Look For the Workaround
About six years ago, I was working for a dot com in Northern California. The company was in the process of building an online community and there were constant challenges--where parts of the system didn't work at they were planned to work. The computer programmers were always telling us to use a "workaround." If you've never heard of this term, it's a way to accomplish the task. Often it's not perfect and at times it's messy with additional steps or bends, yet the result happens. You get the job done.
This week I created a work around for my Amazon Short, Straight Talk from the Editor, 18 Keys to a Rejection-Proof Submission. I've heard from several writers outside of the United States about their desire to purchase Straight Talk but they can't do it. The Amazon Shorts are only available to customers in the United States. I've written my Amazon contact and learned they have plans to expand to other parts of the world but at the moment are limited to the U.S.
A writer in Canada approached me because she wanted to purchase 20 copies of Straight Talk and give them to various members of her writers group. It's a great idea yet how could it happen? Yes, I have the PDF on my computer and could have sent it to her. No one would have known but it would have been in violation of my contractual relationship with Amazon.com. From each sale, Amazon gets part of the funds and I get part of the funds. I know it's 49 cents for the Amazon Short so we are not talking about a lot of money.
Here's my work around for this situation. The Canadian writer sent me the funds to cover the Amazon Shorts to paypal. She also included a bit extra because paypal charges a fee for the transfer of money. I didn't want to lose money on this workaround. After I received the notification of the funds from paypal, I bought, then downloaded 20 copies of Straight Talk. I numbered each download so it was a distinct copy, attached the files to an email and sent them to the Canadian writer. I explained the files were exactly the same but for the accountability each one was different. From this solution, the writer received her 20 copies and I worked it out that Amazon received their portion of the earnings. Yes, I went through a bit of downloading and attaching to make it happen but it didn't take me much time and it was properly handled.
I could have written this writer and said, "Sorry, I'm unable to help because of Amazon’s restrictions." Instead I thought about it creatively and worked out a solution where the writer received her 20 copies and Amazon received their payment. Admittedly my sales numbers for Straight Talk will be a bit whacked for an hour or so but that's the least of my concerns.
I've written about this workaround because it illustrates the types of challenges that confront us every day in the publishing world. Many roadblocks occur on the way to publication--whether it is in the magazine world or the book world. When you face the roadblock (and you will face them), you can choose to quit and give up. Or you can look for the work around and persevere through the challenge.
It's easy to give up, stick the manuscript back in your drawer and not look at it for possible reshaping then send it back into the market. One of my friends, Kelly James-Enger, calls rejections "bongs" and determines to get a "bong" back out into the marketplace within 48 hours. Kelly has an excellent book, Six-Figure Freelancing. I admire her persistence in this area. Can you follow her strategy with your own submissions?
When the problems of publishing come your direction, don't let them discourage you. Look for the workaround. You can usually find one.