Posts Tagged ‘Amazon’

Amazon Singles (Hybrid Publishing for Short Stories)

I want to take a moment to discuss Amazon Singles while we’re talking about self-publishing short stories.

Amazon Singles is a program you can submit your previously self-published or unpublished short stories and novellas (between 5000 and 30000 words). They also accept proposals.

They promise a turnaround time of six weeks. Stories need to be previously unpublished anywhere except Amazon to be accepted. If previously unpublished, accepted stories are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform and authors receive normal KDP royalties.

There seems to be no additional monetary compensation to the program, but stories selected for Amazon Singles are then listed on the Amazon Singles page, which could potentially boost a story’s visibility and improve sales.

NOTE: At this time, Amazon Singles does not accept how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, children’s books, or short story collections.

I was going to put this program into the options for self-publishing short stories, but there is some level of gatekeeping to the program as Amazon has to accept the stories for inclusion. But they don’t actually do anything a “traditional” publisher would do in this sense–the author still uploads the manuscript, provides a cover, sets the price–so they’re just putting the book on a page.

What do you think, Squiders? I’d put this as an example of hybrid publishing myself.

(Also, if anyone has any experience with Amazon Singles and would like to share, please do so! I haven’t published anything in the accepted word count range so I have no first hand experience myself.)

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Double U Tee Eff, Amazon

I’m writing this over the weekend, so no doubt by the time it goes up Tuesday this will all be old news (and probably out of date) but this is by far the silliest and also slimiest thing I’ve yet to come across in my publishing career.

So, by now you’ve probably heard about the letter that Amazon sent out butt early Saturday morning (if not, you can find it here). In summary, Amazon and Hachette have been pulling each other’s hair over contract disputes. I don’t know all the details and won’t pretend to, but it’s been going on for a while.

And, apparently, Amazon decided that the best way to get ahead in said fight was to email all their KDP authors and ask them to email Hachette and tell them to stop being jerkfaces.

What.

What.

I have very rarely actually spluttered, but there you are.

First of all, I don’t care about the Amazon/Hachette dispute that much because it does not directly affect me. Also, at this point it has reached such levels of ridiculousness that it feels unreal.

Second of all, Amazon doesn’t do much for its KDP authors unless they’re enrolled in KDP Select (where the book is available exclusively through Amazon, so the author can’t offer their book through multiple channels), and even then, the benefits are not great.

It’s entirely possible that Amazon expects (and maybe some people do) indie and self-published authors to think that they owe Amazon a huge deal because Amazon allows them to sell their ebooks on Amazon. Never mind that Amazon takes at least a 30% cut from each sale for doing nothing except providing a little bit of real estate (and, by some accounts, undercuts KDP books so it makes it harder for them to go up in the ranks or show up in searches. I don’t know if either of those have ever been proven, however).

KDP authors do not work for Amazon. They will not get any benefits if Amazon “wins” their dispute with Hachette (and, as some people point out, will probably lose out by Amazon forcing more ebooks–and those by bigger publishing houses–into the cheaper categories that indies and self-published books tend to hang out in).

KDP authors are not Amazon’s minions.

This move is just so wildly unprofessional that I don’t even know what to say. So here’s some other smarter, more knowledgeable people to say it for me:

John Scalzi

Chuck Wendig

Four Moons Press

And here is Hachette’s response to this whole debacle, which, unlike a certain email, looks like it was actually run by someone with a brain before they let it out the door.

To reiterate, I, like most people who sell ebooks on Amazon, have no say in the Amazon/Hachette thing because I am not involved. And it was uncool for Amazon to try and force me into the middle. So, if anything, now I am slightly on Hachette’s “side” purely because they haven’t tried to put me into a fight that I have absolutely nothing to do with.

Badly done, Amazon, badly done.

Ebook Formatting for Self-Publishing

Ebooks!  Wave of the future!  Whether or not you prefer your novels cheap and virtual or paper, if you’re self-publishing these days you need to have your book on as many platforms as possible to reach the widest readership.  Ebooks are an excellent way for an unknown author to get their name out there, because it allows readers to try you out without investing a huge amount of money on you.

I spend a lot of my time formatting ebooks, as it’s one of the freelance services I offer.  (As you can see if you click the lovely ‘editing and formatting services’ tab above.)  Admittedly, formatting is a bit frustrating because the oddest little things will throw your book into chaos, but!  It is doable if you are patient and willing to spend time trolling internet message boards.  Or you can hire someone (like me) to do it for you if you are short on time/patience and don’t mind spending some money.

There are three ebook publishing venues you should be using (all are free, so if you’re not doing this you’re only cheating yourself):

1. Smashwords
Smashwords takes your Word document, converts it to a gazillion different formats and, as long as your book meets their standards, they’ll allow you not only to sell your book on their website, but will distribute it to pretty much every other ebook retailer out there, including the iBookstore, Barnes and Noble, Sony, etc, etc, et al.  They’ll even create a version that will run on Amazon’s Kindle, though last I checked, it will not list your book on Amazon for you.  (Note: Smashwords is one of only a few ways to get into the iBookStore.  Lulu.com is another, and something you should look at if you are publishing a print version through them.)

However, Smashwords requires you to strip your book down, getting rid of almost all your formatting, to ease the conversion between platforms.  If you have something formatting-intensive, you might have issues meeting their standards, or you might find you cannot get your book to look like you want.

Smashwords offers a comprehensive formatting stylebook to help you meet their standards.

2. Amazon
The Kindle still owns a good majority of the ebook-reading public.  Plus it’s something to see your book listed for sale on Amazon.  Amazon offers authors a 70% royalty rate within a certain price range, which you really can’t go wrong with.

The Kindle is kind of a pain in the butt to format for, however.  Each Kindle book is, at its base, an HTML file.  (Not unlike a website.)  If you know how to program in HTML, good for you.  You are good to go.  There are some programs that you can use to convert your book to HTML (or .mobi or .prc, the other two file formats Amazon will accept) though they are a bit buggy and I recommend fixing the HTML after you’ve done so.  There’s Mobipocket Creator (which I prefer to use, because although it’s buggy, it’s easy to get into its guts to fix things) and Calibre (I honestly think it’s easier to program your entire document from scratch than use Calibre, but your mileage may vary).

If you want NCX files or a lot of pictures and you are not HTML proficient, I recommend hiring someone.  You will spend a lot of time trolling the internet and it will be full of sad, confused people.  (Luckily, if you have a novel, both are usually unnecessary.)

3. Barnes and Noble
The Nook is the easiest of the three basic platforms to use.  You can pretty much just upload your Word document, no changes needed, and it will look pretty and be readable. Barnes and Noble holds about a fourth of the ebook market these days, so even though Smashwords will eventually get your book listed on B&N.com, I’d recommend going ahead and uploading directly to PubIt!  You won’t have to eat all your formatting and it will go live faster.

So there you have it, a very basic overview of ebook formatting for your self-publishing needs.  Have at it, Squiders.