Oh don’t worry sweetheart.
You don’t mind me calling you sweetheart, do you? It’s a genuine term of endearment – no malice or deliberate sarcasm here.
Anyway, I’m not here to drag you about your blog post, as many others have already done so. I can’t say you don’t deserve the side eyes thrown your way, as while you were in your bubble, counting your cash and thinking that your new adult stories are the epoch of romance, the online community around you were arguing whether new adult could even be considered romance. Still, we have all been young and we all thought back then that the world revolved us, so I know that feeling.
But sweetheart, take it from a grognard – all the things you lament, I have seen it happen in many cycles in all the years I’ve been online. I’m like the very ancient vampires in Anne Rice‘s novels: I’ve seen and argued and talked about everything and anything that I’m now not even enthused to muster an eyeroll when a new wave of the same old arguments come up again. I’ve seen authors come and go. I’ve seen authors crow that they are revolutionizing the genre only to sink without a trace a few books later, while others quietly churned out book after book until, one day, they finally made it big. I’ve seen bloggers come and go, big blogs that grow too big from hubris only to implode, smaller blogs that get big and then sell out, and so forth.
So, when you talk about how the hate has grown, trust me, sweetheart: the hate has always been there. You just never noticed it when you were successful and were surrounded by people who told you that all your words are pure gold. The big publishers wanted your books – validation! Goodreads folks pepper your book pages with animated GIFs of Jensen Ackles winking and acting lecherous – validation! Now that the high is over and it’s time to come down on earth, you finally realize what the rest of us mortals know all along: the online world can be as crappy as the real one. Welcome to the rest of us.
But look at the bright side: you get to make money from something you love. How many of us can say that? Most of us are stuck in crappy jobs, bossed by idiots and surrounded by irritating colleagues. The rent is due, but that bloody EpiPen price surged so high that you wonder whether it’s worth spending a long time in jail just for the satisfaction of stabbing the bloody CEO’s eyes with your used ones. Hey, you have a better life than many people out there, so give yourself a hug for being in that good place in life.
I do find it interesting that you find a disconnect between your sales and your following, though. Well, here’s my uneducated observations:
- Likes, retweets, and favorites are free – all it takes is a click or two. Buying your books… well, that’s a different story.
- Your Big Publisher books are priced higher than mass market paperbacks. Your digital titles are available only to people in the US and the UK. When you started out, you had your titles up on Smashwords too. Now, you have excluded a big part of the world from buying your books.
- Okay, you can claim that most people who buy digital titles are in the USA anyway, so hurray, screw the rest of the world. But thanks to Kindle Unlimited and all those FREE! FREE! FREE! things perpetuated by indie authors as well as big publishers, many digital-only readers have come to expect things for free or almost free.
- Bloggers love you! Well, they aren’t buying many copies of your books, are they? Thanks to places like Netgalley as well as all those giveaways and street teams and newsletter stuffs offering ARCs and digital titles like they are just desperate for takers, I don’t think much of your money come from your biggest online fans.
- It also doesn’t help that there are many Colleen Hoover wannabes out there who write practically the same stuff as you do, and while you are selling yours, they are giving theirs away for free or nearly free. Cheap people generally have no author loyalty – they gravitate to whomever that can give them their fix for free – so you’re now like an upscale boutique competing with that guy who came to the US illegally from China to hawk counterfeit designer labels that look exactly like your goods, for a fraction of what you are charging.
The indie scene right now is hilariously screwed up in places because Amazon, the savior of indiekind if you listen to your prophet Hugh Howey the Wise, gave you the wood and the rope, and the indie authors proceeded to build a gallow with a noose by giving everything for free or near-free in the name of getting into the bestseller lists and raking in the dough. When Amazon demands exclusivity in the Kindle Unlimited platform, indie authors obliged because they were still making money. Now, the very same model that they initiated has become the noose tightening around their necks. They are at the mercy of a market that, to some of them, is constantly diminishing, fearful of what will happen if they “go wide” and realizing that they don’t really have many good alternative places to go, what with having helped Amazon either kill off the competition or dwindling the competition’s relevance. Now that the market is plagued by scammers and get-rich-quick people grabbing big slices of the Amazon pie, they suddenly wish that Amazon would serve as a gatekeeper to keep the undesirables out, when they were in the past cheering the apparent collapse of the evil gatekeepers.
I don’t know how to make the situation better, as Amazon now has the indie authors in its palm and it’s not like the indie authors would protest hard if the grip tightens. In fact, I don’t give a damn because those Amazon-exclusive indie authors let Amazon forbid me to give them money. You know why piracy is a problem? It’s because, if I want to read your books, I have to pirate them. Not that I do, I’m just saying that you shouldn’t look at me if I do, because there is no legal avenue for me to obtain them.
So, your dwindling sales. They’re not due to the hatred or the readers. They are due to the way indie authors did things in the past, creating a sprawling, labyrinthine unsustainable business model that inevitably crashes. It’s the way they placed all their eggs in Amazon’s basket, without thinking of a back-up plan because they believe, for some reason, that Amazon is their BFF. Now that the bubble has burst, well, look at the bright side. You and all those successful indie authors made lots of dough all this while! It was great while it lasted, no?
There will always be a new bubble. There will, also, always be readers. This will pass. You seem to have come to some good conclusions by the end of your post, so you do you, and do some nice happy people as well if that will make you feel better. Oh, and listen to happy music.