Blog rings alarm bell for self-published authors

Word count: 329 words

Reading time: About 1.5 minutes

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today I write about a blog post that warned self-published authors about troubles with Amazon.

I was scanning through my RSS reader one morning last week when a story aimed at self-published authors caught my eye. The headline? If A Publisher Offers You a Contract for Your Self-Published Book, Will You Be Forced (By Amazon) To Refund Past Customers Who Bought It? 

This story appeared on a blog that went by the name: Self-published Authors Helping Other Authors. I thought the blog was asking a potentially explosive question and I took the time to read it.

The story had no real answers but it raised plenty of alarm. Apparently an author named Jamie McGuire had self-published a book via Amazon and then had been offered a contract by Atria Books. Every writers dream, no? Except for McGuire, it had turned into a nightmare. Amazon had allegedly offered a full refund to all buyers of the book. And the refund was supposed to come from McGuire’s pocket.

I was outraged, until I read the disclaimer at the bottom of the post. It said, “if I have misunderstood this situation at all, please correct me. I tried to get my facts straight before posting this.” Ahem, this sounds like a tempest in a teapot, I thought.

I contacted a very smart friend of mine who works for a national TV network and asked her opinion. “Check out the comments,” she answered. I read through all 88 of them and it was painful. (If you decide to do the same thing just scroll to the end and read only the very last one.)

The situation had sorted itself out. And the blogger had created a lot of unnecessary work for herself (and others.) Just as you should always check out virus warnings with Snopes before warning your friends, be sure to check out explosive stories before passing them along to others. Someone may just be hitting the panic button too quickly.


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