Monday, September 10, 2012

On Moving Amazon's Mountain: Giving Indies Their Due

-posted by Ken

Last Thursday, announced a new program for authors, Kindle Serials. They suggested this wonderful new approach to publishing would encourage authors and readers to connect during the creation process and would also, presumably, allow readers to have some input into said process. Despite the fact that the announcement was nearly lost in the hoopla surrounding its presentation of the new Kindle Fire models, it has generated a fair amount of discussion on a number of discussion sites. The handful of Kindle Serials already launched have garnered very good sales and rank well among Amazon's ebook offerings. (See the Kindle Serials press release here)

Completely unmentioned is the role indie authors have played in helping to bring this about.

Serialized novels are not a new concept, so while indies can't claim credit for inventing the format, they do deserve credit for bringing the form back into the popular fold. (For a brief overview of the history of serials, check out Glinda Harrison's post here on the eBook Evangelist.) As usual, Amazon has been slow to embrace innovative approaches, adopting them only after their success has been demonstrated. Indie authors have been publishing serialized novels for years now, offering each episode separately, but not as a "pay once, get the whole series" product. The only way a writer could publish serialized content and charge customers only once was through Amazon's Blogs and ePeriodicals program.

But my colleague, Saul, was determined to pursue this approach despite Amazon's insistence that it wasn't possible for books. After being shut down by them, he went ahead and published GAMELAND, serialized it, and offered it to customers on a "pay once upfront" basis WITHOUT Amazon's blessing. He's now over halfway through the series, and there have been some technical hiccups, as to be expected, but the series has been well received and grows in popularity daily. He has written a guest post on the issues on Glinda's blog here. I invite my readers to check out the full post, but I'd like to highlight one section, because I think it underscores an important idea: Never let a megalithic company like Amazon tell you it can't be done.

"I’m thrilled that Amazon has finally developed a process that enables authors to publish this way. But for me and my fans, it’s a bittersweet moment, the culmination of an arduous journey while simultaneously a validation that the journey itself was worthwhile. I have been blessed with readers whose enthusiasm is matched by their patience. I like to think that our struggle—and our combined and unrelenting dedication to the serial format—has finally made Amazon see the light."

Did Saul's queries and persistence have any impact on Amazon? Nobody can say. Nor is his relative success with the experiment likely to have had any influence on Amazon's decision to launch this new program, but it is almost a certainty that the combined efforts of indies and their successes brought this to fruition. If you believe in something strongly enough, even a mountain like Amazon can be moved.

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