Why would any traditionally published author give exclusivity to Amazon? I thought I knew the answer, but I discovered the reasons are as varied as writers and book genres.
Kindle Direct Publishing: Launch a New Genre
I am a successful finance trade book author published through John Wiley & Sons, but I had other manuscripts that didn’t fit Wiley’s publishing model: a novel, an anthology of blog posts, and non-fiction memoirs. Award winning traditionally published fiction writer Libby Fischer Hellmann, told me it was time for these manuscripts to come out of the closet. There was no need to spend my limited free time scouting agents and publishers. Self-publishing had come of age. Dozens of traditionally published authors were publishing their own work through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).
Kindle Direct and Kindle Unlimited
But that doesn’t explain why one would publish exclusively with Amazon for a minimum of 90 days (or as long as you wish) through the Kindle Select program. Amazon’s closest–yet still very distant—competitor is Apple, and I found it to be user unfriendly. (See: “Apple Taxes Authors’ Patience.”) Amazon has free Kindle Reading Apps so you can read Kindle books on any device, including Apple’s.
Amazon’s share of the U.S. eBook market is around 70%, and authors can publish in several languages reaching Great Britain, Canada, Western Europe, India, and Australia. Authors can easily make changes at any time. Did a reader find a typo –let’s hope not, but my traditionally published books have typos that still haven’t been fixed—with Kindle Direct Publishing, authors can correct stray errors immediately. New cover? Authors can upload it in seconds. Authors can also change the price. Changes are fast and easy.
In July 2014, Amazon launched an eBook subscription service called Kindle Unlimited. For less than $10 per month, subscribers can borrow books not only by independent authors, but also by traditionally published authors, albeit some publishing houses have declined—for now—to participate. Nonetheless, many popular mainstream authors are part of the program. Readers will sometimes find the Hunger Games series, Harry Potter, and much more.
Bookerly: Easier on Readers
If you own an Apple device or Android, as of May 2015, you can download an app to read eBooks with Amazon’s new fantastic readable font: Bookerly.
Kindle Single: An Easy Decision
Amazon has revived short-form narrative through its Kindle Singles in-house publishing brand with a professional editorial team headed by New York journalist and editor David Blum. Kindle Singles include essays, works of journalism, and books 5,000-30,000 words in length, perfect when you want a short satisfying story. Kindle Singles include a spectrum of fiction and non-fiction. The team receives thousands of submissions per month and chooses—in its opinion—the best of the bunch. As an author, I love the idea of curated works.
I recently wrote a short non-fiction Wall Street memoir, Decisions: Life and Death on Wall Street, and submitted an initial draft to Amazon’s Kindle Single program knowing authors must wait up to six weeks for a response. Meanwhile, my own team produced the book (the print edition cover is shown above), because some readers want print copies no matter the cost—and I published the eBook using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. Nomi Prins, author of All the Presidents’ Bankers wrote a thought-provoking review for the Huffington Post.
I was delighted when I later received an email from Kindle Singles: “We’d love to have DECISIONS in the Kindle Singles store. We agreed it’s a gripping and eye-opening memoir that takes readers into a world they couldn’t access otherwise. A highly engaging read.”
But that wasn’t all. A new copy editor smoothed some awkward sentences, and others reformatted the interior and designed a more commercial-looking cover that sports a picture of Ben Franklin.
I am not a well-known author, at least outside the niche world of finance, so it is a thrill to publish on a platform with famous authors including Lee Child, Stephen King, and many more.
Singular Prices on an Exclusive Platform
My book reader half loves Kindle Singles as much as my book writer half. Kindle Singles are eligible for Amazon Prime’s borrowing program and Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program. If you are a member, you can read Kindle Singles for free. If you are not a member, Kindle Singles are priced from $0.99 to $4.99, and all of them have run the gauntlet of the Kindle Singles’ editorial team with final approval from David Blum. Books are exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle Single store.
Digital publishing is evolving, and Amazon is creating unique opportunities for readers and writers.