Thursday, November 20, 2014

An Open Letter to Amazon

Dear Amazon,

These days, if I am to believe what is widely being said about you:
  • The publishing industry is in a free fall, and it is your fault.
  • Any idiot with a laptop can call themselves an author now, because Amazon has made these poor, talentless, hacks believe they are something they’re not.
  • The quality of literature available to readers is plummeting at an alarming rate because Amazon will let anyone publish anything.
  • Indie authors are undermining the credibility of real, published writers.

Give me a break—it couldn’t be farther from the truth. The publishing industry isn’t in a “free fall,” it is in the middle of a revolution which is fostering creativity and free expression the likes of which we have never seen before. The whole discussion that indie authors should not be allowed to be a part of this opportunity is ludicrous because they are heart of it, and yet I’m constantly reading new articles on the way Amazon has negatively impacted the book industry by opening its doors to them.

The people perpetuating this discussion aren’t concerned with declining quality, they’re concerned with declining profits—their profits. Honestly, if indie authors are all hacks, shouldn’t that just make the elite, published authors’ works more valuable in the eyes of the consumer? Please. If indie authors are that much of a taint, publishers and published authors should be saying thank-you for making them look good.

And let’s talk for a minute about what it really means to be a published author. There’s no accreditation process or certification that comes with being published. It’s simply a matter of finding the right person(s) at a publishing house who likes your book well enough to gamble an investment on it in the hopes that other people will like it too. That’s it. Being published does not make you a success, it only means you’ve been endorsed by the establishment—an establishment that has been deciding what is mainstream for a very long time.

So, Amazon, as an indie author who is tired of hearing all the negative talk aimed your way, I would like to say what no one else is: Thank you.

Thank you for being an innovator. Thank you for standing your ground and supporting me. Yes, I know you’re a business and I recognize that by supporting me you’re also supporting yourself, but that just makes our arrangement that much sweeter because I know you’re vested in me. My success is your success. The fact that you make money from my efforts? That doesn’t make you evil. Again, you’re a business and businesses exist for the purpose of turning a profit. You’ve provided access to an audience I could never reach on my own, and I’m happy to pay for it.

But it’s not just the money, Amazon. You’ve also changed my life for the better in other, more permanent ways:
  • You’ve allowed me to achieve a life-long dream, one I thought could never happen. I can never express the extent of the joy and satisfaction that comes with that.
  • Through the sales of my books and subsequent praise from my readers, you’ve given me a degree of confidence in myself I hadn’t previously felt.
  • Because I know my writing will be available to the entire world, you’ve forced me to look more honestly into my own soul and pull deep from my life experiences when I write, fostering greater self-recognition.

You almost certainly never set out to do these things for me, but they happened just the same.

You will probably never read this letter, which means you will probably never know how your stance on indie authors has had such a positive impact on my life.

That’s okay, Amazon. I just wanted to publicly say thank you, especially in light of the fact that no one else seems willing to.

-Matthew Keith

Saturday, November 8, 2014

It's been a crazy couple of months around the Matthew Keith homestead.

I've talked about my kids and their involvement in college and high school band, so it should be no surprise when I say that my excuse for slacking so badly on this blog is a result of marching season being in full-swing.

One more competition. Just one more and then it's over. The Big One. Bands of America Grand National Championships in Indianapolis. It's a strange feeling every year. As a parent who donates a lot of time to helping build props and getting the band safely to the shows and on the fields, I'm always anxious to have the season done. It gobbles up all of my spare time and then some. I lose sleep. My sore back gets... sorer? Is that a word? Is that a thing? I'm using it, I don't care.

But now at the end of the season, knowing we're just a few days away from it being over, I get a little sad. I like the guys I work with at the school, we've forged some good friendships. I like the kids in the band. There are over 200 of them, but I feel like I can confidently say almost all of them are good eggs.

Man, I must be getting old if I feel that way about band. Hah!

The good news is I'll be able to get back to writing at my regular pace again. I'm a little over half-way through my newest book, but it has stalled the past two months because I've been so exhausted. Not only has marching band been kicking my ass, but we're going through our busy season at work too. For me, my life has been non-stop go-go-go for about three months. I'm overdue and ready to take a breath and I can think of no better way than sitting down at the keyboard and writing.