ebook distribution.

PS: I’ve pulled out of Kobo, Apple, Sony, B&N and Smashwords.

I’m going Amazon only.

Now hold on, put down the torches and pitchforks and let me explain.

First of, I’m not selling out. Want my books in DRM-free ePub you can play on any device? I’ve got you covered.

With that spoiler out of the way, let’s get into it.

Amazon stabilized and enriched the marketplace for independant authors in ebook form. But not to help independant authors. They did it to make money for themselves, and for the last few years, the interests of all authors selling on Amazon coincided with the stockholders of Amazon.

That’s going to change.

Kindle still accounts for the lion’s share of indie sales in most people’s numbers. However, the US Government is deep into its actions against publishers for colluding to set up the agency model.

Big Companies have been flirting for a year with lowering prices, and Amazon is pushing hard to cap at 9.99 again. And I believe they have the clout to do it.

What does this mean? Prices are about to go all crazy again.

It will likely mean the big publishers will be selling closer to the price range where indies have succeeded.

And that may very well mean the window is starting to close on the ebook boom for indie authors.

Don’t get me wrong: that window never close all the way. However the greatest strength of smaller names and new faces in the ebook space is the bottom line: undercutting the big publishing houses (although the sweet spot between ‘looking cheap’ and ‘charging too much’ is a subject for another post).

I can’t count on that lasting much longer.

It’s still the wild west online, folks, but not the wild west in its hey-day, with riches in every one of them thar hills. It’s the later West, with railroads sectioning off the seemingly endless plains.

Yes, I am comparing Amazon and all the other big publishers to robber barons.

Today’s robber barons are still offering the digital equivalent acres of land and an opportunity to carve a life for any indie who wants to try taming the wilderness… but there are more rules now, and more rules coming.

Kindle Select -and any one distributor’s lock-in programs- benefit the distributor more than the authors. They’re about providing big piles of books to be commoditized, not about helping authors build names and sustainable careers.

Ebook distributors still give better odds than dead-tree only publishing, but the changing rules, ratings algorithms and lock-in programs are systematic of the speed and severity of the change in landscape.

Here’s what I stand for:

I’m committed to social media as a way to genuinely interact with readers and listeners of my work. I’m a fan of expressing who I am, and teasing the future to those who follow me.

I’m dedicated to getting my work into the hands of everyone who want it, in the format they want.

I’ll always be DRM-free.

So yes, I’m in this for the long haul. Four years and 10 ebooks released, eight more in the pipeline, about a bajillion still in my head and aching to get out.

I believe the future indie needs to respect his fans, love interacting with them, and generate a lot of words to keep them happy.

Here’s the rub: I’m also a businessman. Yes, folks, every writer who wants to carve out time in his life to write more and better words needs to recognize that he’s a businessman too.

So what’s an indie writer to do, if there’s a geologic shift coming, and he’s committed to serving his readers everywhere and every way they want his work?

Sell out.

But not really.

I just released SUBVERSION: Enemy Lines Book 1 on Kindle. I have four more ready to go in that series, and four more in the pipeline.

I also have a couple other really interesting projects coming…soon.

And they’re only coming to Kindle.

Hey…HEY! I said put down the torches and pitchforks!

Whew… thank you. Okay, here’s the deal.

For now, probably just for six or eight months, my game plan is to ride the rails Amazon is laying for all they’re worth.

At the same time, everyone who buys my books on Kindle and emails me the receipt will get a FREE and DRM-free ePub format copy of those books!

By giving away the ePub I’m guaranteeing that my readers can take my books on ANY ebook reader made today, or years from today. Amazon will never be able to wipe it from your device. You can choose to leave one distributor for another and always have my books. You can leave them to your kids, too.

Buy my books and they’re yours. For life. Full stop.

I bet some of you scratching your heads. I railed against Amazon and then jump in bed with them? What’s up with that?

The reality is, I believe the indie window to increase people’s awareness of my work is shrinking.

In the short term, my best shot at generating a name for myself is to ask all of you to pile your reviews and purchases into one silo, and help me make a splash.

If you don’t love Amazon, please hold your nose and help me gain the momentum I need to make it, if and when the powers that be pour the wild west in concrete.

Basically, I want YOU to help ME *use Amazon*. Help me love Amazon up now, so I have the option to leave them later.

I’m not an ego-fueled maniac, but I give good book. If you think so too, help me show the world.

You don’t break a wood plank in two by tossing random punches at it: you do it by focusing your energies (and by extension your buys and reviews) into one place.

I am asking all of you to buy SUBVERSION and all of my books from Amazon.

Giving you my book as an ePub in exchange for your help is my way of putting my money where my mouth is.

I hope you will help me punch a hole through Amazon, and make their system work for me!

Let me know your thoughts!

https://twitter.com/#!/johnmierau

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