Still I Write ...

Monday, February 15, 2016

In 2011, while contracted to a couple of small publishers, I decided to try indie publishing some of my work. As my contracts ended, I've self-published those books along with others I've written. It's been a challenging and interesting journey to date. As if taking on the job of being a sole proprietor isn't enough to wear anybody down, I'm now subjected to an aspect of this business that I don't like one bit.

The promotion I do for each book is never enough and inevitably, after blasting a new novel everywhere for a couple of weeks, I slack off because there's writing to be done and life to be lived.

Other writers in the same boat become discouraged by low sales and some give up, feeling demoralized by the slim returns on the minutes, hours, days, weeks, months and years of writing, editing, and everything that goes in between telling a story and publishing a book.

A disturbing trend I've noticed in the last few months is that I've been discovered by readers that no writer wants to encounter. My romantic suspense stories are slow sellers, so it is easy to track a certain pattern. When someone picks up the first book in the series, reads it and then moves on to read the next one and return it, buy the one after that, return it after a few days and so on, until they've read the entire series, my mind takes funny turns.

I know each of my stories is the best one, based on the time and energy I put into taking them from an embryonic stage and on to birth.  Apart from reviews that rip writers new body parts, I cannot think of anything more demoralizing than people who 'buy' books and then return them after they've read them in totality.

At the price tag of $2.99—which this writer believes does not begin to cover what goes into each book, but cannot buck the system because that's the going rate, so to speak—I begin to ask myself some questions about the people who practice this sort of thievery, but then I remind myself that the world is interesting because it is made up by different people.

I would like to see writers protected in the same way that readers are by the Zon. I was a reader long before I started writing and I'm still buying more books than I'll ever read, but I do wonder if that company puts any level of energy into tracking reader activity in the same stringent way writers are policed.

Knowing how this business works, as well as reader expectations, I have two books perma free, which I think should be enough for a reader to be able to judge what they're getting when they buy one of my books.

If I were a writer with less blood, sweat and tears to my name, I would imagine that my stories make terrible reading material, but since I know my skill level, plus recognize the fact that not every book is for every reader, I'm coming back to the same place where I started this blog post. People puzzle me no end.

I doubt this post is likely to reach the eyes of readers who make it a practice to rob writers in this way, but I wish they would remember the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And there is what they say about Karma.

Writers are expected to suffer in silence when things like these happen, but I wish people would think about how they feel when they are cheated and their work denigrated in this fashion.

Still I write, because what's a writer to do but write?

24 comments:

  1. You're so right. Writers work hard and have to spend money to get their books out there. It's a despicable practice to "buy" a book and then return it. I wish Amazon and other booksellers would do something to stop this practice.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yup, we put so much of ourselves into our books to have them treated this way. There's karma, so I have to be content with that for now, I guess.

      Delete
  2. Of course I agree with everything you are saying here. Let's hope that whoever is returning your books is at least spreading the word to their friends of how much they enjoyed them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, Michael, I'd hope so but I have my doubts. ;)

      Delete
  3. I think the same could be said of anyone in the art industry. It's difficult knowing where the line of piracy and promotion intersect. I know what you mean about people returning books though. When it's $10+ for an eBook that you really don't enjoy, I can see returning it. When the price point is fraction of that, it's really just a slap in the author's face.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True, Crystal. Artist in general have a raw deal when it comes to what customers are allowed to do on some platforms. I shouldn't, but I take it as a personal insult when you can spend your money, read all my books and then decide to return them. I guess people don't understand that in a way, they are rejecting what I've put into the process and me as the creator of the work.

      Delete
    2. I think it's more that they're stealing and society seems to say that's okay in most instances. *shrugs* It's definitely a growing attitude in this day and age.

      Delete
  4. I'm so sorry this has happened to you, Joy. It's despicable and says more about the reader who does this then it ever says about your work. Because if they are doing this to you, they are doing it to others. You reap what you sow. I know these are empty words, but know that this is all going to work out for the better for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Joylene. It is what it is and you said it exactly. Things have a way of turning around on us and we don't even realize what's happening.

      Delete
  5. Bunch of cheaters. They're everywhere. What we need is a spotlight on this issue. Won't stop most but getting a few to feel some shame would be worth it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I eventually wrote to Amazon and the rep agreed that something fishy was afoot. They will sort it out. Of course, that made me more than satisfied.

      Delete
  6. Sorry you are feeling glum. But don't stay disheartened too long. It's not just us writers who have tricky customers. Try really hard not to take it personally (I hope you'll be saying the same to me when I'm down and out :)). Take pride in your name 'JOY' (it's also my middle name :)) smile and continue to write. You know your writing is fabulous and over time you will build up a customer base to be proud of. That will make these moments just fizzle out where they belong - out in the ether where nobody notices them. I LOVE the 'Hardware' cover!! Have a really good rest of the week, Joy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Nicola. You've added a bright spot to my day. Yep, I do agree that I can only move forward and try to put this behind me. Amazon was very good about it though, so I'm encouraging all of my writing friends to take action when they see suspicious action on their account.

      Delete
  7. This is not a pursuit that is easy, Joy. I hear all that you're saying. Just remember there are tons of us out here with the same feelings. Thanks for putting yours out here. And don't throw in that towel.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Lee, Thanks. Eventually, I did write to Amazon and they did admit that I had a case. They did tell me they couldn't disclose whatever steps they were going to take. I should write a follow-up to let writers know we have recourse when things happen that are not to our advantage.

      Delete
  8. They return them to buy the next? That's horrible! I have no idea if that's happening to me or not. I have a small publisher, so they'd know. I do think writers need to be protected more. I was a reader first too and would never take advantage of a writer like this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It happens, Chrys. The way Amazon is set up with a week to return a book, it's easy for readers to buy-read-return until they're caught.

      Delete
  9. But if they are buying each book, is there a problem with that? Or are they using their return to buy the next book? That would definitely be a problem. It's a backhanded compliment. The fact that they want to read all of them is good, but not if they are paying for one book and reading all of them. Good point. And yes, this is straight out thievery. But it seems this is the way of it now. Musicians are having the same problem...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Lisa, it's buy, read and then return and on to the next. Did not realize that musicians faced this too. I know that piracy is rife, which is ten times worse.

      Delete
  10. Joy, I'm saddened by this post. It's not fair. Not right.
    Can't Amazon enforce measures to protect writers from this abusive behaviour?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They do something if you complain and they can establish that what you suspect is true, but I noted in a group forum where a writer said that Amazon advised that they do not keep track of pages read before people return books, which is what lead to all this abuse.

      Delete
  11. I've heard of this happening and I think I've had it happen to me on occasion. Usually, any returns I get are mistakes as they happen shortly after being bought. There was one instant where I saw a reader bragging about doing that. Everyone pointed out to her that it was wrong to do and she should stop.

    ReplyDelete

  12. Banned complain !! Complaining only causes life and mind become more severe. Enjoy the rhythm of the problems faced. No matter ga life, not a problem not learn, so enjoy it :)

    Obat Kulit Bersih
    Obat Pilek Menahun
    Obat Alami Batu Empedu
    Obat Lupus
    Obat Ginjal Bocor
    Obat Infeksi Lambung
    Penanganan TBC Kelenjar
    Obat Gatal Bibir Vagina
    Cara Menghilangkan Infeksi Jantung
    Obat Penyakit Jantung
    Obat Herbal

    ReplyDelete

Don't be shy. I'd love to hear what you think.