Earlier this week Howard VanEs, who I’m partnering with on our June 1-2 Self-Publishing Summit, presented a webinar, “6 Ways to Profit from Your Unfinished Book,” that touched on Kindle Singles. This single concept ignited the most number of questions from our attendees, so I wanted to take an opportunity to explain what’s great about them and how they can help you build your platform and earn some money while you’re at it.
What’s a Kindle Single?
• short ebooks, 5,000 to 30,000 words
• priced between $0.99 to $4.99
• Amazon selected
• must be original content
• is NONEXCLUSIVE
On the webinar there was some conversation about whether Amazon owns the rights to your Kindle content. They do not. You are and remain the copyright holder, and, as it turns out (and this is a point of correction on my part), you can use the content in your Single and publish it in a future book. You cannot, however, submit something for a Kindle Single that has been previously published.
How is a Single different from a Kindle Ebook?
• Amazon puts marketing and promotional backing behind them
• They’re a little more prestigious
• Respected by traditional publishers because they’re vetted
• Not anyone can publish a Single—you must be accepted into the program
Traditional publishers are in fact encouraging their authors to publish Kindle Singles to get word out about their longer-format books. Many authors are choosing to publish short stories, essays, or prescriptive, issue-driven topics into Kindle Singles. Bestselling author like Anne Patchett (The Getaway Car) and Stephen King (Mile 81) have published Kindle Singles.
Why Do You Want One?
Kindle Singles do get a little extra promotional support from Amazon. You have the benefit of having been vetted, which goes a long ways for readers who are tired of sifting through content on Amazon trying to determine what’s good and bad.
But mostly you want one as a way to get content out to your readers before your book comes out. The publishing world is changing, and readers are digesting content in ever shorter pieces. Singles are the perfect length for a single-sitting read. They’re short, so they’re also easy impulse buys. If you have a work-in-progress, you can publish a Kindle Single and start to build interest for your book. Using an ebook as a teaser for a print book is a great way to get on your readers’ radar—and it looks good to publishers AND you can make a little bit of money. You get to keep 70% of your sales, which translates to about $2 on a $2.99 book. So if you sell a few hundred, you can make $200-$300. And who knows how many you’ll sell. Plus, you can take advantage of Amazon’s KDP Select program and make your book available for free for a few days, which drives additional interest and downloads.
What’s valuable here is not the couple hundred dollars, obviously. You’ll probably spend that much or more to get the book up on Amazon (mostly due to the cover expense). What’s valuable is that having an ebook means you’re a published author. It means you have a product to sell, and that you show up as an author on Amazon. With just 5,000 words, you can have your presence on Amazon, complete with your Author Central page.
I’d love to hear from any of you who’ve published Kindle Singles and what you’re experiences have been. And/or tips for what you would do differently next time.