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Writer's Digest: 2013 Best Writing Websites (2013)

  • By Victoria Mixon

    You’ve got to give Jeff Bezos credit for cojones, if not business savvy. The guy still hasn’t learned to stay off the trapeze without a net.

    Motoko Rich of the NY Times and Christina Warren of Mashable both report this week that Amazon is back to swinging wildly from the highwire with a club, demanding a three-year contract from publishers and a guarantee no other bookseller gets better prices. For “other bookseller” you can, of course, read “Apple.” And Bezos isn’t asking nicely—he’s on the offensive.

    Well, Apple has the same sentiments about pricing. Nobody wants to be underbid.

    But Bezos appears oblivious to the bad fall he took only a few months ago pulling a high-profile stunt like this. Has he forgotten. . .um, he LOST?

    And whether or not Amazon and Apple get the Mexican Standoff they want, guaranteeing neither wins the pricing game, that time-lock contract is one spangly costume blowing in the wind. A three-year lockdown? In this technological climate? Is Bezos joking?

    Even in Silicon Valley, they don’t know where they’re going to be in three years. There’s Super-Top-Secret Classified stuff going on everywhere, NDAs popping buttons in all directions, deadly competition for marketshare with very real, very heavy millions of dollars hanging in the balance. Lock into three years of emerging technology with one company? I wouldn’t sign a that kind of contract locking me into a high-paying job.

    Steve Jobs has five of the six big publishers onboard with him—Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, Hachette, HarperCollins, Penguin—and he’ll have Random House before he’s done. They’ve got the money, he’s got the time. He’s a wheeler-dealer. That’s what he does.

    It’s not about bullying, Jeff. It’s about making someone an offer they can’t refuse. (Although it’d be nice if someone could teach Steve to pull his legs in and stop blocking the sidewalk in front of Palo Alto cafes, where he likes to do business on his cell phone.)

    BUT. There is the possibility Bezos will succeed in splitting the market into Big Pubbers and Small Pubbers if he can offer small publishers deals Jobs isn’t interested in offering. Bezos is already courting the small pubs/self-pubs people. And, I have to say, that would be a fascinating development, reconfiguring Amazon’s rather tarnished persona as the “indie friend.” (Writers are indies, too, and they don’t necessarily appreciate seeing their already laughably-minimal profits chiseled even further just to promote Bezos’ stock.)

    But are there enough nickels and dimes out there to balance the Ben Franklins? (See this article about The Long Tail by Chris Anderson in Wired in 2004—oddly retro for only five and a half years ago.)

    And what about the reputation of a lot of what’s being self-published right now? Would Amazon come out looking like the champion of mom-&-pop businesses against the big box stores? Or just a franchise of cheap dimestore head shops?

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    4 Comments

4 Responses to “Swinging between Amazon and Apple with the ebook publishers”

  1. Kathryn said on

    My tenth grade son has a friend who has made twenty thousand a year for the past two years creating flash games which sell for a buck a piece. It’s shocking because these games are very simple when compared to major platform games. But obviously, there’s a market for them.

    Convenience (availability) matters to some people, even at the expense of quality. An indie friendly Amazon would be a very smart move for Amazon because those nickels and dimes do add up

    I don’t know if all these advances are making it any easier for writers though. It isn’t enough to just write, they also need to understand publishing.

    K

  2. Victoria said on

    This is all publishing business, Kathryn, not writing craft at all. It’s a messy situation, because writers are constantly exhorted these days to understand publishing so they can do all their own marketing—now that traditional publishers have soiled their nests so badly they don’t have the money for it—which means writers don’t have the time or brainpower to learn about writing itself. It’s going from bad to worse, and there’ll be a point in the not-too-distant future when the lines cross and you’ll no longer be able to distinguish between crap and quality by whether it’s been traditionally- or self-published. When only marketers get published, the only thing to read will be books by marketers.

    As far as the kid with forty grand, can I have his phone number? I know a 12-year-old whose parents could use a leg up.

  3. Kathryn said on

    Tell me about it. The kid’s name is Chris. He started a Flash Club at school. I told Erik, “Whatever you do, do not miss a single meeting!” Coincidentally, Chris is going back to homeschooling next year so he can devote more time to his budding empire! I think I should hire him to make a flash game out of my book! How’s that for marketing? Get the video game first, then finish the novel!

    K

  4. Victoria said on

    That’s not a bad idea, Kathryn. If the games are marketed to kids, you’re pipelining Mirren right into their living rooms.

    When I interviewed teachers 14 years ago for my first book, CHILDREN & THE INTERNET, one made the point that she was using the Internet in the classroom to introduce her kids to literature. She said they’d see the book online and go straight to the library to check it out.



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MILLLICENT G. DILLON, represented by Harold Ober Associates, is the world's expert on authors Jane and Paul Bowles. She has won five O. Henry Awards and been nominated for the PEN/Faulkner. I worked with Dillon on her memoir, The Absolute Elsewhere, in which she describes in luminous prose her private meeting with Albert Einstein to discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Read more. . .


BHAICHAND PATEL, retired after an illustrious career with the United Nations, is now a journalist based out of New Dehli and Bombay, an expert on Bollywood, and author of three non-fiction books published by Penguin. I edited Patel’s best-selling debut novel, Mothers, Lovers, and Other Strangers, published by PanMacmillan. Read more. . .


LUCIA ORTH is the author of the debut novel, Baby Jesus Pawn Shop, which received critical acclaim from Publisher’s Weekly, NPR, Booklist, Library Journal and Small Press Reviews. I have edited a number of essays and articles for Orth. Read more. . .


SCOTT WARRENDER is a professional musician and Annie Award-nominated lyricist specializing in musical theater. I work with Warrender regularly on his short stories and debut novel, Putaway. Read more. . .


STUART WAKEFIELD is the #1 Kindle Best Selling author of Body of Water, the first novel in his Orcadian Trilogy. Body of Water was 1 of 10 books long-listed for the Polari First Book Prize. I edited Wakefield's second novel, Memory of Water, and look forward to editing the final novel of his Orcadian Trilogy, Spirit of Water. Read more. . .


ANIA VESENNY, represented by Beverly Slopen Literary Agency, is a recipient of the Evelyn Sullivan Gilbertson Award for Emerging Artist in Literature and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. I edited Vesenny's debut novel, Swearing in Russian at the Northern Lights, and her second novel, Sandara. Read more. . .


TERISA GREEN, represented by Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, is widely considered the foremost American authority on tattooing through her tattoo books published by Simon & Schuster, which have sold over 45,000 copies. Under the name M. TERRY GREEN, she writes her techno-shaman sci-fi/fantasy series. I am working with Green to develop a new speculative fiction series. Read more. . .


GERALDINE EVANS is a best-selling British author. Her historical novel, Reluctant Queen, is a Category No 1 Best Seller on Amazon UK. I edited Death Dues, #11 in Evans' fifteen popular Rafferty and Llewellyn cozy police procedurals, which received a glowing review from the Midwest Book Review. Read more. . .


JUDY LEE DUNN is an award-winning marketing blogger. I am working with Dunn to develop and line edit her memoir of reconciling liberal activism with her emotional difficulty accepting the lesbianism of her beloved daughter, Tonight Show comedienne Kellye Rowland. Read more. . .


LISA MERCADO-FERNANDEZ writes literary novels of love, loss, and friendship set in the small coastal towns of New England. I edited Mercado-Fernandez' debut novel, The Shoebox, and her up-coming The Eighth Summer. Read more. . .


LEN JOY is the author of the debut novel, American Past Time. I worked with Len to develop his novel from its core: a short story about the self-destructive ambitions of a Minor League baseball star, which agents had told him to throw away. Read more. . .


JEFF RUSSELL is the author of the debut novel, The Rules of Love and Law, based upon Jeff's abiding passions for legal history and justice. Read more. . .


In addition, I work with dozens of aspiring writers in their apprenticeship to this literary art and craft.

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