LB Gschwandtner

My Life @ Amazon

It’s been eighteen months since I began my great experiment @ Amazon as an Indie author. In fact, my debut month coincided with the receipt of my first social security check. Both auspicious events that I hope will continue.
During that time I’ve seen the Kindle publishing experiment explode in popularity with both readers and authors. In a previous post I outlined the reasons for and against going Indie so I won’t repeat that here. But I would like to share some of my impressions of what has happened to other Indies I know.
First, “other Indies I know” can mean two things: some I know personally and some I know through social media. Seems this is common among writers these days. We meet online, share short snippets of our lives and consider each other “friends” albeit not in the traditional I’ll stop by later to borrow a cup of sugar or a lawn mower kind of way. One of the ways I’ve “befriended” other Indies is on Writer’s Cafe. It’s a lively, friendly, message board where you can find an answer to just about anything related to Kindle and/or Indie pubbing, writing in general, how Amazon works, and anything you might want to ask. You can lurk (browse) without signing in or start a thread or comment on an existing post after signing in.
What I’ve noticed on Writer’s Cafe over the past eighteen months is that quite a few of the writers who were writing at night after working their day jobs have been able to quit and write full time. Some have bought houses (YES they got a mortgage…) and others have reported sales figures that are quite respectable. Some who began as Indies signed with agents and got book contracts with traditional houses and there are the rare few who sold in the millions (of books or dollars take your pick) and have become, if not household names, very well known.
So there’s movement, change, momentum even.
About my real in-the-flesh Indie writer friends, I can report success at various levels as well. Everyone I know who has gone Indie is selling books and making money. And … they’re all happy with the choice they made. Okay, okay, in some cases it was a default choice because they couldn’t get an agent to take them on. I plan to write another post on that subject next. But for now, consider this: some who went Indie then got contacted by an agent and consequently decided to stick with being an Indie.
So that leaves me. One Monday morning about six months ago I realized that I was happy. After checking my pulse and looking in a nearby mirror to see if I was still me, I realized I was happy in a very specific sense. I had just checked my stats. For those of you who don’t know about Amazon and Nook and Smashwords and Goodreads and all the other ways you can sell books online, stats are your sales figures and your book rankings and your starred reviews (these last are the most troublesome as the public tends to be quixotic and completely undependable).
Stats are like the weather and the stock market. Up, down. Windy, calm. Cloudy, sunny. Rainy, dry. But NEVER fixed. So good stats can make you happy. I’ll admit I’m not a pure at heart ascetic and I do respond to external encouragement in the form of sales of my books. Okay call me shallow. But that’s really what all writers want. People reading their books.
And that’s why my life @ Amazon makes me happy, Because I get feedback about my books right away. And I know that people are reading my books and that’s what brings a book to life. Not who the agent is who represents it or the publishing company that brings it to the market. Writers and readers make a book.


2 Comments

  1. A great post. It highlighted a lot of my same thoughts on the matter. Thanks.

  2. Great post, Laura! I am so in a flux about this whole thing but am leaning towards Amazon self-publishing or going with an Indie. I appreciate all of your encouragement.

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