The 1 thing writers must learn from the Hatchette vs Amazon case

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Hatchette vs Amazon. This case has writers picking sides.

If you haven’t been paying attention, book publisher Hatchette and Amazon are in a fight of epic proportions. And no, I’m not exaggerating. Here’s the summary:

Amazon and Hatchette (which owns so many imprints including Grand Central and Little, Brown, and is the fourth largest publisher in the U.S.) are fighting over ebook prices. Amazon wants to cap them at $9.99, with a 30/70 split — Amazon gets 30, the author and publisher split the 70.

Hatchette doesn’t agree with the split and so the dispute began. Writers on Hatchette’s side came out in support. Writers on Amazon’s side did also. Then came the big uproar: disappearing pre-order buttons for  Hatchette books, slower delivery times, and discouraging readers from buying Hatchette books.

The latest from Amazon has come from their new site where they outline their side of the story.  There’s tons of commentary on this. Here is a how a marketplace investor sees it.  Here’s a view from a blogger and former indie bookseller. Here’s some more background.

No matter what side you’re on, there is one big lesson that every writer needs to learn from this giant vs giant spat.

Your author platform and your knowledge on how your readers can get your book is critical to your career. 

Whether you are traditionally published or indie published or just trying to figure it out (I go back and forth twice each week) it is clear that writers have to depend more on themselves for just about everything.

I would have hated to be one of the impacted Hatchette writers, especially if I was a beginning or mid-level author? While, authors like Stephen King will always have options, he has spent load of time (decades!) building up his readership. His readers will always look for his stuff and they will always find it.  But if you were just signed to Little, Brown and under a two book contract, what are you supposed to do?

That’s why building your readership — through social media, mailing list, blog followers — has become more important than ever. That means learning to market yourself has become as important as craft.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Writers shouldn’t bury their heads in the sand when it comes to this stuff. For the most part, writers want to keep to themselves. They just want to write. At one point in writing history, that was an option. The divinity was fantastic (I imagine) where story ran in the New Yorker, the advances were enough to live off of, and writers were intellectual leaders.

But the world has changed and so has the publishing industry. The merits of the change will be up to you to decide. However, if writers don’t change with it, if they don’t pay attention, they’ll miss out on the big lessons.

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