As I've grown and dedicated my life to radical, Pan-African, organizing work, I've thought of the Concepcion example often because it applies universally to this work. The more you do. The more you contribute, the more criticism you will receive. Due to the dysfunctional basis of this society, that's just how things happen. There are many reasons for this, but the basic reason is that by being a person who makes things happen, you are automatically creating pressure for those who do nothing. Since honesty and integrity have absolutely nothing to do with material reality in this society, even by many who are supposedly "conscious", most people won't have the backbone to say that your dedication intimidates them. Instead, they will attack your work because the people they attack it to (it will seldom come directly to you) are just as dysfunctional as they are. So, the attacks are rarely challenged. Usually, they are met with reinforcement. To be grounded and committed to this work, you have to understand all of this. You have to tell yourself its not personal all the time. You have to be steeled in understanding that the incredible risks and sacrifices you make will be met with skepticism and outright hostility, even by some of the people your work directly benefits.
I've heard negativity towards my work for years. I've spent more time than I care to remember engaging people who ended up treating me and my efforts in the most terrible form imaginable. And, I have no reason to believe the release of my latest novel is going to be any different. To be proactive, I decided to write this piece to address why I decided to publish my book through Amazon. I'm involved in this work everyday. Not just on the weekends. Not just after waking up a few years, months, weeks ago. I've been doing this for a long time. I understand how capitalism works fairly well. I understand how imperialism upholds capitalism fairly well. I understand how neo-colonialism fortifies imperialism which maintains capitalism much better than a lot of people. So, believe me when I tell you that I certainly understand what and how Amazon does business. I know about their labor practices and what they do around the world. I also understand that companies like Amazon are subsidized by everyday working people who don't even shop through them because they pay their workers so little that those workers must depend upon social welfare programs to eat. Since working people pay for food stamps, etc., we are subsidizing Amazon everyday. I am fully aware of these things.
I didn't make my decision lightly. I went through the same process I went through with each of the three previous books I've published. I researched publishers. I researched literary agents. I created an Excel spreadsheet. I plugged in the agents/publishers I wanted to send a query to. The query is the summary on the back of every book. That write up is what you send out to initiate interest in your project. If there is interest, the publisher and/or agent will request chapters of your manuscript. This evolves into them reading the entire book and if they like it, they make you a publishing offer. They offer you a contract. The contract consists of publishing rights, royalty amounts paid to you, what promotional work they will do for your book, etc. Each of the publishing experiences I'd had with all three of the published books were traumatic to say the least. The first company in 2010 did practically no promotional work. All they did was call one book store and schedule the space. What you want in this area is for the company to publicize your events, make sure books are ordered, and have a program developed so that you can come in to people and talk about your book. They didn't do that. The second and third books (I'm talking about three completely different publishing companies) were produced in 2015. The first company that produced my second novel did some marketing through their networks, but they did absolutely nothing to set up promotional events despite the contract calling for them to do so. They did have a network where the book sold, but to this day, four years later, I have never received a dime in royalty income from them. I pursued legal action against them and the owner filed bankruptcy. So, there you go. My only other option was to fly to New York City and meet him in an alley way. Believe me, I considered doing that often, but all doing that would have accomplished is create issues for me. The third book was published by a company in Germany. As far as I can see, after publishing the book, they did nothing whatsoever to promote the book.
Based on my research of this publishing industry, with all three of those publishers, they apparently have processes built up to get enough books ordered from them to meet their expenses. Evidently, once they reach that point, they are done and never actually have any intention of putting any time and energy into promotional work. That's bad enough, but in each of those three situations, my ability to have access to the books is limited because of the unprincipled practices of the publishers. The only way I can order each of those three books is the same way you can. By ordering them at retail prices while receiving nothing for my labor and passion in creating the books.
It was never royalties that concerned me. My primary focus has been producing these books to promote the concepts within them. Those who have read my books understand that. Others don't. The latest book - the 740 page "The Paradox Principles" - is strictly about a group of activists who become targeted by the FBI/CIA. Its a story of people coming together to fight back against the beast. Its about teaching people that we can win. Those are the concepts I wish to spread far and wide. So, this was never about royalties to me. Its always been about talking about the books. That's why the lack of promotional work has been the largest slap in the face. The lack of paid out royalties just reaffirms the wickedness of this capitalist system while also placing additional pressure on me to finance my work out of my pocket.
After I went through my initial research for this book, I sent queries to about a dozen publishers and agents. I only received two outright rejections (common). I did reach the point (described above) of receiving three publishing offers from three different companies, but when I researched promotional work those three publishers had done for their previous authors, I saw the same results I'd experienced with the three previous publishers. Those contracts also possessed some of the controls I wanted to get away from e.g. no control over pricing, etc. As a result, after about three weeks of thinking about it, I decided on Amazon after doing extensive research. I reasoned that with them, I would be able to control my work. I can order books at print cost which will make them much more available to me to spread around. I was able to set my own pricing for my book through them, something I've struggled with each of the previous publishers on. With this latest book, I set the price as low as I possibly could e.g. $19.99 USD for a new 740 page book. The ebook version is only $9.00. Being able to control the pricing was important to me so I could ensure as many people as possible could afford it and I could afford to get as many copies as I needed.
The promotional work for "The Paradox Principles" is completely on me, but its always been like that anyway so at least this time I'm not waiting for something that isn't going to happen. Instead, I'm relying on my creativity to come up with ideas on how to get the book in people's hands. I have connected the launch of the book to a July trip for African youth here in Sacramento to go to Ghana. I'm donating 75% of royalties to this important effort to take our youth home. I have other things I'm doing. The process is slow and it causes a lot of anxiety, but I'm going to give it my best shot. Any help, ideas, people have, I'm open.
My realization was that when it comes to publishing companies the question isn't how to avoid dealing with criminals. The question is what type of criminal you want to have to deal with. With this choice, I'm at least able to control the essential aspects of my work which is something artists from any genre will understand. Its a means to an end and that end is the continued work to heighten the revolutionary consciousness of the masses of people. At the end of the day, that's the only thing that matters.