Amazon for Authors, Part Two: Tools and Thoughts

Book_books_pages_265007_lThe first part of this post, Amazon for Authors, Part One: Opportunities, ran last Monday.  You can read that here, and you probably want to do that before proceeding.

Ever since I wrote part one of this post, I've been obsessed with worry that I'm misrepresenting Amazon.  As in, presenting this rosy view of everything that you can do on the site without also showing the down side.  So, here's an article that does that.  And I want to state again that I fall down somewhere in the middle on the Amazon issue.  I like to think I can see both sides of the issue clearly.  In some ways, the issue is about much more than Amazon.  It's about the collision of the old style legacy publishing and the new digital revolution. But, of course, since Amazon spearheaded the revolution, it is difficult to take them out of the picture.

What I see is that each side often knows little about the other and it is my job on this blog to tackle the big picture–tackling all aspects of the writing life.  So I do my best to share what I learn.  And what I learned at AWP was that Amazon, love it or hate it, offers quite a range of tools and programs for writers.

Tools

Amazon Author Central.  Once you have a book or two published, you can create your own page for them.   The cool thing is that you can put whatever you want to on it, such as links to your site or sign-ups for your mailing list, an author bio, a rant about politics–anything.   You can also link to your blog so that posts automatically update, and your Twitter feed.  For an example, you can see my page here.   You essentially get your own web page for free.

Metadata on your book listing page.  I'm essentially clueless about this, but as I understand it, you can list keywords (and lots of 'em) of your own choosing in order to drive Amazon's search engines to your listing.  Read more about this here.

Amazon Programs

Create Space.  This is Amazon's service for creating hard copies of your book through print-on-demand technology.

Kindle Direct Publishing.  And this would be the Ebook arm of the indie publishing services.  Many authors start here and branch out to other formats.

ACX.  You can now also create audio versions of your book.  This website is essentially an exchange where you can find actors to read your book, and audition them.  You can then pay them upfront or with a cut of your royalties. Cool, huh?

Their own publishing imprints. Amazon also has their own publishing imprints, covering mystery, romance, women's fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror, literary fiction, young adult, self help, non-fiction, memoirs and short stories.  In other words, just about everything.  Note, however, that their submissions page says they are not accepting unsolicited manuscripts at this time.  My idea is that they look for indie publishers who are doing well and offer them contracts.

Kindle Worlds.  Fan fiction now has a legitimate outlet that you can actually make money on.  I don't get it–either why you want to write in a world that someone else invented or how exactly this works.  But if you're interested, click the link and find out more.

Amazon Associates.  You can earn money just by putting links to Amazon to your page.  I used to do this years ago but it never amounted to much and didn't seem worth the time.  But I probably ought to revisit it.

Goodreads is a book-lover's site, and yes it is now owned by Amazon.  There was a big stink when they bought it last year.  People say Goodreads is great for authors, but I myself have never gained traction on it, which probably says more about me than them.

Kindle Singles.  The tag line for this is compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.  Ebooks have renewed enthusiasm for short stories and novellas and this program takes advantage of that.  And the good news is that you can submit to them manuscripts from 5,000 to 30,000 words.

No doubt, by the time this post is published, there will be even more programs and services for authors offered by Amazon.  You can see why people believe they are out to conquer the world.

And bear in mind…that many other publishing platforms exist, such as Barnes and Noble, Lulu, and Smashwords, to name only a few.  As far as I know, however, none of them offer quite the extensive range of services for authors that Amazon does.  If I'm wrong, please let me know.

My take.

Okay, that's it. That's all I know.  Over the next few months, I plan to experiment with Amazon publishing myself.  My novel, Emma Jean's Bad Behavior, was published by a small press that took advantage of Amazon's CreateSpace and Kindle Publishing.   I think the book looks good (I'm not biased or anything).  But the marketing part has been hard.  And I'm hearing over and over again that the best way to market is to make sure there's more work up for people to buy, so…I have a few short stories that I'm going to publish myself to bolster my presence on the site, so we'll see what happens. And I have a few ideas for genre pieces, as well. I'll keep you all apprised on my progress!  I'd be crazy not to give it a whirl.

I also have a new novel I'm working on that I would love to see published by a legacy publisher.  Unless something drastic happens to change my mind, when I finish the book by the end of the year, I'll be going the traditional route and looking for an agent.  So I'm a believer that we need to be open to all the opportunities we have available to us as writers.

What's your take on Amazon?  On indie publishing?

Image by white_duck.

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8 Comments on "Amazon for Authors, Part Two: Tools and Thoughts"

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Don
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03/16/2014 07:20

Apple also has a program for indie publisher on their iBooks platform, and they even have a program where you can produce and design your book from scratch and it’s free. It’s called: iBook Author and it says: “Anyone can create stunning iBooks textbooks, cookbooks, history books, picture books, and more for iPad and Mad.”

You can then publish them via iTunes which has well over a half-billion card paying members. You can also get tons of templates, etc. from the App Store too.

Milli Thornton (@fearofwriting)
Guest
Charlotte, what a great round-up of what Amazon offers. I, for one, do not think you’ve presented a falsely rosy picture, either in this post or the previous one. I feel what you’re expressing is your enthusiasm for the potential of what can be done as an author via Amazon. That’s not the same as unfounded bias. I’m a CreateSpace indy author and I’m very happy with them. My book had been through two other publishing services before I landed at CreateSpace and I was not happy with either of those former companies. From time to time, I go out… Read more »
Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/16/2014 12:56

Thanks for reminding me of this, I always forget to list Itunes as an outlet.  Some people have a lot of luck with it.  I'm not as familiar with their iBook platform.  I wonder how it intersects with the formatting needed for Kindle?

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/16/2014 12:58

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Milli, it is really helpful!  Good to know that CreateSpace has worked so well with you.  And one thing I will say about Amazon–they really do seem to be looking for ways to help authors. I did create a page on Goodreads and played with it a little, but never felt like much happened with it.  If you get some good stuff going, please let me know!

J.D.
Guest
J.D.
03/17/2014 05:40

This is very timely for me, Charlotte. I’m not sure what you mean by “the marketing is to make sure there’s more work up for people to buy.” Of course, I know what “marketing” and “buy” mean; it’s the stuff in between.

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/17/2014 05:55
What I've been reading, J.D., says, essentially, that the more things you have up for people to buy, the better off your marketing efforts will be.  They call it a funnel, and its a concept borrowed from traditional marketing (i.e. selling widgets rather than books).  A reader might not be willing to shell out money for a whole book, but they are still interested in your work.  So they pay the 99 cents for a story to check you out.  And then, because, of course, that story is brilliant, then they buy your book.  Make sense?  The more you have… Read more »
Zan Marie
Guest
03/17/2014 06:18

More Charlotte Rains Dixon to read? That’s wonderful! Go, Charlotte, Go!

Charlotte Dixon
Guest
03/17/2014 06:21

Thank you, Zan Marie!  This story's main character is very different from Emma Jean–which is not necessarily a bad thing!

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