Why We All Need Godless
Some might be aware of the rise of a new ebook (and clothing) platform, Godless.com. If you’re not, then you really should take a look at it. So, why should it matter? After all, Amazon has been the purveyor of all things literary for so long, we don’t really need another outlet, do we?
Now, if this post was a shit 1970s film, this would be the point where the image blurs and some crap harp music plays, symbolising we’re heading back in time. If you’ve never seen a shit 1970s film, then shame on you and your bastard spawn. Enough said.
Anyway, back when I was a lad and it was all fields around here, we bought books from bookshops. They tended to stock all the leading publishers and very little else. If an author cobbled together a book and it didn’t tick the right boxes for the mass market, it simply didn’t make it to the shelves. There were a few ‘independent’ bookshops, but they mostly sold a few beat generation books from small publishers in the US, along with comics and whimsical poetry collections. It was all a bit 1960s peace and love. If you wanted fucked up, it wasn’t available or it appeared briefly before being banned.
The only solution for authors was to create their own books, photocopied and stapled together, and sell them anywhere they could. I sold mine at punk gigs, in crappy pubs or to strangers on the train. If an author did persuade a bookshop to stick a few on the counter, it was only a matter of a few days before they gave them back, worried someone might report them for peddling filth.
Censorship, eh? It’s so 1970s. Nobody bans books anymore, do they? Yes, they do, and the one doing the banning is Amazon.
Here’s the thing; love Amazon or hate Amazon, their audience is huge. I mean really huge. It’s bigger than the queue outside McDonalds when they punt out half price burgers to the great unwashed. Most of the Amazon customers are typical of the modern age: they’re just itching to find an opportunity to be outraged. Fuck me, people today love to be offended, and Amazon has learned offended people don’t spend money. Instead, they tell other people to be offended too.
If a book (which isn’t shifting thousands of units a day) offends someone and they whinge about it, Amazon typically does one of three things. They might classify it as erotica and hide it away (my books are pretty much always reclassified by Amazon as erotica, despite there being nothing erotic about them in any shape or form: I feel sorry for anyone who buys them expecting a good wank). They might remove the book from the platform, or increasingly they flat-out ban the author.
All three things hamper authors and deny readers a freedom of choice. If you are a consumer of extreme horror, bizarro or any of the other boundary-pushing genres, the odds are you’re missing out on some classics because Amazon has banned them from its platform. Yes, you can find a lot of questionable material on Amazon, but horror and bizarro is something which rankles with them.
Why? Because as a customer base, readers of extreme horror and bizarro are (to Amazon) insignificant when compared with mainstream humdrum literature. Fifty Shades of Grey sold over 15 million units; can you imagine an extreme horror or bizarro novel getting close to that? It never would, because the great unwashed have closed minds. So the fact which stares us all – readers and authors – in the face is Amazon will never embrace our needs.
Godless, on the other hand, will. Its focus is on underground horror and bizarro, plus any other flavour of freakiness you care to chuck at it. Once purchased, titles are available in .mobi, .epub and .pdf versions, so you can use the files on any and all of your devices. Authors get a bigger slice of the revenues, and higher royalties mean we can afford to sell our books for less.
However, the most important thing is Godless has no censorship. If its written, you can find it. The power of Godless can be seen by the sheer number of authors who have moved from Amazon exclusivity to be involved with the platform. More importantly, many authors are releasing new material exclusively to Godless.
I have a forthcoming novella, The God of Wanking, which is a splattery tale of malicious demons. I knew all I’d do by publishing it on Amazon was get a shitload of aggravation. My choice was to either change the title and blurb, hide the nature of the book, and accept it would end up classified as erotica, or place it elsewhere. As a result, it’ll be exclusive to Godless.
Are there any things Godless could do better? I can only think of one. I like to know what I’m buying, because I often buy books based on what I’m doing. If I go on a long trip, or will be off the grid for a few days, I like to buy accordingly. I don’t want to find the novel I planned to read is actually a novelette, leaving me too much time to fill. A simple identification as to whether you’re buying a short story, novelette, novella or novel would be great. Because Godless allows total flexibility in pricing, you can’t judge length by the cost. Otherwise, I think the platform doesn’t need much more doing to it.
As a community, we need Godless. Readers need to support it, authors need to engage with it, and the wider horror community needs to embrace it.
Lecture over; now go and buy some fucking books!