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inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #0 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 4 Aug 11 03:46
    
It's a new day, as James Brown once said, but instead of doing the
popcorn (or maybe in addition to it) authors are taking to some new
media to diffuse their works. I've recently published an article I knew
I could never sell (but loved), and Jacques Leslie has also published
via Kindle Singles. Ted Newcome will lead the discussion.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #1 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 05:01
    
Really looking forward to this discussion, the web offers so many new
platforms and opportunities for writers and creatives to express
themselves. Ed, would you please give us a link to your article?

Wellperns, don't be shy, this is the place to share and discuss what
you've been creating. What are the top pros and cons you've discovered
so far?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #2 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 05:41
    
For myself, I privately published a book using Lulu, which seemed a
good idea at the time...thought I would move it from my desktop to the
cloud. All that occurred was that I was besieged by marketers, et. al.
ad nauseum....finally deleted it from Lulu and am reconsidering what to
do with it. Partly my inexperience at these things I think, as well as
the nature of the beast.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #3 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 06:34
    
Now I'm experimenting with 'short' writing. I received a birthday
present copy of Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones. What a great
book: http://www.nataliegoldberg.com/books.html

I've been encouraged to "just write", poems, essays, short stories all
within my capabilities and focused away from the "great novel" theme
that gets stuck in so many of our heads.

Thoroughly enjoying this practice.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #4 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 4 Aug 11 07:06
    
Here's my publication. It was a defining moment of my life, but I knew
that it was too long for any but a major magazine (for which I didn't
have connections) and it also didn't ring any of the bells (namely
Nazis and Jews, although there are Nazi echoes here) that would make
any major magazine jump up and salivate. 

It's also the first thing I've written in a career that goes back to
1965 on which I'm making royalties. 

<http://www.amazon.com/Bar-End-Regime-ebook/dp/B005DYLXXG/ref=sr_1_1ie=UTF8&qid
=1311376462&sr=8-1>
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #5 of 209: Paulina Borsook (loris) Thu 4 Aug 11 08:27
    
ed, are you able to track its spread through the reputation economy? how are
sales doing?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #6 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 4 Aug 11 08:49
    
I'm not sure how it's selling -- I mean, I know how *much* it's
selling, but not what's selling it. I've got a widget on my blog, I've
hyped it twice on Facebook, and here on the Well. But where those sales
are -- except that I'm seeing 0 for the .de and the .uk store -- I
have no idea.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #7 of 209: Jacques Leslie (jacques) Thu 4 Aug 11 12:08
    
Greetings, folks.

I turned to Kindle Singles as a kind of experiment. I’d written an essay
about my experience at a reunion in Phnom Penh and Saigon of old Vietnam War
correspondents, and submitted it to a national magazine I’d written for
before. The magazine waas enthusiastic but wanted me to cut the piece and
narrow its focus, so instead of doing that, I sent it to David Blum, the
Kindle Singles editor. David was also enthusiastic, but his request made me
a lot happier: he asked me to _expand_ the piece-- which I did. From that
point on, there was virtually no more editing, and the piece appeared
roughly three weeks after I sent it to Kindle Singles.

As far as I’m concerned, the experiment worked. I’ve found that
magazines try to steer all pieces towards their characteristic voice or
point of view, and in the process my writer’s voice gets muted, if not
obliterated. But with Kindle Singles, my voice remained entirely intact. I
also got to choose the title and the “cover” image, which was nice. And
whereas the piece would have been consigned to oblivion in the magazine once
its next issue appeared, it remains on Kindle Singles, seemingly as fresh as
when it was first posted. Kindle Single also sent emails announcing the
piece to all buyers of my previous books. By now the piece has earned me
substantially more money than I would have made with the magazine, and sales
continue, indefinitely I hope.

The piece is called “War Wounds.” Here’s a link:

<http://www.amazon.com/War-Wounds-Kindle-Single-ebook/dp/B004Q7CHHM>
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #8 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 4 Aug 11 12:27
    
Which is wonderful. I wasn't so lucky: my piece was turned down by
Blum, who wanted "something newer." I called him and we talked, and it
turned out another piece I'd been trying to turn into a book was
something he wanted to see. I spent a week or two trying to crunch it
down to Single size and wasn't sure what I had, so I sent it to three
disparate readers -- all of whom had the same kind of WTF reaction! 

I then thought "Hell, the Letschin piece is something I'm proud of,"
so I did it myself. 

Downside: zero support from Amazon. And it sure shows in the sales. On
the other hand, people who've never had a chance to read it have done
so. And maybe word of mouth will get it out there a little more. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #9 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 13:49
    
For those new to Kindle Publishing here is their link:

https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin/176-3636933-5884311
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #10 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 13:51
    
Ed and Jacques, before we get too far down the road, could you both
please give us a bit of your writing backgrounds and why you chose
Kindle Publishing? How do you see it compared to other methods of
publishing?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #11 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 13:58
    
That's interesting that you both were able to keep your 'voice'. Do
you see this as something unique to the idea of writing "singles"?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #12 of 209: David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 4 Aug 11 14:09
    
I've been working with the Jewish Historical Society of North Jersey. 
It is an archive of photos, memorabilia, and institutional records of
Jewish communities in North Jersey, but mostly from Paterson, NJ. 
Think Philip Roth's stories with illustrations.

I've been considering doing a book with Arcadia Press, the company
that publishes those "hometown" photo books that are sold in the local
interest or regional sections of the bookstores.  But the terms make it
a pretty bad deal.  You do all the work, they publish it, and then
sell you copies at a discount rate so you can sell them yourself as
well as doing the major distribution.  I don't know what the cut is on
books sold through their distribution, but it can't be much.

I started a Facebook fan page and started publishing photos and am
building an audience of former Paterson people with an enthusiastic
response so far.

Do you think Kindle Singles could be an outlet for us?  I can focus in
on a single subject like the IWW Silk Strike of 1913 or produce a map
which shows the old businesses, neighborhoods, and institutions and
superimpose photos onto it, show the history of the local summer camp,
publish photos of Bette Midler as a child with her grandfather and
aunts. Every time I post these photos it generates hundreds of comments
on the Facebook pages.

slipped

We would use this as a fundraising activity.   
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #13 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 4 Aug 11 14:14
    
I'll deal with that in a minute, but first, I'm a writer best known
for writing about music, and for my sporadic appearances on NPR's Fresh
Air with Terry Gross, which I've been doing for 24 years, slightly
less than half the time I've been writing. My Kindle thing came out of
my moving to Berlin and an early exposure to cyberspace (can't say the
Internet in this case) by CompuServe. As I said above, I knew I had to
write this story, as well as that I would never be able to sell it, so
it's lurked on a succession of hard discs ever since then. 

As for <dlwilson>'s question, absolutely not. The thing Kindle does
worst is graphics, and my experience of reading Keith Richards' "Life"
in that format was really marred by the way the few photos got treated.
I think this format's a long ways from being perfect for books with
illustrations, or even very good for it. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #14 of 209: David Wilson (dlwilson) Thu 4 Aug 11 14:23
    
Thanks for warning me off Ed.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #15 of 209: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 4 Aug 11 14:56
    
It sure sounds like a great project, David.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #16 of 209: Jacques Leslie (jacques) Thu 4 Aug 11 15:00
    
Ted, my first full-time job was as a Saigon-based correspondent for the Los
Angeles Times covering the Vietnam War beginning at the age of 24. (Indeed,
that formative experience is the backdrop for my Kindle Single essay, and
it’s also the subject of my first book, The Mark: A War Correspondent’s
Memoir of Vietnam and Cambodia.) I remained a foreign correspondent until
1977, then quit to focus on writing books and magazine pieces. In the last
decade I’ve been writing narrative nonfiction chiefly about environmental
issues. I spent about four years writing Deep Water: The Epic Struggle Over
Dams, Displaced People, and the Environment, published in 2005 by Farrar,
Straus & Giroux. I’ve also written for most of the nation’s major
magazines, including Harper’s, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine,
The New Republic, Wired, and many others.

Part of what drew me to Kindle Singles was my increasing frustration with
magazines. As I said, they usually want to insert their voice at the expense
of mine, and the stories they run are getting shorter and shorter as the
decline in advertising shrinks them. Neither of these problems exist with
KS. Indeed, all the Kindle Singles amount to a collection of different
authors’ voices-- there’s no guiding tone, point of view, or even theme.
In that way at least, the writer reigns. And the only limit on length is an
arbitrary one that KS has imposed-- an upper limit of 30,000 words. By
contrast, I doubt if any magazines still run stories even half that length.

Finally, one of the attractions of this online realm for me is that I like
to write stories that are longer than magazine pieces but too short to be a
book-- right in that 25,000-30,000 word range. In fact, I’ve just agreed
to do a piece of about that length for The Atavist (atavist.net), another
fledgling online publisher of narrative nonfiction.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #17 of 209: Jacques Leslie (jacques) Thu 4 Aug 11 15:05
    
By the way, dwilson, one of the things The Atavist is trying to do is to
take advantage of the digital medium to run images, video and sound clips
with text. Thus, a story may cite some document-- The Atavist enables you to
click on the reference to see the entire document. And I've been told that
if I come across relevant video clips in the course of my reporting, that
clip can be included with the story. Given the flexibility of the digital
realm, this seems like the logical way to go. Alas, a project like yours
sounds like it's way beyond the intention and perhaps capacity of The
Atavist.
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #18 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Thu 4 Aug 11 15:31
    
Ted, we'd like a bio from you, too, you know. And I'm curious about
your experience with Lulu, since a woman I know says she's been very
successful == made a couple of thousand bucks -- with the book she
published through them. She's a relentless self-publicist, a talent I
think we'll all have to acquire, so I'm not too surprised. But what was
your experience like?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #19 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 4 Aug 11 18:01
    
I am a happily retired grandfather in Phoenix, AZ. 30 years in
management within the hotel/resort industry, with time for 3 Master's
Degrees in Religion, Theology and Philosophy along the way. Currently
starting a business to provide a social website for the village I live
in within Phoenix and attending online classes with Howard Rheingold.
So staying active.

Lulu was easy to load my book to and 'publish'. In fact, I found it
via my niece who successfully published her book there and has had
great success with it. And they offer all kinds of marketing and
editing services, at an affordable cost. (I think, haven't checked
around that much). My problem was that the book is in rough form; about
40,000 words and needs both a 'voice' and a lot of editing. I actually
wrote it here in the Life conference about 6 years ago and just
haven't done much with it. So I compounded my own problems by putting
something out that wasn't finished, without really having a voice and
got ahead of myself. It's just so easy to hit the "Enter" key these
days. A bit too much vanity and pride there. Kind of think that
particular book is really just for me; at least for the moment.

Now, Kindle Singles really appeals to me as an opportunity to do
short, hopefully well-crafted pieces. That and Writing Down the Bones
have my creative juices flowing. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #20 of 209: Gail Williams (gail) Thu 4 Aug 11 20:25
    
As I understand it, Amazon has a self-publishing program for Kindle
too, but Kindle singles are something else.  

Could somebody say something about the Singles editorial process?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #21 of 209: Ted Newcomb (tcn) Fri 5 Aug 11 03:11
    
And would you explain a bit about how KS determines which ones they
want to promote and which ones you can just self-publish? 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #22 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 03:41
    
As for the last question, they have an editor, just like any regular
publisher. I think that they choose few enough for their process that
they can promote them. Mine was rejected, so I self-published. Anyone
can self-publish, and, I'm afraid, that's who does. 
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #23 of 209: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 08:53
    
Hi all. As introduction, I would have joined Ed and Jacques in this
conversation from the start, but I'm going to be out of reach of internet
all next week. When people here in the Well began talking about the Kindle
Single program in the conference where freelance writers talk, a penny
dropped for me about something I'd had on my desk since delivering it as a
lecture some years before at the request of two poetry organizations that
commissioned poets to give talks on earlier, dead poets in public libraries
around America. They asked me to speak about Basho, and they directed all of
us participating to gear these talks toward people who did not know anything
about their subjects--the "general public" and also to make them relevant to
the development of American poetry. This made for something very different
from my usual essays, and also longer--hence unpublishable in any normal
literary journal. I also found I couldn't bear not doing new translations
with my old collaborator-translator for an earlier project from teh Japanese
(The Ink Dark Moon: Poems by Komachi and Shikibu, Women of the Ancient
Japanese Court, Vintage Classics, 1990).

That essay-lecture took months of work. But turning it into a possible
"real" book would have been months more--I'd have had to make it longer, and
put a great deal more back matter in (which I actually still wish I'd done--
a "for further reading" section is just a nice courtesy).  So the piece sat.
Then someone described Kindle Singles. What attracted me was 1) they wanted
pieces of exactly that hybrid length  2) they do the formatting, cover, etc
3) they promote  4) it's curated. This seemed a shoe that would fit.

My experience--I forgot to mention above that they copyedit-- was that the
piece received a very good quality copyedit, but no other editorial
suggestions (which was fine by me, I was happy David liked it just as it
was). David did though suggest a title change, to something with more
general appeal. I loved that I was allowed to choose between different cover
ideas I was sent to look at. I also was allowed to consult on the price, and
David encouraged me to set it low (99 cents). This is an interesting
decision, because you are making it without much to go on, but I figured,
how many people really want to read a long piece about a 17th c. Japanese
poet who invented a form of poetry, haiku, that they've maybe heard of but
have no real interest in.

The answer, apparently, is quite a few thousands, to my surprise. And who
are they? Mostly people who buy and read other Kindle Singles, see a new one
appear on the page, and give it a try. Amazon makes this easy--you can
download a sample for free. The 99 cent price also made it easy.

For anyone reading this who doesn't already know--these can be read with a
free app on any computer, tablet, smartphone, not only a Kindle. People who
are "on" to them go in to pick up something to read--like a magazine store,
except you're buying by the article instead of the magazine.

It's now six weeks or so since this first came out, and I have seen
considerably more income than I could have from any publication of this
piece in a journal, and a completely different readership, though word is
making its way through the hiku and poetry-interested communities gradually.
All this is great, and it's been a very fun ride. I will never know though,
if I'd decided to do this as a book, would it have in the long run sold more
copies and made more income. The likely answer is yes.

In theory I still could do that (expand into a book). Kindle Singles authors
retain all rights. But just as I didn't do that during the past four years,
I'm unlikely to do it in the future. So this has been the perfect chance to
get something out in the world in a good way.

Oh, what is it? "The Heart of Haiku."

http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Haiku-Kindle-Single-
ebook/dp/B0057IYMF4/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

<http://www.amazon.com/Heart-Haiku-Kindle-Single-
ebook/dp/B0057IYMF4/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i>
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #24 of 209: Jane Hirshfield (jh) Fri 5 Aug 11 09:00
    
Oh, I have a question for Jacques. I know that The Atavist offers those
extra capacities for inserting both images and video for books sold on their
own website, and I know that "stripped down" versions of those books are
sold for less money as Kindle Singles. Can you say something about what is
different in publishing through The Atavist rather than directly as a Kindle
Single, besides those capacities, since you've now got experience with both
(even though The Atavist book isn't out yet)? What's the basic description
of how publishing with The Atavist works? With Kindle Singles, for instance,
anyone can submit an idea or a finished piece of writing rather easily,
through a tab box on the home page. How does that work with The Atavist?
  
inkwell.vue.415 : Publishing With Kindle and Other Electronic Publishers: Authors Discuss the Pros and Cons
permalink #25 of 209: Ed Ward (captward) Fri 5 Aug 11 09:02
    
Someone should alert David that this conversation's taking place,
incidentally. 

And non-Well readers can -- and should -- participate, as well. Simply
send an e-mail to inkwell@well.com and I'll stick it up. 
  

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