A few things died this month: among them, the distribution service I used to publish my first book.

Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors.
Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here.
While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form. Every option was considered before making the very difficult decision to end the business.
Thank you for the time and attention you’ve contributed to this experience. It has been a privilege to publish together, and we look forward to meeting again. #keepwriting
Macmillan Publishers

This is bad news. While many in the indie circles have no love of Macmillan (word is they used to run a lot of smear campaigns against self-pubbing and indies), Pronoun was great software. As I once described in a review here, Pronoun brought a great deal of design and UX to the self-publishing experience: they even emailed me every time my book landed a new review.

I can think of a couple of reasons as to why they were shut down.

One, Kindle Select and KDP ads. Jeff Bezos’ 800-lb gorilla gives you access to Amazon-exclusive promo tools that can make or break your book, provided you go direct through the Amazon publishing system. This is the ultimate blow to all distributors, from Pronoun to Draft2Digital. Amazon’s top indie authors leverage the hell out of this system, and anyone not using it is frankly at a bit of a disadvantage (I haven’t: I will).

Secondly, it ill behooves one to be a fancy skin on top of Amazon’s already slick-enough self-publishing process, especially if the analytics are delayed. Amazon’s backend stuff for authors wins no design awards (and sometimes is just plain clunky), but gets the job done 100% of the time. They’ll eventually (probably) build slicker front-ends and that’ll be that.

I’m sad to see Pronoun exit, though. Macmillan could have played some part in balancing out the scene overall, and making sure that not all power goes through Amazon’s hands. It was also such a painless way of figuring out keywords and categories,  and a part of me is very sorry for the team who clearly put so much hard work and love into making that happen.

For authors who have books on Pronoun, visit their shutdown FAQ now (https://support.pronoun.com/knowledge_base/topics/pronoun-shutdown-faq).  

You need to get your book assets from them (they’ll mail you that stuff), republish your book through KDP and wait a while for Amazon to automatically mirror the reviews that you’ve gotten. There will probably be some emailing of reps involved. Once your reviews are sorted, unpublish from Pronoun. I’m doing this right now with The Slow Sad Suicide.

So long, mates. It was good working with you.