Until December of 2015, I’d never heard of Kindle Singles even though I’m a regular consumer of e-books from Amazon. Six months later, I’m a Kindle Singles author.
If the format is new to you, too, Amazon’s tag line for the Kindle Singles genre might help: “Compelling Ideas Expressed at Their Natural Length.” As a format, it’s been called a vibrant new genre, and credited with saving long-form journalism. Although some literary critics have described the Singles platform as operating “much like a traditional publishing house,” I’m experiencing it as a hybrid between self-publishing and traditional publishing. That’s not a bad thing.
My Kindle Singles memoir, Walk Away, was published on July 6th. It’s almost one month old, and so far, so good. With over 100 sales plus another 100 Kindle Unlimited readers, it’s off to a good start, especially if I compare it with my last book, a poetry collection published by a small press. And Walk Away gets the benefit of Amazon’s marketing experience as well as the benefit of being promoted via Amazon’s email lists and targeted advertising to its existing customers.
Kindle Singles editors, like editors at traditional publishing houses, solicit work and review submissions for publication. After an essay of mine was published in Guernica last fall, an editor contacted me. I sent her a 30K word manuscript, and we had some back and forth communication about revisions. From there, the manuscript went to a copy writer, and then to a cover designer. Everyone I worked with was professional and pleasant, and also (compared to me) quite young.
When the manuscript was ready, I uploaded it to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and Amazon promoted it from there. This is where the self-publishing piece comes in — KDP is Amazon’s self-publishing arm. What that means for me, as an author, is that I have the ultimate control over the book. I can re-publish it as a hard cover book. I can, with some limitations, un-publish it. It also means that the book could be stigmatized as self-published, although the class line between traditional publishing and self-publishing seems to become more blurry by the day.
From my initial contact with the editor, it took about 6 months for the manuscript to be published. Would I do it again? I’m already working on another 30K word story, and I hope Kindle Singles will pick up. It’s about my last major case, when I represented a woman who survived being shot in the head with a Boston Police detective’s gun.