"Is There a War Against Authors?" Book Publicity Speaker Dan Janal Asks

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"Is There a War Against Authors?" Book Publicity Speaker Dan Janal Asks

Dan Janal

Dan Janal – Book Publicity Speaker

It’s time to state what has become an obvious fact to me: There is a war against authors.


Look at the facts: –


Google won a court case against the Authors Guild  last week that allows them to ignore copyright laws and freely scan any book they like, make its pages available to the public and not compensate the author or publisher. The judge ludicrously ruled that Google actually helps authors find new markets and create new revenue streams. Sure, as if people will pay for something once they see it is free.


–       Kindle Direct Publishing has created a new threshold in the mind of the public on how much a book should cost. They do this by paying higher royalties on lower priced books. That “forces” the author to choose a price no higher than $9.99. Books used to cost $24-$35 dollars (roughly).


–       This tactic also sets a price point in the mind of the consumer. They think books should cost $10 or less. Now the public thinks paying $20 for a book is highway robbery.


–       Amazon is trying to plant the idea that books should be free by promoting the “free” books in every search of its topical list, side by side with books that sell for a few dollars.


–       Amazon, or book consultants, I’m not sure which, have developed a marketing tactic to offer your book for “free” so it ranks high and is visible on its best seller charts. They suggest you do this for a short time and then switch the price to 99 cents or a few dollars. They hope that people who missed the deadline will say, “Well, it’s only a buck so I’ll buy it.” Then the book starts to rank high on the paid list. It’s a clever idea. But the bottom line is the author makes peanuts. It also reinforces the idea that books should be cheap.


–       The newest marketing campaign from Amazon says, “Buy the printed book, get the e-book for free.” This is a great deal for customers, but a rotten deal for authors. Yes, you could argue that the “bonus” book will invigorate sales. But to  me, this says e-books aren’t worth the pixels they are printed upon. –       Authors, too, are to blame. They are giving their books away for free to sell speeches, coaching and consulting. This trend has been going on since I wrote one of the first books on Internet marketing back in 1993. First, newsletters were given away for free, then white papers, then teleseminars, then webinars, now books. It won’t end, folks. You need to find ways to monetize your message.


Silicon Valley has always – and I do mean always – taken the position that “information should be free.” So don’t expect the technorati to come to defense of authors.


One author posted in Judith Briles’ Author U LinkedIn Group recently, “Please, authors, don’t make your books free.” I would have loved to have agreed with him, but I’m afraid his plea is 3 years too late. The cat is out of the bag. The toothpaste is out of the tube. We can never go back.


I’m not the only one who feels this way. Read “Slaves of the Internet, Unite!” for the lowdown on “Write for me and I’ll pay you with exposure.”

By |2016-11-28T23:38:13+00:00November 18th, 2013|Authors, Book publicity, Publicity thought leadership|4 Comments

About the Author:

Dan Janal, author of "Write Your Book In A Flash!" helps leaders write books so they can get more clients and sell more products. My clients get terrific results from my coaching, developmental editing and ghostwriting. For info, go to http://www.WriteYourBookInAFlash.com.


  1. Andrew Chapman November 29, 2013 at 2:10 pm - Reply

    War, really? Come on, Dan… you can do better than this hyperbole.

    I understand your point about Amazon and its downward pricing pressure via Kindle books; however, you’re conveniently ignoring a number of key points, particularly benefits that authors enjoy.

    First and foremost is what goes into an author’s pocket. An author making 70% on a $4.99 Kindle book ($3.49) is making FAR more than she could’ve ever expected to make off that same book through a trade-publishing royalty. On top of that, the consumer would’ve paid more for the same book. Win-win. When you add ease and speed to market, retention of rights and control, ability to market through the Amazon “ecosystem,” and more, I think lumping the Kindle program into the rest of your “war on authors” is misleading (especially to newbies) and disingenuous.

    Further, Smashwords has done extensive analysis of their massive sales history and reported that the sweet spot for ebook pricing is around $2.99-3.99. Sure, the argument can be made that this is the result of the Amazon price-conditioning you describe, but I doubt it. Consumers were never going to pay double-digit prices for (most) ebooks in the long run. Regardless of the value of intellectual property, people generally value intangible digital goods less than tangible ones. They aren’t idiots; they have some sense of the amount of work and cost that goes into producing (not writing) a $27.95 hardcover book vs. a $2.99 ebook that’s barely more than a Word doc. At the very least, they know the former takes much more than the latter (again, apart from the value of the writing).

    From my observation, looking around the self-publishing landscape for over 25 years, authors and aspiring authors are at an *extraordinary* advantage compared to only a decade or so ago — and Amazon is perhaps central to that progress. I know indie authors who are earning over $1,000 per month from just one title who quite possibly would’ve never gotten that book to market through trade publishing. Even if they had, it likely would’ve taken 18-24 months (that’s $18-24k of lost income right there) and they would’ve earned far less while paying an agent 15%. Yeah, maybe they would’ve gotten an advance of a few thousand bucks, but advances started shrinking and disappearing years before the current Paul Reveres of publishing started sounding their cry.

    So, while you have a completely valid point that we all need to keep an eye on the developments in this *overall* shift, I think you’re barking up the wrong tree when it comes to Amazon. Furthermore, taking Amazon’s strategies out of the context of self-publishing and publishing history only serves to inflame new authors who have no idea what it took to self-publish or get published in the ’80s and ’90s. Many have become whiny voices who think Amazon is robbing them for taking 30% of their ebook price (with no regard for what it takes to create what Amazon provides for that 30%). And I’m not even going to get into the insane luxury authors have in CreateSpace versus self-publishing a print book ten years ago.

    Lastly, books get written regardless of the conditions of the publishing business at the moment. Most every study of authors and aspiring authors has revealed that their primary motivation is not money; getting their work out into the world is what drives the majority. Prior to Amazon (and other publishing shifts), authors were not making more money — *publishing companies* were making more money. What we had were fewer authors earning a living or side income through a highly gated paradigm, while a sea of aspiring authors were relegated to the sidelines in frustration.

    Maybe authors are collectively experiencing the slings and arrows of now being on the front line of a shifting industry, but I fail to see how this amounts to a war against them — nor that Amazon is their chief adversary.

  2. Norma Padro December 2, 2013 at 11:26 pm - Reply

    I thought about some of the book promotions too. At first I thought let me try this and then it worked for a while. I haven’t done the free promotion in a while. I want to get paid. I like your article.

  3. allie December 3, 2013 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    I’ve written two books on amazon under a pen name and both are on kindle. I dislike the cap they have put on ahthors. If you charge more than 9.99 then you actually make less unless you charge something ridiculous. Opportunists who want to sell other things have raced authors to the bottom, so you are absolutely right about that. There is this idea that free is good but what self-esteemed author who really believes in writing as both a skill and an art, who spent a year or longer crafting something will give away a whole book for free? Often they were already writing for free if they are self-published! But, to be honest, I’ve read the free and .99 cent books and they are not worth anyone’s time if they already know much about a non-fiction niche or if they enjoy quality fiction. There are people of quality who are willing to pay money, so market to them and forget the rest.

  4. Mohammed Helal December 4, 2013 at 1:10 am - Reply

    Hi everyone

    Google’s decision is simply heartless and outrageous, specially for the new published authors like me. Google Book scanned my whole book, blanked only few pages. My readers read it for free and I got nothing.

    Amazon increased their shipping cost so much that last year big publishers took more than 6000 books down from Amazon.com in one single day. They are desperate. But I firmly believe their greed has made them desperate.

    If it continues like this and the verdict is not overturned, there going to be some books on it. They better reverse the court decision.

    Otherwise, lot of authors like me will seriously think to leave this industry for ever.

    And we authors should be united to take our books down from Google.com and avoid Google.com. There are other search engines in the market, who are competitive, but we simply don’t know or simply don’t like them. Now Google.com has made us, the authors, think seriously about it.

    Everyone, everyone author has something to do against Google from behind their own key-boards. Google.com has forgotten that.

    The best regards.

    Mohammed Helal

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