In May, Amazon had a whole-day conference in Edinburgh involving different representatives from Marketplace, Kindle Direct Publishing, and many others. I signed up to attend the Publishing event as I’m interested in self-publishing.
The event was to start at 9am with Coffee and Registration but since I’m in Glasgow I had to get up at 4:30am to have time to get ready and get the 6:18am 900 bus, thankfully not too far from where I live. I arrived in Edinburgh for 7:30am at Haymarket and managed to navigate myself to the conference centre. Though I was still to early to enter there was a cute little coffee shop across the road, so I had a coffee and a bacon roll as a second breakfast.
I decided to go inside the centre a little before nine and was immediately queried by a security guard on the door. I wasn’t fully aware, at that point, of the Manchester Attack which had just happened the night before, naturally security was tightened. Everything was quite casual anyway, people were milling around drinking really bad coffee and nervously looking for friends. I’m still amazed I didn’t meet anyone I knew! Soon we were instructed upstairs for the first conference which was to introduce self-publishing and Kindle’s own distinct form of publishing. It is really simple, which left me kicking myself when half of the audience raised their hands to say they were already published authors. What the hell’s my problem? Oh, right, self-doubt!
There was another coffee break before the next talk then lunch was provided completely free of charge (thanks Jeff Bezos!) However, they really hadn’t catered beyond fish or a vegetarian option; I can’t eat hot fish and the veggie option, while delicious, was made with ricotta cheese and dairy hates me. I was starving so ate it despite the pain I knew I would be in (at least there were green beans!). Obviously the cheesecake was out of the question for me.
Then the final talk came where they got down to basics – talking about money. One woman used to be traditionally published but her publisher dropped her by saying that her books were too niche and no-one would read her work, so she published with kindle and that book became her best-selling book ever. Also she makes about £23k a year. Not too bad for writing down the voices in your head. Another guy discussed a lot of the handy tricks that Kindle publishing offers, like by selling your book for £0 you can instead earn a percentage based on page reads. This works best if you have many pages in your books but also it’s proof that your books are real page-turners if you can rely on people to receive the book for nothing AND read it. I’ve many unread free books on my kindle that I now know I should read to help the authors earn something back.
I’m glad to see that things have changed from the vanity publishers masquerading as helpful self-publishers. Kindle are letting you remain in control, retain copyright over text and artwork, offer advice but they aren’t sitting with a big red pen to cross out all of your hard written work! Oh, also you can set your own price (depending on the size of the file) but you can earn up to 70% in royalties, far more than with any traditional publisher. You are also responsible for networking and promotions, but essentially it’s free by using facebook, tumblr, and your own website or blog.
I left the conference feeling very inspired and wanting to dive straight back into my own books (and maybe finally finish some, now that there’s really no excuse not to) but I’ve been up and down over the last month… The hardest part is just jumping back into it. Especially now that the summer is under full swing and no employers are banging down my door yet.