Ursula K. Le Guin has been quoted as saying, "We’re talking about censorship: deliberately making a book hard or impossible to get, 'disappearing’ an author."
Welcome to my world, Ms. Le Guin. Were you among the authors who, years ago when Amazon started banning erotica, slapping on the adult filter, making it generally difficult to find, who said, "Hey, listen, you whiners! Amazon is a corporation! Amazon can do what they want! It's THEIR store! If they don't want this filth on their site, then more power to them!" I hope you weren't. Because that would make you an awful hypocrite right now.
And honestly, Ms. Le Guin, you haven't seen anything yet. You have NO idea what Amazon can do to you and your book(s) to kill your sales. You're only getting a tiny little taste of what's possible. You should see what it's like from over here, in the erotica red light district, where we're stomped on daily, for no reason whatsoever. Our books our disappeared, our accounts are blocked and banned. Have you ever been making $30,000 a month on Amazon, only to see that dry up practically overnight? I know erotica authors this has happened to. Have you ever released a book, had it hit Amazon's top 10, only to have it blocked, with no reason given other than it violates some vague Amazon guideline? I know erotica authors who have had to deal with that too.
Honestly, Ms. Le Guin, and all the rest of the Hachette authors, I get it. It royally sucks when Amazon decides to bring its jackboot down on your neck. I've been there, done that - have been doing it for the past five years, thank you very much. This is why I cried "censorship!" back then. This is why I tried to get other authors to rally around erotica authors and their books. But do you know what I got? Crickets. Either that, or I heard, "Stop whining, Amazon is a corporation and can do what they want! It isn't censorship unless the government is doing it, so shut up!"
Well guess what? Here it is, five years later, and Amazon is now turning the tables on traditionally published authors. They're taking away all the fancy bells and whistles you're used to getting because you publish with legacy. Trust me when I tell you that I'm tempted to just laugh in your face. Or to say, "I told you so!" But I know what that's like. I know what it's like to be beaten down time and again, with no recourse, no way to fight back. You can make all the petitions you like. You can even get Stephen King and James Patterson to appeal to the mass media. But you aren't going to win.
How do I know? Because I've lived under Amazon's regime and have been subject to their thug tactics a lot longer than you have.
The reality of this fight is that Hachette is going to have to adapt or die. And I'm afraid they're heading for the latter. Instead of screaming at Amazon - which isn't going to do you any good and is only going to make you hoarse - I am going to tell you, from a very long, arduous experience with Amazon's stronghold on the market, that you'd better do the same, authors. Adapt or die.
Erotic writers have had to do a LOT of adapting in the past five years, and I imagine we'll have to do a lot more in the future. But that's part of the business. We're used to it. We know that Amazon is a retailer, they're out to make money, and we're simply a means to their end. And the fact is, we're replaceable. And, Ms. Le Guin (and all the other Hachette authors) SO. ARE. YOU.
Don't think for a minute that because you've sold X amount of books, Amazon cares about you. In the end, you're expendable, and if you (or your publishing company) don't want to sell books to Amazon on Amazon's terms, well - there are plenty of authors lined up behind you who will. Books aren't "special" simply because they're books. And you aren't special simply because you write them.
Trust me when I tell you that there are plenty of talented people in the world who can write books. And many of them are leaner, hungrier and smarter than you are. Many of them have already begun self-publishing and making a name for themselves as the higher echeleon of legacy publishing crumbles.
So my advice to you, Hachette authors, coming from someone who has had Amazon's hand around my throat more than once -- is adapt or die. You can cry censorship all you like - I have, and will continue to do so. You can stomp your foot and say, "It's not fair!" And you're right, it isn't. But life isn't fair. That's one of the first things we learn, right? Complaining about Amazon's tactics, signing petitions, it's all well and good, but it's not going to change anything.
The fact remains that the face of publishing is changing. The writing is on the wall - and it's about time you started reading it and paying attention to it, instead of trying to run from it. Adapt or die, authors. Your
publisher isn't going to do it for you.
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