Experiments in Publishing (Take 1)

Those who read this blog regularly may remember my past posts (herehere and here) about the Amazon Kindle and recall that I have mixed feelings about it. You'll also know that I’ve been interested in what authors such as J.A. Konrath have accomplished by releasing books on the Kindle itself. (Heck, some of you even knew about Konrath’s successes before I did.—Thanks Kurt.) And now, since recently becoming a happy Kindle owner myself, I've decided it's time to make an experiment in this new fold. So let me tell you about it.

Publishing Experiment 1: If we know anything for sure about publishing right now, it’s that it is changing. Authors, I believe, must become the scientists running experiments with new technology, new publicity strategies, marketing, you name it. There’s just too much money involved for the big (and some small) presses to carry out the kind of testing and idea-trying that needs to be done. That leaves us independent authors to try things out on our own.

In that spirit, I’m releasing a collection of short stories in the Kindle format just after Christmas. A Long Way from Disney is officially out now, but I'm "releasing it" on Sunday Dec. 27th, a day I'm calling Disney Commando Sunday! The thinking here is that by asking people to all buy the book on a single day, I can go after the top of Amazon's Kindle bestseller chart and garner more attention (sales) there, especially with the after-Xmas new Kindle owners.

I’ve priced the collection low ($.99) because I’m more interested in how many copies of the book I can get out there than in how much money I can make off of sales. For those who’ll be counting, the $.99 price point will give me 35 cents and Amazon a hefty 64 cents per book sold. They’ll win out regardless, but it’s their sandbox and I want to play.

You can buy this Kindle book on any computer once you've established a Kindle reader preference/Kindle account. You have three choices here. You can do this with:

1) An actual Kindle. 2) An iPhone running the Kindle App (download) or 3) Any PC running the new Amazon Kindle software for PC (download here).

You cannot buy the Kindle book for anyone else, and no one can buy more than one copy. It's certainly an interesting set of rules, isn't it? Well, this is what Amazon has set up. If you'd like to aid this experiment, please forward this blog post to other authors, readers, Kindle owners, and experimenters in the publishing field. It should be interesting to see what this can generate with a minimum of publicity and zero budget.

If you'd like to sample any of the short stories from this collection, you can hear any/all of them free online at my website and find out more about the Kindle experiment here. I hope you'll choose to come along and help make some waves with this idea. I do think that the more successes independent authors have with this new means of getting things done, the better it will be for all of publishing. Perhaps that'll be our next debate.

I'll be back later this week with a few stories from the collection and then again next Sunday for the big sales kickoff! See you...

Seth Harwood podcasts his ideas on the publishing industry and his fiction for free at sethharwood.com. He will be teaching an online course (The Essential Art: Making Movies in Your Reader's Mind) with Stanford Continuing Studies starting in January. His first novel, JACK WAKES UP, is in stores now.


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  • Kurt Roithinger says:

    woohoo. a shoutout is a real good way to secure a post-christmas 99 cents from yours truly. :)

    that said — i’m kinda amused at the recent stephen covey press release (http://www.amazon.com/gp/blog/post/PLNK3GLHCQERN5SV3) — it’s perhaps not quite the top tier author i envisioned in my last reply, but it’s definitely getting a lot closer.

    you do highlight what is (imo) atm a real problem with the kindle eco-system — the rates amazon currently gives independent publishers are kinda naff. i suspect giving people (such as yourself) closer to 50% (which i would find more reasonable) will likely just frost the big publishers even more. i hope the situation improves long-term.

    lastly, imo, you shouldn’t limit yourself to just the kindle ecosphere — i’d suggest looking at how you could push out a epub and get on other readers like the nook or the various sony readers.

    i suspect that some authors might feel like such an effort is nothing but a hassle (which is why i think that in the long run, people will create packaging services for authors to avail themselves who can do that for them), but it nevertheless is a mechanism that puts a lot of control over content back into the hands of its creators (ugh. i feel like i’m going all ayn rand here…) — which is something i really would like to see encouraged.

  • John Rector says:

    Good luck with the experiment, Seth. I’ll definitely pick up a copy.

    I published a novel on the kindle back in May, also with no budget and very little publicity, and it led to a book deal with a major publisher.

    You’re wise to get on board. It’s an exciting time.

  • Seth Harwood says:

    John: that’s AWESOME! Can you tell me more about your book, your deal, publisher, etc?

    Truly, these are exciting times for writers!

    Thanks for the comment,
    Seth

  • Seth Harwood says:

    Kurt,

    Thanks so much for another great comment! As I think today about this crazy profit split, I realize that the best way around this is to just price the book at $0.00! Then Amazon’s cut of that would be the same as mine! ;-)
    (For now I’m sticking with $.99.)

    I definitely want to get on other platforms as well: B&N’s Nook, Smashwords, Scribd, as many places as possible. For now, however, I’m just starting with Kindle.

    It actually wasn’t that hard to set the book up on Kindle’s format. Perhaps I’ll post on how it’s done in the coming weeks.

    Finally, thanks for your continued support and interest! It’s connections like this that make it all worthwhile!

    Seth

  • John rector says:

    Thanks, Seth.

    Go here:

    http://johnrector.blogspot.com/

    I think I posted everything as it happened.

    I’m going to update it tonight or tomorrow, and I’ll make sure to mention your kindle experiment when I do.

  • Seth Harwood says:

    John,

    Wow! You really did some awesome stuff with The Grove! Did you try different price points, or just stay with $1.99 the whole way?

    You mentioned kindle forums and their support. What other methods did you use for getting the word out?

    Thanks much for agreeing to post about my stories!

    Seth

  • Blake says:

    ANOTHER article about the Kindle?

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