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Publishing Decisions and Changing Times

By Robin Johns Grant

Robin J grant blogI just ran across a Publishers Weekly article titled, “Is Amazon Really the Devil?”

I had to laugh. When I talk to writer friends these days and the subject of Amazon comes up, either we speak in tones of awe and reverence-or else someone shudders and winces, as though we are indeed speaking of the devil.

This subject is particularly pertinent to me right now, because I decided to try Amazon’s new Kindle Press / Kindle Scout publishing scheme.

If you’re not familiar with Kindle Scout, Amazon has started a new ebook publishing company called Kindle Press. But you know Amazon. There’s always some newfangled marketing twist. This one combines a sort of traditional publishing contract with a crowdsourcing campaign. So, first you submit your manuscript (and a completed cover design) to the program.

If you’re accepted, you have a campaign page for the next 30 days, where people can read more about your book and nominate you if they like what they see. If Amazon decides to publish you, you get a small advance ($1,500) for rights to the ebook and audio versions of your book, and then a percentage of sales.

I give my reasons for trying Kindle Scout in this blog post if you’re interested. I will say, though, that the new program is pretty controversial among writers. I saw one writers’ group panning the new program, saying they wouldn’t give up control of their work for such paltry terms. That Amazon has devilishly figured out how to get readers to cull their slush pile, and to make writers do their own cover design and editing.

Another writing peer criticized the program because it’s a popularity contest and not about literary merit, especially since Amazon urges you to ask friends and social media contacts to nominate you. To be fair, Amazon does NOT promise they will publish you if you get a certain number of nominations. They say the nominations are a way of proving you have a platform and potential readers, and if you pass that test, then they’ll take a look at your book for merit.

Pit bulls vs aliensWhether that will turn out to be the way it really works, I don’t know. There’s a book on Kindle Scout called Pit Bulls vs Aliens that’s been in the Hot and Trending category for its whole 30 days, and I’m betting on it being the first Kindle Press publication just because of its popularity and outrageous premise, whether the book has stellar writing or not. But hey, isn’t that the way the book publishing business has always worked, whether we like it or not?

I don’t know how Kindle Scout will work for me-or for Amazon. But I do know that a few short years ago, I was stuck. For decades, I had been trying to make my writing fit into a traditional publisher’s mold, and it just wouldn’t work. My options were to retire from writing or spend thousands and thousands on a vanity press-and then have no credibility and no way to reach my readers. Amazon has made it possible for me to be a fairly-respected (if poor) indie author. They allowed me to write and publish the slightly weird books of my dreams. And for that, I will be forever grateful. Me-and the guy who wrote Pit Bulls vs Aliens.

Robin Johns GrantA college librarian as well as an indie author, Robin works with changing publishing realities daily. She published her first indie suspense, Summer’s Winter, in 2014. Her campaign for her upcoming mind-bending suspense novel, Jordan’s Shadow, is going on now, through December 7. She will publish Jordan’s Shadow in early 2015, either as her second indie or through Kindle Press! Keep in touch at http://robinjohnsgrant.com.

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