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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Comments (7)
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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 Harwood says:


    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!


  • John rector says:

    Thanks, Seth.

    Go here:


    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:


    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!


  • Blake says:

    ANOTHER arti­cle about the Kin­dle?

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