Amazon’s Amazing Deals Are Affecting…Amazon?

I’ve been self-publishing material through Amazon for a few years. I didn’t start out that way. I was originally working with a publishing house out of Indiana before I decided to part ways with them. They put me through several channels, including Amazon, as it was the fastest-growing distributor on the Internet. At that time of my departure, I made a jump to CreateSpace’s platform. They had an intuitive program for self-publishing and I enjoyed the freedom. But then CreateSpace was reabsorbed by…well, Amazon. The entire program was taken into Amazon’s publishing platform and I, along with likely thousands of other authors, was taken up along with it.

You can probably discern the pattern by now. If you’re in the business of building a platform – as a writer – it’s difficult to avoid the goliath that is Amazon. Jeff Bezos’ company is the biggest online retailer in the United States. It’s a multi-billion dollar agency. Its reach far exceeds that of its closet competitors and every aspiring author, like myself, knows it.

That’s why so many writers inevitably find themselves within Amazon’s premier marketplace. The allure of Amazon is its possibility of overnight success. Newbies to the industry are probably thinking just that. If I can get on Amazon, then I increase my chances of selling more books. All I have to do is publish through them and get some reviews to boost the algorithm. No sweat….

There’s nothing wrong with that sort of thinking. I’ve thought it. I still do, to some extent. And if I’m thinking like that, then I know others are doing the same. Namely, those looking to take advantage of people like myself.

Recently, Amazon came under fire for selling counterfeit copies of a book through its online marketplace. An author was notified by one of its readers how there were several typos present. The situation cost the author close to $240k in possible revenue – a massive hit – but avoidable, nonetheless. Why could something like this even occur? David Streitfeld of The New York Times sums up the situation quite well:

“The company (Amazon) sells substantially more than half of the books in the United States, including new and used physical volumes as well as digital and audio formats. Amazon is also a platform for third-party sellers, a publisher, a printer, a self-publisher, a review hub, a textbook supplier and a distributor that now runs its own chain of brick-and-mortar stores.” 

One can see the ripple effect. When you’re that big and you can do that much, it’s hard to keep tabs on everything. To Amazon’s credit, they’ve tried to address this issue, including the claims of Mr. Streitfeld. But this isn’t the first time it’s happened. In fact, it keeps happening; a reality which raises the concern as to whether Amazon will need to take further action as 2019 rolls onward.

Either way, this situation showcases one of the dangers associated with becoming such a big distributor. For the ones looking for a personal touch and a steep attention to detail – aka the aspiring author – Amazon may lose potential clients. Though many will still look to garner reviews from the tech giant, there’s no guarantee new authors will flock to Amazon for their publishing needs. Time will tell, of course. If Amazon can crack down on these problems and assure its customer base these mishaps won’t happen (at least not regularly) then that will only encourage more up-and-comers to sign with Amazon.

As for me, I like to keep my ear to the ground. Amazon does have a massive reach. Amazon does bolster an intuitive platform. And if I’m honest, I’m not really sold on other made-to-order publishers just yet. But that doesn’t mean I can’t shop around in the meantime. There’s still traditional publishing, among other alternatives for a writer with a platform. Amazon isn’t the only player in the game.

And yes, I am aware how one could say, ‘at least for now, there are options’. But I’d prefer not to end on such a morbid note. There are other online sellers like Barnes and Noble and Books-a-Million providing similar publishing services. So the biggest question is not whether Amazon will rule the world, but if buyers and authors will continue to choose the Amazonian giant down the line. Can Amazon overcome its surplus of “good problems” so as to become more streamlined and author / reader friendly?

Well, that story is still an unfolding one. Happy Amazon Prime Day, everyone.

 

 

The Writer’s Lens – E54: Needing To Clarify Some Things About My First Two Books

Recently, I’ve been talking about my first two books – the Epiphanies, Theories, and Downright Good Thoughts… series and I realized that I need to address a couple of things.

Namely, 1) why I stopped writing them and 2) why I am not ashamed of them either.

Like any other writer / artist, we all have growing pains, but sometimes the growing is something a little more drastic than changing a couple sentences. Here’s my explanation.

The Writer’s Lens – Episode 48: How Can Envy Kill Our Creative Pursuits?

You may have heard of the seven deadly sins. There’s Greed, Gluttony, Lust, Pride, Wrath, Sloth, and…Envy. Of those seven, I find Envy to be the least talked about. Or rather, it’s the least recognized of the seven. In this solo episode, I talk about why I think Envy can be a major hindrance on our writing pursuits.

Website: http://www.jclfaltot.com

Facebook: JCL Faltot

Podcast: The Writer’s Lens

My Video Interview with David Ramos

#ICYMI, I did an interview with fellow self-published author, David Ramos recently.

David is extraordinarily talented at building a platform and has the scars to prove it.

You can find the full audio on Podbean, but it’s also on YouTube (for all you visual peeps out there).

David Ramos

 

The Writer’s Lens – E46: A 2019 Confessional (With Goals)

It’s hard to believe 2018 has already come and gone. So with 2019 here, it’s time to do that age-old favorite: make a confession.

Wait, you mean resolutions, right? Well, not really.

Whenever a new year comes around, we are quick to make lists of what we want to change in the year ahead. We make big – and small – life-altering goals that we hope and pray will come to fruition in the year ahead. And though I’m no stranger to doing such a thing, I thought it might be good to look at the year behind me too. Where did I “miss the mark” on my creative goals? Was I following my own advice? The advice of others? Turns out I have some work to do (don’t we all?).

There were certainly some wins and some misses from 2018. So in this episode, I take a closer look at where things went well and not-so-well as I look ahead to take on 2019.

Here’s a breakdown of what to expect:

2018 “Wins”:

  • Podcast still alive
  • New logo
  • Downloads only increasing
  • Journaling
  • Reading more

2018 “Misses”:

  • Missed launch date – The Shadow Of Mars
    • 1st reason: I backed myself into a corner creatively
    • 2nd reason: Not at peace with product
  • Less interviews

2019 “Looking Ahead”: 

  • Re-purposing The Writer’s Lens – storytelling is paramount
  • Guests (new and old)
  • Keep cultivating good habits
  • Hitting that deadline for The Shadow Of Mars

The “Pens of Steel” Group Discussion Special: Making A Digital Footprint

What is a digital footprint?

In part 3 of this “Pens of Steel” group discussion, we wrap up our conversation about digital voices and what each of us is doing in our pursuits to hone our unique digital footprints.

As this is part three, be sure to check out our earlier discussions (if you haven’t already) by clicking the links below.

Part 1: What Is A Digital Voice?

Part 2: Competing In The Sea Of Digital Voices

Brian Del Turco, owner/operator of LifeVoiceQuest

Website: http://www.lifevoicequest.com/

Podcast: http://www.jesussmart.com/

Willie Scott, co-founder of Better Than Blended and T.K.I. Publishing

Website: https://betterthanblended.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthanblended/?hl=en

Brent Mclaughlin, writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brent.mclaughlin

 

The Writer’s Lens – A “Best Of” Interview Compilation

To bring in the new year here’s something a little different from The Writer’s Lens. This episode deals entirely with soundbites from each of my various interviews. And though there are plenty of other good nuggets from the full interviews, these clips were pieced together around a common theme: what’s it like to be a creative who is looking to hone his or her voice and garner an audience.

Perhaps this is something you are looking to hone in 2019? And beyond. These voices – and other guests I plan to have on this program – will be speaking into these areas so stay tuned in 2019 for more! And stay up to date by subscribing to The Writer’s Lens.

Links to the full interviews: 

YouTube Channel (audio and video)

Podcast Channel (audio only)

 

Guests on The Writer’s Lens 

– Willie and Rachel Scott, Co-founders of Better Than Blended and TKI Publishing

– Darrick Dean, Fantasy author; Among The Shadows

– Daniel Luketic, Entrepreneur

– Dr. Robert Snyder, Author of various children’s books, war veteran, and speaker

– Brent Mclaughlin, Writer

– Immanuel Mullen, Co-founder at TheStoryIs

– Colleen Ward, Owner at Colleen Ward Studio

– Brian Del Turco, Jesus Smart: The PodcastSubstanceTV, and owner at LifeVoiceQuest

– Kay Smith, Content creator and art teacher

 

 

“The Scientist’s Dilemma” – J.C.L. Faltot

I told you about The Color of Soul, and now I’m telling you about another short story of mine: The Scientist’s Dilemma.

An oldie but a goodie, The Scientist’s Dilemma holds a special place in my heart as it represents two things about my writing life: 1) my transition from publishing non-fiction to fiction. And 2) my transition from being a lukewarm, skeptical believer to an actual believer in God – and more specifically, Christ.

The Scientist’s Dilemma is a piece that explores what I believe lies at the core of every person: a longing to know all so that we might be able to be all. So you might say this is an exercise in learning humility. Or at least exploring what that might look like.

If you enjoyed The Color of Soul, then this might be up your alley too.

Available only in Kindle ebook format (for now).

The “Pens of Steel” Group Discussion Special: Competing in the Sea of Voices

The Internet is a sea of voices and narratives.

In part 2 of this group discussion special, the Pens continue the dialogue on “what is a digital voice” – while transitioning into another frequently asked question: how do we compete with so many other messages? Should we be focused on beating other voices? Or should we just focus on our own message?

Clockwise from top to bottom: Josh “J.C.L.” Faltot, Brian Del Turco, Willie Scott, and Brent Mclaughlin – The “Pens of Steel”

Jump back in with Part 2 and just in case you missed Part 1, you’re in luck – you can click here to check it out and get back up to speed.

And for more info on the rest of the group, here are some links below:

Brian Del Turco, owner / operator of LifeVoiceQuest

Website: http://www.lifevoicequest.com/

Podcast: http://www.jesussmart.com/

 

Willie Scott, co-founder of Better Than Blended and T.K.I. Publishing

Website: https://betterthanblended.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthanblended/?hl=en

 

Brent Mclaughlin, writer

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/brent.mclaughlin

The Writer’s Lens – E45: The Affirmation of Finished Work

What does it do for us when we finish what we start? If you’re the type of person that struggles with unfinished projects, then maybe you are in need of a morale boost. Or a gentle reminder of what you feel strongly about. Something to kick-start the juices and make it to the finish line.

Or perhaps on an even deeper level, maybe your unique message just isn’t clear yet.

Episode 45: The Affirmation of Finished Work

In my case, finishing a book is what I aim to do. Not an easy task; not something one does in a weekend. For writing a book can feel like running a marathon. But here’s something to remember: we aren’t alone in our pursuits.

In this episode, I talk in depth about the things we can learn about ourselves as we work through our passion projects. And how there’s a unique voice each of us can cultivate by bringing that message to completion.

Website: www.jclfaltot.com

Facebook: J.C.L. Faltot

Instagram: The Writer’s Lens