My Decision: No Amazon release for Tales anthology

Dearest Readers:

I have made the decision to pull Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles from Amazon. The book will be still be released on all other major e-book platforms on November 12, 2019.

I don’t make this decision lightly. All authors know the mantra — we don’t like how Amazon does XYZ, but we have no choice. Amazon is where most authors get a significant chunk of their digital sales. For many of us, our livelihood depends on Amazon.

Many of you may not know this, but I work in technology. I work in healthcare informatics — specifically on projects that collect identity information. I work on health systems that potentially serve areas on the southern border. Over the last three years, I have been particularly cognizant about what work I might be doing that could be aiding the government’s anti-immigration and inhumane policies towards immigrants.

As a techie and a student of history, as someone who feels the plight of refugees deeply coming from a family that fled Vietnam the night before Saigon fell, it’s impossible for me not to consider all implications. (See IBM’s role in the Holocaust)

I know I’m a small cog. Just a developer in a very large sphere. Any protest, any refusal I would have wouldn’t change things at all.  But step one is — I don’t want to close my eyes. Step two is, silly girl! You can’t say your actions won’t change “things” when the most important thing that changes is your own heart and soul. My dear, you do have complete control over how you will change. And that is, in the scheme of things, more important than what you can get some company to do or not do.

So the book. I haven’t released a new book in over two years. In part, because of the time, energy, and emotional weight of trying to reconcile my place in this country, a country that has decided it’s okay to separate children from their parents. To criminalize refugees for trying to seek a better future. I’ve joined political action groups, written articles, letters, called my representatives, gone in person to their offices to meet with aides who probably could care less.

“No Music for ICE” — a boycott of Amazon by over 200 musicians — has come to my attention. The claim that Amazon and AWS are the backbone of ICE’s immigration crack-down is not new. More on No Tech for ICE protests.

My first reaction as an artist/creator was one every author has said: But what choice do I have? I have to be on Amazon.

This is my first book release in two years. I’ve spent money on production and editing. And time. The nights…the early mornings around family and work and health issues.  Struggled with it perhaps more than any project in the past. My modest goal is to at least earn out. My less modest goal, earn enough income to pick up a few more expenses.

Without Amazon, less readers will be able to acquire my book. And my reader base is small as it is.

I hope efforts like “No Music for ICE” and “No Tech for ICE” will make a dent, but I must say — I’m doubtful. My actions surely won’t change the ‘Zon’s mind.

Amazon doesn’t need a small-fry like me. But if I keep on insisting that I need Amazon…where does that leave me? What do all the letters and posts and tweets calling to #EndFamilySeparation and #AbolishICE amount to then?

I don’t judge anyone for buying or selling on Amazon. I do most of my reading on my device with Kindle books. I’ve done it because I know boosting an author’s Amazon ranking can make a significant difference in their earnings. It matters in real ways.

I haven’t decided what I’ll do with currently posted indie titles on Amazon. For now, I’m leaving everything else up. I don’t know what I’ll do with books in the future.

But for me, at this moment…There are times when I literally am grief-stricken thinking of children, so afraid, torn away from their parents. There are times when I say goodbye to my daughter when going on a business trip or just sending her off on the school bus, and she clings to me. I can see in her eyes she doesn’t want to leave, even though it’s just for a few hours and I’ll be right here when she comes home.

Then I imagine a mother, desperate and hoping to find a better life for her children, having her daughter taken away. That little girl being put in a scary cell with strangers to take care of her. And our government saying that they will not and, often times, are incapable of reuniting the children they’ve taken. Because they just didn’t care enough to keep track.

Of children. Of human beings.

And the cruel irony of the situation is, ICE and CBP have the technology. Case in point: they’re using it to track and detain immigrants. And willfully NOT using it to take responsibility and ensure that families are reunited. They are not using it to make the asylum process more efficient. They are not using it for non-detention programs like the Family Case Management Program which shows that with proper management, higher than 90% of families return for their asylum hearings. These are the types of solutions that technology can and should be used for.

You don’t have to come from a family of immigrants or refugees to understand this is wrong.

I might be doing something as mundane as fixing dinner, sewing a Halloween costume, trying to write — when the realization comes back that nothing has changed. Families are being mistreated. Children, children younger than my little girl and boy, are crying. And dying. And I forgot. I forgot and went on with my life for a few days, a few weeks. The last time I contacted my representatives to advocate for refugees and migrants was two weeks ago.

For me, at this moment. With this book. I don’t need Amazon.

Not while they’re propping up ICE.

I know Amazon is not the only culprit. I’m not out to boycott the world — I am making one decision, drawn in neat lines so my heart can understand what I’m saying, to keep my soul aligned. What a sad, soul-sucking thing it’d be if I had to say my actions would make no difference now? Already? So early in this fight. On such a small hill?

So I will be taking down the Amazon pre-order for Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles shortly. This will make me ineligible for pre-orders on Amazon for a year. C’est la vie.

I will do my best to get Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles up on other platforms in a timely manner. I hope you’ll enjoy it. It’s the best thing I’ve written in two years. *winks*

Thank you for reading. Always.

-Jeannie

Edited to add: The links for Tales from the Gunpowder Chronicles are now live

Buy at: Gumroad (alt. for Kindle readers)KOBO | Apple iBooks | B&N

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On Success

I realized it’s been five years since the publication of Butterfly Swords — October 2010. Crazy, huh?

It’s also fall. And I always get kind of moody and thoughtful in the fall. Partly because in growing up in southern California, it’s one of the few palpable change of seasons. The air gets crisp and a little chilly and the wind picks up in Simi Valley. Plus fall is back to school time and I still get that little buzz leftover from my teaching days when fall was the busiest time of the school year as you’re establishing your class room.

So I thought it was a good time to revisit the five year plan. The cool thing is I actually wrote one down at Bria Quinlan’s blog in 2009: (okay, it was then end of 2009, so let’s pretend I wrote it in 2010)

In 5 years I will:
1. Complete 10 manuscripts – by year 2 I’m going to try to finish more than one book a year.
2. Publish in another genre besides historical romance
3. Take at least 1 research trip to China
4. Do at least 1 writing workshop a year
5. Create or be involved in some sort of program to mentor new writers

 

I’d say have some sort of steady income from writing, but I don’t know if I want to include that as part of the plan just yet.

1. Complete 10 manuscripts

Clockwork Samurai, which releases in December, is my 10th full-length novel. If you look at novellas, I’ve completed sixteen manuscripts with a couple of additional short stories thrown in there too.

In the romance world, that’s not that much. But you know what? Ten books — published — in five years doesn’t suck. I didn’t even have to throw in the “I was on track until I had twins and my life turned upside-down” card.

So check. Done.

2. Publish in another genre besides historical romance

In 2014, I released Gunpowder Alchemy, which is a steampunk adventure. Sure there are elements of historical in it as well as romantic elements, but as a few disappointed fans and several RITA judges would say, it’s not a romance.

(I say this tongue in cheek. I love my fans and RITA judges and I agree with them. Sorry for disappointing — but Berkley insisted on categorizing this in historical romance as well as steampunk.)

I also published a novella in the This Wedding is Doomed continuity this year. Which is a contemporary romantic comedy.

Check!

3. Take at least 1 research trip to China

Look at that. Silly Jeannie.

When I sold Butterfly Swords, I thought it would be really cool to take a trip to Xi’an, formerly the Tang capital Chang’an. And now I had a good excuse! I was going to be a published author! Never happened.

In 2010, when I was first conceptualizing the steampunk, I said that if I sold the series, I’d take a research trip to Beijing. Never happened. (The trip, not the sale. The sale happened.)

When Courtney and I were brainstorming a potential collaboration, I talked about possibly taking a short research jaunt to Shanghai with her. Never happened. (The trip or the collaboration.)

I still look longingly at vacation packages to China. Like just a couple of months ago, there was this awesome Groupon deal….*le sigh*

So no. No check.

4. Do at least one writing workshop a year

This year, I’ve done….three?

Even in the year I was pregnant and gave birth — 2011 — I presented a workshop in San Diego. Barbara Vey posted a very pregnant Jeannie picture on Publisher’s Weekly to prove it — yeah, thanks a lot Barbara. *winks*

I might have been a no-show in 2012, when the twinsies were newborn. I say I might have been, but I have no recollection of that year. I think I wrote two books that year. I think people said they liked them.

So I’m going to say technically I don’t deserve a check, but…I just wrote and delivered a workshop in one week.

Hell yeah I’m taking a check here.

5. Create or be involved in some sort of program to mentor new writers

I’m president of the MORWA chapter this year and will be again next year if I’m voted in come November. Vote for Jeannie!

I think RWA’s most important function is providing access to information and creating avenues for mentoring. Not everyone feels that way, but I do.

I don’t count the Lonely Owls venture because though we are dedicated to providing craft knowledge and advice, it’s designed as a profitable venture and mentoring is not the primary goal.

But due to my active involvement in RWA, I’m saying: Check!

Bonus: I’d say have some sort of steady income from writing, but I don’t know if I want to include that as part of the plan just yet.

Good thing I left that off. LOL. I’ve been making money steadily on writing since 2011. Has it been predictable? Has it been steadily trending upward? No and no. Sometimes I get on myself for that, but when I look back to Jeannie circa 2010, she wasn’t thinking of making bestseller lists or fan adoration or making lots of money.

In retrospect, 4 out 5 goals doesn’t suck. I think it’s pretty badass.

You know, I think writers…well, actually everyone, not just writers…should say that more often to themselves. I mean, if they can believe it and mean it honestly, it’s important to counter all the times you and the world try to tell yourself you’re not badass.

“I’m pretty badass.”

There are a lot of author reports lately about earnings and copies sold and indie publishing is making them so much more than traditional publishing. I think that’s all really awesome because money from writing is pretty awesome.

If I didn’t think that, I’d write for free. And I definitely don’t write for free. Well, except for this blog. 🙂

For me, success has always been about saying what you’re going to do and then setting about doing it. I said I was going to teach. And then I said I was going to write. Then I said I was going to write and teach. Check.

Hi, I’m Jeannie Lin. And I’m a successful author.