Tag: Kindle

WWW: Back to Kindle

Well, if I’m pulling out the Kindle image, it must be once again time for me to talk about self e-publication.  This time the origins come from Saturday morning when I grabbed the Sunday Washington Post Arts section and was greeted by the headline: Novel rejected?  There’s an e-book gold rush.  I tucked into the article, expecting another story about how Amanda Hocking has made millions of dollars and so too could anyone else who put their book up on Kindle.

I was pleasantly surprised.

Yes, the media darling of Kindle self-publication was mentioned as part of the article, but not with the glowing amazement of the websites that picked up her stories around two months ago.  Rather, the article points out that she has since decided to sign with a traditional publisher saying, “I do not want to spend 40 hours a week handling emails, formatting covers, finding editors, etc.”  But the main focus of the story is Nyree Belleville.  She’s made a good amount of money through self publishing to Kindle.

But here’s the rub.  What is she publishing?  Well, she started with novels that had been traditionally published years ago, but the rights had long-since reverted to Mrs. Belleville.  Thus, what she started putting on Kindle were novels that had been through the traditional vetting process and been professionally edited.  She has since put original titles on Kindle, but she’s also a writer who thus has experience creating professional quality novels.

I’m not going to say that’s the only reason that she’s successful.  That’s selling her short.  But the story is very even handed with presenting the idea that, while some people are being insanely successful with self e-publication, it’s a huge outlier.  From the article, the founder of Smashwords is quoted saying, “We have less than 50 people who are making more than $50,000 per year. We have a lot who don’t sell a single book.”  I’m massively impressed by those 50 people, but the article also cites nearly 20,000 authors on the site, meaning only one quarter of one percent are making what could be considered a living wage on their writing.

Then again, what percentage of authors traditionally published can say the same?  I don’t have the numbers, but even mass market authors still have day jobs.

Anyway, I wanted to pass along the article as being one of the better presentations I’ve seen of the actual trials and tribulations of self e-publication presented from a major source.  It actually bothers to look at the work people put into it, where the success stories come from, and the reality that self e-publication isn’t some magic money making machine.  It also comes at a time when I’m considering ending my own experiments within self e-publication, but you’ll have to head over to my blog to read exactly why.  And go read the article linked above.  I gave some bullet points, but the whole has far more information than what I digested.

WWW: You Are Not Amanda Hocking

There’s a problem with the sort of sensationalism that some blogs go for in their presentation, and it’s part of why I make sure that I balance myself when it comes to reading them.  Engadget is the hard core rumor-and-fact blog.  Gizmodo is the more free-wheeling tech-and-fun blog.  Both of them present a part of the picture, and need to be approached for what they are.  Why do I bring this up?  Largely because of a blog post that Gizmodo ran earlier this week: This 26-Year Old Makes Millions Writing Kindle-Only Books.  The article is two paragraphs long, but it doesn’t need to be.  It’s all right there in the title.  Golly gee, someone has managed to turn self e-publication into a lucrative cash flow.

And then it asks the question: why not you?

The answer is simple.  You are not Amanda Hocking.

Being someone who has dabbled with e-publication in the past (buy my book, buy my book, buy my book) I don’t follow the emerging market nearly as closely as I could.  Or should.  Even if I did, I’m not sure I would have heard of Amanda Hocking, as her books are outside of my typical reading sphere.  She writes young-adult paranormal romance.  But she’s also managed to do so in a very savvy way, and in the end hers is story that many may want to mimic based on the pitifully few details of the Gizmodo story, but few may be able to.  If you get past articles that are just looking to number crunch and say “anyone can be a millionaire on Kindle” one lands at a profile of her done by the Huffington Post.  One that actually, ya know, talks to her, and shows that she’s actually a fantastic model for how authorial success can be reached.

Go on.  Read it.  I’m not going to just sit and summarize it for you, cause it’s good information.

Okay, fine, quick bio.  She was telling stories before she could write, was writing stories as soon as she could, and is under no impression that’s she’s perfect, even lamenting the fact that her best efforts at self editing and beta reading have come up short.  Her next step is to procure the sort of professional editing services that a publisher would give her access to.

This is not someone who just slapped together a Nanowrimo novel, stuck it up on Kindle, and waited for the money to roll in.  If she’d done that, it wouldn’t have.  Trust me on this one.  What she has done instead is actually work to hone her craft, improve her writing, build a fan base, engage in as much self promotion as she’s able, and in the end work damn hard to get to the point she’s at.  And even then, she’s not going to sit back and just let the money come.  She’s looking to improve herself at every angle.

Ya know, I went into learning about her coming out of that Gizmodo article expecting nothing like what I found, and I don’t know why that is.  Success is something that has to be earned, whether it’s through the traditional means of finding representation, working up from small press to large press and pressing the flesh at conventions (first draft of that sentence said “pounding”, though I’m sure some people have gotten published that way too) or whether it’s by working your ass off when you realize that you’ve put yourself out there and no one is going to do the work for you.

And in the end, there’s still going to be that tiny element of luck involved.  There’s no denying that she got into the e-publication market at the bottom, and that was the best time to get in.  Like the companies who got into the iTunes App Store back when titles numbered in the low 5 digits rather than narrowing in on half a million.  And with a genre of books that was simultaneously taking off due to the popularity of the Twilight novels.

So why can’t you make millions of dollars as a Kindle-only self published writer?  Because you’re not Amanda Hocking.

Unless you’re willing to try to be.  In which case, best of luck.

Kindle graphic courtesy wikipedia user NotFromUtrecht

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XKCD Humor – Book Burning and Kindle Editions

Book Burning and Kindle Editions

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Wednesday Writerly Words

Remember Gizmodo?  They were one of the sites I linked to in my first writerly words a s a great resource for those looking to track with technology.  Today they’ve got a post up looking at the various avenues that a writer has for self publication in the new eBook world.

Now, before getting too in depth, I’m going to come down firmly on the side of traditional publication channels, working through an agent and a publisher.  Self publication still is what it always has been, a way to put stuff out there, but one that requires you to do all your own footwork in terms of advertising.  However, if you have made the decision to self publish then don’t just stick to a print on demand service.  It’s 2010.  Get your book out there for the various eReaders (especially the iPad/Phone/Touch and the Kindle, which combine to absolutely dominate the market).  And use a service.  Just as you don’t want to be on the hook for your own distribution of physical copies, you don’t want to handle distribution of soft copies of your books either, especially when it comes to the collection of money if you have any interest in charging for them.

So the Gizmodo article has three pieces of advice, all of which I readily agree with:

  • Use a distribution service.  I use smashwords, they suggest FastPencil.
  • Publish for every device you can
  • Advertise where you can

It’s still a new world in ePublication, and it may take off that self publication will do big things.  And it’s a new enough market that someone willing to challenge the paradigm may have a lot more success than someone trying to do so through traditional channels.  There are already markets existing within ePublication that don’t really exist in the hard copy word: individual short stories and novellas immediately come to mind.  Sure the former might be picked up by an anthology, but the latter has become an increasingly difficult market to get into as publishers aren’t interested in standalone novellas, and anthologies won’t touch them.

So if you’re willing to experiment, do it.  Just do it smartly.

DL Thurston can be found at http://DLThurston.com/blog Rust is available now for Kindle, ePub readers, and iBooks, coming soon to Sony Reader.

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National Endowment for the Arts Reading Report

Amazon's KindleI was recently looking at the National Endowment for the Arts’ (NEA) report, To Read or Not To Read. It is described as a comprehensive analysis of reading patterns of Americans. Despite the enormous success of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, only 30 percent of 13-year-olds read for fun almost every day. The number of 17-year-olds who “never or hardly ever” read for pleasure has doubled, to 19 percent, and their comprehension scores have fallen. More Americans are reading less for pleasure.

But what I was wondering about is that electronic media – specifically reading online is not counted in the NEA study as reading, but who knows, maybe it should. With more and more internet-based and electronics-based and communication and technology such as the Kindle and Sony’s Reader Digital Book available – reading success, for the children of the electronic era, could depend on assimilating information in ways different than previous generations.

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