Tag Archives: Publishing

Amazon to Publish Kindle Scout Books

Amazon has turned to crowdsourcing in order to choose its newest selection of books for publication. Utilizing a reader-powered publishing platform called Kindle Scout, Amazon’s Kindle Press will publish books that have been voted on by readers. If a book generates enough interest and receives enough votes in the thirty day campaign period, the author will receive a publishing contract with Kindle Press.

If a book is selected by Kindle Press, the author will receive a five-year renewable publishing contract, a $1,500 advance, and will receive 50% of all e-book royalties. Although Kindle will have the e-book and audio rights to the book, the author will keep other rights, including print rights to the book. If an author is not pleased with the results that they have received during their time with Kindle Press and doesn’t earn $25,000 within the five year span, the author can stop publishing with Kindle Press. There is also a rights revision period after two years if a book under performs at that point as well. Alongside the publishing contract, Amazon will offer marketing for the books that are being published through Kindle Press.

There have been a slew of books that have been voted upon and the first ten of these books will be published by Kindle Press on March 3. Kindle Scout is continuously accepting manuscripts to be voted on and it does not limit the number of applicants. The number of books published using Kindle Press will undoubtedly grow in the near future.

I think that what Kindle Press is doing through Kindle Scout is really innovative and is changing the way publishing works. Not only is it a great opportunity for unpublished authors who have not been able to secure a literary agent, but it is a new option for an independent author who is interested in broadening their readership with their next book. If an independent author submits their manuscript to Kindle Scout, they may have a better chance of receiving feedback and notice than if they decided to self publish on their own.

I really do like the idea of the readers choosing what books should be published because ultimately, it’s the readers who are going to be purchasing the books. Last month, an independent publishing press called Kensington Publishing Corp. announced that it was hosting a crowdsourced writing competition. The manuscripts with the most votes would have the chance to earn a publishing contract with Kensington Publishing Corp.

Now with this announcement from Amazon, it seems like crowdsourcing is becoming increasingly popular as a new means of publication. Although I don’t think that the major publishing houses will respond to this trend, I will be interested to see if any other independent presses begin to adopt the practice.

If you have any thoughts or opinions about Kindle Scout, please share them in the comments. If you would like to learn more about the Kindle Scout program, click here.

Until next week,


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What I’m Looking Forward to in Harper Lee’s New Novel

In 1960, Harper Lee released her first novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel spans over three years and is told from the point of view of young Jean Louise Finch, also known as Scout. The novel centers around Scout’s father, Atticus, as he defends a black man who is accused of raping a white woman in the 1930’s Depression era. The novel quickly became a Pulitzer Prize winning work of fiction and was soon deemed an American classic.

This summer, fifty five years after the release of her first novel, Harper Lee will release her second novel. Entitled Go Set a Watchman, this novel will take place in the mid-fifties, about twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird. It sounds like the novel will again be focused around Scout, as she returns to Maycomb, Alabama to visit her father. According to the novel’s summary, she struggles with personal and political issues related to her father, the society she grew up in, and the town she seemed to leave behind.

I am really looking forward to seeing where the characters are in their lives twenty years after To Kill a Mockingbird. Is Atticus Finch still practicing law? From the sound of the summary, he never left Maycomb and I’m curious if he is still working as a lawyer. The summary mentions that Scout is returning home to visit her father, so this leads to the assumption that she moved away from Maycomb. I look forward to learning about the circumstances surrounding her departure and I am curious to see what kind of woman she has become. She was always described as a tomboy and it’ll be interesting to see how she transformed in twenty years. The summary of the novel suggests a strained relationship with her father and I think that this could lead to a very fascinating plot. The novel’s summary does not mention Scout’s older brother, Jem, but I would like to know if he stayed in Maycomb with his father or if he moved away like his sister did.

Although learning about the characters will be intriguing, I am really excited to see how the storyline coincides with real events in United States history. To Kill a Mockingbird focused on race relations in America and I hope that Go Set a Watchman does the same. Go Set a Watchman is set in the mid-fifties, which was a huge turning point in terms of civil rights. In May 1954, the Brown v. Board of Education verdict deemed segregation to be unconstitutional. In December 1955, Rosa Parks was arrested for not giving up her seat on a city bus to a white person in Montgomery, Alabama. Her refusal and subsequent arrest resulted in the Montgomery Bus Boycotts, a boycott that lasted thirteen months. I hope that Lee incorporates these real events in her novel, especially since the Montgomery Bus Boycotts took place in the same state that Go Set a Watchman is based in.

To Kill a Mockingbird is an American classic and I have no doubt that the standards will be set high for Go Set a Watchman. I really look forward to the summer release of this novel and I intend on reading it as soon as it’s out.

Go Set a Watchman is set to release July 14, 2015. To view Go Set a Watchman on Amazon, click here.

Amazon Allows Educators to Self Publish Textbooks

In September 2014, Amazon introduced a new branch of Kindle Digital Publishing with KDP Kids. Now, Amazon is taking self publishing a step further and allowing educators to self publish their own textbooks and lessons using the Kindle Digital Publishing platform.

Last week, Amazon introduced KDP EDU, which is designed to produce, publish, and promote textbooks and educational content to students around the world. According to Amazon, KDP EDU gives educators a new way to prepare and publish different types of educational content, from textbooks to complex visual information. Utilizing the Textbook Creator, educators will be able to publish textbooks, course notes, study guides, charts, graphs, and equations. The Textbook Creator also has special features built in for students such as a dictionary look-up, notebook, highlighting capabilities, and flashcards.

I think that this new platform is quite groundbreaking. The digital classroom has never been more prominent, whether at the primary or university level, and Amazon is allowing educators to provide students with educational content in a much more efficient way than before. Not only will students have more educational tools at their fingertips, but they will have this at a lower cost as well. Digital textbooks are much less expensive than their hardcover counterparts and the capabilities that KDP EDU has can enable a student to get the most out of their digital textbook. In terms of efficiency, students will not need to purchase or create hundreds of flashcards for classes and instead, they can use the built in features of these digital textbooks.

KDP EDU could also be used as a tutoring tool as well as an instructional tool. Educators may publish educational content over standardized tests, such as AP tests, or the ACT or SAT, and students all over the world would have access to it. Because digital books are cheaper, this would save students the money that a physical study guide would cost. If a student is struggling in math, they could search through the KDP EDU produced lessons in order to find a piece of educational content that may teach them what their teacher in the classroom cannot.

There are a few downsides to the KDP EDU platform and it’s not necessarily with the platform itself. The problem that I see is the probability of educators actually utilizing it, especially older professors at the university level. If a professor has been teaching the same material in the same way for years, it may be difficult for that professor to imagine converting all of their teaching tools to this new format. As a new generation of educators comes into the workforce, they may be more interested in utilizing these tools, but I’m not sure if established educators will. Another downside is that the program is exclusively in English. This means any type of foreign language courses or educational content would not be able to utilize this new platform. Although this may change with time, it is currently a downside.

Although I personally always preferred a physical textbook while I was in school, I think that KDP EDU is an incredible idea. Students from all over the globe will be able to access these materials and the Textbook Creator is making this educational content so much more interactive than coursework that is published on a Word document. I think that it’s a real possibility that other independent publishing platforms, such as NOOK Press, could formulate a similar program in the future.

Until next week,


Crowdsourcing: A New Way in for Unknown Authors

Traditional publishing has always been incredibly exclusive. In order to even hope for a publishing contract, writers have to secure a literary agent. From there, a literary agent may or may not find a publishing house that will publish the book. However, an independent publishing house is looking to change the game of publishing by utilizing crowdsourcing to find its newest author.

Kensington Publishing Corp. is teaming up with the popular writing platform Wattpad to host The Write Affair, a romance writing competition. Aspiring authors have about a month, beginning January 23 and ending February 27, to submit the manuscript of their romance novel. The Wattpad community, which boasts 35 million members and counting, will then vote on their favorite manuscript. The community will select a Top Ten and the winner will have their novel published by Kensington Publishing Corp.

I think that this is such an innovative idea. Traditionally, the power of publication has been limited to the executives at publishing houses. Now, Kensington Publishing Corp is giving the power to authors and readers and allowing them to pick which manuscript they would like to see published. Instead of trying to guess what the audience wants, Kensington Publishing Corp is going straight to the source and having their audience pick a new author for them.

Another incredible part of this writing competition is that it is open to authors around the world and there is no entry fee.  Many writing competitions, such as the Writer’s Digest writing competitions, require authors to pay an entry fee. Depending on how many competitions an author enters, they could definitely spend a lot of money with little return. The only requirement for The Write Affair competition is that the competitor should be at least 16 years old and have an email account and Internet connection. I think that this definitely opens the field up to more authors in comparison to other competitions that charge a fee or limit submissions based on country.

The contest isn’t a perfect solution to the exclusivity of the publishing world. The contest specifies that the Wattpad users vote based on the first 4,000 to 5,000 words of an author’s manuscript and their 1,000 word synopsis. An author might have an incredibly polished first 4,000 words, but what if the rest of the manuscript is below par? Although the finalists are voted on by a panel of judges, it doesn’t seem quite right that a very polished first chapter is all an author could need in order to get voted into the Top Ten.

I’m not sure if any of the major publishing houses would ever adopt this method in order to secure a new author, but I think it’s a trend that could crop up within other independent publishing houses. Not only would the publishing house have the opportunity to read a manuscript from an otherwise unknown author, but that unknown author would be handpicked by a selection of their peers. I think the format is a really fascinating one and it gives authors a tremendous opportunity to get into the publishing industry without the risk of self publishing. I am interested to see the outcome of this competition and I hope we see more writing competitions like this one in the future.

For more information on how to enter your manuscript into The Write Affair contest, click here. If you decide to enter, I wish you the best of luck! If you have any thoughts on The Write Affair contest, please share them in the comments.

Until next week,


What We Can Learn From the YouTuber Book Deal Phenomenon

At the end of November 2014, a 24-year-old debut author shattered records by selling over 78,000 copies of her novel in the first week of its release. She put up bigger numbers than J.K Rowling and Dan Brown did with their debut novels and instantly became a best seller. This author is Zoe Sugg and she is a famous YouTuber.

Shortly after her book, Girl Online, was released, news broke that Zoe Sugg, also known as Zoella, didn’t actually write the book that was published by Penguin. Her book was ghostwritten and soon, many people began to question the literary standards in the publishing industry. Zoe Sugg isn’t the first YouTube sensation to come out with a book and she won’t be the last. Several more YouTubers are slated to publish books in the future, including Sugg, who signed a two-book deal with Penguin.

Many people are crying out how it’s unfair that people who have found their fame on YouTube are getting book deals. Other people have openly criticized these YouTubers, lamenting that they have no business in the publishing world. Personally, I don’t think we should focus on the negatives. Instead of criticizing, I think that writers can learn valuable lessons from these YouTube personalities that could increase their own readership.

The Importance of a Platform

Hannah Hart. Michelle Phan. Grace Helbig. Zoe Sugg. These are the names of just four of the YouTube sensations that have had books published in the last year. Between the four of them, they have roughly 20 million subscribers and counting on YouTube. Zoe Sugg has over 9 million subscribers to her two YouTube channels alone. These women routinely get millions of views on the videos that they publish regularly. From a business standpoint, that is incredible.

Many authors may not have a platform that can compare to what these women have, but many of these success stories did not happen overnight. Many of the popular YouTube personalities admit to starting back in 2010 or 2011, and some began with a blog before they made the transition to YouTube. That’s four or five years of platform building. Although it may be a slow process, the successes of these YouTubers is proof that building a platform is worth it.

A strong platform and a preexisting audience is incredibly attractive to literary agents and publishing houses, as well as to readers. If you have a blog with 500,000 readers, there is a much higher chance of securing a contract with a publishing house than if you didn’t have a platform at all. In a marketplace inundated with books, you have to build a platform in order to stand out from the crowd. Once you’ve made yourself known, it becomes much easier to sell books.

Social Interaction

Social media has now become an integral part of our society. Almost every company has a Facebook page and many corporations keep their consumers updated via Twitter. Hashtags have become a part of prime time television and a lot of the photos taken on phones end up on Instagram. In order to stay current, it’s almost necessary to be present on social media.

Many of the YouTube stars who have scored book deals have an incredibly large online presence. Besides their YouTube channels, they also provide new content on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and on their own blogs. Not only do these YouTube users post content, but they also interact with those who consume their content. This builds the trust of their viewers and in turn, these people will be more likely to support these YouTubers in their business endeavors.

As an author, you can use social media to this extent as well. These social media avenues allow authors to reach out to their readers and to connect with other authors and publishers. By staying relevant online, people who may have never heard of your books may connect with you and become interested in your work.

Youtube: A New Way to Connect?

In this day and age, videos and multimedia are becoming vastly more popular than ever before. Interacting through Youtube, Instagram, and Vine, which are strictly visual mediums, is becoming more and more popular.

John Green, the author of The Fault in Our Stars and many other popular YA novels, is one example of an author who is using YouTube to connect with his readers. His YouTube channel has over 2.4 million subscribers and he regularly posts videos to keep his readers engaged. Although he does have an author website, some of the people who read his website may not be interested in YouTube. In turn, those who watch his YouTube videos may have no interest in reading anything posted on his website. So essentially, Green has tapped into a new market by utilizing the power of YouTube.

Although posting videos of yourself may be incredibly intimidating, it’s an option that allows you to outreach to a new audience while appealing to your current one. These videos will give your readers the sense that you’re talking to them, more so than if they just read your words off of a screen. Admittedly, it’s not for everyone, but it has definitely helped build the platforms of many YouTube sensations in the past few years.

In closing, I don’t think writers should dwell on the types of books that publishing houses are choosing to sell. Ultimately, it’s a business decision. However, we can analyze how these YouTube phenomenons have expanded their business beyond YouTube and apply some of their tactics to our own publishing strategy.

If you have any thoughts on the recent books released by users on YouTube, please leave your comments below.

Until next week,