Friday, December 30, 2016

Picking up the pieces.

I feel like all I've done since June of this year is pick up pieces. In June, my husband was involved in a head on collision that was not his fault. He survived. Our car did not. The other driver didn't have insurance. We'd, stupidly, just dropped our insurance to liability only because we'd just paid it off. The state of Alabama does not protect people from uninsured drivers even though we have a law against driving with no insurance. The car is still sitting in my backyard with the front end crushed because we, stupidly, waited for a lawsuit to help us reclaim something. Anything. It never happened. The driver didn't appear in court. The case was dropped... because Alabama sucks.

My mother died in October with no will and no life insurance. I'm the next of kin. I paid for her funeral with the last of my savings. I may never recover what I will spend to settle her estate. I will never have any peace from the volatile relationship I had with her. I discovered she was a hoarder of garbage. Her house is filled with garbage. Literally, a landfill in my mother's home. I have a mound of bills with her name on it. One of which is her mortgage. I haven't paid it since she passed. I can't legally speak with anyone on behalf of her estate until I have power of attorney from the state of Florida. Probate is running slow because I have been waiting for her bills to start coming to me. She had nothing in her house. I can't go searching through it one more time...because mountains of trash bags open and spilling out years and years of food waste that are taller than me. I can't do it again.

I watched as Amazon's KU collapsed around me. I begged to have my books out of KU because half of them were being hit hard with the one page reads for entire books issue they had in late summer and early fall and possibly still have.

I watched as two books came out to near failure level sales. Two books in a popular series. Still to this day they have not sold together what the third book in the series sold in it's first month.

In six months.

Six months of trying to deal with life that got WAY too real.

I was on the phone with my husband when the woman hit him. Have you ever heard a car accident in progress? Do you know what absolute terror it is to hear your husband scream and then nothing but the sound of cars colliding and then car horns blaring? I do. He walked away. He lost his job but he walked away with nothing more than bruised ribs.

It's like the second half of this year has been one holy fucking shit storm after the next for me. Yes, this is personal. This is very personal.

I spent three months trying to drive sales to All Romance to make up for what I lost at Amazon. To try to keep going. I promoted and pitched and begged and pleaded for sales there.

Barnes and Noble isn't even in the game. Kobo is trying. I went to ibooks through ARe because I TRUSTED THEM. I lost all three months of sales at both places in one fell swoop. At least five hundred dollars.

I don't know how to pick up the pieces anymore. Or if it's even worth picking up the pieces anymore. I know it's not a lot of money. And it's not. Not really. Not in the grand scheme of things. But it was three months of sales that this person decided she needed more than I do because... it's hard having to downgrade from a million dollar mansion to a million dollar condo. It's so so hard.

So hard.

I've been reading the new reports as this unfolds. I'd cry but I'm afraid I'd never stop. I got off easy this time. I lost thousands when the owner of Silver did the same thing. I survived that. I survived it and I overcame. I survive Ellora's Cave.

I came the realization today that those two were amateurs. Complete amateurs compared to this woman. They just robbed from their relatively small stable of writers as compared to bilking the ENTIRE ROMANCE COMMUNITY for what will probably be millions of dollars when it's all said and done... because life is hard.

I'm not angry. I'm not. I don't have the energy to be angry anymore. I don't have the energy to give a shit. My give a shit button got broke somewhere along the way. I could laugh but it would come out this maniacal, insane sound... I'm not laughing. I'll cry. It's just five hundred dollars. But it was my goddamned five hundred dollars that was going to help pay my mortgage and feed my family and keep me from going into bankruptcy one more month. Because I have had more than my fucking fair share of people like that bitch steal from me.

I'm sitting here wondering if I want to put on the smile and go into next year with a positive attitude...no, wait, that was Monday night. Monday night I was teetering on the edge of...a cliff. I guess Tuesday was the cliff telling me it was time to make a damned decision. Write or walk. Trust. I DON'T TRUST ANYONE! Never again. My trust is gone. My ability to trust has been squashed like a roach. I can't do it anymore. Just smile and write and say that's okay...here, did you steal enough, would you like a little more...how about some blood... you can sell it.

This has been my publishing career. Silver Publishing. Cobblestone Press. Ellora's Cave. All of them fucked me over. Amazon isn't finished yet. And now All Romance.

Why is it such a horrible thing what All Romance did? I know you're wondering...if you're not, then bless you.

Because All Romance was the second best, for me, first some, after Amazon to sell our books. They were for romance. They were very pro indie and MM and they paid every quarter on time. They were the only place outside of Amazon that made it easier to not be completely owned by Amazon.

Why is Amazon so bad? Or why do you hate Amazon so much? It's not bad. Not really. They made self publishing a viable alternative to, well, never being published at all. They helped me break free from publishers who stole from me. They helped me become independent. I don't hate them. I have never hated them. As the market has changed and they seek to destroy all other forms of publication...yes...I said it. Amazon has made no secret that they wish to control, dominate, and eventually own publishing. They've driven the market since 2010. They're forcing similar sites like Kobo and Barnes & Noble out. Those sites aren't fighting back. They're surviving. For now. As Amazon pushes Kindle Unlimited and features books on Kindle Unlimited ahead of non KU books they are pushing small publishers out of business. Small publishers we need. They are forcing hold outs into compliance. And then, things like the glitch in their new page flip feature happens and they refuse to admit that there is a problem and they make money but the authors don't....it's another form of theft. You must not have your book anywhere else to be in this program...you will not be paid a full royalty, but the EXPOSURE, will more than make up for it...oh wait our new feature is only reading books as one page read...here's your half cent for that page...thanks for playing. I literally was paid two whole pennies for four page reads in Italy last month. The conversion rate didn't even bring it up a cent. That would have been four whole books. Probably more like four dollars depending on which book it was.

I don't trust Amazon anymore. I tried to get out. I was hoping to rebuild. One more damned time. Go wide. Drive more readers to ARe and Kobo and ibooks...B&N is useless. I was hoping. I lost more than half of my off Amazon income for the past three months on Tuesday. I didn't make enough on Amazon to absorb the loss this month. Because I'm not in KU. And KU is how you make money at Amazon now.

Are you following me? I am not just whining to hear myself whine. There is a purpose behind all this. I swear.

On Tuesday when the email came and social media blew up... No one saw that coming. NO ONE! There was no warning that something that vile was going to happen with a ten year old TRUSTED romance community ally. None.

So what does it all mean? The entire romance community took a massive hit. Not just a handful of authors at some ragtag publishing house. Not just some missing pages read in certain books. This is bigger. This affects everyone from reader to publisher with the authors being trapped in the middle.

I'm sure when New York returns to work on Monday or Tuesday, they will survive. I'm sure she covered her ass with the only people that mattered...meaning who could afford to go after her ass for fraud and embezzlement and any other little detail she could think of. I am sure she covered that base because those people matter and they have big lawyers and lots of cash. I'm sure they'll absorb it. I can only hope they absorb it and pay their authors. Because New York is notorious for not paying their authors. Which is why more and more authors are self publishing who once were with New York publishers.

The small presses are going to cover their authors. At least most of the ones I've seen today say they are. The ones worth a damn. They're going to make sure their authors get paid for those sales. Those small presses will take a massive financial hit because of this. MASSIVE. Three months of sales on the second largest romance distributor...for several hundred books... yeah, the small presses are going to feel this one in the bottom line. Best hope is that they can survive until summer. Some will not. I'll be willing to say that many will not survive this.

Self published authors...well, we're used to it. We get screwed, we pick up the pieces and carry on. It's why most of us are self published in the first place. We'll figure it out. Five hundred dollars isn't much after all. Just two weeks of food for my family of four and four pets. That I worked for three months to earn so that we could eat in February. I'll sell some blood or something.

Readers... unfortunately this falls on you to help fix.

Even if you didn't lose any of your library. Or were stuck with their credit vouchers.

This is going to be on you to help the romance community survive. Beyond New York.

Who are your favorite authors? What publishers do you wish to never see go under?

One clicking isn't going to save some of these publishers.

You're going to have to break the one click habit...and yes I am very guilty of this as well.

You're going to have to go back to the way it was before when you went to the actual publisher and bought books directly from the source.

Why?

Because Amazon takes 30% off the top, before the publisher takes their cut, and then the author gets what's left. If you shop at the publisher the publisher gets 100% of your money, and the author gets a higher percentage. No middle man. If more people did that, publishers won't go under.

For self published authors... most of us find ourselves with limited options right now. We can't reach all of the distributors that a publisher can. Not many places are open to self pubbed books. We have the options of Kobo and Barnes and Noble left without going through a site like Smashwords or D2D who take an additional percentage off the percentage before we get our cut three months later.

Some of us have set up direct publishing on our pages. If you see a direct pub link from an indie, please use it before you oneclick. I'm using Payhip. It's owned by Paypal. It goes directly to my paypal account. I get 90% of the cover price as opposed to 70% and I get it now. Not in two months.

I know you're all hurting for money. Money is tight. I know this very well. Some of us do have books back in KU. If you need the KU, just make sure you read it in the full page mode and not that flip page thing.

And please understand that none of this is the author's or publisher's faults. None of it. So many of them and us are trying to make it all right as best we can.

Thank you for your time,

Mercy

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Mercy~ my heart hurts for you and yours. I am so very sorry for your hardships! Life sucks until it corrects itself! I am a huge believer in that everything happens for a reason! You have a beautiful gift of story telling. Don't give in to life's hiccups! Take everyday one at a time. Don't look to the light at the end of the tunnel. Its too soon, and you won't be able to pull your gloom back staring at the black abyss. I am a faithful follower of your books! I love the Southern Scrimmage books! I cried with Bootleg Diva. I'm so very scared for Levi and all the other great characters! I pray you will give them a happy after. It would truly break my heart to see any of the couples lose their soulmates. As for your troubles of late, take it hoiur by hour, or minute by minute, and if you can't fix it, drip it iun the "FUCK IT BUCKET"! Stay strong my sister! Thoughts n prayers to you and yours!

    ReplyDelete