A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend told my wife about her new Kindle. She’d been doing some reading of free stories and books on Amazon’s Kindle store. She said there’s a huge selection up there of free stuff and a good amount of it climbs to the top ranking spots.
Who doesn’t like free stuff after all?
But more interestingly, she also saw a lot of comments from readers stating they LOVED the writer’s work and couldn’t WAIT for their next project to be released. When it was they would SO login and buy it.
That prompted my dear, sweet friend – who thinks WAY too highly of my writing – to suggest perhaps I should put some of my work online with the Amazon Kindle store and give it away for free. This would build a following, and she was sure (bless her heart!) I’d have a HUGE following. All of whom would POUNCE at the first chance to buy a novel when I published it for pay.
I talked about all this and asked for your input here, remember?
Anyway, I looked into it and found some interesting things for those of you who wondered. It’s beyond the jump, so those who don’t care don’t have to go.
Still here? Okay, then I’ll assume you’re interested in what I found.
First, the Amazon Kindle store requires an account to do much of anything. You can use your Amazon account though (naturally), so no big deal there. That’s the good news.
More good news is, there’s no cost to do this. You have to publish in the DTP (Digital Text Platform) native to Kindle, but that’s all right. Apparently there’s an editor you can use to do that, and the DTP even accepts Microsoft Word’s HTML translation, so you can change the document to HTML right in Word and upload it. (I’m sure additional format tweaking will be required, but hey, it’s not as back as having to do the full markup, right?)
Kindle hates PDF though, so don’t bother.
Now, there’s no cost for any of this. However … the catch(es) came quickly therein.
First, there’s no provision for uploading short stories. Files have to be of a certain size, and a great many of the platform authors stated on the forum the best way is to assemble a collection of short stories to publish.
Authors outside of a publishing house, which all have contracts with Amazon for Kindle productions btw, do not get to set the price of their work at free (anymore? that wasn’t clear). The price point’s bottom is now ninety-nine cents. So anything an individual author wants to offer in the Kindle store will be at least that much. Amazon also has a set of rules regarding pricing and what those price points must be. Along with the minimum, there’s a full-blown scale to follow, and it seems based on file size.
So much for that.
If you’re curious, though, the free items in the Kindle store are being given away by the publishing houses themselves. There are a number of reasons for doing this and all of them are marketing related, generating interest in either the book, the author, the series, etc. But for an unpublished, unagented author, the free option isn’t available.
I did read several people who said they used both Amazon’s Kindle store and Smashwords, Lulu and a variety of other digital publishing platforms. The Kindle store is berated for its clumsy editor and restrictive format requirements but also generated almost a hundred dollars every few months for one user. Nothing else even came close to that revenue output, and so he felt the DTP was the best of them. (Hard to argue with cold hard cash, ain’t it?)
Long story short, I won’t be doing this. Not because I don’t have stories to sell, but because this can be considered self-publishing, and if the work you’ve self-published is a flop, that’s going to be reflected on you as a writer impact how willing a publisher is to take you on. Stupid? Yes. True? Oh yes.
Anyway, until the Kindle store lets me put up short pieces and give them away, I’ll just leave ‘em on my blog. I don’t think any of them are worth charging for, and I don’t think anyone would pay for them even if they were. Why would they? There’s plenty of good fiction out here for free. That’s how FanFiction.net got its notoriety, right?
There you go; I learned a lot, and if this helps you in any way, I’m glad.
Thanks for sticking through the read and I’ll see you soon!
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