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Self-publishing giant doesn’t like me publishing my own work online

by Diane Wordsworth 5 months ago in Workplace
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but bully-boy tactics don’t work with me

I’ll take my books elsewhere! (Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay)

One book-selling/self-publishing conglomerate didn’t like the fact that some of my stories already appeared online, despite being (a) behind a metered paywall, and (b) my own copyrighted work.

While I sorted things out with them, I had to temporarily suspend sharing some of my stories online, and in some cases I even removed them.

I'd love to start publishing my short stories on Vocal too, now that I'm here. But there was something I needed to do first.

When I joined Medium back in May 2021, I had a lot to learn. But within a month or so I had a couple of regular publications under my belt and I was having my stories published in them. Fiction and non-fiction. I'd even rustled up a fair few followers too.

Then I began my ebook publishing program, rebranding my short stories as Wordsworth Shorts and republishing them.

However, one book-selling/self-publishing conglomerate didn’t like the fact that some of those stories already appeared online, despite being (a) behind a metered paywall, and (b) my own copyrighted work.

I’ll say that again: My *own* copyrighted work.

While I sorted things out with them, I had to temporarily suspend sharing some of my stories online, and in some cases I even removed them. I didn’t remove any that were in publications owned by others. That would have been rude. But I did remove them from my own publications.

Can anyone guess who this publishing ‘giant’ is?

Amazon.

Amazon apparently do not like to publish books that are ‘freely available’ online.

Not one of my stories is ‘freely available’ online. They are all (so far!) behind a metered paywall. But because the Amazon bots could see the opening paragraphs, and even the entire story if they hadn’t yet ‘read’ their monthly quota, they decided, in their wisdom, that my stories were freely available online.

Well, so what? They’re my stories. I can do whatever I want with my own property!

I had three choices:

  1. remove the stories from Medium
  2. choose not to tick the Amazon box on Draft2Digital (my chosen aggregator)
  3. argue the toss with Amazon via Draft2Digital

At first, I removed those stories that were in my own publications or on my own profile. I toyed with contacting the owners of the other publications, but then I thought: Why should I? They're MY stories.

And so I argued the toss with Amazon.

All I *had* to do, though, was write a letter from me to me giving me permission to use my own material on any of my own websites, confirming that copyright did indeed belong to me, and also confirming that I wasn’t yet dead. But I assured them that as soon as I was dead, they’d be the first to know. Or the second.

Basically, I licensed myself to publish my own work wherever I want to.

And… the robot said ‘yes’. Or, ‘okay then, but we really, really, really don’t like it’.

Me 1 Amazon 0

Publishing today is not what it was, and even if it was, not ever did I licence Amazon to exclusively publish any of the stories that also appeared on Medium and will subsequently appear in the newly rebranded Wordsworth Shorts, or anywhere else online for that matter.

How dare they adopt this bully-boy stance?

More importantly, why do writers let them?

And, if genuine authors have to jump through these hoops, how do so many plagiarised novels get published?

I will continue to republish my stories, old and new, online, in my own publication or in other people’s, and on whatever website I choose. I will continue to release them however I see fit.

And if Amazon don’t like it? Well, we don’t need them anymore. I mean, look at my Apple bookshelf!

(A version of this story also appears in Illumination on Medium and on my website.)

Workplace

About the author

Diane Wordsworth

freelance writer ● novelist ● editor ● ghostwriter ● book reviewer ● member of the CWA ● world-famous nutter-magnet

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