What's up with Kindle Singles?

So what’s up with Kindle Singles  (KS)?

According to the guidelines, KS will look at submissions containing between approximately 5,000 and 30,000 words in all sorts of categories.

The Kindle Singles program has some real benefits for authors.  First, authors who have a work accepted will be able to receive a 70% royalty, even if they list their work below $2.99.  So, to make the math easy, if we use $2.00 as a price point, under the usual KDP arrangement, KDP would receive $1.30 in commission (65%) and the author would receive $0.70 (35%).  If the same work is accepted in KS, the author can select a 70% royalty.  So, KS would receive $0.60 (30%) and the author $1.40 (70%).  That’s a big difference.

It looks like most Kindle Singles hover around a $1.99 price point.

By the way, the number one Kindle Single as I write this blog is a story called Deep Down, by some unknown author,  Lee Child, I think is his name.

Second, KS pieces receive another layer of promotion above what KDP authors in general have available to them.  Kindle Singles have a listing unto themselves.  I just checked the list and, as of July 22, 2012, there are only 216 titles included.  That’s pretty rarefied air.

The first category of works listed in the KS submission guidelines as potential KS material is books first published through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). So does this mean that Kindle Singles really want to see stuff from independent writers, or do they  just want stuff from the big boys?

My thinking is that they want stuff from the big boys, but they will accept stuff from independent writers if it has established a track record. In other words, if you publish something through KDP and it sells, then Kindle Singles would like to help you (and Amazon) sell even more copies. What’s good for Amazon in this situation is good for the author.  I don’t have any problem with that.

It is not necessary to publish your would-be Kindle Single prior to submitting it.  An author can also submit a manuscript, etc. Some of you may have stories about Kindle Singles of yours that made it into the program before they ever saw the light of day on the Kindle Store, or before they made much of a splash there. If so, I hope you will share your story in a comment.

This is not academic to me. In the next couple of weeks, I plan to publish a work of just over 5,000 words through KDP (More on that in another post). Then, I will submit it to KS for consideration. This means if Kindle Singles accept the piece, it is a win-win for me. If they don’t accept it (shame on them), then I am in the same position with that work as every other writer on KDP.

So, what is you experience with Kindle Singles? Have you submitted anything? Was it accepted? Are you planning to submit something in the near future?

Let me hear from you.

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  • Stephen, I applied a few months ago with my new book “It Ain’t Shakespeare, But Oh, How it Glows”, which was already published through KDP. I, too, noticed there weren’t that many titles in the Singles catalog, but thought I’d give it a shot. Sure enough, two weeks to the day after I sent it off I received the turndown. At least it came from the Senior Editor, which might mean that unless the department is really that small, my work at least made it up to her. Copied in the email below:

    “Hello Jo, Our editors have carefully reviewed your recent submission of “It Ain’t Shakespeare, But Oh, How It Glows,” and it has not been selected for inclusion in the Kindle Singles store. Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to consider it. You’re welcome to publish your work via Kindle Direct Publishing at kdp.amazon.com. For information on how to do this, visit: kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help. Your work will remain for sale in the Kindle Store. Again, thank you for your interest in Kindle Singles.”

    Best, Simone Gorrindo
    Senior Editor, Kindle Singles

    • Jo, it isn’t going to surprise me to find that KS is a program reserved for a very small group of TP authors. With the emphasis on TP authors to publish more than one book a year, KS is a way for them to increase their inventory of works in the marketplace without having to write a full length work. I am sorry KS didn’t have the good sense to select your fine poetry. thanks so muxch for sharing your experience. I should have my piece ready to go in the next few days. I will put it up on KDP, then submit it ot KS. I won’t hold my breath waiting to be accepted. Regards, SW

  • Caleb Pirtle

    Kindle Singles is a fascinating concept. But I’m sure Amazon will find a way to keep a tight lid on it.

  • Kindle Singles, as far as I can figure out, is very,very tough to break in. I suspect a lot of people apply and I don’t think it’s such a big Amazon department – probably a handful of editors, and laboring under terrible work pressure, no doubt. I asked a savvy literary agent who’s in contact with Amazon, and she confirmed to me that there’s no easy way in. These guys are serious.
    I had the same kind of experience as Jo – a standard letter of rejection, no comment at all about why they rejected (I had submitted Death on Facebook – probably not a good title, indeed I’m thinking of changing it). My impression though is that they prefer non fiction: there’s no question that it’s a good venue if you’re a journalist with a following and the places where you normally publish won’t take your piece because it’s too long for a newspaper article. As to fiction, you’ll notice that the number of writers accepted is rather restricted (tends to be the same ones), but I could be wrong on that.

    • Claude, KS is something we all need to watch to see how it pans out. I think all writers would be well-served to study this trend and consider if they have a work, or can produce one, that fits squarely in this genre. I will be interested to see if the number of titles grows over time or if Amazon is going to keep KS a very select, hand-picked group of a few hundred titles.

  • I recently learned about Kindle Singles and, with a Short Fiction book (The Wounded King) already up and running via KDP, decided to submit.

    From what I understand, it IS very difficult to be selected. But, as my book is a prequel, of sorts, to a full-length novel, Martuk … the Holy — already available via KDP as well – and is the beginning of a Short Fiction series (linking back to what will be a full-length novel series), perhaps they’ll realize the marketing advantage inherent in what I’m doing and decide to roll the dice.

    Or not.

    Either way, I keep writing, keep publishing, and then keep writing some more. :^)

    I’ll keep you guys updated.

    • Jonathan, thanks for the info. Best of luck with your project. I would certainly appreciate your updates, as would many other writes, I’m sure.

  • Christina Carson

    Thanks for the research, Stephen. I think you’ve likely nailed it. It is some sort of invitation or perk for established writers. Otherwise it makes no sense at all.

    • I think what is at work here is the recognition on Amazon’s part that works of 5,000 to 30,000 words represent a niche in the market that few have utilized. By cherry-picking its submissions, amazon is making a foray into this market with a vengeance. I agree that the chances of a non-established author breaking into the ranks are slim. Amazon is seeking to avoid the risk and go with what it believes are sure winners. It is certainly a horse of a different color when compared with KDP that has no filter applied to it.

  • I just queried KS last week for a memoir I’m writing and just found this post. The timing is good because I might not have had the verve to query them if I’d seen this first. Sounds like it could be tough, but wish me luck!

    • Monica, best of luck. One thing I am sure of, if you don’t try, you can’t succeed. Let me know how it works out for you. Thanks for taking the time to comment. SW

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  • Pat O’Donnell

    Kindle Singles kept my short (26,000 word) memoir for over five weeks, raising my hopes, but finally rejected it. I’m looking for other markets for nonfiction that length, rather than self-publishing, which I’d rather not do. Any suggestions?

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I regret that you had such an experience with Kindle Singles, but you’re not alone. It’s the same with traditional publishing if you can even find an agent. Long waits. Quick rejections. There are several small presses around, but, in the end, you generally pay for the publishing cost and are left to market the book with your own devices. There are fewer bookstores every day and fewer people going to the bookstores. The publishing world has given away to the digital world, and everyone is in limbo.

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