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I was just curious about the process at Amazon for publishing books for independent authors. For those of you who have books available at Amazon without going through a publishing house/agent/etc., and are selling the books for money (vs. free), how does that work? How easy was it? What was the timeline between submitting your work and having it up for sale? I'd really like to hear from your point of view about what it's like, traditional publishing always seemed like such a mysterious and almost random thing. Kind of like getting a part in a movie, where talent has less to do with it than who you know or who've ya done. I wonder how much the ebook publishing versus reading will be the source of true change in how we read/buy books.
 

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The process is very easy. You just have to basically upload your book in HTML format (other formats work too) to amazon. It literally takes just a few minutes. Once you upload, your book is live and for sale on amazon within 72 hours. You get access to a control panel where you can check sales, make updates, etc.

You are right about traditional publishing. I write fantasy, which is notoriously difficult for unknown authors to break into. Some genres are easier, but you still have to jump through the right hoops held by the right people at exactly the right time. In my case, with fantasy, agents and publishers simply will not consider an unknown author, no matter how good the story is. Can it happen? Sure, but it's more rare now than ever. This system they have set up makes it so that we only have established authors writing new books, and no new blood.

After having been rejected enough (usually a card that says "dear author, your work is not for us at this time") I decided to do the Kindle thing, but also published in paperback. I was also able to do my own cover art, which made me happy.

"Self publishing" has always had a bad stigma. Many people won't read it, and you won't get reviews by the New York Times or anything...but people are more open to independent authors now. There's a lot of junk out there, but plenty of good books that we woulnd't otherwise know existed.

My theory is that people are only going to give you a chance as an indie if your price is low. I set mine at $.99 (as low as amazon will allow) to get as many readers as possible. If you're looking to make money, this isn't the way to go. I am hoping to get enough sales that an agent or a publisher will eventually take me seriously...so I don't care about the money.
 

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Glad you asked. I have written a 5-star book on the subject (available for the Kindle), covering the entire process of both kindle and print books for Indie authors. I have 11 published books, the 12th coming out in May and several more in the works. And my sales are booming and I have readers (fans even). Plus, I have never been one of those sadsack authors who went Indie because of the big bad publishing industry. I was nurtured by publishing professionals, and do not have a wall of rejections.

I also invite you to listen to me on the radio being interviewed on the Bobby Ozuna show - the Soul of Humanity, where I spend some time talking about being an Indie author, the challenges and rewards. I even mention Kindleboards there. Here the link to the archive.

http://66.49.193.35/ArtistFirst_Bobby_Ozuna_2009-04-22.mp3

And the Book is:

Are You Still Submitting Your Work to a Traditional Publisher?



I occasionally reduce the price from $1.60 to $ .99, but for many of my authors friends I give them a free .pdf, all you need to do is ask. I never turn anyone away from this little book, which includes a heep of advice on attitudes, and a whole section on the art of revision. My email address is [email protected]

Edward C. Patterson

PS: It's also one of my favorit covers. Indie authors need to do all the stuff that traditional publishers do, and they must do it well and that includes cover design and product, in print!
 

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David J. Guyton said:
My theory is that people are only going to give you a chance as an indie if your price is low. I set mine at $.99 (as low as amazon will allow) to get as many readers as possible. If you're looking to make money, this isn't the way to go.
Absolutely. For indies, building a readership is Job #2 (Job #1, of course, is writing a good book). Even if you are eventually looking to make money, an unknown, untested author can't realistically expect to charge what might be considered average price without that fanbase. Of course, I would submit that if you're looking to make money, writing - period - isn't the way to go. ;)
 

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I read Ed Patterson's book, Are You Still Submitting Your Work to a Traditional Publisher? and found it to be very helpful with easy to follow guidelines. I used Ed's instructions to publish my children's book, Night Camp. I have also written a traditionally published book, Talented Horsewoman, so I can compare the two methods. Publishing Night Camp on Kindle and Create Space was easy and I plan to publish my next book the same way. With Talented Horsewoman, the process took much longer. First I submitted the book and got it rejected by a number of agents before I finally submitted directly to a small publishing house. The book was accepted, but I had to do a rewrite and after that the book was edited by the publisher. I like the way Talented Horsewoman turned out, but I don't like that my publisher has electronic rights and won't agree to put the book on Kindle. We're still trying to work that out. Eventually I suppose, it will happen, but maybe not until I get all rights to the book back. So while the editing of the book was good and extremely helpful, I didn't like losing some control. As far as marketing, it seems that unless you are a best selling author, the publishing houses expect you to do all your own marketing anyway, just as you would if you self published.
Linda
 

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Here's a question.  How does copyrighting work this way?  In other words, how do you insure that your work will be recognized as yours and cannot be stolen by someone?
 

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Unless you true copyright your work with the government, your work is not copyrighted technically, in case of a lawsuit; however, the general adviseability of copyrighting your book, but making the copyright statement - copywright, date Author;s name, works for all practical purposes. Paying the $$$$ for a copyright protects you in a court of law. ISBN assignment helps establish rights. The contract that binds Kindle authors to Amazon (where we do not give up our rights and also state that we are actually the authors), also helps establish our rights. For those of us who maintain an Author's Blog on Amazon, our works must be verified by a "third party." That too adds to the protection. DRM encryption also helps protect unlawful pirating of our works, although most Indie authors want readers and will readily give the book to someone that would go to the trouble to break the encryption. There are "pirate" sites and there is also a band of authors that continuously monitor the books there to see if any recognizable works show up unauthorized.

Hope that helps

Ed Patterson
PS: In my book I use an example of legal notice that I got from Windwalker's book on Kindle publishing.
 

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hazeldazel said:
I wonder how much the ebook publishing versus reading will be the source of true change in how we read/buy books.
I don't think pbooks will ever go away totally, but I think ebooks will change the publishing industry as much as downloadable songs have changed the music industry. In some ways, the Kindle has leveled the playing field for all authors publishing in that medium because an unpublished author's book now looks as professional as a bestselling author's book (although I highly recommend designing a professional cover). The main advantage of getting a traditional publishing contract is that your books will get exposure in bookstores across the country, and in some cases where the publisher has invested in a substantial advance to the author, they will support that investment by giving your book special placement in the stores and other promotional opportunities that an indie author doesn't get.

The other advantage of the Kindle for indie authors is that you get to set your own price, making it possible to set a lower price than other books from established authors in your genre. Of course, there's been debate on other threads about whether that devalues your work or just makes it more competitive. My feeling is that a lower price lures readers who might not otherwise take a chance on an unknown author.
 

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hazeldazel said:
What was the timeline between submitting your work and having it up for sale? I'd really like to hear from your point of view about what it's like, traditional publishing always seemed like such a mysterious and almost random thing. Kind of like getting a part in a movie, where talent has less to do with it than who you know or who've ya done.
Traditional publishing can be a royal PITA; it gives you a certain amount of credibility, but it's over rated. Most traditionally published books go nowhere; your rights get sucked up, you make no money for something that took a very long time to work on, and you rack up so many headaches that buying stock in Ibuprofen seems to be a good idea. It's a numbers game, and the odds are against pretty much every writer who actually gets from submission to print. 90% of books sales are from 10% of published writers, and of those 10%, the bestsellers only happen to 6%. Very slim odds (and I'm pulling that off the top of my head and will not swear to its accuracy; the point is that only a tiny, tiny fraction of writers will get rich.) When you do get an acceptance from a traditional publisher, it can be 2 years or more before your books actually makes it to print (unless you become one of the anointed, and bounce someone else from the next catalog.)

I've gone down both roads. I got lucky with my first book, lucky again with my 2nd and 3rd, but the contracts were crap, the strain was enormous, and I wound up having to fight to get my rights back. I made money on those books--enough to take the sting out of it--but it wasn't worth it. I had created a company to publish my cat's books (hush...he writes them himself, he really does...) and decided to thrust the books back into the market, just to have them available (and there's a lesson to be learned about working from someone else's post-print PDF files...)

Traditional houses have made Indie publishing a viable part of the market, simply because of the headaches and politics; frustrated writers are flocking to it. Technology has made going indie easy. You can bring a paperback book to the market for less than $200, complete with distribution in the major online stores. You can get it into the eBook market for free. There's no longer any reason for a writer with confidence in their talent to not publish. If you're not in it for the money, going solo is not a bad way to go.

Copyright is easy; if you have a print run, you have proof of when your work was published; you can register it with the Library of Congress for a small fee (you send two copies of the best format) or you can rely on print and distribution records. If you publish solely to the Kindle, you'll have proof of when you uploaded to Amazon, but I'm not sure how reliable that would be.

It never hurts to submit your work to agents and publishers, and if you have aspirations of hitting the bestseller's list, it's the first road you should take. Even without "making it big" you can make a living out of it (or else I might have quit a long, long time ago...) but it's so much less stressful to go indie.

Oh, and if you ever get an agent...it really sucks if they drop dead...
 

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I've brought all 11 of my books to market, eBook, Kindle and print copies at no cost to me, except for a proof copy (a few bucks). Of course, you need to have the goods, have validated talent and top-notch quality. My editor works with me gratis, because she believes in my work. The only up front money I've spent are on publishing books are beta-testing, as copies are supplied to those readers. Indie publishing is a pleasurable and exciting experience. After 53 years of writing and 2 year at publishing and nearly 1,000 readers later and nearing eighty 4- and 5- star reviews and with 11 more books in the pipeline, I can outline some the advantages of Indie publishing.

1 - The pleasure of hard work
2 - Retaining your rights, both print and electronic
3 - Direct contact with your readers
4 - The joy of designing covers
5 - Price controls
6 - Reduced production schedule
7 - Indie author networks (new friends)
8 - Total immersion in the works
9 - Never needing to write queries and the dread cover letters and synopsis
10 - No rejections, unless you write a bomb, which readers will reject
11 - No 6 month wait for the acquisition editor to make up his/her mind
12 - No loss of editorial control
13 - A full lesson in the publishing process, which Traditionally published authors never really get
14 - No contracts, except with the printer and the distributor
15 - Variable royalties, the range controlled by your own pricing strategies
and on and on . . .

Edward C. Patterson
Author of The Jade Owl and other stuff
"From my mind to your imagination . . ."
 

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Ed your list is great and I agree with them all. Honestly, I am thrilled to be an Independent, and the ONLY thing that an agent or publisher can entice me with is mass distribution.
 

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And guess what . . . the only MASS Distribution that is effectivelt available is spelled A-M-A-Z-O-N.C-O-M. B&N is the enemy, and all those things out there called Bookstores are either quaint places to browse or sidecars to Coffee and DVD/CD shops. If you're Indie, you are at where it's at.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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You can create a much wider distribution base by getting distributed by Ingram...at least then your books will also be available for order in brick and mortar bookstores, and you have a shot at getting into some public libraries. I see at least 35% of my sales coming through channels other than Amazon, B&N, Books A Million, or other online bookstores; some people still will simply not buy books (or anything else) online, but they will place an order at their local bookstore.

edwpat said:
B&N is the enemy
They certainly have their collective panties in a wad and make it terribly difficult to actually get a book into their system...
 

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Well there's a distribution market lost to me. Oh well, because Amazon is at war with B&N, and thus Ingram's. However, I expect that, although it won't happen in my lifetime, marketing books in brick and mortar will be an antique exercise and libraries will become repositories awaiting the crumble of paper viruses. I preach (yes preach) to the Indie authors that most of their angst comes from the false illusion of the importance of seeing their books on bookstore bookshelves, and mired in the mercenary politics of the brick and mortar world. Give me on-line and direct reader contact any day. BTW, at 62, "my lifetime" ain't that far away from reality. IMHO, and also IMNSHO, but that just me and that my rather perverted view of the Traditional publishing world as being its own self-demise - the Church of the Publishing Platitude exposed as an out of tune hymn.

Edward C. Patterson
:D
 

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Print through Lightning Source; you're automatically in Ingram's system and open for a little bit more of a market share--but you still have total control.
 

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ISBN is an issue; I'm not sure what the price is now but it was $1200 for a block of 100 numbers about 6 years ago. On the plus side, it is a tax deduction ;)

 

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I use CreateSpace - they are 100% Amazon, with good support, easy to use and provide a FREE ISBN. They manage the Amazon page for you. Great sales reporting and excellent print quality. Plus no up front cost unless you want to have a reduced price on your book, then you upgrade to thier PorPlan which costs (drum roll) $39 for the 1st year and $5.oo thereafter. I was fortunate. The gave the ProPlan away from free last year with one year free upgrade which covers 9 of my books.

Edward C. Patterson
 

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Wow, that's good to know...thanks for the info. I have a couple of writer friends who would be interested in trying that.

It really is amazing how even the playing field is becoming. When I first started collecting rejection slips thirty years ago, I never would have guessed that someday all of this would be possible.
 
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