The Seedy Underbelly of Amazon Publishing

Why I'm starting to bite the hand that "feeds" me.

Well, folks, Andrés Cruciani of Toho Publishing here, and there's a lot to report on the status of our publishing company, so let's just jump straight in.

As with most people in the United States, I've been a long-time customer of Amazon. Who knows how many thousands of dollars I've given them at this point. But, it's one thing to be a customer of Amazon, and a completely different thing to be a seller on Amazon. This I'm discovering as we publish novels and short stories through Amazon's KDP (on our quest to become the best independent publisher).

A couple of days ago, I decided to publish a short story on Amazon. Reason being that I wanted to get to know Amazon's Kindle Select Program (and do so without sacrificing a complete novel to the experience). You can learn more about Kindle Select and here. The story I chose to publish is called "The Scientist", a story about a scientist who thinks you have to suffer in order to achieve greatness. The story was originally published in Green Mountain Review.

So, I published it, and here's where things got interesting.

TAKEAWAY 1 of 3: Things on Amazon happen fast. (Also, btw, I'm burying the lede. Takeaway 3 is where the real gold is.)

Amazon is faster than pictures of fast cars.

First of all, it was surprisingly quick to have the story up. In fact, if I hadn't messed up my category keywords, the story would have gone up even sooner.

LESSON LEARNED: Don't put other authors in your category keywords. Even if you really write like Cormac McCarthy, don't put his name in there—Amazon will reject your publication as fast as my sixth grade crush. (My friend: "Andrés likes you. Do you like him?" Crush: "No.")

TAKEAWAY 2 of 3: You will get reviewed. So your work better be good. (Getting to the lede.)

Second, we got a download and review fairly quickly. Now, this is no big deal to the authors with thousands upon thousands of fans following them. But we're pretty much starting from scratch over here, so it was surprising how quickly this review arrived. In case you're curious, here's the review, memorialized as a jpeg star in this black ether we call the internet:

Bah. Four out of five! Could've been worse. But 4 stars as the first review? You're killing us. Remember what mom used to say?

So, in case you're curious, here's our response:

(Hopefully that wasn't too barbed.)