I haven’t been very ranty on this blog, but now’s the time. A good friend of mine, James Crawford, recently self-published his first novel (read my interview with him) and decided to put it on Amazon. A HUGE accomplishment. So imagine his surprise when he checked Amazon (heh, I’m still obsessively checking my book on Amazon) and discovered that his book had been reduced in price—to free! He had no say in this and some sleuthing revealed that Amazon has a contract clause allowing them to match prices. More sleuthing revealed that apparently Amazon had discovered a teaser of the book he’d posted on Barnes & Noble for free, with a different cover and file size, and decided the teaser and the full book must be one and the same. More than 5,000 copies of his book were downloaded—for free. As of today, he’s yet to receive any resolution from Amazon. I won’t go into all the details because he can share them much better on his blog (http://www.bloodsoakedandwriting.com/2011/10/09/two-things-you-need-to-see-for-the-following-saga-to-make-sense/).
Bottom line, I’m outraged on his behalf. He may look into a lawyer, and I hope he can fight it, but is it worth the time and effort? I know other people who are self-published and others who are considering going that route. The internet and places like Amazon have opened the door wide for independent authors and put some fear into the big publishers. But there’s no reason to treat your customers this way. I’m sharing Jim’s story as a cautionary tale for anyone considering self-publishing. Not to say don’t use Amazon, but just to consider all your options and be careful as a little author in a sea of big sharks.
On the plus side, Jim has discovered that a number of people who downloaded the book for free are now fans and want more of Blood Soaked and Contagious. And that’s the best compliment an author can get! If you’re a zombie fan, please check out his blog at http://www.bloodsoakedandwriting.com/.