Amazon Gives Horror the Middle-Finger (again)
Got an Email from Amazon this morning. I always read these—and not just because I need to know that my new pistachio opener is on the way. Like it or not, Amazon is necessary for small authors like me. Typically, Amazon and I are buddies. I post lots of reviews there, and have published a few of my short stories there as KDP selections. My novels are available on Amazon as well, though my publisher handles that. When Amazon scuffled with Hatchette, I was firmly on Amazon’s side. I’m also a Prime member despite the fact that many Prime items cost more than their non-Prime counterparts—which means I probably am still paying extra for the “free shipping.” What does this have to do with “Reader Powered Publishing?”
Kindle Scout is a program designed to “help [authors] connect with readers prior to publication.” Readers can nominate your book—and if it’s picked, authors get a $1,500 advance and 50% royalty split if they choose to publish through KDP. Sounds neat, until you remember that when you publish with KDP (that’s Kindle Direct Publishing for you non-writers out there), you aren’t allowed to publish anywhere else in eBook or audiobook formats. And that’s not for the usual 90 days, it’s for a full five years. FIVE YEARS. Sorry, friends with a Nook. You can’t buy this book until everyone has stopped talking about it. 😉 The only way to get out of that 5-year contract is if your book earns less than $500 total royalties in the previous year.
To me, this seems like an obvious ploy to hoard the rights to books with good buzz, and keep them out of competitor’s markets—competitors like iBooks and Barnes & Noble. But that’s not the biggest drag about Kindle Scout.
The biggest drag is the genres that are eligible. Let’s see if you can tell what’s missing:
–Mystery & Thriller
–SciFi and Fantasy
–Action and Adventure
–Literature, Fiction, Historical Fiction
That’s right. No mention of horror. Granted, horror could be included in say, “literature” or “fiction,” but then so could pretty much everything that isn’t non-fiction. Why is “literature” its own category? Do they mean “Literary Fiction,” a category so vague and contested that it barely has any meaning?
Even a money-grab like Kindle Scout that goes out of its way to trick new authors into giving up rights on promising books can’t make room for horror to be its own genre? Maybe someone should write a horror tale where Amazon execs learn first hand that horror is serious business. Okay, nobody steal that idea. I need to pitch it to someone at iBooks or B&N. Maybe then Amazon will figure out that horror isn’t just about slashing coeds and fleeing from imaginary ghosts. Horror has some of the most passionate fans out there, and they don’t like being ignored.