Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ruth Francisco's Kindle Primer, Part I

Yes, new writers still can and do acquire agents and publishing contracts these days; I know a couple of very talented ones who have. But many others who've either already tried the traditional route or have decided to skip it altogether are now considering the option of e-publishing as indie authors.

One thing I've come to appreciate about the indie author community is the openness, support and encouragement that can be found there. Recently, Ruth Francisco, who is both traditionally published and an indie author, posted a forum thread on called The Kindle Option. Ruth was kind enough to share the details of many of the steps in publishing to Kindle as an indie author.

I was impressed with the first book she'd posted on Authonomy, Amsterdam 2012, and recently read and reviewed her gritty, fast-paced historical crime novel, The Pigtailed Heart. I asked Ruth if I could post excerpts of her forum post here and she graciously agreed:


I want to share my experiences with Kindle, and to let everyone know that epublishing is a viable option to waiting around for a traditional publisher.

Not only are Kindle writers being offered traditional DTB (dead tree book) contracts, but established writers are publishing original material to Kindle. Epublishing is revolutionizing publishing and writing, an event no less important to intellectual discourse than the penny newspapers of the nineteenth century.

In February, after a year of shopping my latest novel "Amsterdam 2012" to New York publishers, and being turned down for being “too controversial,” I decided to upload it to Kindle. I didn’t know anything about epublishing. I actually posted it because I was afraid my aging computer would crash, and I would lose the novel. Or the house would burn down. I figured at least if it were up on Kindle, it would be safe. I set the price at .99 cents. What the hell.

I sold 1,000 copies the first weekend, and soon my book was number 30 on the Kindle best seller list. With a Kindle royalty payment of .35 cents (35% of books under $2.99 and over $9.99; 70% between $2.99 and $9.99), I was not getting rich; but I was getting read. And readers were responding—immediately—in reviews, on forums, and in emails. I had written the book because I wanted people to discuss a difficult topic, and they were; I was having an active and open dialog with my readers unlike I ever had with DTB publishing. I was exhilarated.

After the success of "Amsterdam 2012", I uploaded two backlist titles, "Good Morning, Darkness", and "Confessions of a Deathmaiden", the rights for which my publisher had recently returned to me. Then three original titles.

Why did I do that rather than submit them to my publisher? For one thing, waiting a year to get published, even if my agent could sell my manuscripts tomorrow, seemed antiquated. Who has time for that? If I write about fresh, relevant issues, I want the stories published now. I was also selling more books on Kindle, reaching more people, all over the world, than I had with DTBs. If I set the Kindle price at $2.99, I make $2.04 per book, about the same as I would for a hardback. If I sold it as a $7.99 paperback, I would only earn about .64 cents per book.

Also, epublishing does not preclude a DTB contract. In fact, the paper publishing arm of Kindle, Amazon Encore Books, culls its list of Kindle authors for books to publish. Soon other DTB publishers will follow.

While the ebook market is still only 5-7% of the total book market, it is a growing market. The market for DTBs is shrinking. I chose to go with the growing market.


("Ruth Francisco worked in the film industry for fifteen years before selling her first novel Confessions of a Deathmaiden to Warner Books in 2003, followed by Good Morning, Darkness, which was selected by Publishers’ Weekly as one of the best mysteries of the year, and her controversial third novel, The Secret Memoirs of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. She now has four new novels, including The Pigtailed Heart, up on Kindle. She is a frequent contributor to The Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, and currently lives in Florida.")

Happy publishing,

1 comment:

Reb said...

Thank you both, to Ruth and Gemi. It's all intriguing, plus it gives me real hope. I didn't know Amsterdam 2012 was available. I'm adding it to my list.