Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Authors and Kindle publishing

In A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, Joe Konrath, aka Jack Kilborn, continues to write about how he has managed to do very well on Amazon book seller lists with the many books and short stories he releases through the Kindle Digital Text Platform ("DTP") feature, and this is before Amazon starts paying 70% to publishers using the platform in June 2010.

The current blog entry, titled "Kudzu and Kindle," explains:
' There's a plant known as kudzu, which is widely hated in the south because it takes over cropland. It grows fast, and uses runners to spread. Kudzu can quickly saturate an entire field. One patch becomes two patches, then four patches, then sixteen patches, and pretty soon it's everywhere you look.

I'm noticing a similar phenomenon with writing in general, and ebooks in particular. '
There have been a number of success stories though the weed-like aspect threw me, including (of the ones I've run across) one writer whose Kindle book was doing very well, partially with the help of some exposure at the three most-attended Kindle community forums, and he subsequently was signed with Simon and Schuster, an end obviously helped by the attention his Kindle book was getting at Amazon.

  Here's a far more detailed story of how a very proactive Morrison marketed his books (and himself, an important factor) to build on his writing and some great blurbs from bestselling authors (whom he'd met years ago at a writer's conference) for books that had received rejection slips.

  In the Q&A session quoted, he mentions and links to the Kindle forums in which he received very positive responses and gives tips on how not to overmarket ('spam') the forums since that would only irritate the assembled who will associate some bad things with the titles of one's novels :-)

  As his writer friend, Susan Tunis, describes at her blog, he took his rejection slips in stride and just started working on a new story.  But he was
' a pretty savvy guy... He didn't just offer them for sale, he joined several online Kindle user's sites and made contact with potential readers... Before he knew what was happening, unknown, unpublished author Boyd Morrison was climbing the Kindle bestseller charts.  His agent thought it might be time to shop The Ark again.

Suddenly the New York houses were a lot more receptive.  And Boyd may well have made history.  He may be the first author to turn Kindle success into a major publishing contract!  Boyd has a two-book deal with Simon and Schuster and The Ark has also been sold in seven foreign markets!   You'll see the hardback release of The Ark on store shelves next summer... '
Obviously, some very effective writing was at the heart of the success but the Kindle provided the opportunity.

The Kindle book A Scattered Life, by Karen McQuestion, was recently optioned for a film - announced by the author in the Kindle forums.  It's been quite popular and has 25 customer reviews, with an average of 4-1/2 stars, and is #2 under 'Family Relationships.'

Jan Curran, writing of her new life in what's termed an "active senior living facility," has had an enthusiastic response from Kindle readers on the forums, and her book, Active Senior Living, currently has 14 customer reviews, and an average rating of 5 stars out of 5.

The level of success varies of course but it's at least easier to find an audience now and actually be read -- and be paid for it.

Joe Konrath ends today's advice on his blog with:
' I used to be known as the guy who wrote nine unpublished novels and got over five hundred rejections before landing a book deal.

Now I'm known as the guy who pays his mortgage selling books on Kindle that NY rejected.

Be the kudzu. Join the revolution before everyone else figures this out and it's harder to get noticed. '

I noticed the following comment under JA Konrath's blog post on "Kudzu and Kindle" and remembered that I see this change of heart on almost a daily basis as I wander the news columns and comment areas.  It usually comes from writers, those for whom words are Life, but who love traditional books and have resisted the Kindle.
' I just received a kindle for my birthday, and I had a very negative view of the thing.  Now that I'm using it, I LOVE it. I can see more and more people moving in this direction. '
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  1. Excellent post, Andrys. Konrath's column is really interesting, even for the non-writer. And Boyd Morrison's books, especially "The Ark", are excellent. He even personally responded to a post I made on Kindleboards.com forum praising his book. Wow!

    The whole interaction between author (and bloggers like yourself) and audience is a great phenomenom and should keep growing. It is an area where the Kindle should reach out a little more and do social connecting.
    Rick Askenase

  2. I went to Amazon and searched for The Ark on Kindle and it did not come up. Seems kind of sad.

  3. I would like to know where one finds self-published books for the Kindle. It's like looking for a needle in a haystack, unless you find a specific mention of a book, as in today's posting.

  4. Rick,
    Glad they were of interest. As a non-writer of books, I find it all interesting too.

    You were able to read The Ark in earlier form?

  5. The Ark was available as a Kindle book (at a very low price) for a few months, as were his other books. BUT, once he signed the contract, they were pulled from Amazon, presumably until the hardcover is released.

    When they come out, READ THEM. He really deserves this contract, and I heard that he has sold the movie rights as well.
    Rick Askenase

  6. Bufo,
    Thanks! I thought of you while reading about it all and think you ought to make a book of your whimsical pieces, like the recent one about the Avatar-like Kindles and their commander.

    Anonymous #1,
    My blog article has a direct-link to the "The Ark" -- a page for pre-ordering the hardcover or audio when they're released in June 2010.

    However, no Kindle copy is seen as planned for that time.

    Simon & Schuster have said that they want a new "agency" agreement similar to Macmillan's plan. So I guess the Kindle part is up in the air, which is a shame. And ironic.

  7. To: Anonymous, #2
    Two things:
    1. In my book-search reminder at http://bit.ly/kfreelow3, I have links to different types of searches.

    One is for NON-classics and NON-public-domain books which start at $0.00 (many self/Kindle-published authors give free offerings temporarily. I see Konrath there.

    But this particular search isn't confined to free books. It also sorts it by newest first so that you can find the latest non-expensive books to show up.

    Still, the bulk of books at low-cost or with free samples will be from authors who publish through the Kindle DTP process. So this particular search is good for that. I will probably add this explanation to the weekly search-book-links page reminder.

    2. Authors CAN go to the Amazon Kindle community forum at Amazon forums to tell the Kindle owners about their books - *BUT* because Amazon discourages self-promotion on the general boards, they are contained under a specific posting-thread by a Kindle customer in which authors are welcome to post about their works. Because so many will do this for the genre-links she has created for this, it's still easy to get lost in all that, but it's a start.

    To GO TO the author threads that have not been deleted by Amazon (if self-started), go to KForum authors thread, which gives links you can copy and paste to get to message threads in genres which an author can choose to use.

    In the Q&A in the Self-publishing article, I mentioned that Morrison gives links, recommendations, and tips on not doing anything that spams the audience but is more a participation.

    Customers can choose to go read authors' intros to their work this way.

  8. Rick, ahead of the game as usual!

    The first two books that were released as Kindle books were signed as paperback releases under an imprint and had to be withdrawn from the Kindle store.

    Maybe someday they'll be back but probably as edited after the signing.

    The Ark -- that brings up Simon & Schuster's plans to meet with Amazon to talk about a plan similar to Macmillan, I'm sad to say.

    Let's hope they get more realistic ...


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