It’s been a while since I read it – my kids are all teenagers now! All four of them! (Ok, shutting the existential crisis up for a few) – but as I recall, Chicken Little was not a precautionary tale. It didn’t end with ‘the sky was really falling down, and as the world ended in fire and ashes, Chicken Little danced on the bones of his barnyard pals, finally vindicated in his unheeded prophecy.’
Instead, Chicken Little was about a small hen who panicked at the smallest provocation, like a ripe apple falling from a tree, and learned through wise guidance to keep her chill. My kids say something like this all the time to each other. “Keep your chill! Keep it!” and the other one will wail back “I can’t! I can’t keep it!” Because teens, and hormones, and all the feels, y’know, man? I can dig it.
I can also understand the desire to panic. After all, if Amazon turns against us Indie Authors, we’ll all be crushed like bugs. And it’s only human nature to depend on rumors and whispers of dire events befalling those like us – because after all, the internet in the form we know it has existed for what, thirty years? That’s an eyeblink to the panorama of human history. We’re still adapting to having all of this largess of information at our fingertips. While it means that suddenly we can know more than we ever dreamed of a mere decade ago, it also makes it more difficult to wade through the stream of garbage and find the islands of fact that stand solid in an ever-changing landscape. We authors are trying to navigate our small businesses among this flood, and while it gives us boundless opportunities, there are also a lot of ways we can capsize.
I’m not going to reiterate everything Amanda wrote the other day in her post about how to contact Amazon if funny things happen to your author account. I am going to say that proceeding with caution when Chicken Little starts running screaming along her floating garbage rafts, begging you all to abandon ships! The Great and Mighty ‘Zon is Falling! You might not want to just flip out and over. Sure, there’s the equivalent of life jackets out there. You might not drown and never sell another copy of another book. There’s always Draft 2 Digital, which is an excellent broad-platform distributor. No, I will not recommend Smashwords, they suck. Sorry, but they do. You don’t want to be ‘rescued’ by a sinking ship that hasn’t been updated or repaired in lo, these many years. So if you really do feel like staying exclusive to the ‘Zon is going to drag you under, check out D2D. Scatter your bread on the waters. Who knows? I haven’t had the greatest return from doing that, but then again, it’s been a while.
Because I’m sort of on the bank watching. I like my writing income, don’t get me wrong. I love writing, and I have made it my business: and I’m not about to produce sub-par products just because my livelihood doesn’t depend on this. But because I have limited time, I do like money (yes, yes, I am a mercenary wench), and I have done enough research and time-in-markets to know where the bulk of my sales/monetized reads come from, I’ve hitched my little coracle to the ‘Zon Barge (if we’re going to keep the Internet as information river metaphor going). I might choose to unmoor and kick off in the future. I have that freedom. There’s nothing keeping me here other than it’s what works for me right now. Let me expand this mental image I have for you: the ‘Zon is like a big floating bazaar. All the Indies are little watercraft of all shapes and sizes who come alongside and offer their wares through the auspices of the big ship. See, the villagers on the banks of the online river are a bit distrusting-like of this online shopping thingy. It’s newfangled. But the ‘Zon has earned their trust, and the little boating community is hitching onto that trust and going along for a share of the profits and ride. In order to keep the trust of the villagers, the ‘Zon has to police that community, and any shady scummy types, they need to cut loose and disassociate with. So that’s what is getting Chicken Little all in a tizzy. I don’t see any sign of the ‘Zon shelling my fellow authors and sinking them… I do see that some in the Indie community have indulged in unwise practices to promote their business, and the ‘Zon has cut their tow ropes. Now, they are adrift in the stream and panicking.
I’m not saying that everyone who has issues with ‘Zon has brought it on themselves. In their efforts to cut the dead weight, some innocent ropes get chopped. But there are ways, as Amanda detailed in her post, to get those repaired. And it’s all part of doing business. Not everything is going to go smoothly. But when the crisis comes?
Chill, dude. Chill. It’s all going to be okay. Running around screaming about the sky falling doesn’t make you Cassandra, it makes you look like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Relax, because if you have done your research and due diligence early, you can adjust to the new currents without any danger of turning turtle. It takes a calm hand on the rudder, but businesses, like ships, can endure through the storm.
(header image by Julia Maudlin)
I second the good opinion of Draft2Digital. A Thousand times and a good few years better than Smashwords.
I’ve been happy with them, too.
Ah, some versions of the Chicken Little story have a Fox luring Chicken Little and friends into a cave where everybody gets eaten by the Fox. 😉
Also relevant to my point!
I totally get that there are dangers, and we need to remain vigilant. But paranoia is not doing anyone any good. Not even if they are out to get you, because it’s irrational and in a time of uncertainty you need your wits about you.
And when you’re running around in a panic, you aren’t doing much thinking. Staying calm, staying agile, and above all, paying attention will get us through any major disruptions with the lease negative impact.
What is that old joke about kings? “When the king has a cough, the nobles shit bricks.” Amazon is the king right now for indie press, and anything that even seems to make it more difficult or harder to get books up and money out worries people.
For this kind of thing, know what the difference between vigilance and paranoia is, and stay vigilant.
I listened to someone today who got caught in the first wave of review removals. As best they could determine, too many of their social media friends and connections had posted reviews, and Amazon’s bots and crawlers “saw” that through the social media links on the individual’s author page. They got reinstated, but it was a mess. They are philosophic, but they “go wide” with their books now.