The third book in my Far-called fantasy-science fiction series, The Stealers’ War, is out now from Gollancz. Yippee. There’s an interview about it over at SFF World here and you can lay your hands on the novel online in the UK at http://amzn.to/2591KZf, and the USA at http://amzn.to/1Rr3XVK
Always mixed, bittersweet feelings when handing in the last book in a sequence. Lots of things I could be doing next – some of which even include more writing – and always more ideas swirling around my increasingly age-addled noggin than I will possibly have time to implement.
Of course, the publishing industry has changed beyond recognition since I started writing my first Jackelian series work, The Court of the Air. Amazon has consolidated as the dominant force in print book sales, and even more so in e-book sales. Their mixture of continual innovation, ruthlessness, low prices and genius has left me breathless. Naturally, most of my own fiction reading is on the Kindle now. Having run out of physical book shelf space long ago – I reserve the dwindling free atoms of my house for graphic novels and art books; I discovered that colourful Judge Dredd compilations really suck on the Fire HD.
Amazon has, personally, proved a mixed blessing for the likes of me as an author. On one hand, they Prime – pun intended – the indie published pipeline that helps keep a mid-list hybrid author like myself in the game, which is greatly to love (as are their 70% royalties). I’m fairly sure without KDP, I wouldn’t be around – at least as a writer earning a living more or less full-time from fiction. On the other hand, Amazon – much like the big six, or what is it, four, legacy publishers, now – is a Godzilla-sized giant able to crush mere mortals on the turn of the wheel.
With trad books published by the likes of Gollancz (Hachette), HarperCollins, and Tor (Macmillian), I’ve gazed up in awe from the ruins of my paucity as the giants of the old and new world clash in just about every Trad versus Amazon holy war going. And as well as the cross-fire, of course, there’s always the general fuckwitery, friendly fire and self-inflicted wounds of the biz to keep times interesting.
My ebooks price-fixed by Apple. Check. My trad books vanishing from Amazon’s catalogue when sales terms couldn’t be agreed. Check. Silly over-pricing of my trad digital works. Check. Spotty international availability of my ebooks around the English-speaking world. Check. Legacy contracts so outrageously egregious and one-sided, that my UK lawyer friends tell me supposedly freelance authors could probably actually sue publishers (and win) for outstanding pensions, holiday pay and any minimum wage differential on the basis that said contracts makes authors full-time employees without the corresponding rights. Check.
The latest nonsense?
Amazon hiding the buy button on The Stealers’ War print edition three levels deep. Making it so hard to buy, I couldn’t even find the new print book’s order button until I phoned my agent, thinking the Amazon database hadn’t been updated properly with the new book, and he had to tell me how to access it.
I used to be a GUI designer who still codes on the side. Either I’m inheriting my dad’s PC skills in my advanced decrepitude (What is this thing you call ‘scrolling the mouse?’), or Amazon are seriously trying to divert all legacy publisher print sales to their Kindle platform.
Okay, so here’s how to buy on Amazon the new print copy of The Stealers’ War, buried as deep as a nark’s grave in The Wire. First, go to the book’s product page. You’ll see this screen, below.
This shows the Kindle edition and the corresponding paperback. However, the paperback shown is the smaller size mass marked edition out in 2017. Not the newly released Mr Biggie (you know, the hardback-sized paperback which publishers love charging hardback prices for), which is the only print edition currently available now in 2016. You wouldn’t know I actually have a print edition you can buy looking at this page. Let’s put aside the rather ‘interesting’ (but depressingly normal) fact the e-book price is actually set dip-shit higher than the dead-tree edition (to quote the end of Apocalypse Now: “The horror. The horror.”).
Next, click the highlighted link above, ‘see all formats and editions’
That brings you to screen (2), below.
Next, click the highlighted link, ‘paperback’.
That brings you to screen (3), below.
Next, click the highlighted link, ‘Paperback 17 Mar 2016’.
That jumps you to the actual product page for the book just released, see screen (4) below. Congrats, you can now buy the large-size dead tree copy.
Buried deep on the 4th screen, even after you’ve gone to the trouble to actively search out the title using the Amazon search? Well. I think I can sum up my feelings about that in one handy, sophisticated info-graphic. Everyone loves info-graphics, right?
Much like in Aesop’s The Scorpion and the Frog fable, the giants and titans play, and you kind of know – even as you find yourself lying spread-eagled as collateral damage inside the house-sized footprint left by a monster – that the scorpion will always sting the frog. That’s just how scorpions roll.