Home » Amazon, Characters, Ebooks, Legal Stuff, Passive Guy » Analyzing Kindle’s Publishing Contract – II

Analyzing Kindle’s Publishing Contract – II

31 October 2011

Almost one month ago, Passive Guy announced he would be writing a book that analyzed Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing contract.

It’s still happening.

He also announced this book would be available on November 1.

That would be tomorrow.

It won’t happen then.

The reasons are two-fold:

1. PG has been very busy working for his legal clients. His client base has grown quite rapidly. This is a good thing.

However, PG has obligations to his clients that he can’t ethically put on hold while he finishes his book.

2. PG has gained much more information about Amazon’s contract than he expected to gain. He can’t say more about that, but this is also very good because this means his book will be better.

However, it will take a bit longer to write.

PG is not sluffing off on this project. As evidence, he presents part of one the pages covered with what passes for a visual representation of PG’s analytical process.

This is how you find out everything about a contract. Well, maybe not you, but this is what PG does. PG has many, many pages like this.

“But wait,” you say, “the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions are not all that long.” You would be right.

However, if you thought the Kindle Direct Publishing Terms and Conditions constituted an indie author’s entire contract with Amazon, you would be wrong. There is more.

To allay mounting hysteria among those conscientious souls who read the KDP Terms and Conditions and thought they knew everything, allow PG to say Amazon doesn’t have monsters in its basement. PG hasn’t finished his analysis, of course, but he has looked at enough contracts to be confident he would smell the monsters at this stage of his analysis if they were hanging around.

However, the longer a contract that includes cross-references and defined terms is, the more complex it becomes and complexity does not increase geometrically. A 20-page contract is usually far more than twice as complex as a 10-page contract.

One of the things a good attorney needs to do is to understand where all the moving parts of a contract are, then run through multiple scenarios under which various parts move in different directions and in different amounts. If there are 100 distinctive possibilities and an attorney only understands 99, as sure as the sun will come up tomorrow, possibility #100 will happen.

PG apologizes for not having his magnum opus Amazonius ready so you can give it to your grandmother for her birthday on November 2. He suggests 99 Little Doilies as a possible alternative.

PG is not going to reveal a new release date, but he is embarrassed enough about missing this one that the book will get finished in a hurry.

Amazon, Characters, Ebooks, Legal Stuff, Passive Guy

16 Comments to “Analyzing Kindle’s Publishing Contract – II”

  1. I butted heads with KDP support about 2 months ago and they “threatened” to unpublish my book, Nothing Serious, until I complied with the changes they demanded.

    Some reader, with apparently no familiarity with either antiques, B movies or literature complained to KDP that I had misspelled a bunch of words. This person was so angry that KDP (some chick in India) came to me very ticked off.

    Here were the misspellings. In the antiques business (which oddly enough is the backdrop for the book) the term objets d’arts used for a little chatcke, statue, whatever is shortened to objet. Sorry, this is true, you may not like it but facts are stubborn things. It really bothered the reader who was convinced of my stupidity for leaving out a c and it was supposed to be object. Which is dumb as who refers to a statue or a netsuke as an object?

    Second point to demonstrate how dumb I am. In the movie Queen of Outer Space Zsa Zsa Gabor, who can barely speak English, plays a brilliant scientist on Venus. The queen on the planet has the hots for Eric Fleming and makes life tough for Zsa Zsa who says with her thick Hungarian accent “I hay dot qveen.”

    Again I’m stupid. That’s not how you spell queen. The chick in India who undoubtedly speaks English passably well but probably doesn’t know from objets d’arts or bad sci-fi movies from the 1950′s (tho knows Bollywood inside and out) could not be convinced these were not mistakes.

    It was comply or be unpublished. I had no recourse. I asked if Amazon was going to have creative input on all our books and never heard back so I guess the answer is yes.

    That Amazon will take the word of a ticked off reader (drunk troll, you can read all about those at my blog) over the author is very troubling. But no one seemed to be upset about it but me.

    It’s probably all in the contract. “We can force you to make any changes some idiot deems necessary in order to make your work available for anyone to understand without difficulty or a dictionary.”

    Still, it’s better than legacy publishing. Worlds better.

    • Barbara,

      With all respect to your knowledge and hard work you’ve done, I think you’re wrong to expect Amazon to give your book the same care as a brand-name classic publisher.
      First off, you didn’t pay Amazon anything for publishing, it’s free service, right?
      Second, your manuscript could not get rejected or incur draconian terms for “it may not sell well” reason, it’s do-it-yourself publishing service, correct?
      So the benefits come with drawbacks. Your book could not be reviewed by Amazon’s stuff proficient in your subject matters, and business usually cares of those who pay them more, so they listen to the buyers rather than authors. Given the Amazon’s business model, I would not expect anything else.

      My point is, that instead of fruitless attempts to convince Amazon’s “Indian chicks”, you could respond to user’s complaint ASAP with reference to authoritative sources and ask friends to add some supportive comments on top, in this case Amazon would probably never get concerned. And if requested to take action by Amazon, you could re-upload the same manuscript with revised description, explaining that you use a specialized vocabulary which doesn’t necessary match the layman’s common sense.

      Don’t take it personal, KDP is about sales rather than writing and publishing. I know it from personal experience, though I am not a writer ;-)

    • Actually, I think a number of people are concerned about that. My novels (or some of them) contain a lot of Scots. Will that chick in India recognize the words? What about slang? What about dialectical spelling?

      But at worst, it’s better than legacy is what I think a lot of us are saying. Nonetheless, I *wish* Amazon would improve their customer service (if that’s the accurate phrase) for KDP. We make money for Amazon. When we have problems, they really should be addressed.

      • The point of this incident, Sergio, is that authors are vulnerable to malicious readers (and there are plenty of them) and Amazon’s position is to take the reader’s side as the default response.
        You are fine with that, I’m not, but then, you’re not a writer. I expect Amazon to give the author a chance to defend the work. This was not allowed.
        If this is okay with you, good for you. After more than 30 years as a professional writer, I value my work and my word choices. I don’t want someone who may be reading with a grudge to go after my work with impunity which is exactly the status we’re in now.

        JR Tomlin–those are perfect examples. You can’t expect support in India to recognize colloquialisms, slang, regionalisms or special vocabulary. Again, the answer is to dumb down the writing to the least common denominator so EVERYBODY can understand. Maybe Margaret Mitchell couldn’t get Gone With The Wind Kindlized at this point in history.

        • An interesting and disturbing account, Barbara.

          I’ve had a couple of legal questions from KDP people about Mrs. PG’s backlist, but those were resolved with a detailed disclosure.

          Was there any appeal process for the adverse decision that was offered to you?

        • I heard about other incidences, too, on the Writer’s Cafe kindleboards. It’s scary. I wonder if Amazon would be satisfied with an author’s note at the beginning mentioning terms and slang will be used. Shouldn’t need that, but well….

          Jodi

    • If the book is still up, perhaps a Glossary in the front would allay the issues?

      (Mind, considering how many typos I see in the average self-published ebook, I am stunned that Amazon let anyone waste their time telling you to fix your book. I mean. Bwah.)

  2. I once asked KDP a question about the contract. The response? The contract says what it says and if I have questions I should consult my attorney. I’m glad they cleared that up.

  3. One last point.
    Amazon is not a free service. I pay them with each sale I make.

  4. I’m very interested in seeing what you come up with. And don’t feel embarrassed about the deadline. It seems like every time I set myself a deadline, it’s already doomed. :-) I still try, but well, first ebook is a case in point. It’s not the ebook I expected to be first. Life happens, especially when you make yourself a deadline.

    Jodi

  5. PG, take your time. Paying clients come first. :)

  6. [...] PG is working hard on his book dissecting the Kindle Direct Publishing Contract. [...]

  7. As someone doing the business end while my Better Half does the writing, I’d much rather wait for your work than get something hurried and half-done. Back to lurking, now!

    • Thanks, Wing. I won’t release anything half-done. If anything, I tend to err on the far side of done.

  8. I Feedblitzed your blog for two reasons, probably in this order:
    1) Love your sense of humor
    2) need your information.

    An agent at a recent writers’ conference said “Don’t sign a contract with Amazon.” She was convinced we writers should not even e-pub with Amazon without going through an agent (recognized bias here!) . She had approached Amazon on behalf of a client because there was a clause in the contract that was disadvantageous to her client. Amazon had balked at changing the clause at first, but because she insisted, and they wanted the client’s book, they gave in and sent her a new contract with the clause re-worded. She took the precaution of reading the WHOLE new contract and found another clause that had been altered, also disadvantageous to her client.

    Is this a legitimate worry?

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