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Thursday, February 25, 2016

Book Snobs and Literary Elitists Amazon’s Kindle Readers

It used to be fun publishing eBooks on Amazon until about two years ago. That’s when the literary elitists and Book Snobs began trolling Amazon’s website. And thanks to this uppity attitude among these Kindle customers publishing books on Amazon’s platform has become a chore for authors like myself.

While Amazon has the largest audience of eBook customers, it’s clear that some customers are taking the writers who produce the content on the Kindle for granted. These eBook elitists and Book Snobs browse the Kindle catalog of millions of titles with a sense of entitlement thinking they are owed free content.

Here’s the deal: Authors like myself don’t owe Kindle readers a God damn thing. We write and publish for ourselves. These are our stories. And while we’re grateful to Amazon for the opportunity to have a platform to share them with readers, Kindle readers do not have the right to disrespect us or abuse our content by doing things like hoarding eBooks, reading an eBook through then returning it, or dropping spam one-star reviews just because they were too lazy to read a synopsis or find out what genre a book is in.

Amazon management and Kindle readers need to understand there is no never-ending pool of disposable eBooks from authors like myself. It’s our content that drives the traffic on Amazon’s website. If readers keep abusing content producers like myself more of us will take their content to competing platforms like NookPress, Google Play, Apple’s iBookstore, Kobo, or Smashwords first before publishing with Amazon.

Thanks to the Book Snobs and Literary Elitists trolling Amazon I’ve recently changed my policy regarding publishing on the Kindle. For four years I’ve used the Kindle as my primary publishing platform when launching new titles. And I used to be eager to launch titles using the KDP Select program as a springboard to garner new readers and new sales.

Unfortunately, thanks to the elitist attitude I’ve run into over the past year from some ungrateful readers I’ve decided to return to Smashwords as my primary launchpad for new titles this year. Over at Smashwords readers appreciate new books from indie authors and usually don’t whine, moan and nitpick over minor issues like a handful of typos in a 300-page book that took a year and a half to write and another year and a half to edit.

Most of the readers at Smashwords understand that many indie writers like myself have day jobs. And the only time we have to work on these books are during the evenings after a long day of work or the weekends after a day running errands. So there may be an error or two we miss after reading the same text 1000 plus times.

And thanks Amazon’s stingy new policies regarding Kindle Unlimited royalties I decided to pull most of the titles from the SJS DIRECT catalog from the program. At one time it was advantageous for an indie author like myself to use KDP Select as a springboard for new titles because most readers appreciated new books. But thanks to the trolling these days from the Literary Elitists and Book Snobs it’s just not worth continuing to take a financial loss in the hopes of getting new readers. With KDP Select paying me lower royalties I have no financial incentive to keep my books exclusive on Kindle Unlimited. Under the old royalty model authors were paid a percentage of the fund which could be $2 or $3 on a borrow.

But under the new royalty model an author like myself is only paid 1/3 of a cent per page read. So if a reader reads a novel like Spinsterella all the way through, I only get $1.73 in royalties. If they bought the same book at the retail price of $3.99, I get $2.71 in royalties with the 70 percent royalty option. So it’s just not worth my time to continue offering exclusive titles in Amazon’s KDP Select Program.

Amazon’s royalty policies on Kindle Unlimited eBooks these days seems to cater to pretentious writers who write turgid 1000 page books that are over 100,000 words. The kinds of books the publishing industry HATES, but Book Snobs enjoy rubbing in the faces of people to show how smart they are. Books filled with page long paragraphs, overly descriptive sentences filled with flowery prose and fifty-cent words. Epic fantasy books that are over a thousand pages long and feature so many literary devices they’re a chore to read. The kinds of books that suck the life out of a reader after a few pages. The kinds of books that just aren’t FUN to read.

 Under the New KDP Select royalty formula these are the only books that will pull a profit for a struggling indie author. An author of an average sized romance novel likeSpinsterella (60,000 words and 280 pages) can’t make any money on Amazon with the Kindle Unlimited program. So there’s little incentive for me to make publishing there a priority or make a title exclusive there.

Thanks to this new elitist attitude among some Kindle customers and Amazon screwing with the royalties in the Kindle Unlimited program, I’m not enthusiastic about publishing my work for the Kindle. And now that I’m hearing about a plan to flag books for spelling and grammar on Amazon and take them off sale, I’m becoming even less enthusiastic about publishing eBooks on the Kindle.

The Executives at Amazon have this crazy idea that indie authors willfully publish books with bad spelling and grammar. That we just publish books to make a fast dollar off Kindle customers.

 Not understanding that we authors sometimes publish shorter works to appeal to niche audiences like the Simp Trilogy. Or that we publish smaller eBooks like the Isis series because some readers just want to get one short story, and don’t want to sit there paying $64.99 for an anthology eBook to get it.

Nor do they understand we indie authors aren’t a publishing house. We don’t have the financial resources to hire a staff of editors and proofreaders to make a book absolutely error free. Again, most of us Joes and Janes are people who write in their spare time and make spare change on these eBooks. The royalties I usually receive selling Kindle eBooks every month will barely cover a large pizza pie and a 2-liter Pepsi for the family.

If Amazon’s executives would take a long hard look at the post 2008 publishing world they’d understand that not even possible for trade publishing houses to produce error free “perfect” books due to all the layoffs in the industry. These days some of their best-sellers like J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter Series, Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga and E.L. James’ Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy are littered with typos. So it’s hypocritical for Amazon to insist an indie author with limited resources to be held to a higher standard that books produced at a fully staffed publishing house just can’t meet.

The Book Snobs Literary Elitists, and Amazon Executives need to understand that eBook Publishing is something most of us authors do as a HOBBY and it’s something we do in our spare time with our spare money. Many of us indie authors just don’t have $200-$1000 to hire an editor and another $200-$1000 to hire a professional cover designer for our books.

A book that these same Literary elitists and Book Snobs will bitch and whine about costing too much when we price it at 99 cents or get upset about not being able to pick up if we don’t offer it as part of the KDP Select program.

 As an author I make every effort to write books that are fun and easy to read. And I write short works like the Isis series or my Simp Trilogy that entitled Kindle readers frown on so readers can see how fun reading is. I want my readers to have a great reading experience with my titles whether its 5 pages or 500 pages. Great content isn’t about the length. It’s about what the reader learns reading that content. 

And Amazon needs to understand that it’s content that drives the traffic at a website. It’s content producers who produce the content that brings people to that website. Many of the literary elitists and the Book Snobs who troll Amazon are making shopping for books on the site an arduous task with their spam one star reviews and ridiculous unrealistic demands on authors. The way I see it, if they keep trolling authors we may make the Kindle to E-readers What MySpace is currently to social media.


  1. Excellent post Shawn. I've published about 7 ebooks myself, and agree with pretty much everything you've said in your post. You are spot on about this being a side business. I have a full time job, and write when I can. Usually, I try to write at least an 1 hour a day, but some days that's just not possible. And, I wanted to single out your comments about grammar and typos, because I think that's what scares most people when they are thinking about writing a book. When I first started out, I was so worried about my grammar I paid someone to proofread my first two books for a cost of about $200 ($100 a piece). I have yet to see a return on my $200 investment. On top of that I was paying someone else to do the covers and that also added up to about $200 for those two books. So $400 total, paid out of pocket, that I have yet to see a return on. For my third book, I just said f**k it, did my best to get the grammar right, and moved on. Some day I might have someone go back and proofread all my books, but with my total sales being about a $1 that day is a long way away. I write because it's something I like doing. Another great point you made the length of an ebook. Most of my books usually end up being about 100 pages or less, and I just shrug, and say who cares. The idea of a book having to be a certain number of pages to be considered a real book has no place in the ebook world. I told the story I wanted to tell, and I'm happy with it. I have to agree with you about Smashwords too. They have a great community there, and it's been a joy publishing with them. And to any new writers out there, I'd say go with Smashwords first. Worry about Amazon later. Smashwords really is very welcoming to new writers. Finally, the best advise I can give to any new writer is don't worry about the money, because you're probably not going to make very much (or any) when you first start out. But, keep writing, and don't get discouraged. As long as you're happy writing and telling stories, who cares what the critics think. Thank you again Shawn for your great post, and I hope to see more posts about your experiences with ebook publishing.

  2. Thanks. I plan on writing more about my experience with eBook publishing in the future. I've published over 50 eBooks and there's not much money for an author to make publishing them or selling them. Even with heavy promotion I've made enough to pay for a large pizza pie and a 2-liter soda on a month of eBook sales. Some months I make less than that. But I write and publish because I love it.

    I know where a lot of indie writers are coming from. When I was working full time I was oftentimes falling asleep at the computer trying to edit a book because I was so tired from doing a days work. But I'd keep pushing because I wanted to share my work with readers.

    I used to edit my own books and design my own covers. In recent years I've listened to customer complaints paid for a professional artist to design some covers. In all the cases for my books I'm still waiting for a return on the investment for all the costs I've spent. A lot of people have no idea how much that 99 cent eBook they hate so much costs to produce or how little the author gets on Amazon. 35 cents. We at least get 60 cents at Smashwords for that 99 cent eBook.

    On editing, I just do my best. Most of my books that aren't novels are 100 pages or less and sometimes I do shorter works to reach niche audiences who want short works.

    I find that on Smashwords there's a lot more appreciation and support for writing and storytelling. People on SW seem to understand what goes into putting an eBook together While over at Amazon there's just a lot of hoarding and elitism from wanna-be English teachers. I used to go with SW first then Amazon, but the KDP Select money was tempting for a time. But now that the money is no longer there It's better to just go to SW. It's the best site for eBook publishers

  3. Hey Shawn, do you buy your own ISBN number or do you just use the free one from Smashwords? I've heard good and bad about buying your own ISBN. My concern, though, is that an ISBN is over $100, and that's an expense I don't think I can justify if my ebook only sells a handful of copies. But, I've also heard that if you get a free ISBN then Smashwords may own some of the rights to your book, especially if it hits big. Any insight would be appreciated.

  4. You can just use the FREE one on Smashwords. Smashwords does not own the rights to your book when you use their ISBN. You own all the rights to your book no matter who you publish with.

    With all the losses that go into publishing a book it's just cheaper to use their ISBN for their editions.