When it comes to publishing an indie book, the Kindle Direct Publishing program has done wonders for new authors all over the place. Some, like John Locke and Amanda Hocking, have manages to hit it big as a result. In spite of these examples though, it is impossible to deny that for the most part people don’t take most self published works too seriously at first glance. There are a few big factors that I believe play into this.
The first would be, as sad as it is, poorly designed cover art. Even if you are writing for the Kindle, the first thing people are going to see will be the cover you have chosen to represent your work. A piece of clip art or quick Photoshop-ed photo will only serve to indicate that you couldn’t be bothered with quality control. Nobody will deny that marketing is the most important of making an indie book take off and your cover is the most basic piece of marketing.
Second, and somewhat more intuitive, is editing. If you get comments in reviews about having a poorly edited book, that will work against you. Nobody really likes to read badly written prose even when it tells an amazing story. It can completely destroy immersion at key moments. Now, obviously nobody is perfect and even the best books slip through to print with errors, but that doesn’t mean there is any excuse for failing to triple-check your work and find somebody else to look over it for you too. You’re expecting people to pay money for this in the end, so it should be worth a little extra effort.
Third and finally, is the quick release schedule. While it has become almost commonplace to hear the advice that Kindle publishing requires you to release a book every 6-12 months to retain reader interest, this should be considered very carefully. While you will definitely start making money faster the more of a back catalogue you have going for you, it is more important to make sure that the best possible product is going out. Five poorly reviewed books will not only earn you less money than two well reviewed books in the same time period, they will pull you down even if later works improve dramatically. When you write you are building your name into a brand. Keep in mind how you want that brand to be perceived.
Naturally this is all fairly general and there are a few reasons that all of these points, especially the last one, can be less important for certain projects. There is significant potential in self publishing these days thanks to the Kindle though, and it is painful to see potentially great authors being ignored thanks to missteps made in the rush to get a piece of the readership. Just remember that readers are going to keep reading. The Kindle is more popular all the time and unlikely to fall away as the most widely used eReader in the world any time soon. Take your time and make something you can be proud of.
Two of the bestselling Kindle Books of 2011 were independent authors who used Amazon’s popular Kindle Direct Publishing service. Publishing an e-book has never been easier. This opportunity gives everyone a chance to express their voice and unique writing style. The money isn’t too shabby either.
Darcie Chan, an attorney who lives with her husband and son in New York, released her first novel, The Mill River Recluse last year. It is a huge hit among its readers, and definitely worth adding to your list of Kindle books to read.
Mary McAllister, the victim of an abusive late husband, spends sixty years of her life in a marble mansion overlooking the tiny Vermont town of Mill River. This is one of those feel good books that provide a good story, but it doesn’t work the brain too hard. It has great reviews, and Chan achieves what most authors strive to do: draw the reader into the story and make them forget that the characters are fictional.
Chris Culver was another extremely successful independent author that hit the bestseller list with his book, The Abbey. The Abbey is a fast paced murder mystery that features a Muslim detective. The fact that Ash is Muslim is an added twist, but it isn’t his religion isn’t the focus of the book. He gets wrapped up in a case involving the possible murder of his niece, and well, see how the story unfolds from there.
There are many other independent authors who have hit bestseller lists, and have enjoyed great successes through KDP. It is still important to carefully edit the book and format it so that it can be published to the Kindle.
Since I got my first Kindle two years ago, I have read a number of books by independent and lesser known authors. It has given me the opportunity to explore new genres and writing styles. Publishing a book is no longer this tangible thing restricted to an exclusive group of top notch writers. Not to mention, many of these books are either free or very cheap.
The downsides to allowing such free reign on publishing e-books are the quality of books and spam. Amazon has had to deal with some major issues with spammers flooding the market with fake e-books.
So, it will be interesting to see how the publishing industry evolves as e-books and e-readers become increasingly popular. There has to be a balance that retains the quality of books written by established authors, and a way to give new authors the chance to shine.
On Thursday, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) introduced the Spanish language Kindle and opened a Spanish Kindle store in Amazon.es. The online retailer added Kindle stores in France and Germany earlier this year. An Italian language Kindle Store was launched on Thursday along with the Spanish language store.
The Spanish Kindle Store hosts over 22,000 titles and includes 20 of the top 30 fiction and nonfiction bestsellers in Spain. Independent authors can use Kindle Direct Publishing to publish their Spanish language Kindle books in Spain and 100 other countries worldwide. Readers can also take advantage of a good sized collection of classics.
The Amazon press release noted that “Award-winning author and journalist Rosa Montero will offer three books exclusively in the Spanish Kindle Store, which were published using KDP: “La vida desnuda,” “Entrevistas” and “Lo mejor de Rosa Montero.”
Amazon Direct Publishing has given authors a chance to showcase their writing and provides them with success that they otherwise would not have achieved with the major publishing houses.
2011 has been a big year for Amazon on the international scene. Amazon.es went online at the beginning of this year, and joined the other foreign language editions of the website. The company is working hard to promote its bestselling e-reader internationally. Kobo was the first to really push an international presence, but it looks like Amazon has caught on to that marketing strategy. Customers outside of the US have mentioned in the past that they would love to be able to read their Kindles in other countries, as well as read books in other languages.
Spanish is one of the fastest growing languages worldwide, so it is only natural that Amazon should add a Kindle store for Spanish speaking countries. I hope that the Kindle will continue to show increased success in Europe, and possibly venture into Asia and beyond at some point in the near future.
On Thursday, Amazon launched Spanish and Italian language Kindles, as well as Kindle Stores for both languages. 2011 has been a big year for the bestselling e-reader on many fronts, including a big refresh on the Kindle lineup. Now it is time to take on the international scene.
Amazon.it’s Kindle Store opens with 16,000 Italian language titles, which includes a variety of Italian bestsellers and free classics. The store also has over 800,000 books in English as well as other languages.
The Amazon Kindle is taking on the international marketplace by increasing its presence in Europe. France and Germany were added earlier this year. Hopefully the company will venture into more countries in Europe, Asia, and even Africa in the near future.
Italian language titles can be accessed on the Kindle e-readers, as well as on the Kindle apps for iPad, PC, Mac, and for smartphones. So, if readers don’t actually own a Kindle, they still have a bunch of other options that allow them to read the books they want.
The press release announcing the new additions featured the Kindle Direct Publishing service that is available to authors worldwide. This service puts both famous and independent authors on a more even playing field. This year has seen a lot of new independent authors who have been quiet successful with sales of their e-books. Kindle Direct Publishing has given authors a chance who otherwise wouldn’t have made it to the major publishing companies.
I’ve really enjoyed discovering new authors, and have found that many have exceptional writing talent. The addition of international independent authors makes it even better!
Italian language books are available to over 100 countries worldwide in addition to Italy. This gives readers an opportunity to learn more about Italian literature. I think it is important to get to know other languages and cultures because today’s world is so well connected on a global scale.
While the focus of Amazon’s new content duplication policy for the Kindle Store is clearly an effort to eliminate the Kindle spam that has become an ongoing problem for customers, it has a couple less obvious effects that work to the advantage of both the company and the customers. Much of the speculation regarding how the Kindle Store could be cleared of worthlessly repetitive content revolved around the most efficient and advantageous methods that they might have available and clearly an interesting one was found.
The most obvious change, though not entirely new, is to the out of copyright publication. Perhaps the biggest problem that these have posed many consumers is their variety. Now, normally variety is always a good thing. When you know that the content you are acquiring is going to be the same no matter where you get it, however, having ten, twenty, or even fifty versions of the same thing to choose from is simply not helpful. The in-text annotation and added content that one expects with the many different print editions available to choose from do not translate well to the Kindle experience just yet. Amazon has done quite well in the past few months at reducing the clutter among these titles, but with the apparent automation of the duplicate-checking that they now have in place it will be that much easier and more reliable.
They have also done a great job of ensuring the most up to date content library available for Kindle customers. While it would be illegal and quite definitely against all policy to post a stolen work to the Kindle Store, it has not been an unknown occurrence. Since I started publishing through them, I have personally had three books stolen and attributed to other authors and I know that I am far from the worst affected. Now, so long as I am the first one to upload my work, there is no need to worry about it. Not only does this do an excellent job of protecting authors and simplifying the review process for Amazon, since they no longer have to worry about nearly as many theft complaints, it gives further incentive for all self-publishing authors to head to the Kindle Direct Publishing first.
If only to save on the headache of dealing with verifications and lost sales due to delays, authors will likely now feel that much more inclined to give the Kindle priority. After all, once it is up on the Kindle Store, nobody else should be able to post that content unless the original posting is removed first. Why risk having to go through the trouble of eliminating an illegal copy made by somebody who downloaded the work elsewhere?
Overall, while I can see specific situations where taking the review process out of human hands could result in over-enforcement, this will do a lot to improve the shopping experience for Kindle owners. It will do even more to protect authors. When you take those two groups and keep them happy, it makes life easier for Amazon and makes it even more likely that people new to publishing will choose the KDP. This would seem to be wins all around.
After a few weeks of rather vocal complaints regarding the state of the Kindle Store and the increasing difficulty in finding worthwhile content, Amazon has come up with a response. Despite the potential for it to cause discomfort for a certain number of Kindle Direct Publishing users, it looks like significant measures are underway to address the problems. The days when searching for a Kindle Edition would bring up hundreds of nearly worthless, nearly identical eBooks are coming to an end.
The origin of the problem stems from the nature of these spam offerings. While in the main they are useless and nothing anybody would want to buy, very few of them are deliberately malicious aside from their failing to provide value to customers. You can’t risk cracking down on authors who are just not good at their job. The deliberately malign options are, of course, policed rather strongly. Somewhat legitimate titles, built using content from Private Label Rights authors who sell their work to others for a small fee can be harder to track down. These are titles that the purchaser can pay once for and have legal use of, including author credit and editing privileges. Some of these works have the potential to be at least somewhat useful, and there is nothing illegal about the process, but once the idea caught on with internet marketing enthusiasts it was bound to result in exploitation.
Amazon’s solution is to remove titles that are filled with “undifferentiated or barely differentiated” content. Since the whole point of PLR is to sell the same thing to many people and make your money off of the bulk, only allowing a single person to make use of the work effectively removes it from circulation. Those “publishers” who have chosen to exploit the system are receiving email warnings that inform them of the removal of their less than useful Kindle eBooks and the consequences of continuing the practice:
We’re contacting you regarding books you recently submitted via Kindle Direct Publishing.
Certain of these books are either undifferentiated or barely differentiated from an existing title in the Kindle store. We remove such duplicate (or near duplicate) versions of the same book because they diminish the experience for customers. We notify you each time a book is removed, along with the specific book(s) and reason for removal.
In addition to removing duplicate books from the Kindle store, please note that if you attempt to sell multiple copies or undifferentiated versions of the same book from your account, we may terminate your account.
If you have any questions regarding the review process, you can write to email@example.com.
To be fair, you have to give a great deal of credit to the community involved in this practice for their reaction. While there have been a few people recommending the move from Kindle to Nook platforms as a short-term solution, overall it seems that the end of PLR exploitation was anticipated. There will probably be no major outcry regarding this policy change, even among the people most affected by it. They knew they were exploiting a loophole that would eventually be closed.