No. I don’t own shares in the company, nor do I work for it—although, I do, in a real sense, work with Amazon to achieve my personal goals.
Let me explain.
Some fourteen years ago, whilst working as the resident screenwriter for Elmo De Witt Films in South Africa, I wrote a short novel called Scarab. A fellow South African writer read it, liked it, and recommended it to his publisher at Perscor. The book generated interest with the local branch of the company, but before it could go further, the branch closed down and some of its staff relocated to Cape Town to form a new company. The South African economy was shaky at the time, and businesses were folding one after another. This was during the early days of Nelson Mandela’s Apartheid-free South Africa and the country was excited, nervous and focused on more important things. I was advised to try to find another publisher, failing which, I should contact the Cape Town group and take it from there.
I never did.
I was eyeing Australia at the time, busy with my graphics and animation company, and somehow, I let things slide. I suppose the fear of rejection also played a role.
As time slipped by, I found myself teaching and studying in Australia, while a little device called the Kindle gathered in strength and popularity. The thought occurred to me that there was no harm in updating my novel (the pentium processors mentioned in my old revisions of Scarab were now passé), with the view to publishing it on Amazon.com as a Kindle ebook. And so I did.
I’d love to say that the rest is history, and offer some rags-to-riches story, but, sadly, that wouldn’t quite be the truth. What is true, however, is that since that day, I haven’t looked back. Scarab performed better than I had ever expected, hitting the #1 spot in the bestseller list in High-Tech Scifi, both at amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. And some two years later, the novel is still holding a place on the same bestseller list, while its off-spring, Scarab II: Reawakening, has staked its own bestseller claim on amazon.co.uk.
The effect of this small gift of success was to grant me confidence that with enough hard work, output and dedication, I could eventually earn a living solely through my writing. What a rush for any writer!
The truth is that without Amazon’s global reach and innovative vision for the future of books, its research and development, its success in making reading “cool” again for the younger generation through the introduction of its Kindle tablets and software, Scarab would have remained a pile of pages on my shelf, placed in a box, gotten lost, and Scarab II would never have seen the light of day. My dream of being a writer might never have materialised—not for me, and perhaps, not for many other authors who have trodden a similar path to mine. This has been an opportunity for which, I, for one, am deeply grateful.
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Well done. Congrats on your success. Thanks to Amazon, I’m making more selling my own books than I’ve received in royalty from both of my publishers to date. So yes, I understand your regard for Amazon.
Yes, isn’t it great? Good luck on your continued sucess!
Absolutely agreed, Stavros. Amazon has built a platform to grant opportunity in a truly democratic fashion. The gatekeepers are gone and we are rewarded for the quality (and to a lesser degree, quality) of our efforts. Best always, Tim
Oops, obviously meant to say “quantity” 🙂
Thanks for your comments Amy. Much appreciated. For me, Amazon is neither a saint nor the devil. Just the provider of an opportunity for me to share my passion of stories with a wider public. 🙂
I’m always interested in success stories, and yours is definitely one, even if it’s not a rags to riches story. I think it’s amazing how the minds divide when it comes to Amazon. For some, Amazon is a saint, for the others the devil.
I’m not sure which camp I’m in. There’s pros and cons for both. While it’s true that Amazon is the largest e-book retailer (and in general one of the largest retailers), I’m also painfully aware that it holds a monopoly in the area. Because really, who are we kidding saying Apple and Co. stand even the tiniest chance against the Amazon giant?
However, good of you to share your story!