Magazines on a Kindle, Part Two: Ways to Publish

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In my last post on the Kindle marketplace, I covered the reading experience of different types of magazines on various Kindle devices. In this post, I’m going to look at Kindle from the publisher’s point of view. 

Avid Kindle readers are familiar with how easy it is to find a book on Amazon, click to purchase, and have it arrive onto your device in seconds. If you’re interested in selling to this crowd, there isn’t just one way to do so.  In this blog post, we’ll walk through Kindle Direct Publishing, KDP Select, Kindle Singles, Kindle Publishing for Blogs, Android Apps, and hosting your own files for Kindle readers. 

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KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING 

If it’s a book you’re writing, Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP is a good bet. KDP takes your book in formats like Word, HTML, ePub, plain text, rich text or PDF and converts it for you. They offer formatting tips and advice for making sure you’re happy with your content. Additionally Amazon provides both a KindleGen and a Kindle Previewer tool to help you convert & test. Be prepared to spend a lot of time here, though, it can take a while to iterate through format/kindle gen/kindle preview steps.

Once you’re happy with how your content is formatted, you’ll need to provide KDP with some details about the product, preview metadata, keywords, categories, pricing, royalty information, etc. I won’t cover pricing strategies, as there is already a lot of guidance on how to do that, but I will mention that KDP offers two options: a 35% royalty or a 70% royalty. If your price is between $2.99 and $9.99, you can opt for the 70% royalty option, otherwise you’ll be getting 35% royalty.  You’ll also need to select pricing for each of the different Amazon stores (India, UK, Germany, etc.).  Once you’re information is there & your content is uploaded, you should be good to go. 

KDP also have two new programs to allow publishers to make their books available in audio via ACX and in print using CreateSpace.

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KDP SELECT 

KDP Select is an option for KDP publishers that could be a good option if you need marketing or promotional support for new material and don’t mind a period of exclusivity. While enrolled in KDP Select, your Digital Book must be exclusive to Kindle and will be included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program where it will earn a share of a monthly cash fund when readers borrow it. Also, you can promote your Digital Book as free for up to 5 days during each 90–day period. Additionally, by including your Digital Book in KDP Select, your Digital Book will also be eligible to earn 70% royalty for sales to customers in Brazil, Japan, and India. Before enrolling in KDP Select, however, be sure you are willing to give Amazon the exclusive right to sell and distribute your publication in digital format while it is in KDP Select. During this period of exclusivity, you cannot sell or distribute, or give anyone else the right to sell or distribute, your content (or content that is substantially similar), in digital format in any territory where you have rights. 

KINDLE SINGLES

For shorter form content, Kindle Singles is a great option. A Kindle Single is typically between 5,000 and 30,000 words and Amazon describes them as “compelling ideas expressed at their natural length, writing that doesn’t easily fall in to the conventional space limitations of magazines or print books. They can be any topic, and Amazon will consider ebooks recently published via KDP, manuscript submissions or pitches. To submit, you simply email a summary of the work along with the title (and, if you have it, the Amazon Standard Identification Number, or ASIN) to kindle-singles@amazon.com. Alternately for non-published work you can email a manuscript, detailed pitch or proposal. 

Submissions are usually responded to in about four weeks, and if your content is accepted you will receive instructions for submitting via KDP. All Kindle Singles must have a list price of between $0.99-$4.99, and authors can choose either royalty option even if it’s below $2.99. Authors retain all rights to their work, and Kindle Singles are made available in all territories where you have rights. 

Categories ineligible for Kindle Singles include how-to manuals, public domain works, reference books, travel guides or children’s books. 

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KINDLE COMIC CREATOR

If you’re working on comics or graphic novels, Kindle has something new for you: the Kindle Comic Creator. Comic Creator is for comics, graphic novels, manga, and creates a cool guided navigation experience. Unlike the regular, paginated text content of most Kindle publications, you can set original resolution and create double page spreads or facing pages to give comic lovers a great experience. Authors can start from scratch or import from ePub, KF8 or PDF formats. 

Once you’re finished creating your comic book or graphic novel, you can preview on Kindle Fire or Paperwhite devices, and support for previewing on the Kindle app for iPad and iPhone is coming soon. When you’re ready to go, you can publish and sell through KDP as described above. 

KINDLE PUBLISHING GRAVEYARD

Last year I was part of a beta program run by Amazon called the Kindle Publishing for Newspapers & Magazines Beta, but their site indicates now that the program has closed. There is no indication on their site that the program will be reopened. I have continued to ask for details on this program or guidance on periodical publishing for Kindle but keep running into dead ends. 

This article from last year on paidContent mentions that Amazon has not stopped letting publishers on board, but is severely restricting the publishers using their older, black-and-white edition infrastructure. Instead we see a nudge to move publishers towards the self-service option of building an Android app for the Amazon Appstore for Android, which is what we’ll cover next. 

ANDROID APPLICATIONS

With the lack of available information on creating periodicals in mobi format to sell to Kindle owners, I’m making an educated guess that Amazon is trying to decrease its need to have infrastructure here and instead trying to push publishers towards creating their own self-service Android applications for magazines and newspapers. There is some information here https://developer.amazon.com/sdk.html on the Amazon Mobile SDK for those building apps for the Fire tablets, and this includes information on in-app purchasing, working with Whispersync, including mobile ads and more. 

If that all seems like a bit much, there are some publishing platforms available today like Mag+ (if you’re currently using InDesign for creating your content) who do offer an Amazon Appstore bundle option, and Woopie will soon be joining them. (We’re currently planning on creating on our Windows 8 application next, but if you have feedback on this or preferences we’d love to hear from you.)

HOST IT YOURSELF

If your audience is not exclusively Kindle readers, you may like the idea of hosting and promoting your content yourself. By this I mean that you have your own website where you list the available issues, deal with sales & subscriptions, and make content available in the formats of your choice. See this site for a great example of what that might look like: http://pragprog.com/magazines.  If you want to go this route & not limit your audience to the versions they have available, Woopie can save you a lot of time in creating and generating the different formats.

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SUMMARY

That’s a brief overview of what the options are to publish your content for your Kindle-loving customers. For more details definitely check out the Amazon Kindle publisher resources as well as the forums. If you have any questions or comments, or you are working on Kindle publishing at the moment, we would definitely like to hear from you. Let us know what you think!

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