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Thinking of Publishing Your Own $0.99 Kindle Book? 101

Posted by timothy
from the leaping-into-the-fray dept.
An anonymous reader writes "There's been a lot of talk recently about $0.99 Kindle eBooks, after publishers were accused of spamming the market with low-quality titles. Author Keir Thomas published two $0.99 computing books in March and has some figures for those who might want to have a go, as part of his Adventures in Publishing series of blog postings. Thomas says he loves the democratic nature of the Kindle Direct Publishing system, and points out one of his self-published books tops Amazon's Linux charts, besting titles by all the major publishers."
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Thinking of Publishing Your Own $0.99 Kindle Book?

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  • I'm hopeful that the success of these independent authors (legitimate ones) will bring the prices down on ebooks from the publishing houses. I miss the $10 cap.
  • So if I publish a book through amazon i get to keep 30% of the profit, but if i make an smart phone app i get to keep 70% of what i sell. seems a little lopsided. I dont think that the tech / operating cost for books publishing is much different than an app store.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's 35% originally, and just recently 70% if you agree to keep prices lower then the physical book.

      http://allthingsd.com/20100120/amazon-pushes-royalty-rates-up-and-prices-down-for-do-it-yourself-e-book-publishers/

    • by usul294 (1163169)
      its 70% if you pay for delivery costs as well. Kindle Direct Publishing Pricing Help [amazon.com]
    • by tehcyder (746570)

      So if I publish a book through amazon i get to keep 30% of the profit, but if i make an smart phone app i get to keep 70% of what i sell. seems a little lopsided. I dont think that the tech / operating cost for books publishing is much different than an app store.

      And if you just sell it on your own website, you get o keep 100% of the profit. So obviously Amazon are being evil, how dare they take a cut?

  • by sirwired (27582) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:19PM (#36546420)

    It's all well and good that Amazon charges a listing fee of $0, but this is, as recent articles have pointed out, producing quite a bit of crap spam. It's not the least bit "democratic" to enable anyone to post books for free if genuine creative books are drowned out by spammed crap, keeping anybody from ever actually seeing the content.

    I don't see a $10 listing fee as being that much of a deterrent for someone that has actually produced a real book (think of the value of the number of hours that go into even a short book), and a big deterrent to those that produce worthless spam.

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      If the volume of spam is the issue, a $1 fee ought to just about be enough, right? Maybe even 10 cents. I'd think anything that relies on bulk fails about as soon as there's any charge at all. Might as well keep those barriers as minimal as possible, right?
    • That's actually exactly what makes it "democratic". Of course, their need to be good tools to support it. There can be 1 million bad books on a subject that are just spam books which should all be reviewed badly and rarely purchased, as long as the 1 that is reviewed well and purchased often shows up at the top of the list when you search. You need a good Google-esque algorithm to try to filter out the crap. Oh sure, just like with Google people will try to beat the algorithm, but cream will rise to the

  • by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:23PM (#36546462)

    Did he just criticize the idea of a ten dollar listing fee as a barrier to entry for reducing spam?

    No way. Maybe for a booklet you'd want it to be less, but if you put one *thousandth* of the amount of time and effort into a book that any decent author does, five or ten bucks for the book listing is much less than that. A listing fee is not, realistically, a barrier to entry.

    • But it can be a barrier to sales if you aren't backed by advertising / reputation.
      • From TFA, it looked like a per-book listing fee--discourage spamming by making there be an incentive not to publish 10,000 similar books, since each one will net less than the $10 in profit, but any work someone actually is remotely serious about they can be expected to pay ten bucks.

    • Yes he did, and his only justification for that (IMO ridiculous) position is:

      They suggest Amazon charge a listing fee for each book — perhaps $10 or $20. [...] This would be a huge shame. Through things like KDP and CreateSpace, Amazon is making proper publishing truly democratic and accessible to all. To get a Kindle eBook on sale, all you need is a computer with a word processor. That’s it. You don’t need up-front fees. You don’t need to be a publisher. You don’t need technical knowledge.

      Who has a computer, word processor, and the time to write a serious book, but not $10? Amazon could even take the $10 out of the first $10 of profit for each book if this entry fee would otherwise demonstrably be a barrier to serious writers.

      • by 0123456 (636235)

        Amazon could even take the $10 out of the first $10 of profit for each book if this entry fee would otherwise demonstrably be a barrier to serious writers.

        That would be a much better way of doing it, or just saying that they won't pay royalties on a book until it's made at least a certan number of dollars. I believe they currently only pay royalties when all books on an account have made some number of dollars, but if you're spamming 10,000 junk books then that won't stop you.

        • by webdog314 (960286)

          Interesting, because the spammers are making money by putting out 1000 useless "books" that may only get downloaded 3 times each before people catch on and post negative reviews. But that's still 3000 "sales" at $0.70 each (70% profit), or $2,100. But if Amazon absorbed the first $10 of *each book*, the spammers would get nothing and the industry would be a far better place. Of course, that will encourage comment whoring, but that's nothing new to the system.

      • Could we have two levels of kindle store?
        One that is published without barriers (the current free one) and one that has the $10 fee. As long as buyers could filter appropriately then the reader can make the choice.

        Side note: I'm currently "publishing" my first novel attempt on my blog a tiny section at a time. I have considered publishing it under the Kindle scheme but don't want to be lost in the flood of crud. I'd happily pay $50 never mind 10 to get it published in even a barely reputable place; but I do

        • See? No serious author minds a $10 fee, as conclusively proven by my (n=1) data!

          I think I understand what you're for. I imagine the no-barrier store would just get completely filtered by most people, kind of defeating the purpose of making publishing possible to anyone--even those who don't have $10 for an entry fee. (I maintain no serious author fits that category, but suppose some do.) Establishing an entry fee now wouldn't help filter current spam, unfortunately, but maybe if new spam stopped appearing,

  • I love how you have to fork over 65% of the revenue to Amazon. I think that number should be flipped. The author is doing the heavy lifting here. Amazon is just providing the platform through which it sells. Hell, they don't even market the product. They just put it on their platform and everything else is automatic.
    • by 0123456 (636235)

      I love how you have to fork over 65% of the revenue to Amazon.

      If you went through a traditional publisher, you'd probably fork over 85+%.

      And, as mentioned, if you self-publish for $2.99 and above, you get to keep 70% from self-publishing, vs about 15% through a traditional publishing deal.

  • by swsuehr (612400) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:52PM (#36546818) Homepage
    As someone who has written several books (ok, shameless self-promoting link to the latest one [javascriptstepbystep.com]) I might suggest that you raise the price. Sound counterintuitive? People may be looking at your book and the price point of $0.99 and thinking "this might be a scam or reprint of some material already on the web." By raising the price to say $9.99 or $14.99 you're still below the traditionally published books but also give the appearance of extra value; the consumer is getting something valuable.

    I know nothing of the self-publishing world, though I have considered it at various times. But if I was going to be publishing something for Kindle I'd likely be setting it at a higher price point to give my book separation from the spam.

    Oh, typically royalties are in the 8% to 15% range for tech books, depending on the publisher and the deal being offered. The royalties are sometimes higher on the eBook versions. However, realize that the royalties are off of the wholesale price not the list or sale price. So if retail on JavaScript Step by Step is $39.99, Amazon has it for $25, but the publisher sold it to them for $20, I get a percentage of the $20 not of the $39.99.

    YMMV.

    Steve
  • by sir_eccles (1235902) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @04:52PM (#36546822)

    Self editing. Applies equally to ebooks and old fashioned paper ones.

    • by city (1189205)
      Consider me available if anyone has anything they would like me to edit. I read quite a lot already and am interested in getting into editting. Message me.
      • by tehcyder (746570)

        Consider me available if anyone has anything they would like me to edit. I read quite a lot already and am interested in getting into editting. Message me.

        Yes, that's how most professional editors get thei work, I'm sure.

      • by Zanadou (1043400)

        ...into editting.

        You're hired.

    • by Man Eating Duck (534479) on Thursday June 23, 2011 @07:02PM (#36548534)

      Self editing. Applies equally to ebooks and old fashioned paper ones.

      Bravo. I'm a voracious reader, I prefer reading on E-ink, and I've read quite a few self-published stories for free or very cheap ($4). Some are very good stories, some are weaker, but without exception so far all are marred by poor flow, sentences that not quite work and even grammatical and spelling errors. A good copy-editor could work wonders, an editor who is involved in the shaping of the book is even better. It takes a good author to write a compelling story or a good non-fiction book, but to end up with a good final result you need professionals somewhere down the line.

      This doesn't mean that self-publishing is inherently bad, if you write a good story you can rise above the rest by spending something like $1500 to have a professional copy-edit your book. If you're serious about your writing this is not a huge investment, especially if you compare it to the time you put into writing your story. And no, your friend who got an A+ in $language is almost certainly *not* a good substitute.

      I love to see a lot of promising fresh writers being able to publish their work without needing a publishing contract, but even an ace racing driver can't win without his team of mechanics and support crew. Something similar goes for writers (-1, car analogy).

      Disclaimer: I've worked at an academic publishing company since 1999 and have participated in publishing hundreds of works. I *know* how important a good editor, proof-reader and copy-editor are for getting a good result. A good percentage of our authors don't understand why they need it until they see the finished book :)

      • all are marred by poor flow, sentences that not quite work...

        I'm sorry, I couldn't help but laugh here.

        (noticing your sig...) that should be "sentences that *don't* quite work.

        • I'm sorry, I couldn't help but laugh here.

          (noticing your sig...) that should be "sentences that *don't* quite work.

          You should have capitalized the word that, because it comes at the beginning of your sentence.

      • I have to completely agree with the parent comment. I am currently in the final phases of editing a (traditional, printed) book. I originally thought the editorial process would be a breeze (hey, after all I use LaTeX for my typesetting – is there anything beyond that) but... Well, not only has reality proven me wrong, but as the style and editorial correctors give me their comments in writing (I'm writing for my University press), I have had to learn more than a bit in the process.

        And of course, edit

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          I originally thought the editorial process would be a breeze (hey, after all I use LaTeX for my typesetting – is there anything beyond that)

          LaTex is just a tool, that's like saying "my book is bound to be good, I used a great word processor with grammar and spelling eror highlighting".

          • by gwolf (26339)

            Very true. Of course, that was not what I meant — Even if I know you are exaggerating a bit with your example, I do know my typesetting basics, and I even thought I knew enough. Talking with the right people made me see how limited my understanding was. And implementing their recommendations taught me more LaTeX than I expected to ever need.

        • Of course, and on a much more personal topic: I am interested in making the book available in an open format (most likely .mobi, which is most compatible among readers).

          I have some experience with this as I have produced ~50 professional quality ebooks. I would strongly recommend that you first generate a well-formatted epub. This is an easy format to work with, as it's basically zipped xhtml, and it will also work out-of-the-box with most devices. It's also one of the richest formats when it comes to layout, making it a good basis for converting to other formats.

          When you have a proberly formatted epub you can generate a TOC, add metadata and convert to a host of other for

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      This is true. I'm biased, because I've done some freelance copy editing in the past, but I've caught some really messy mistakes as a proofreader, and this after two or sometimes three other editors. It doesn't matter how good you are, you'll miss some things, and even very skilled editors tend to have blind spots for their own work. I'd never trust myself to be my own copy editor.
  • Amazon books-especially Kindle books-just as in the iTunes music store uses the "long tail" business model: the vast majority of the products listed make very few, if any, sales. But semi-automated listing, marketing support, royalty aggregation and payment can encourage publication of works that would be too-long bets in the physical world of editing, design, tree-chopping, and trucking copies around the world.

    I am quite happy that my young children's work, Spinners, is listed at Amazon for $0.99; it gets

    • by tehcyder (746570)
      You insensitive clod, my daughters are all scared of spiders!
  • Not actively necessarily, but their payment scheme certainly pushes people towards a 2.99 price point. At 2.99, you take in 70% or 2.10. At 99 cents you get 1/6th of that. So it's more profit to you to sell 20 copies at 2.99 than 100 at 99 cents and less money for Amazon. Of course, if you're going to sell 6x as many copies or more at 99 cents, then you might as well go 99 cents. It's clearly better to sell 600 copies at 99 cents than 100 at 2.99, since you're going to make the same money, but reach m

  • It seems to me that the attempts by schools, universities etc. to detect plagiarism would be useful in this area. The problem of course is that plagiarism isn't illegal per se, e.g. if a spammer rips off a source like Wikipedia there's no legal recourse.
    But it would mean that sites like Amazon would be able to detect these worthless books and put up a warning.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      The problem of course is that plagiarism isn't illegal per se, e.g. if a spammer rips off a source like Wikipedia there's no legal recourse.

      Sorry? Has the world abandoned copyright overnight and nobody told me?

  • Sometimes it isn't so much that spam is a problem:

    http://cthulhuchick.com/296/this-is-why-we-cant-have-nice-things/ [cthulhuchick.com]

  • There ought to be a serious business for E-Book Editors out there... providing a certain level of editing quality--perhaps with a graded pay/service model that enables authors to pay for editing services but not break the bank.

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