Many writers have taken a strong 70-page idea and stretched it into a weak 300-page book because that was what the industry demanded. Amazon gave short formats – Singles – an identity.
Any writer can approach Amazon directly, as Stephen King, a prominent author, did with Guns, a nonfiction essay too long, at 8,000 words, for most newspapers or magazines. Another hit was his Single Mile 81, a top seller.
In January 2011, Amazon launched a sub-store on its US website to sell something it called a “Kindle Single” : “Compelling Ideas Expressed At Their Natural Length”, as they call it. The internet giant Amazon pays 70% royalties, for Singles priced between 99 cents and $4.99. “Typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words, Kindle Singles are editorially curated and showcase writing from both new and established voices – from bestselling novelists and journalists to previously unpublished writers.”
The Guardian explained:
“It may not sound like a call to revolution. But Kindle Singles are. Writers can seldom express ideas “at their natural length”, because in the world of traditional print only a few lengths are commercially viable. Write too long, and you’ll be told to cut it (as Stephen King was when The Stand came in too long to be bound in paperback). Worse, write too short, and you won’t get published at all. Your perfect story is 50 pages long – or 70, or 100? Good luck getting that printed anywhere. Commercial print publishers have never liked novellas or novelettes, authors always have. Indeed, many writers have done their best work at that length, despite the difficulty of finding publication. Hence the revolution. Because the new length exploits this hole in traditional publishing.”
How Much Do Kindle Single Authors Earn?
The top-ten list of bestselling Kindle Singles includes a number of big-name writers. But how is the format working for writers who don’t have the brand of a Stephen King or Jodi Picoult? Gigaom.com offers well-researched insights from their interviews:
Author: Oliver Broudy
Bio: Former managing editor of the Paris Review; writer for Men’s Health
Kindle Singles: “The Saint,” $1.99 (3/2011), “The Codex,” $1.99 (10/2011)
Sales: “The Saint”: 41,826 copies, “The Codex”: 5,009 copies (both figures through January 2012)
Estimated royalties ([price * number of copies sold] * 0.70): $65,241.16
Author: Frank D. Gilroy
Bio: Author of the 1965 play “The Subject Was Roses,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award
Kindle Single: “Lake,” $1.99 (11/2011)
Sales: 12,500 as of February 2012
Estimated royalties ([price * number of copies sold] * 0.70): $17,412.50
Author: Mishka Shubaly
Bio: Musician; bassist for The Freshkills
Kindle Singles: “Shipwrecked,” $1.99 (4/2011), “The Long Run,” $1.99 (10/2011), “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” $1.99 (3/2012). “The Long Run” is the ninth-bestselling Kindle Single overall, by units.
Sales: “Shipwrecked”: 21,024 copies, “The Long Run”: 60,567 copies, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”: 11,406 copies.
Estimated royalties ([price * number of copies sold] * 0.70): $129,544.82
Read the whole story by Laura Hazard Owen in her post: “Exclusive: How Much Do Kindle Singles Authors Make?”
If You Want to Have Your Single Published
Amazon criteria’s – Submission Policies – are:
• Original work, not previously published in other formats or publications
• Self-contained work, not chapters excerpted from a longer work
• Not published on any public website in its entirety
• Currently not accepting how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides, or children’s books
“A Kindle Single can be on any topic. So far we’ve posted fiction, essays, memoirs, reporting, personal narratives, and profiles, and we’re expanding our selection every week. We’re looking for high-quality writing, fresh and original ideas, and well-executed stories in all genres and subjects. You also can write to our editors at email@example.com”
The latest Kindle Single Bestsellers in a variety of genres can be found at Amazon’s “Singled Out” page.
If you are an author and already published a Single at Amazon, let us know about your experience and success.
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