ARe Closure: Aftermath Continues

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The aftermath continues with ARe closure as readers/authors/publishers wonder, what is next?

So, I got a request from an International News agency this morning for an opportunity to be interviewed. Unfortunately, I happened to wake up late, and I’m on the West Coast three hours behind New York. So, they interviewed another author. But it was still exciting to see a reporter request for info on the ARe closure and that he was interested in interviewing with an author affected by the ARe closure. It has made my day.

But it also got me thinking. I mean, we’re all connected by the internet. I really enjoy having people all over the world able to buy my books. So, something like a big third party retailer closing is affecting people worldwide. It’s kind of incredible. And it seems, ARe’s closure is international news.

This whole problem is really bringing the Romance Community together as I see small publishers promising readers copies of preordered books from ARe with a receipt. Authors are also promising this as well including myself. With email receipts, it’s easier to be able to stand by basic business ethics and stand behind your product(book) and offer to make the customer/reader happy when others in the industry have massively failed. Just like with most tragedies, people are banding together to help others feeling the pain and loss of this retail closure and are trying to soften the blow.

I mean, do authors and publishers have to do this? Technically, there is no law to. But people that do GOOD BUSINESS want to keep the main reason we write and publish, our readers, happy. Doing this means you are in this to serve the need to get great books out into the world. I kind of feel that is what the Indie ebook revolution has been about. Getting those good books out to readers. ARe was a main artery for this, and everyone is feeling the pain of it being gone.

I’ve seen many readers on other boards and blog comments trying to find a new outlet for their ebooks, especially epub format. The nice thing about ARe was that it had several formats available for people to read an ebook. PDF, epub or mobi were the main choices. I chose to have only epub or mobi, since it gives less pirating opportunities, and the formatting would hold up. It allowed me to reach more readers. Now, what is going to replace ARe?

ARe’s closure has left a big hole for some retailer to fill. Either Googleplay or iTunes could step up. Kobo is a likely retailer for people to move to. Amazon already has a locked in reader group because their own format is similar to what Apple has done. But I’m not totally sure what may happen. I just have a lot of speculation like everyone else. But I’ll watch and let people know what does happen. I’m sure we’ll see in a few months how this has completely affected the market.

My biggest prediction is that readers may loose faith with third party retailers, and I’ve seen comments on blogs and writing boards that are pointing in this direction. Buyers of ebooks want a retailer that won’t just close up and leave them hanging with nothing. Reader trust has been broken. So, it’s up to the ebook community to restore some of that trust. Just like what I’ve been seeing, a coming together of authors, publishers and readers is helping us all to get through a bump in the ebook historical road.

Another outcome of all this, diversifying is still a good idea. I still have my books on Amazon, and I have distributed through Smashwords to fall back on. So, if one distributor goes under, you got other streams of income. I’ve seen a concern expressed on some writing boards about putting all your eggs into the Amazon basket. If the Zon went under, that would be such a HUGE fail for most of us.

But the bottom line is to do what is the best for you. I think that is what made it easier for me to dodge a bullet and not lose as much as some others. Not to say I don’t feel for them. I do. Because ARe was really working for some. But going with my gut and seeing some red flags helped me avoid some serious trouble now. So, sometimes instincts in business works, especially if you are an author publishing your own books.

What were the red flags? 

RED FLAG #1: ARe  had been sending me info on promos for Boxing Day 2016 and even an email to advertise in 2017, adding a comment that space was filling fast. I have since been really budgeting my money for ads and using mostly Facebook and doing my own promotions. So, I really wasn’t interested in those offers, especially since my books hadn’t really been doing all that well over the last year.

RED FLAG #2: And several people caught onto this as well as me, over the last year, sales hadn’t really been too good. This made me not really want to do much with the site anymore even after a few promos, marking down titles to 50% on some titles. I didn’t see much earnings. So, I stopped doing them. SO: Sales not so great? Prices went up on their advertising? Red flags.

Overall impact: Basically, ARe owes me $0.59 for the Q4 2016 quarter or $0.05 if I claim it under the terms they’ve sent me. I said in the other post, I didn’t answer the email and take the deal. I have given my info to the FB group and got on the data list for the Florida lawyer. If anything, banning with other authors, even if it was just a little lost, still shows that Indie authors can’t be ignored as a force. Besides, we only have each other to support ourselves, and our readers, of course.

That’s another thing I’ve noticed. The huge outpouring of readers worried about their favorite authors and small presses that supply them with their books. It is truly awesome! I have read comments of some readers losing 1,000-2,000 books in their libraries. Many scrambled to use their ARe bucks, often purchased or received for Christmas, before the store closed. Many were sad that the authors and publishers pulled our books before they could download. And those same readers understood why we had to inactivate our books. We had to protect our intellectual work. They understood it could take years and lots of money to make those books.

And they would be right. I pay for editors, beta readers, cover designers, and formatters. There are costs I pay out of pocket just to get my books to them. Because I have that writing bug to get this story to them. I’m glad they understand. For this, I thank all of the ARe readers for your support and well wishing. I assure you, I will continue writing and bringing you stories no matter what retailer brings them to you. We’ll get through this together.

What is a take away from this?

In the end, sometimes all you have is your gut and instinct on what to do. If a retailer goes well for you, go for it. But back up or be careful in any interaction. Read contracts fully and back up everything. Take your writing seriously like a business and it might help you avoid more problems down the road.

I’m sure this story will continue as the closure continues to send ripple affects through the Romance ebook publishing and retailing world. I’ll follow up with any new breaks. Until then, you all keep reading and writing.

Have a wonderful and safe 2017!

-Marilyn

UPDATE 1/15/17:

There has been a class action law suit filed by Florida lawyer, Bryd Campbell, with the lead plantiff, Brenda Cothern of Brenda Cothern Books, Inc. I am posting a picture of the press release for all the available information so far on the lawsuit which includes contact information.

all-romance-class-action

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