Amazon moves to limit author self-promotion

So why are we surprised?

Sometimes people on the web get caught up in the democracy of it all and forget that Amazon is a business – and its business it to make money. Sure, it succeeds if authors succeed, but it also needs to make itself attractive to those who supply it with product that sells. And, despite the growing rise of indie authors, that means the big publishing houses.

And what are they doing? The latest trend seems to be they are setting up their own outlets to sell directly. And why are they doing this? Because they do not want their books sold alongside self-published tomes from the likes of me?

Looking at the top 100 in the UK, Gordon Ferris, a self-published author has three books in the top twenty, each selling for 99p.

Now, how much does Amazon make on each of those sales? about 69p.

How much does Amazon make on selling the latest Stephen King of Michael Connolly or any other big name? Say they sell for £10 then Amazon makes £3 per sale. And, Gordon Ferris and others aside, big name authors sell a hell of a lot more books than indies.

So if Amazon wants to continue to be the main source of books from big publishers then it needs to continue to make itself attractive as a market place.

If you were Amazon and you made 95% of your book income from major publishers, and 5% from these annoying buzzy indies, what would you do?

An interview with Dani Walker

Danielle Walker is the primary character in Cherri Red (currently under construction). I promised an update on progress and information about the characters appearing in the book, so here it is. As a change, I’ve presented this in the form of an interview with Dani. Over the course of the next weeks and months I’ll add other interviews with the characters as they develop and progress, and post short sections of the novel.

Dani Walker is eighteen when I interview her here. She has finished high school and returned from her first summer camp as a counselor. We sit out back at her parent’s house in east Los Angeles drinking iced lemonade and eating pasta made by her mother. Dani looks slim and healthy, tanned from the summer, with a cute sprinkle of freckles across her nose. Her long dark hair is thick and glossy and she smiles a lot as we talk, obviously happy.

Tess: Dani Walker, you’ve just got back from your first summer camp as a counselor. Tell me something about how that went.

Dani: Well Tess, it was completely awesome. Going to camp in earlier years was pretty great, but being a counselor is something completely different. Different and wonderful. You meet so many people, and most of the kids are just outstanding.

Tess: You say most of the kids. Are some not so great?

Dani: Yeah, well, I guess you always get a few who are pains. You’re gonna get that wherever you are. But I can honestly say for every little nightmare there were twenty wonderful kids. Truly wonderful.

Tess: Did you make any new friends over the summer?

Dani: New friends? God, yeah! There was this boy – well, a young man really – called Jack and we kind of started going out together. Not like real dating, just a summer thing, I think. And a girl called Cherri – yeah, I know, weird name or what? Her real name’s Cheryl Redmond but she wants to be called Cherri Red. She plays guitar and sings and writes her own songs and she is wonderful – really, really good. She’s real short and real blonde and on first sight you think she’s a kind of bimbo and then when you get to know her you realize there’s all kinds of things about her that make her just so deep. And I guess she got to be my best friend over the summer.

Tess: So you and Cherri are friends now. And Jack?

Dani: Oh sure. Real good friends, I think. Cherri lives a ways off, but Jack lives in L.A. so he’s kinda local and I guess we might meet up again sometime. I’m not sure, but it would be cool if we did.

Tess (laughing): So is this Jack the one?

Dani (also laughing): Shit no! I’m eighteen, for christ sake – there’s not gonna be a one for a while yet.

Tess: You were taking photography classes, I hear. How did that go?

Dani: Pretty good. Some of the kids took some great pictures. Not everyone’s gonna be an Ansel Adams but I think I managed to knock a little technique into a few heads.

Tess: So what’s on the agenda now? College?

Dani: Yeah. I start at Boston in a couple of weeks.

Tess: Studying photo-journalism, I hear?

Dani: That’s going to be my major. I’m still deciding on what else I’ll be doing.

Tess: Following in your father’s footsteps then?

Dani (laughs): I think his boots are too big for me to fill, Tess. I want to try and be as good as him, and I will try, but he’s some act to follow.

Tess: Any particular area you want to specialize in?

Dani: Nothing that leaps out and grabs me yet, but I’ve got a few years yet to work that out.

Tess: So you don’t have a specific picture of yourself ten years from now?

Dani: Nothing special, no. I hope I’ll be doing something with photography, but I may turn out not good enough, who knows? But I’m pretty flexible. I like to think I can turn my hand to all kinds of things if I have to. Ten years though? That’s a long time, isn’t it? Who knows what any of us are going to be doing ten years from now?

Tess: Well, maybe we’ll find out. How about I give you a call in ten years time and you update me?

Dani (laughing): Oh yeah, sure. I’ll just pencil you in my diary now.

Cherri Red update May 2 2011

It’s been a long weekend here in the U.K. After my trip to Naples, I had one day back in work before having another four day break. I had written nothing of the new book while I was away so was glad to be able to get back to it. I’ve now completed 25,000 words, and it feels like it’s not even a quarter done yet.

I was reading a post on LinkedIn recently by another writer who blogs about their characters, and I thought what a great idea it was. So over the next few weeks I am going to fill you in on the background of some of the main characters in Cherri Red. But I’m not going to give you just a list of characteristics. Instead I am going to create a series of short stories about how they grew up, what happened to them to bring them to the point of the start of the novel. I hope you will like this method of providing some background.

I’ll post the first of these very short tales in the next few days, so keep checking back.