Own Your Writing Career: Don’t Be Distracted by the Noise

I don’t need to tell you that the book publishing marketplace is all sorts of wacky at this moment in history. It seems a new change is revealed every other day or so. When your focus is on creative work, it can really throw you for a loop to have a distribution method or a venue change appreciably while you’re holed up writing your next book. Own Your Writing Career

But let me tell you, these changes aren’t going to stop. And all of those seconds you spend worrying about the changes can really add up over time. Instead of letting these marketplace adjustments and changes distract you from your main mission – creating more of what only YOU can create – DON’T give the market that much power over your mental real estate. Just DON’T. 

Allowing these distractions to enter your head space, especially when you’re supposed to be focused on your work, can be a major source of procrastination and wasted hours. As I’ve said repeatedly in this series, there are things that you can control, and there are aspects of this business that you absolutely cannot control. Keep your focus on the pieces that you can control.

I’m going to give a couple of examples of recent “upsets” in the book publishing marketplace, just in case you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about. 

Amazon Changes Kindle Unlimited Payouts – AGAIN

Amazon has been pushing ahead in new publishing avenues and ideas for many years now. There are a variety of opinions about Amazon, about the exclusivity requirement of KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited programs, and about how Amazon values authors as partners. Opinions run the gamut from fierce denouncement to complete adoration. Simply put, Amazon is a gorilla thumping about among a troop of chimpanzees. When they make a move, it is noticed, far and wide.

This week’s major change to Kindle Unlimited is blowing up my social media with all sorts of woe from authors. Up through July, authors were paid portions of the fund set aside for Kindle Unlimited based on the number of times their books were borrowed, out of the total number of borrows. As of July 1, Amazon changed this formula so that authors will be paid based on the number of pages of their books read by borrowers, out of the total pages read in the month. This change will help some Amazon-exclusive authors, and will harm others.

Did you note that I didn’t give my opinion about all of this Amazon stuff? Well….it’s complicated. 🙂 I chalk all of the Amazon debate up to, “Choices, choices.” It might be right for an author for reasons of discoverability and building an audience….and for others it might never be a way they want to go.

We should continue to expect Amazon to push the boundaries of what’s come before. They will continue to look for ways to maximize their profits, and at the times that it intersects with an author’s goals, they can be a great partner…but don’t expect the same model a year from now.  

What can I control about this situation? Well…I could choose not to have my books exclusive with Amazon. In the long-run, building an audience at all available retailers is a smarter bet, anyway. If the math is no longer in your favor….get the heck out of there.

Scribd Delists Many Romance (and Other Genre) Books

What the heck are they thinking? I believe what we’re actually seeing is the beginning of the end for Scribd, as they will anger many readers by reducing what they carry. They want your subscription dollars, but some readers just read too much for their business model – namely, romance readers. And these avid readers are exactly the sort who benefit from a subscription service. So…Scribd wants to sell subscriptions, but they don’t want you to read too much, or they lose money. Duh. This is what I thought about their business model to begin with, and it seems they, too, have found that they can’t make enough money to survive with their current business model. 

Here’s what happened: earlier this week, Scribd began delisting many books distributed through Smashwords and Draft2Digital (two major sources of indie-published books). I can verify through conversations with friends that both of these distribution channels have been affected by this change by Scribd. Specifically, Scribd is reducing the amount of romance that they stock. However, they’re also delisting other books, seemingly randomly.

Scribd gave authors ZERO notice. They just stripped the books from their site. If you look up my author name on the Scribd site (as of Wednesday afternoon), you can still see a spot for my paranormal romance series, Children of the Sidhe, distributed through Smashwords. But if you click on it, there are no books in that series available on Scribd. And they’ve also removed the FIRST book in my Foulweather Twins series, though the second book is still there. (And that’s just WEIRD.)

What can I control about this situation? I can choose not to distribute my books to Scribd anymore, or I can live with their choice to only list some of my books. I will probably do the former, since they left my listing looking quite odd and unrepresentative of my work, and because this change makes me believe they’re on their way to irrelevance anyway.

Don’t Be Distracted by the Noise

….I can tell you about both of these changes in the marketplace because I keep up on changes on the business side. That’s important. You should know about your book distribution partners, if you are in fact publishing…but these changes shouldn’t keep you up at night, or sap your energy to get fresh words on the page and new books released.

There will always be a hum of distracting news going on. In publishing we’ve seen a period of tremendous change – and it’s continued for YEARS now. It is likely to slow over these next few years as we reach something of a “new normal” after the ebook revolution and all the ways it has changed how readers find books.

Keep your focus on your own work. In five years, when the publishing landscape is different from what it is today, you’ll have that much more work out, and you can keep on experimenting with getting that work into readers’ hands.

For a full list of Own Your Writing Career posts in the order they were written, visit my Writers page. I’ll be back with another Own Your Writing Career post next Thursday. Until then, happy writing!!

“Own Your Writing Career: Don’t Be Distracted by the Noise.” copyright © 2015 by J.R. Pearse Nelson

About J.R. Pearse Nelson

J.R. Pearse Nelson is a native Oregonian, residing in the beautiful Portland area. She lives with her husband, two small daughters and the family dog. J.R. is always searching for the magic in our world. She weaves tales rooted in mythology, bringing legend to life in modern-day and fantasy settings. J.R. is the author of the Children of the Sidhe paranormal romance series, the Foulweather Twins fantasy series, and the Water Rites fantasy series. You can connect with J.R. online at her website. Visit jrpearsenelson.com.