Kindle Publishing: A Brief, Encouraging Guide
September 9, 2011 § 8 Comments
Two months back, we featured a brief excerpt from Thomas Larson’s craft e-book What Exactly Happened: Four (Excellent) Essays on the Craft of Memoir. This week, we asked Larson to tell us how he did that, why he did that, and whether, in his opinion, we all should be doing more of it. Here is his excellent response:
To do an eBook with Amazon, go to the bottom of the homepage and, under “Make Money With Us,” hit “Self-Publish With Us.” That link, Kindle Direct Publishing, begins the journey. I won’t detail the steps; Amazon will show you. But you may want to buy a cheap guide to formatting your work for Kindle—here’s one and another—which you do in Word, and is easy. Your MFA has, at least, prepared you to follow instructions.
What to publish? That depends on how you conceive your audience. I define my audience as the memoir community, which buys my book, The Memoir and the Memoirist, and my short eBook, What Exactly Happened: Four Essays on the Craft of Memoir. (Reader feedback from the latter work tells me such craft talk is needed and appreciated.) Who is your audience? Figure it out. Our literary/monetary future as writers depends on audience and how we link to them.
Why do I like the eBook format so much?
Unlike lit journals, that may take a year for your work to appear, an eBook is published right away. Direct publishing (let’s quit using “self-publishing”; its vanity stain belongs to a bygone generation) offers us the journalistic equivalent of making our writing news.
An eBook can be read on a laptop, iPad, iPod Touch, or any eReader.
If you make mistakes, you can change the contents, make a new cover, raise/lower its price. Try doing that with a traditional book.
If you price it between 2.99 and 9.99, you get 70% of the sale.
One downside, since anyone can put up anything, is who will judge the content? We need aggregators, critics, if you will, who will sort the good eBooks from the bad ones.
Take a look at the stunningly well-done site, the Atavist, “a boutique publishing house producing original nonfiction stories for digital, mobile reading devices.” Its technology costs are high, so it’s unclear how the writer makes much money having to propose, research, and write the product.
Meanwhile, I continue to put up new work at Amazon Kindle. “We Are Their Heaven: A Family Memoir” is a 7600-word piece that tells one story of how those I have loved live on in me. Since it’s $1.99 (below the threshold), I get only 35%, $.70 per unit. Now all I need to do is sell a thousand of them. Wouldn’t that be nice?