Amazon, what's in a name?
Well, as it happens these days and THAT name, quite a lot it seems.
Amazon is regarded by some as the greatest invention since the wheel, others regard it as one does the Flat Earth Society, a PR con of vast proportions. Where Amazon differs to them is that it has the honour of having a greater membership and a much wider appeal.
Seriously though, Amazon started like all online ventures do -- Slowly. I remember when they had been going a couple of years and approached me to put my ink recycling business on their platform. It would, they said, launch my business into the stratosphere. I took that with a pinch of salt and deleted the email, plus a few that came after it. They put quite a lot into trying to get me to sign-up but I resisted the temptation and stuck to eBay. There ended my introduction to the life of Amazon. Here we are today and Mr Bezos is now the richest man in the world. Where would I have been if I had followed through and joined them then?
So now let's bring this issue closer to home; to the book market, in fact.
I'm not going to go into the history of how we got here, others have done that better than I ever could, but instead, let's look at how we interact with this Monolithic Beast.
Today, as authors, we look to Amazon first for our market, our research, our readers and our income. If nothing works here then there's no point in looking to put our work anywhere else. Yes? No?
Both are right I suspect, because there are more levels to Amazon than first appear, especially to someone new to their world. First of all, you have the KU platform which for a new writer is an astounding tool to get them traction in the book market. It is designed with the budding author in mind. Get you in, under an umbrella that almost guarantees people will read your book, nurtures you until you learn how the market operates, then allows you to go out into the world and test yourself against the harsh realities of market price while still continuing to be a backstop for all your books.
So, the 'All roads lead from Amazon' bit is quite simple really.
There are three types of author that apply to this (there are many types, but I'm not going to try and get them all in here)
The first is the KU author who writes purely to serve an 'all you can eat' marketplace with sufficient page reads to create an income. Mostly, these authors work prolifically, putting out new work every month, or three to feed a frenzy of already engorged readers. Now, you need to realize that this is not a small marketplace - not at all. It's truly enormous!
So big is the KU subscription service operated by Amazon that last month Amazon put $24 MILLION into the kitty that was shared by the authors whose books are in the KU system. Whilst that equates to something along the lines of less than half a cent per page, it adds up to a significant monthly income if you have sufficient readers. It's a global market that meets many international writers needs while some have substantial monthly incomes from this sector alone.
Then comes author type two. They began in KU, which is the cauldron of all author births in the Amazon world, but have found either by their genre, writing style, or some other reason (I can probably list more given time), that they cannot make enough, or their income is dwindling (there are so many reasons this might be happening) and they need to find alternate outlets for their books. This is a big gamble and many authors fail here because they either aren't good enough or can't wait long enough to grow their markets from scratch, or the worst, they lose confidence in their abilities and so waste that effort they put in and the diminishing income they retain from going back doesn't help them out of the trap they've tripped.
The third type of author fares better. Generally, they've either had a sufficiently 'long breath' to survive out in the wilderness, or they hit the ground running (very few are this lucky). Either way, the market takes to their books and they begin the monumental task of building their wide marketplace until it begins to compete with the Amazon income. Because of Amazon's size and sheer weight of readers, you never want to actually 'leave' Amazon as the level of income will continue to grow as your books gain in popularity. Someone who buts their books on Google or Kobo might tell friends whose only means of getting your book is Amazon. so you can see where 'one hand washes the other' in a mutual relationship that benefits everyone including the author.