Amazon’s Book Publishing Juggernaut: Part 2- Perspectives From Successful APub Authors: Jeff Deaver

by | Jul 21, 2021 | 0 comments

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By: Nancy K. Herther, writer, consultant and former librarian with the University of Minnesota Libraries

Jeff Deaver

An article series on Amazon’s expanding book publishing division wouldn’t be complete without input from some of the key authors themselves – both on their personal experience with APub as well as their perspectives on the value and potential role for this newer type of publishing system which is already changing the book industry here in the U.S. 

In this first part, we talk with Jeff Deaver.  Jeff first published with APub in 2017 and his most recent publication with Amazon Original Stores (as both a Kindle and Amazon Audible edition) was titled Turning Point (2021). 

JEFF DEAVER – AN ESTABLISHED WRITER FINDS A HOME WITH APUB

Deaver is a former journalist, folk singer, and attorney whose novels have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the New York Times, the Times of London, Italy’s Corriere della Sera, the Sydney Morning Herald and the Los Angeles Times. His books are sold in 150 countries and have been translated into twenty-five languages. The author of more than forty novels, three collections of short stories, and a nonfiction law book, as well as the lyricist of a country-western album, he’s received or been short-listed for dozens of awards. 

Deaver’s book The Bodies Left Behind was named best novel of the year by the International Thriller Writers association. His Lincoln Rhyme thriller The Broken Window and stand-alone novel Edge were also nominated for that prize, as was his short story The Victims’ Club. He has been awarded the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger and the Short Story Dagger from the British Crime Writers’ Association, and he is a winner of the British Thumping Good Read Award and the Nero Award. The Cold Moon was named the book of the year by the Mystery Writers of Japan. In addition, the Japan Adventure Fiction Association gave The Cold Moon and Carte Blanche its annual Grand Prix award. Deaver’s book The Kill Room was awarded the Political Thriller of the Year award by Killer Nashville. And his collection of short stories, Trouble in Mind, was nominated for best anthology by that organization as well. 

Deaver has been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention and the Raymond Chandler Award for lifetime achievement in Italy. Strand Magazine also presented him with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Deaver has been nominated for eight Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, as well as an Anthony, a Shamus, and a Gumshoe. He served two terms as president of the Mystery Writers of America. His audiobook The Starling Project, starring Alfred Molina and produced by Audible, won the Audie Award for best original audiobook of the year in 2016. 

Deaver contributed to the anthologies In the Company of Sherlock Holmes and Books to Die For, which won the Anthony. Books to Die For recently won the Agatha as well. Deaver’s most recent novels are The Goodbye Man and The Never Game in his Colter Shaw series; the Lincoln Rhyme novels The Cutting Edge, The Burial Hour, and The Steel Kiss; Solitude Creek, a Kathryn Dance thriller; and The October List, a thriller told in reverse. 

For the Dance novel XO, Deaver wrote an album of country-western songs, available on iTunes and as a CD; before that, he wrote Carte Blanche, a James Bond continuation novel and a number one international bestseller. Deaver’s most recent short fiction includes Verona, Captivated, which introduced Colter Shaw, Ninth & Nowhere, The Victims’ Club, and The Debriefing. Deaver’s book A Maiden’s Grave was made into an HBO movie starring James Garner and Marlee Matlin, and his novel The Bone Collector was a feature release from Universal Pictures starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. 

Deaver’s Lincoln Rhyme / Amelia Sachs novels were the basis for the nine-episode NBC TV show Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector. Lifetime aired an adaptation of his book The Devil’s Teardrop. And yes, the rumors are true: he did appear as a corrupt reporter on his favorite soap opera, As the World Turns. He was born outside Chicago and has a bachelor of journalism degree from the University of Missouri and a law degree from Fordham University. 

TALKING BOOKS & APUB WITH JEFF DEAVER

NKH: The publishing industry itself has had a bumpy few decades. This quote from The New Republic has stuck in my mind: “Publishing is unique in American arts in that its largest corporations claim to be guided by a set of values in ways that you don’t see in the music and film industries, for example. Publishers may say they are clinging to those values, but they haven’t been living up to them for some time.” What brought you, personally/professionally to Amazon as a book publisher? What made you feel this was a better choice – for you and your readers? Have you noticed any push-back or criticism? Are you seeing new types of readers for your works?

JD: In my 40-odd years as a full-time novelist and short story writer I have had two missions: One, to write thoroughly gripping books and stories that will emotionally engage readers on every level. Two, to get those books and stories into the hands of as many people as possible. These missions are both altruistic (I want readers to be happy!) and practical (the more I sell, the more I am able to get my goods into the marketplace; and, yes, I look at myself as a manufacturer of consumer products).

Where does Amazon fit into this?  I presently am edited and published by scores of companies around the world, and Amazon is yet one more way for me to achieve Mission One (because of the company’s exacting editorial processes, for instance) and Mission Two (because of the ability to expand readership thanks to the online marketing skills of Amazon as a whole). 

One point I should make: I do not publish novels with APub. Presently they publish my short stories through Amazon Original Stories, and short original fiction through Audible.Com, an Amazon company. My novels are published through traditional publishers around the world. Publishing with Amazon is therefore not a binary choice for me. 

An aside, if I may: While I’ll agree with your “bumpy few decades” assessment (caused, I believe, largely by the proliferation of replacement entertainment forms like streaming TV and the internet), I’m not sure about The New Republic quotation. What values is the author of the piece referring to? Is there any publisher in history that has placed creative purity over profits? Perhaps, but not for very long. 

NKH: Mikyla Bruder, publisher of Amazon Publishing, has said “I have no problem going after big authors,” noting that she believes even well-published authors fit into Amazon Publishing’s ecosystem.  Writers have traditionally used agent/scouts rather than working directly with publishers.  Do you think this new model will become more common in the industry?

JD: My relationship with Amazon Publishing has been no different from that with publishers over the past four plus decades: I always have used, and always will use, an agent for negotiations. Once the deal is signed, then I deal directly with the editorial and marking staff, though my agent is available if business issues arise. I can’t speak to whether any authors, big or small, bypass the agenting process with Amazon Publishing. 

As a general observation, I see no reason why big authors would not fit perfectly within Amazon Publishing’s program.. 

NKH: This quote is from Reedsy: “Authors who’ve written about their APub experiences suggests that authors’ input is requested throughout the publishing process.” Whether a new author or a well-published author, does this create a synergy that has worked well for you? 

JD: The editorial process with APub has been no different from that with my other publishers. I want high-quality, rigorous editing—from the developmental stage to proof reading–and I have consistently received that with Amazon. 

NKH:  It was cautioned in the same Reedsy article that publishing with Amazon might mean:

  • Authors likely won’t see your book in bookstores.
  • Your book won’t be on the New York Times bestsellers lists.
  • You won’t have total creative control.

Have you experienced any of these issues? Do you see these criticisms as credible? One author told me getting published is always a challenge for 90% of authors and APub is unique, but already a strong force in a company that is leading the industry.  Would you agree?

JD: Again, Amazon publishes only my short fiction, so the first two criticisms don’t apply to me. Regarding the third, I’d be very skeptical of the quality of a book or story published by an author who exercised complete creative control. Publishing is a joint venture and authors should rely on their publishers’ expertise. While my published stories are, say, 95% identical to the form in which I submitted them to Amazon, that 5% editing made for a much better final product. 

NKH:  Librarians have had serious concerns about the lack of access to Amazon published books for their readers – however, recently the company has worked out an arrangement with the Digital Public Library of America to make these works available to at least American libraries. Do you see APub as another approach to publishing or more the future of publishing? 

JD: I have no knowledge of Amazon’s relationship with libraries; I can’t comment on that. Regarding your last question, I would say largely the former. I see APub as yet another traditional publisher, though with the added benefit—for authors and readers–of bringing to the table the unique and effective internet marketing mechanism that Amazon as a whole is known for. 

In the next part of this series, we will hear from award-winning novelist Robert Dugoni about his “exciting” new chapter in working with APub and his expanding universe of readers.

By: Nancy K. Herther, writer, consultant and former librarian with the University of Minnesota Libraries

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