Cynical Guide temporarily (I hoped) unavailable from Amazon

There’s good news and bad news. The good news is if you’ve managed to purchase a copy of my Cynical Writer’s Guide To The Publishing Industry, then yay, you have a collector’s item! The bad news is that it’s unavailable from Amazon right now, and since it was only uploaded to Amazon, that means there’s no place you can buy it.

I know, it’s kind of a bummer. I have no idea why it’s been taken down. I’ve been on the phone with Amazon’s tech support twice. They’ve each time been like, we have a special team to deal with them—the team has no phone support and you can’t email them directly, so just sit tight and wait for them to get in touch. It’s only been since Thursday, so not an excessively long time, but it is sort of a bummer! The whole impetus behind self-publishing was so I would have more control, but ultimately I’m still at the mercy of an immense corporation. In some ways I have even less power than before, because there’s no way to talk to anyone who’s in charge! I don’t have an editor who I can bother. I can’t even get a straight answer.

Oh well! Good thing I didn’t leave traditional publishing behind entirely (and probably this will be resolved soon anyway).

As for why it’s only available on Amazon, well that’s because Amazon will give you much higher royalty rates if you make a book exclusive to their platform. Since my impression is that they’re the vast majority of the ebook marketplace, the gain per copy (for me, it’s on the order of an additional two dollars per copy) far exceeds the potential profits from selling books on Smashwords, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Google Play. But of course it gives Amazon an immense amount of power. Very annoying.

So yeah it’s kind of depressing, but I’ll manage.

In other news, I spilled coffee on my computer, and I got it repaired, but the repair was no good so the keyboard craps out periodically. It’s no big deal, everything is backed up, but the upshot is I’ve been using one of these fancy iPads (with a fancy keyboard attachment) as my main computer for the past two weeks, and it’s pretty good! I mean, it definitely has its advantages. Fewer distractions, the software works better, and the typing experience is essentially the same. If iPadOS had a better file structure there could be a case to be made for eschewing a computer entirely. As it is, I’ve been able to write A LOT on this machine. Just have to be careful that dropbox sync errors don’t end up destroying it all.

I’ve also been listening to lots of history podcasts. I finished the entire of the History of Rome and Revolutions podcasts, both by Mike Duncan, and I’m listening to Hardcore History, by Dan Carlin, and The Industrial Revolutions, by….somebody. I forget his name.

The thing about history podcasting is it is SO WHITE. It is like the distilled essence of being a white guy. I mean this isn’t surprising. I’ve met many white guys who are really into history (often military history). So when you start a history podcast, there’s always this moment when you hold your breath and you’re like, will this be intolerably white? Or will it be whiteness with perspective? So far all of the above are great.

I know it rankles some people when I say something is super white. To be honest I am not fond of the nomenclature myself. Something has to be really white before I notice. Like, my MFA program (all-white faculty) didn’t seem intolerably white to me. I’d say the threshold where something tips over into ‘too white’ is when I feel like there isn’t even the slightest awareness that a person of color might be listening or might have a different perspective. The first environment I was ever in where I was like…this is too white was ReaderCon, a sci-fi convention in Massachusetts. I don’t know what it is. I think ReaderCon’s combination of snootiness (we’re the sci-fi convention that cares about LITERATURE) and its overwhelming whiteness struck a discordant note. Like, if you’re super white, you can’t also claim to be excellent or representative.

Trying to think if I’ve been somewhere more white than ReaderCon (and this was more than ten years ago, so even ReaderCon might be less white now). Hmm…not sure, I’ll have to get back to you on that.

Comments (



  1. C

    Huh, I checked the Amazon website and it says like I remembered:

    “To qualify for the 70% royalty option, books must meet these requirements:

    The author or publisher-supplied list price must satisfy list price requirements.
    The list price must be at least 20% below the list price on Amazon for the physical book.
    Titles must be made available for sale in all geographies for which the author or publisher has rights.
    Titles must also be enrolled in KDP Select to be eligible for 70% royalty on sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, Mexico, and India.”

    So probably double check this, but I’m fairly sure you’d be able to get 70% royalties in every country except those four even if you had it on additional platforms? Fairly sure exclusivity mostly just gives you access to Kindle Unlimited and its subscribers, which can be make-or-break for some genres but in my impression is generally less of a good deal for nonfiction.

    (Anyway, I say this for self-centered reasons, I’d meant to get your book but saw it had disappeared from Amazon. Hope you can get it back up soon.)

    1. R. H. Kanakia

      Someone pointed this out on Facebook too. You’re totally right. I had misread the rules. I need to upload the book to the other platforms post haste 🙂

  2. J-Bo

    Oh no! I hope the book is back soon. I still have plenty of people I want to recommend it to 😀

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