Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Sell Your E-books in the Amazon Kindle Store

I've been interested in Amazon's Kindle digital book reader since its inception (though, admittedly, I didn't start blogging about it until the second version came out). I haven't bought one yet because I'm waiting for the inevitable price reduction, but that doesn't mean I haven't been exploring its features and some of the content for the device.

The biggest source of content for the Kindle is, of course, Amazon's Kindle Store. The store features a lot of e-books. A quick run down of some of the categories:

Fantasy 5,267 e-books
Science Fiction 7,299 e-books
Mystery & Thrillers 13,570 e-books

Total, there's over 300,000 titles available for download to your Kindle. That's a lot of books.

I recently discovered one of the best things about the Kindle store: anyone can post products there. JA Konrath clued me into the possibility, and he does a nice job of breaking down some of his own sales numbers. You can see that he's had no small success at it thus far. Granted, Konrath is a published author, so his name is out there via other, more traditional channels, but he also puts forth a lot of effort online as well. Nonetheless, is the possibility of an unpublished writer posting his or her work to the Kindle store gold waiting to be mined? I plan to find out.

As of a couple of days ago, my novel, The Hall of the Wood, is available for purchase via the Kindle store:

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I wanted to make the price $0.25, but $0.99 is the minimum allowed price. The one catch is that, of course, you must have a Kindle to which to download the e-book to. So, if you've already spent $300 for the device, what's another $0.99? ;-)

The concept of an unpublished author finding success in this channel is a challenge. As noted above, there are over 5,000 fantasy titles available for purchase in the Kindle store. How to make my novel stand out amongst those? For one, I created a book cover. Nothing fancy, but it gives the potential buyer something to look at other than "No image available". Second, I gave it a product description, which is the standard blurb taken from my web site:

Jed's wife and unborn child are dead, killed by a legacy he dare share with no one. Seeking a reprieve from his guilt, he sets out for his former home, the Ranger Hall of the Wood. Along the way, he discovers all is not well. Aliah Starbough, a friend from Jed's past, sends him a chilling warning: the rangers are dead, the Simarron Forest, thrown into peril. Nearby Homewood has issued a plea for help, a summonings which Kayra Weslin, knight errant, and her chronicler, Holly, answer. Along with Murik Alon Rin'kres, an Eslar sorcerer who harbors a secret purpose all his own, the four attempt to unravel the mystery of the missing rangers. They soon find tales of their disappearance frighteningly untrue.

The third way to gain attention is through customer reviews. This one is huge, and the one that in my mind will allow us as writers to break free of the traditional agent/publisher dependency. It's a stamp of approval, a guarantee of quality, a statement saying that your book is not crap. Customer reviews, to a point, validate a book's worth. In general, low reviews indicate a lack of quality. High reviews, the opposite. This is not to say that every review should be taken as gospel. But given enough reviews and a trend should emerge.

I often read of the struggle authors undergo in finding an agent or publisher. There's really no rhyme or reason to it: the decision-making is subjective, and how often have you come across a published novel that, to be frank, sucks? I've begun to doubt the vindication that supposedly comes with having your work blessed by a "real" publisher, and let's face it: business models change. We might be witnessing the beginning of the end for traditional publishers here. If not that, certainly a sea change in the way we purchase and read books.

The Hall of the Wood has been available as a free pdf download for a long time now. As Konrath points out, Amazon's web site gets a lot more traffic than his own. That volume has a lot of potential to increase sales. Selling on the Kindle store seems like a real no-brainer to me.



Comments (4) -

  • Steven Till

    6/24/2009 2:38:06 PM | Reply

    I like the potential here. I'll be interested to know how the process goes for you. If I had a Kindle, I'd buy it for 99 cents.

    How does that work exactly? Do you get all of the profits (the entire $.99) or does Amazon get a portion of it? Is your book only available in electronic format right now?

    And I completely agree with your statement: "I often read of the struggle authors undergo in finding an agent or publisher. There's really no rhyme or reason to it: the decision-making is subjective, and how often have you come across a published novel that, to be frank, sucks?" I worked in a bookstore for 2 years. There is a lot of stuff that should never have been published, especially in the sci-fi, fantasy section. It's difficult to find quality material in there.

  • scottmarlowe

    6/25/2009 6:54:37 AM | Reply

    I don't remember the exact breakdown, but Amazon definitely does take a cut. The breakdown and pricing model in general sounds like a good topic for a blog post!

    [b]The Hall of the Wood[/b] is available in digital format only. Either pdf from my site or Kindle format from Amazon. I did shop it around the traditional way, had some sparse interest, but nothing panned out. I figured rather than stick it in a drawer, I'd put it on my site as a free download.

    I'd lower the Kindle price to $0.25 if I could, but Amazon sets $0.99 as the minimum.

  • Steven Till

    6/26/2009 8:22:08 AM | Reply

    I hope the Kindle path works out for you. Keep me updated as to how it goes.

  • Adrian

    6/30/2009 5:06:08 AM | Reply

    Scott:

    Utterly fascinating!  Good luck with your new Kindle book.  Hope it sells.  I think having it out there will help spread your name to potential readers, not only for this but for future sales.  Putting several books up over time would add to that sense that you're a writer with staying power, and would help attract even more readers.  I agree this is potentially the start of a new way of doing business where book publishing is concerned.  Like you, I'm waiting for a Kindle price drop before taking the plunge.  I'm happy the new Kindle has a larger screen.  I love Google books and have downloaded a lot of free books in PDF format through them, and the new Kindle would allow me to read them without my laptop, plus all the other books available for purchase through the Kindle store.  I'm glad the Kindle is out there and is popular.  We needed a solid eBook reader and now we've got one.  Over time, it will become the norm, and then we'll long for the days when we used to hold an actual book in our hands.

    Again, good luck!

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