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I think this is actually happening

Hold me.


It has been a whirlwind of a week!


As I mentioned last week, I’ve been a full-time writer for many years. I’ve sold several thousand books. However, it turns out that watching the wee number on Amazon go up — as wonderful as that is — doesn’t begin to compare to getting email notifications of sales to your very own store! I can see your names! And sometimes addresses!


Not in a creepy way.


I won’t come round, I promise.


It is just deeply cool to get a real sense of real people buying the books, to picture them snuggling up with a cup of tea and maybe some cake for a good old read.

Again, in the least creepy way possible.


Is this how I destroy my direct sales store just as it’s getting started?!


Because it is getting started!


I’ve not been entirely happy with having my career in the hands of Amazon for a while. I started out in the heady, early days of self-publishing when Amazon was behind indie authors. They gave us real boosts in the form of you might also like… emails and organic bestseller lists. When a book file corrupted and loads of readers had a load of gobbledygook downloaded onto their Kindles, I emailed a human who worked with me to fix the problem and notify all my readers to update the file.


I was among the first to sign up to KDP (Kindle Unlimited, a subscription library in which authors are paid by page read). I felt a bit funny about pledging exclusivity to one company when the whole point of being indie is to… be indie. However, it quickly became a large and very welcome chunk of my income, so I made my peace with it!


Over the past few years, things have changed.


I could live with Amazon ads coming along, meaning we now had to spend a lot of money to be boosted to customers — it is a business, after all. Last year, you might have heard about them raising the subscription price of Kindle Unlimited while lowering the amount authors are paid. I wasn’t impressed, but I understood it was a deal with the devil by this point.


However, a reader contacted me a while back to ask when the fourth Dark of Night book would be out.


It’s been out for almost four years.


After some investigation, I discovered that Amazon had mistakenly flagged it as plagiarised and summarily unpublished it without informing me. It took weeks to persuade them that I wrote my own book and please could I publish it again!

After a few similar snafus, I realised it’s one thing to do a deal with the devil that works out on balance and quite another to be at the mercy of a company that hasn’t cared about their authors in a very long time. In addition, a lot more information has been coming out about their less-than-savoury business practices. I’ve become increasingly uncomfortable about contributing a chunk of my royalties to, yanno, ruthless billionaires.


(To be clear, I don’t judge anyone who continues to buy from Amazon — I do myself from time to time. With the best will in the world, sometimes convenience wins out! I’m talking about essentially partnering with them to earn my living.)


So, going full indie has been on my mind for over a year, but it was a terrifying plunge.


Amazon is such an enormous market that there will always be a certain amount of organic ‘footfall.’ Even when I don’t have any ads or promotions running, I can count on a solid handful of sales every day.


There is none of that with my own store. Nobody will happen across it unless I’ve sent them via a post or a newsletter. There is no getting around the fact that’s pretty scary and will continue to be for some time. On the other hand, it makes the sales I do get there all the more satisfying.


Last week, I had a couple of TikToks do pretty well, resulting in a flurry of sales, and lots of you lovely folks (thank you! I promise I’m not really picturing you reading…). Honestly, I was beside myself! The numbers are tiny so far of course, and I have an overwhelming amount of work still to do, but —


I think this is actually happening.

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