I recently tried my hand at publishing a Kindle book, and in two respects in particular the experience has been brilliant when compared with my experience of being traditionally published. Amazon is great for readers (see Why I like Amazon part 1: as a reader), and is brilliant for authors too.
First, I like the fact that you can change things like price really quickly. When you make changes you receive a message saying they will take between 24 and 72 hours to go live on Amazon sites. In fact, most of the time it's happened for me within a few hours.
Secondly, you can see your sales and royalty reports at any time, and they are always completely up-to-date. My experience with traditional publishers is that you receive a royalty report every six months. (I've even been offered contracts which stipulate an annual royalty report.)
Apart from the inconvenience of having to wait months to be paid, it makes it impossible to make at least semi-informed decisions. For instance, I recently reduced the price of my book to $0.99 or £0.99. I can see the effect on sales within days. If I can see that the move has led to appreciably more sales, I can decide to extend the period of the price reduction -- based on data rather than a shot in the dark. Similarly, I can test any other marketing tactic fairly quickly, and then take decisions based on evidence.
I know that Hachette has developed an author portal, and I daresay other publishers have done the same or are working on it. But for sheer control and data, I think Amazon is, as they say, a tough act to follow.
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