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Adapt or Break: The Constantly Changing World of Publishing

I'll confess. I don't like change. It's fine when I initiate it, but when it's forced on me...? Man, can my attitude stink. The month of February brought change after change. Changes I'm none too happy about.



Spotify

First, Spotify made their big announcement about the changes to their Terms and Conditions. Mind you, I'm not the most business-savvy person, but I'm smart enough to align myself with other authors and authorprenuers who are. When social media blew up with the news, I read all of the posts to get a good understanding of what the new terms meant. I didn't like them. Spotify quickly modified the new terms in what some are labeling a planned shock-and-switch type of ploy. (i.e. "Let's horrify them with an extreme rights grab and then roll out the terms we really want them to agree to.)

As stated, I didn't like the new terms and the modified terms didn't matter. Show me who you are as a company, and I'll pay attention. I decided to move my audiobooks from Findaway Voices/Spotify as an aggregator. Because I used ACX to create them, I still have audiobooks with Audible, who also distributes to Amazon and Apple. Findaway Voices/Spotify allowed me to distribute my audiobooks wide, which included libraries. However, they aren't the only option out there. They're simply the platform I learned about first.

Now I have to examine my options, decide on a new distributor to replace Spotify, and make that move. After reviewing my available options and praying about it, Author's Republic won my choice. Because they used to be a partner with Findaway Voices, they already have my audiobooks. What I don't know and have yet to receive an answer on is if I need to reupload my audiobooks to them. I have notified Spotify that I do not agree to the new terms--the deadline was 3/15/24--and as soon as my last royalties pay out, they've been instructed to close my account.



Kindle Vella

Spotify wasn't the only company who made changes to how they do business. Amazon also changed the bonus structure and how the in-app purchases works for readers in a one-two knock out punched that killed any desire I have to be a part Kindle Vella. I knew the bonuses wouldn't last forever. It's why I pulled the one completed book I had on Vella and had them unpublish the book I had in progress in 2023. However, because hope springs eternal and I have a bucket-list cruise I needed to pay for, in January I decided to give it another try. Fortunately, I only had 4 episodes of the new story uploaded when the new terms were announced.

To be honest, in terms of royalties, Kindle Vella was never worth the amount of work it took as an author to draw readers to the platform. Most of my readers prefer the full book vs. the one episode at time model. They also complained that it was less expensive to purchase the entire book once published than reading it via Vella. A sentiment I share. I've never purchased Vella credits, despite having a credit balance of over 900 tokens that Amazon gave me for free. I also don't like the episodic model of reading. When I sit to read, I want the entire book. Actually, I want the whole series so I can binge if it's a series I'm reading.

With little expectation of the bonuses that prompted me to give Vella a try and the new reading structure, it was a no brainer to contact Amazon and have them unpublish my book. What surprised me is that they did it immediately. Before, they made me wait 90 days. I was later told by another author that whenever a company changes their terms, they have to allow authors so much time to immediately opt out.

I can only guess at the amount of authors who did the same. Some will hang in there and change their books to try and make the new model profitable. Others won't pay attention to what's going on in the publishing world around them and only take note when Amazon bleeds them dry. It's a business decision each author has to decide for themselves.


Final Thoughts

Needless to say, with all of this going on, writing hasn't actually been a priority. Maybe it's a blessing in disguise that I don't have the added stress of trying to push out new episodes every week on my new writing project. What sucks is that not having Vella killed some of the impetus had to write consistently. Hopefully once I adjust to the time change and get over the spring fever that has me wanting to DIY remodel my entire house, I'll get back to writing on a daily basis.

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