"Younger" is a show I started watching not too long ago. It's a cute premise – a 40-year-old recently divorced woman (Liza) tries to go back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for twenty years. She attempts to go back to publishing, specifically in marketing, because it's what she used to do. But no one will even talk to her. She's hopelessly out of date – not just with her experience, but with modern technologies (like social media). She's willing to take any job, at any level, just to get her foot in the door. The answer is still no.

Why? Because Liza's old. Way, way, way too old.

So a friend suggests that she pretend to be younger. She fixes her hair and changes her clothes and tells everyone that she's twenty-six. They believe her, and she gets an entry-level job! (Despite things like wrinkles, or what her hands look like – I've seen them, and there's no way anyone would ever believe her story, but we're suspending our disbelief.)

I've enjoyed the show's fairly unrealistic take on the publishing industry, up until this week's episode, entitled "Stick it to Achilles."

Kelsey, Liza's best work friend, who actually is twenty-six, has been given her own imprint. She's advanced $250,000 to an unknown author without a book (come back and keep reading when you finish laughing about that) who basically tells Kelsey that she's spent all the money and there is no book. Which is going to cause Kelsey's fledgling imprint to go bust.

Meanwhile, bosses Charles and Diana (did no one think about that particular name combination during the writing process?) start to talk about a potential author they're trying to recruit. They're very worried about "Achilles" snatching this author away from them.

At first you assume that it's just another publishing house. Until Diana drops this little tidbit – "They kill all the bookstores; now they have to come after the authors, too?"

It's then that I realized that Achilles was Amazon.

Now the Amazon hatred has spread even to television.

Because "Younger" repeatedly assures us in this episode that EVERY author HATES Amazon. Er, Achilles. That agents and authors are boycotting Achilles. Which has made Achilles so desperate, one editor is trolling bars, hoping to find authors to swipe from other poor, helpless publishers (he says he hasn't acquired anything in "months"). He's apparently so vile that he has a horrible nickname. (He doesn't actually do anything awful or underhanded in the episode. We're just supposed to accept that everyone at Achilles is inherently evil. There is a moment where he predicts that the boycott will end, because "money always wins." Liza immediately asks indignantly, "Money always wins? Who says that?" Um, people who want to make money? People who understand how capitalism works?)

While Diana, marketing director, is trying to sleep with their newest author, Kelsey comes up with a devious and unethical plan. She has Liza cobble together a chapter from the flaky author's online social media. They then leak this chapter online. Kelsey lures Achilles's editor out for drinks (under false pretenses to "celebrate" their success), and says that she's just being inundated with phone calls from other publishers who are offering to buy the book from her (complete and total lie). She's only willing to sell it for $500,000. Achilles's editor says, "Done." Kelsey demurs, saying she has to check with her boss, Charles, and in her text asks, "How badly do you want to stick it to Achilles?"

The deal is done, and Kelsey has saved her precious imprint (maybe she shouldn't have her own imprint given how badly she's run it so far). Achilles has lost half a million dollars by being stuck with an author who won't write her book (and who protests loudly that she "refuse[s]" to work with them!).

I don't get the Achilles/Amazon hatred. Logically, Empirical (the fictional publishing house on the show) makes the majority of their money from Achilles. It wouldn't be in their best interest to screw them over.

Achilles/Amazon did nothing bad in this episode. They didn't lie, scheme, manipulate, trick or behave completely unethically with their colleagues, professional rivals, or clients. The so-called heroes/heroines of the show did. Repeatedly. But AMAZON IS BAD AND AUTHORS HATE THEM!

And Achilles/Amazon didn't ruin the bookstores. That was a system set up for failure. When I first started out in publishing, our local RWA group had a bookstore manager as a member. She ran the closest Barnes & Noble. She told me once about how another Barnes & Noble store was moving across the street (the location across the street was much bigger). She offered to assist the manager in packing up their books and moving them.

But the second manager said it wasn't necessary. They were going to return all of the books to the publishers, and then reorder them. It was more cost-effective to return everything than it was to pack them up and move them. (!)

Think about that. How is a business like that supposed to succeed?

Why aren't there any complaints about what Barnes & Noble did to bookstores? They literally made a movie about it with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. It happened. Even though we're supposed to pretend that it didn't.

The chain bookstores failed because of poor business decisions. Poor business decisions that they continue to make. They didn't want the digital revolution to happen. And instead of embracing it and finding a way to exist and prosper, they fought it with everything they had.

And became casualties.

But now we're supposed to champion and protect Barnes & Noble? What?

I don't hate Amazon. I love Amazon. I love their customer service, I love my Prime membership. I love my free two-day shipping. I love their prices. I love how they take care of everything for me. I love the freedom they've given me with my writing. I love the chance they've given to everyone in the world to be an author if they want to. I love that they've given the money and the power back to authors (the creators of the books).

And every author who does hate Amazon and wants to boycott them – check their author page on Amazon. They're not boycotting them. I'd have a lot more respect for them if they put their money where their mouths are. (I'm looking at you Douglas Preston and Richard Russo.) No agent is boycotting Amazon. Because they want to make money. And Amazon has it. And it has the marketing ability to make their authors successful.

If Amazon is, as Diana claimed, coming for the authors, you should welcome them with open arms. I promise you, they'll give you a much better deal and a much better contract than anyone in New York ever could.


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Book 3, Rafe's story, is on its way. You can even pre-order it from Amazon now!

Royal Games

It should debut on July 5, 2016!
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