indie publishing news

Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter…


Since I’ve been getting the Kindle Direct Publishing Newsletter I’ve been sharing a few interesting things from it here on the blog. Now that I have two titles out with KDP, I’m interested in learning more in all regards. From what I hear, so are a lot of other authors.

I’m sure this letter from Jeff Bezos will hit home for many aspiring writers. As a sidenote, I didn’t read the book that is discussed below and I’m not endorsing it or promoting it. I’m just passing on facts from the newsletter itself.

In case you didn’t see the letter from Jeff Bezos we featured on the Amazon.com homepage this week, it was dedicated to KDP and highlighted a great blog post from KDP author Jessica Park (Flat-Out Love). Below is the text version. Enjoy!

Dear Customers,

“Did I cry over some of these rejections? Absolutely. Did I feel inadequate, untalented, hurt? Yes. Did I doubt my ability to craft a story that readers could fall in love with? You bet.”

That’s Jessica Park, who hit road block after road block trying to get her book Flat-Out Love in front of readers. You can read her incredible blog post on IndieReader (also picked up by HuffPost) detailing her perseverance and how she finally succeeded by doing it herself with Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s heartwarming and tells a powerful story about what KDP makes possible.

Kindle Direct Publishing empowers serious authors to reach readers, build a following, make a living, and to do it on their own terms. Readers get lower prices, authors get higher royalties, and we all get a more diverse book culture (no expert gatekeepers saying “sorry but that will never work”). KDP is already meaningful–22 of our top 100 best-selling Kindle books so far this year are KDP books–and more great stories are being published every day. You can find Flat-Out Love here. Thanks for being a customer.

Jeff Bezos
Founder & CEO

News from BEA about KDP:

We had a jam-packed week of events at Book Expo America (BEA). This year’s attendance allowed us to connect with current KDP authors and many authors who were considering using KDP to publish their books.

Our presence began with a booth at the uPublishuU event on June 5th, prior to the start of the main show, which included a session featuring KDP authors and Amazon Author & Publisher Relations Director, Jon Fine. During BEA, which ran from June 5th – June 8th, we had the opportunity to meet and answer the questions of many authors and publishers. Additionally we hosted several sessions at our booth focusing on KDP and Amazon’s other independent publishing entities: CreateSpace for print and ACX for audiobooks. The sessions drew large crowds of interested people who were able to ask us questions and engage in Q&A with KDP authors Barbara Freethy, Theresa Ragan, and Tina Folsom. Barbara, Theresa, and Tina shared their stories of why they decided to publish independently through KDP and what success they’ve experienced since. In addition, two of our authors, James Altucher (I Was Blind But Now I See) and Theresa Ragan (Abducted and Return of the Rose) signed copies of their CreateSpace books for their fans and visitors. We heartily enjoyed meeting all the wonderful KDP authors who were in attendance at BEA and look forward to sharing more of your stories with our author community

We’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and around the world, so stay tuned for more announcements. If you’d rather connect with us in Europe, keep in mind that we will also be attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

Kindle Direct Publishing News…BEA

For those who don’t know, Kindle Direct Publishing is the self-publishing/indie program with Amazon, where you can publish your own e-book and price it yourself. I’m still learning about all this, and I post as I go along. So far, my experiences with “Chase of a Lifetime” have been positive. I know many authors worry about promotion and marketing when it comes to the KDP program…or any kind of self-publishing program. I will post about this eventually, with thoughts based on my own personal experiences. In short, right now, what I can tell you is this: unless you’ve sold your book to a large publisher who is willing to invest a great deal of money in a book tour and promotion/marketing, no one, and no small publisher with a limited budget, is going to promote your book better than you. In fact the few times I’ve had books promoted by one small publisher in particular, I wasn’t happy with the results and I had to wonder if the public relations people they hired knew what they were doing. It looked good. It sounded okay. But it was so painfully amateur I wanted to cringe.

KDP Select News:

KDP Select-enrolled authors continue to benefit from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. During the month of April they earned $2.48 each time their books were borrowed.

“We are very happy to see independent authors expanding their reach while making more money in the process through KDP Select. Established authors as well as debut writers continue to earn significant royalties from their participation in the lending library,” said Atif Rafiq, General Manager of Kindle Direct Publishing.

I’m part of this program with “Chase of a Lifetime.” I’ve had good results. I also like that fact that there is a lending program. I know many readers who read e-books nowadays like getting e-book bargains. I like it myself as a reader.

KDP at BEA and other upcoming events:

For those of you who will be in the NYC area, KDP will be at Book Expo America June 4-7, 2012 at booth number 4170. Just as we did at the London Book Fair, we will be hosting several sessions on KDP, CreateSpace, and Audible.com, focusing on a full array of Amazon’s independent publishing options. Session details to follow on our Help page’s announcement section before the expo.

We’ll be attending more events in the U.S. and internationally, so stay tuned for more announcements. If you’d rather connect with us in Europe, keep in mind that we will also be attending the Frankfurt Book Fair in October.

I won’t be at BEA this year, but for those in the NY area within driving distance it can be an interesting event. Last time I did go I met a lot of people I’d come to know through online experiences. But please remember, these days none of these events are mandatory for authors. Especially authors who are focused on digital publishing. This stands to reason: if you’re focused on digital publishing you should be working to promote your books online in as many places as you can. Those little readings in back door clubs with cute names in New York City are fun things to do, but they aren’t going to sell many books. These are things a lot of people in publishing do for their social lives. And I happen to believe it’s important to keep my social life very different from my professional life. And I’ve never suffered from burn out because of this. In other words, I know when to take a break and do something else.

And here’s something from another author in the KDP program. It’s an interesting piece, especially the part about the agent and the query process.

During my decades of writing nonfiction, I earned a living and won awards for investigative articles, magazine editing, and true-crime books. While I had always dreamed of writing fiction, getting traditionally published was becoming increasingly difficult. Previously, I had wasted many months with a New York agent developing a “sure thing” book proposal for a traditional publisher, only to be rejected at the last minute. I was unwilling to waste more years of my life riding the “query-go-round.”

But in 2010, financial circumstances for my wife and me took an ominous turn. Now past age sixty and in the midst of the recession, we found our income options severely limited. “Write a Novel” was still at the top of my Bucket List when I read about self-publishing via KDP ebooks. I knew at that point I had nothing to lose by trying, and everything to gain. It was my one shot at a lifelong dream—and perhaps our only chance at financial salvation.

I finished writing my debut novel, HUNTER: A Thriller, at 11 p.m. on June 4, 2011—just one hour before my 62nd birthday. By June 21, it was edited, proofread, formatted, wrapped in an eye-catching cover, and available on Kindle. It began to sell immediately. I recovered my initial expenses within the first month. By November 26, it had sold 4,000 copies and had accumulated scores of “5-star” reviews from Amazon readers.

But that was just the beginning. The next day, the Kindle editors spotlighted it as an “Editors’ Pick” for the following week. Overnight, HUNTER—a genre-bending blend of spy mystery, vigilante crime thriller, and romantic suspense—skyrocketed up the bestseller lists, selling thousands of copies per day. By December 3, it reached #4 on the Kindle Bestseller List, zooming past the latest blockbusters by Stephen King, Janet Evanovich, John Grisham, James Patterson, Michael Connelly, and Suzanne Collins.

For my wife and me, this has been an incredible ride. Our financial requirements are met for this entire year, allowing me to write sequels in the Dylan Hunter thriller series. There’s even been Hollywood interest. In short, within months KDP has completely changed our lives, enabling this aging nonfiction writer to launch a brand-new career as a best-selling novelist. I can’t say enough on behalf of Amazon and the many tools that they make available to independent authors. Without reservation, I urge fellow writers to investigate and seize the opportunities that KDP offers. As I’ve happily discovered, there is zero downside risk—and the potential is virtually unlimited.

– Robert Bidinotto

The reason I’m posting these things now here on the blog is that I’ve seen a lot of changes in publishing in the past five years. And I’m not seeing a lot of information being passed on to authors from so-called publishing professionals. What I am seeing is either dead silence, or what appears to be a hidden agenda to keep authors from knowing these things. My goal here is not to comment on which direction is better or worse. It’s to show authors that there are other options. And to let them know that when they read publishing blogs nowadays they aren’t getting ALL the information they should be getting. They all seem to have an agenda nowadays. I don’t.

And you want to know what the biggest red flag of all is when it comes to publishing blogs? If the web site or blog focuses more in query letters than it does anything else. Yes, queries are still important. Yes, you should learn how to write them for a multitude of reasons. But that’s not the way publishing blogs should be completely focused now. They should be focused on all the opportunities out there for authors, not just the dead end query route that leaves you both mentally and physically exhausted in the end.