Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Making Authors Dreams Come True

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My grandson’s mom reading my self-pulished book to him.

It’s become popular these days to badmouth Amazon, but I happen to love Amazon and their CEO, Jeff Bezos, in particular. They are what made it possible for me, a 59-year-old author/illustrator, to share her books with the world. After my children’s picture book apps found an audience, I longed to see them in print. I submitted them to countless publishers and agents and most times never even received a rejection letter. Self-publishing was the only avenue left to get my stories into kids’ hands. Upon discovering the astronomical costs of that, my dream seemed doomed.

Choose yourself!  James Altucher
I thought having my apps made into books was hopeless until I heard an interview with author Hugh Howey. I learned that after being unable to find a publisher, he self-published his best seller, Wool, through Amazon. He explained that Amazon has partnered with print-on-demand company, CreateSpace. They make it possible for authors to upload their book files and have them printed on demand (in America no less). That means when one of my books is sold on Amazon, CreateSpace prints and ships it to the buyer, and I receive a royalty. The most amazing part of it is there are no upfront costs. The only downside for me was that the books are only available in softcover. It was easy to let go of my longing to have hardcover versions when I reminded myself of Victorian author/illustrator Beatrix Potter. She, too, decided to self-publish her childhood classic, The Tale Peter Rabbit, after having no luck finding a publisher.  Printing was so costly, Beatrix had to settle for a color frontispiece with interior black and white woodblock engravings. She was at peace with that because she knew the most important thing was to get her book into the hands of readers. I shared those same feelings about my stories. So as of November 2014, Glory in the Morning and Love You to the Moon and Back are for sale on Amazon. I’m happy to report that people are actually buying them for their children and leaving great reviews.
What’s dangerous is not to evolve.  Jeff Bezos
There is a lot of talk about the rise of Amazon being the downfall of the printed word. Yes, it’s true their online sales are shaking up book companies. With the digital age upon us, at some point that was bound to happen anyway. I believe the dismay in the publishing industry comes from Amazon giving the power back to the authors. Suddenly, the gatekeepers of the book world fear their relevancy and creatives have a voice. Many blame Amazon’s owner, Jeff Bezos, for the loss of jobs in publishing and the folding of bookstores. To me that makes about as much sense as being upset when Gutenberg’s printing press came on the scene because the monks who illuminated bibles would be phased out. Progress is a scary thing to the inflexible, but it always ends up expanding our lives.
As an author who was beginning to wonder if she was washed up, I’ve found a new day has dawned. No longer am I at the mercy of the powers that be in publishing. I am extremely grateful to Amazon for making it possible for me to share my stories with the world. Thank you Jeff Bezos for empowering artists. You’ve made it possible for us to choose ourselves and make our dreams come true.
My "Glory in the Morning" is Kendall's favorite book.

My “Glory in the Morning” is Kendall’s favorite book!

Text and images © Sue Shanahan. All rights reserved. www.sueshanahan.com

17 thoughts on “Jeff Bezos and Amazon: Making Authors Dreams Come True

  1. I’ve noticed something about technology – once in awhile something amazing is put out, we’re all in awe for it for a few weeks, and then when it hits a snag, we get all angry about it. Louis CK has a fun rant about how people complain when their cell phones aren’t working, not realizing the amazingness of being able to carry in your pocket a tiny machine that can talk to satellites in space.

    Amazon really is amazing in what it has done for authors who previously weren’t finding an outlet for their words. Amidst the complaints, we should remember the good stuff too.

  2. Sue I think your writing is getting even better (if that’s possible!!) thoroughly enjoyed this article – I’ve heard a lot of the “flip side” of this and your perspective was refreshing and thought provoking 🙂 Love you, you 59 year old author you!! To me you are timeless 💘 Peace. Joy. Love D

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. I’m so glad Amazon helped get your books in the hands of children who will love them. I was wondering why it was not a hard cover book, now I know why and now my brain gears are turning wondering how “etsy” could figure out how to customize a harder book jacket.

    • Amazon does partner with another company that prints hardcover books on demand. The wholesale price for each book would be $27.00. I knew there was no way to make a profit on that so I let it go. It made me come to the conclusion that what’s most important is for my books to get into the hands of readers. xo

  4. I love that you are doing this Sue. Are your books available at Barnes & Noble? I would definitely give as gifts. So good to know a published writer!! Niji

  5. Ms. Shanahan,

    I found mention of your blog on TPV, so I stopped by. Congrats on your books and finding an audience for them. Stick with it. I’m a retired bookseller and slowly retiring children book lit and illustration agent who has watched and encouraged the indie pub movement grow while simultaneously seeing the traditional publishing business shrink and squeeze our clients with more greedy and shortsighted publishing contract provisions. It was time to leave a business that I could no longer justifying being a part of. Bricks and mortar bookstores won’t stock your books not because your books are less than the traditionally published volumes, but because you cannot and should not let those booksellers return what they can’t sell. That long established consignment system is doomed for failure as on-line and eBook sales grow and new retail books and mortar stores slowing will not be able to compete. Just keep writing and illustrating good stories and selling them online. People will find your books and read your work. Nice job.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and words of encouragement. They fortify me in my journey.I was hoping my post didn’t sound like sour grapes against the publishing industry. Your thoughts make me see I’m not alone. Thanks again.

  6. Dear Sue, Thank you so much for this information. I have several book dummies that have been sitting around, waiting for a publisher. For a number of reasons, I finally gave up trying to get them published. And so…please let me know where to begin! You continue to be a treasured inspiration for me! Blessings, Lois

  7. Just came over from Valeries blog. I have been self publishing for 10 years now, albeit not through Amazon. I simply would not do it any other way. Glad you discovered an outlet for your dream to come true, in book form!
    Reply

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