This made me take a new hard look at Kindle and investigate the self-publishing aspect.
My daughters bought me a Kindle device for Christmas but I was initially unimpressed because I like the feel of a book. Besides, what else do you put on your bookshelves if your library is contained in an electronic machine?
I was also wary about writers being ripped off. Ebay had offers for 5,000 modern novels on a disc for a few pounds and I challenged one of the sellers, asking if he was breaking copyright laws, but he didn't bother to reply.
Amazon itself has a load of books that are available to download for free, but these are classics that are outside the copyright period which, in the UK, is 70 years after the death of the author. Charles Dickens and the Brontes are available for nothing.
Many books are now published in both paper and e-book formats as a matter of course, and a writer's royalties do not suffer. My next book, Reaper, whose publication from Myrmidon has been delayed until September, will be out in both.
What Amazon and Kindle have done is open up the market for writers who have never before been published, like the couple who write crime novels. They have made it easy to self-publish and also provide the market place at the Amazon sites, both here and in America. And it's free.Now I know how difficult it is to get published. I also know there are probably some very good writers who have never quite made it who now have the opportunity to at least offer their wares. Whether anyone buys them or not, is a different matter.
It also inevitably means that there will be a fair percentage of rubbish on offer. Many hopefuls have put their work out free of charge, although I cannot understand the reasoning. When I got my Kindle at Christmas, I checked out what was available at Amazon and, like everybody else, looked for a bargain rather than pay the average of about £5 for a popular paperback writer. I tried a couple that were free; I tried a couple that were about 50p. But sorry. They were poor. Of course, if they are free it doesn't matter. All you lose is the time it takes to realise they are not worth the effort. And there is always the chance you might find an undiscovered gem of a writer. Unlikely, but you never know.
Amazon already sell more Kindle editions on-line than do they do paperbacks so it obvious that e-books are here to stay. They will continue to increase in popularity and more and more people will buy Kindles. They are, after all, quite an amazing device for the money and easier to handle than a thousand page C J Sansom novel.
So I decided to see how easy it was to publish on Kindle.
I am technologically useless. Could I do it? Well, it took me a few hours to work it out but yes, it is simple. You just have to prepare your manuscript a different way to how you would send it to an agent or publisher. Basically you don't use margins, headers or footers (or page numbers), and you set it single space. Then save it as an html document. That's it. Log onto Kindle Publishing and follow the instructions.
The only other thing that needs a good bit of thought is the cover. You can't just Google a load of images and steal one: they have copyright, too. But you can use photographs you have taken and there are sites that offer royalty free pics. It can be a load of fun. And, as I said, the whole process is free.I have put three of my thrillers out on Kindle at a reasonable price, considering they range from 80,000 words to 100,000. Plus a historical novel, The Flood, in the bargain basement, as an experiment to see if cheap really does sell.