Being an LGTBQ indie author, I publish through Amazon and am reliant of them for paperback printing and sales. Without them, I have almost nothing. I think 99% of indie authors feel the same.
When releasing TGTGTDAS 1, I ran into issues, but managed to get the book live fairly unscathed. Now that I’m trying to launch the second novel, I’ve run into massive problems with Amazon. Let me share the issues with both novels, along with a bit more information on Amazon:
- TGTGTDAS 1 – The VERY FIRST person who ordered Book 1 (from Amazon) received a Bible-related book instead of the novel. I’m not kidding. Please keep in mind my novel is LGBTG and actually has the word “Gay” in the title.
- TGTGTDAS 2 – Typically, Amazon has a 3-day turnaround for launching approved paperbacks. From what I’ve heard, the actual turnaround is much shorter (1-2 days). But they say 3-5 days, just in case. Well, it’s been over two weeks since I officially approved the book for launch, and it’s still not available on Amazon’s website. It completely decimated my book launch. In the meantime, I have gone rounds with them. In a nutshell, they’ve said the book should be live and they can’t figure out why it isn’t. At this point, they said it could be a week or more before I have further updates because their volume is so heavy at this time (although the mistake/bug is on their end). I’ve talked to fellow authors – who don’t write LGBTQ – and they’ve never run into such an issue. In fact, most people say, “My book went live in a day.”
- In 2009, a bunch of LGBTQ books vanished from Amazon’s search listings. There are articles out there about it. Amazon claimed it was a fluke thing. But it still happened, and we just don’t know what occurred behind the scenes. Given this history, my situation becomes even more relevant.
Here’s the giant question: Is this pure coincidence or is homophobia involved? I know there are tons of gay books/products out there. But mine is one of the few YA books with “Gay” in the title so it’s an easy target. What’s to stop a bigoted employee – who has direct access – from interfering? I mean, how hard is it to grab a Bible and throw it into a box out of protest? Or to flag a book and prevent it from launching without going through tons of hoops?
I actually debated this a lot and thought it really could just be coincidence. However, that didn’t make me feel any better, and I didn’t know why. I know I’ve made my share of mistakes, and I don’t want to fault others for making their own. Still, something about the situation really bothered me, and I finally realize what it is:
Say this really is a coincidence (and homophobia has nothing to do with it). No big deal, right? Wrong. This is STILL a major issue. Why?
Because there is ZERO accountability from Amazon.
Other companies have guarantees in place that encourage good performance from themselves. Amazon has nothing in regards to indie authors. There are no repercussions from their end when stuff like this happens. Theoretically, they could sit on their hands for a year, never launching a book – and potentially ruining an indie author’s career – without a single repercussion.
Amazon needs to take some accountability. I mean, how delayed is too delayed with a launch? As I’m nearing the 3-week mark, it really really really feels unacceptable. They need to do something that makes them want to provide better customer service. There should be a guarantee in place that, if a book doesn’t launch within X days, the author receives Y (whether it be advertising space, promotional materials, etc…). They enforce certain criteria on us. It’s only fair they do the same to themselves.
OK. I’m stepping off my soap box now. But before I go, I want to say one last thing:
Gay or straight, black or white, male or female, other or other – Indie authors deserve better.