Evolution and the Changing Nature of Indie Publishing

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One reason that I encourage people to follow my blog, along with those of other, active writers, is because of how much and how frequently the publishing world changes. Case in point: Createspace and Kindle. In the last 6 months or so, significant changes have happened with more potentially on the way…

Last year I released The Indie Author’s Bible. In my book I put a note in the foreword about how changes come hard and fast… and sometimes frequently. Anyone not staying up on their game might find themselves suddenly at a loss, perhaps paying for advertising with dead links or websites repeating bad information.

All of the topics in my book are great in principle, but some of the specific info has radically changed. One of my articles in question is how to provide discounts for buyers on Createspace. On October 31, 2017, they discontinued the estore feature entirely. All links to a book at a Createspace estore will redirect to the Amazon listing meaning that authors will lose about 20% on royalties from that specific transaction (Amazon and Createspace had different royalty rates.)

Personally, I think the change is negligible. Very few author’s I know ever sell books on Createspace’s estore because Amazon was that much more convenient. Long have writers surmised that Amazon intentionally made the estore’s interface clunky and stripped of useful features so that people would shop instead at Amazon (which is why I’ve always pushed Amazon Associates links instead of the estore).  Losing 20% off a few annual sales  isn’t huge in the big scheme of things if you can get your Associates sales level up instead (they pay commissions on traffic based on a sliding scale that depends on the number of items bought/shipped).

Perhaps the bigger picture is what that kind of move might mean for the future.

Some publisher/blogger friends have surmised that this is the first step to phasing out Createspace entirely. Of course, there must be other steps, too—such as the new Kindle/KDP interface that now includes paperback sales in the KDP reporting interface and the “setup paperback title.” It might very well be that Amazon is killing off Createspace entirely.

Why would they do that? Kindle has a strong name-brand recognition and the way they kept the Createspace estores in the Amazonian back-alley for so long might mean that they are planning to leverage the Kindle branding towards new self-published titles. That makes sense since Createspace has become something of a dirty word for authors who’ve suffered through the deluges of godawful books that should’ve never been released without extra revisions and edits. This might be a way to smooth that over. It might also be just a way to reorganize self-pubs into one convenient platform (though I certainly hope that would include revamping Audible/ACX reporting as well… I feel like I need to consult a CPA to interpret them every month.) Maybe this is a sign that Amazon has an online store system they’d like to unveil for Indie’s to post on their website to serve books to shoppers on individual author’s websites (like the also recently killed Associates AStore,) in lieu of the CS estore.

Of course, it might mean nothing, too. Perhaps Amazon got tired of hearing complaints about how bad the estore system was. At this point, any or none of the mentioned possibilities may be the case. In fact, because I write my blogs a few months before they post, something big might’ve already happened!

Still, the principle remains the same. Stay on top of industry news or you’ll get left behind.

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