New Releases and Random Thoughts

First up. The Word 365 titles are out. Main titles are Word 365 for Beginners and Intermediate Word 365. Available in ebook on all major retailers as well as libraries and in print on Amazon right now but making their way to all the other places, too. (IngramSpark doesn’t approve print books on the weekend so hopefully I can review and finalize today.)

The spin-off titles for that series are also making their way to all the sites. Those would be Text Formatting, Page Formatting, Lists, Tables, Styles & Breaks, and Track Changes. Reminder that it’s a better deal to buy the main books than each of those individual titles since those individual titles are just extracts from the larger books. But if you just have that one area you want to learn about, then they’re a good choice.

Now for the writerly thoughts…

I tried to publish direct with Apple again with the main Word books but then just gave it up when I published the spin-offs. Too much effort and headache for too little extra reward. The spin-off titles were live within 12 hours, the main ones took three days. So going direct actually took longer. And because of the mess that is their pricing page those books are available in fewer countries, too.

Every single release makes me think about the issues of Amazon versus wide. Because if you’re wide the level of effort involved in any release is at least double and usually much more than that. I publish to Amazon in ebook and paperback, Ingramspark in paperback (and sometimes hard cover), D2D in ebook, Kobo in ebook, Nook in ebook, and Google in ebook.

That’s six times the effort. But not six times the results. Despite being wide I still am probably 75-85% Amazon revenue.

So why be wide? (Aside from not wanting to help them create a monopoly that will then be turned against authors to suck every penny from them. If you haven’t read that Doctorow article about the enshittification of TikTok, do so.)

One of the main reasons is because Amazon is very trigger-happy sometimes. I’m seeing mentions this week that a number of authors have had their accounts suspended because they’re in KU, so required to be exclusive, but their books have been pirated and posted elsewhere.

Instead of noting that pirate sites are largely out of an author’s control (because they don’t really care all that much about takedown notices, seeing as they’re thieves to begin with) Amazon just went after those authors.

It’s scary to put your entire livelihood in the hands of a company that runs largely on bots and cheap foreign labor. (No offense meant to that overseas labor. They try but employees can only do what they can do. And when you’re a cheap, replaceable cog in a voracious machine designed to chew everyone up and spit them out when they’ve lost value, well…you aren’t exactly empowered to be a problem solver.)

I should thank the person who reviewed my print books, though, because they caught a typo for me on one of my covers. (Reminder that being self-employed means the incompetent employee that made that stupid mistake is always you.)

So exclusivity just makes me twitchy.

I wish readers would turn to libraries or Kobo Plus or Scribd instead, but they don’t. They just see convenience instead of the long-term harm.

And KU is a big market to not have access to. At this point the fact that it can only be accessed by authors who are exclusive to Amazon is wrong. The biggest player in the industry wants to increase their dominance even more and they’re allowed to do so with impunity.

So authors take the hits on both sides of it. If you’re exclusive you know that you can lose your entire livelihood at any time Amazon makes a decision against you. If you’re not exclusive you suffer from lack of visibility on the biggest sales platform because of how Amazon treats KU titles in its rankings and you give up access to a pretty decent chunk of the ebook market at the same time.

It would be nice if the regulatory authorities would step in on any of this, but I have no hope for that at this point. They should. But they won’t.

The other writing-related thought I had yesterday was about Jim Croce. I don’t know if anyone is familiar with his music, but he’s one of my all-time favorites. I’m a very lyric-driven listener and he has some of the best lyrics out there, IMO.

The song I was listening to yesterday is called Age. I’d link to it on YouTube but I don’t see an official channel for him and I try not to link to channels that look like they’re set up to make money off of someone else’s content.

But look up the lyrics at least, they’re very good.

Why I’m writing about him here, though, is because I looked him up on Wikipedia. I knew he’d died young but couldn’t remember how young or what killed him. (Plane crash at the age of 30).

What caught my attention though was the mention at the very end of the career section that he’d written a letter to his wife that she received after his death where he’d decided to quit music and stick to writing short stories and movie scripts.

Here was a man who I would argue is one of the best singer-songwriters of the past century and he had not, while he was alive, found financial success or acclaim.

He’d already written and recorded some of the most timeless classics in music. And yet…He was going to quit.

He’d already done the work. But it hadn’t found success yet.

Now, would the world have discovered him if he hadn’t died tragically? I don’t know. We have this weird thing with music where someone dies and suddenly their music charts. So maybe if he hadn’t died he would’ve gone home and raised his son and written movie scripts and a few diehard fans would’ve listened to his songs but he wouldn’t have achieved the level of fame he did.

It’s scary, though, to think that someone that good was going to quit.

Of course, just because he had written works of genius that hadn’t found their moment yet doesn’t mean anyone else who’s thinking of quitting is in the same situation. Survivorship bias is real. We look at all the stories of “I persevered” and forget the Of Human Bondage flip-side where someone sacrifices everything for their art and fails miserably.

So I don’t know that his life is a “just keep going” lesson. But it’s something to think about.

Okay. Cozy audiobooks did well enough with libraries that I’m off to record number three. Once I update a million, zillion links for the new releases.