Selling my Soul to Satan!

46 Writing Contests in February 2017 - No Entry Fees

"Forget agents, enter writing competitions"

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
I've started a separate thread, to pull together some of the ideas about Amazon we've raised in other threads.

Rita Stradling mentioned the Amazon Kindle Scout programme, which I hadn't heard of, though I recently noticed Amazon's new competition for self-published ebooks, which offers a £20,000 prize. I then came across this article on the excellent Jane Friedman's blog, about an author's experience of using Amazon Scout, which turned his first novel into a bestseller:

How Kindle Press Made My Novel a Bestseller | Jane Friedman

He had a wonderful experience. After two major campaigns of querying agents in the last couple of years, which involved sending off a total of 225 fruitless submissions, I'm considering shifting my energy to return to self-publishing.

I uploaded 44 titles to Smashwords in 2014. They sell ebooks, and act as a distribution hub for other ebook services like Apple, Kobo and Sony. Smashwords and Amazon don't get on well, so I published my books on Amazon separately. I avoided their Kindle Direct Publishing programme, having severe misgivings about it after reading several terrible experiences on authors' blogs. One disadvantage of KDP is that they demand exclusive rights, meaning I'd need to remove all of my laboriously uploaded titles from other sites. This can take weeks, with KDP not letting you in until it's done.

Using Scout would mean granting power-mad Amazon the same exclusivity. As Rick Pullen alludes to in his article, Amazon's aggressive marketing tactics mean that books are treated the same as any other consumer item they sell. Stuff notions of art and culture, your lovingly crafted book could end up bundled with nine other authors' titles, and at a greatly reduced royalty rate.

At the moment, I'm still on Smashwords, and the vendors it's partnered with, and my books are also lost among millions of others on Amazon's ordinary Kindle catalogue. I've sold about £30 worth, and hilariously also get a quarterly cheque for about 40 cents for titles borrowed from their library.

I could say 'what have I got to lose?'. Mainly poverty…but should I sell my soul to the devil that is Jeff Bezos?

What do you think of Amazon's different publishing programmes?

Have any of you had good or bad experiences with them?

I have published two books with Amazon now. One of those, I've also done on Smashwords (the other isn't e-book friendly, so I've just done print). I have not done squat to advertise these books yet, so I've not sold many. I chose not to go with any of the exclusive Kindle deals--they are particularly disadvantageous to customers in New Zealand (they include "delivery fees"...for e-books...WTF?)--but I've done both print and Kindle versions through them.

I can't say I'm overly fond of Amazon as a business, but the truth of the matter is that that's where a huge block of customers is. Publishing there is easy and quick--I use Smashwords style guide to do my formatting (because Smashwords has very good author resources), and the same file can just be uploaded to KDP. They don't require exclusivity unless you do one of their 'special' publishing deals. Have I sold many books? No (though about 5 times more on Amazon than Smashwords). But I also have put no effort into marketing yet. That's this year's task, along with getting a couple more books published.
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46 Writing Contests in February 2017 - No Entry Fees

"Forget agents, enter writing competitions"