Kindle’s Serial Killer

Kindle Serials

Kindle Serials are stories published in episodes. When you buy a Kindle Serial, you will receive all existing episodes on your Kindle immediately, followed by future episodes as they are published.

Wait for it.

This is from the submission guidelines:

A minimum of two episodes in a Word or text document. Each episode should be a minimum of approximately 10,000 words. We’re open to considering projects with more or fewer words per episode, where it makes sense. The complete book doesn’t need to be already written.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

If you do a ten-episode book, you’re selling 100,000 words for a measly $1.99.

If you’re not getting that, here’s a slide from Bezos to help you with the word count math:

Bezos has just lowered the floor for eBook prices again.

I don’t see any reason for any writer to do this.

Right now, we don’t know the writer’s cut.

Even so, do you really want to help make eBooks have a maximum price of $1.99?

That is just suicidal.

And to invoke the name of Dickens?

His life must have been like this, having to do serials:

It’s one thing if a writer decides to sell a book for $1.99.

But for Amazon to set an official price like this is not in the best interest of any professional writer.

Update, Saturday September 8 2012: Amazon has changed their Submissions guidelines:

A minimum of two episodes in a Word or text document. We want each episode to be a length that provides a satisfactory read. The right episode length will vary from book to book, depending on what’s right for the story. The complete book doesn’t need to be already written.

Boldfaced emphasis added by me.

I still say to pass on this.


Filed under Amazon Kindle, Digital Overthrow, Writing

16 responses to “Kindle’s Serial Killer

  1. Riter

    How am I supposed to get famous if they make me charge a whole $1.99???// They r screwin my korea!

  2. Ugh. Low price doesn’t necessarily = low profit. Depending on what the author cut is, authors could make bank on the program according to Smashwords ebook sales data that shows lower-priced books selling *significantly* more copies than their higher-priced counterparts–especially if you consider that a minimum of two episodes, which you fail to boldface, would be more in the range of a novella, or two really long short stories–your jump up to ten was rather ambitious compared to the minimum.

    Lesser-known writers often stand to make more at lower price points, too, because they don’t have a huge fan base willing to shell out inflated prices for ebooks.

    When you’re selling ebooks, price per unit doesn’t matter as much as aggregate sales do because you can sell in an unlimited volume for the same investment. If you’re a newer author participating in an experimental program, $1.99 is going to be an attractive price point to buyers and probably result in a good deal of copies being sold–much more than a higher point of $7-$10. Since the series only requires a minimum of two episodes, probably it wouldn’t be a good idea to shoot for 10 if getting paid $1.99 per ebook for 100k words bothers you.

  3. I wonder who is going to read all those pitches. What they’re asking for isn’t all that different from what literary agents wade through.

  4. Actually, this is incorrect, as I understand it. Each single episode is to be priced at $1.99. The entire serial will be at the author’s discretion (within reason, I suppose).

    The idea isn’t really so new. in fact, it wasn’t, even when I pitched it to Amazon’s Kindle Digital Publishing for my urban thriller series GAMELAND back in April only to have them snub me. I went ahead and did it anyway without their blessing. Folks who bought into the entire series early got the entire 8-episode for $2.99. Individual episodes are $1.99 (coincidentally the same price Amazon is saying their single episodes will be). As I added episodes (monthly) the price went up. The final episode will be launched December 1 and the entire package will then be $9.99. It’s been very successful for me, but a hassle for my customers, who have to wait for amazon to notify them of updates (new installments) or to have to request the updates themselves. Anyone wanting more information about how I did this can go to the GAMELAND package page on Amazon:

    • Oops, looks like you were right about the $1.99 price, Mike. My misunderstanding. Apologies. Hasty reading of Ammy’s announcement on my part and typical vagueness on Ammy’s part. lots of discussion about this, though. I’ve queried Kindle Serials about alternative pricing. We’ll see what they say. I think the $1.99 price point is too restrictive for both readers and writers.

  5. Eric

    Could it be used by authors to sell products that other publishers do not want? $1.99 for something you could not sell might not be too bad, of course there is a reason a publisher does not want to touch something.

    If I were pressed to make a point it might be this will be a refuge for the desperate and dateless. What do you think?

  6. Major publishing houses long ago pushed below the $3 e-book barrier. Harper Perennial, for example, just ran a promotion with a bunch of books priced at $0.99 for the whole month of August

    Authors have been taking mass-market paperback deals for decades, which pay 6-8% per copy on an SRP of around $5-6.

    8% of $6 is 48 cents a copy. If a big publisher under current standard e-book royalty terms prices your book at $2.99, a royalty of 25% of net on that e-book is 0.7(2.99) x .25 = ~0.52; four cents better than the royalty on a $6 mass-market paperback.

    I’ve heard Amazon pays authors under its various imprints a 50% royalty on the purchase price. That means these authors could be getting a dollar a copy on the $1.99 e-book, which is competitive with the per-copy royalty on a $10 trade paperback. The serialization thing might also turn out to be a lucrative way to sell books, since the book might get a sales surge every time a new “episode” is released, essentially allowing the book to be re-launched 6-10 times.

  7. Dan Meadows

    I’ve read in a couple places where people are assuming the $1.99 is an introductory rate to get people on board, and that it will increase. I certainly hope so. This is a serious stategic error on Amazon’s part otherwise, and it could potentially poison the well for the market of genuine serials. They seem to be filtering like they do with Kindle Singles, so its not all-comers. So you can sell a 5,000 word single for 99 cents but an entire serial at a minimum of 20,000 words, and almost definitely much more, only pocketing 70 cents extra? Plus that’s only assuming its a 70% royalty, since that’s what Singles pay. Writers doing legit multipart serials would be selling, on average, 60 k to 100 k words, I’d guess (6 to 10 episodes) for $1.40. That’s not gonna play. They’ll end up with nothing but 2-4 part broken down novellas because anything more isn’t going to be worth the effort for the writer. Either that or a bunch of already existing novels simply split into pieces at the occasional chapter break, which won’t work overall either. Serialization is different from novelization, and really should be written for the format rather than squeezed into it. Who the hell’s gonna do all that work, over the time period necessary, the way it needs to be done, for 70 cents? The shorter single pays much better relative to the workload, as does simply selling it as a $2.99 novel the regular way. There’s no benefit to the writer doing it this way at this price. It’s got to at least match the $2.99 minimum for the 70% cut. I’d consider it at $2+ a series my cut.

  8. I like the concept — basically taking the magazine subscription model and applying it to a single story — but setting the bar at $1.99 for the whole story was a bit of a surprise, especially with the original specs of 10k words/episode. I would have expected $.99 – $1.99/episode, automatically charged, as they do with magazines, or something in the $4.99 – $7.99 range for the whole story. This one’s no big gamechanger, but it’s an angle worth keeping an eye on.

  9. Chris Lites

    I’m not sure why you want authors to pass on this. I can see your point that it may reduce prices, but it will likely make authors in the program money. The former is going to happen with or without Amazon’s serial program. From my point of view, allowing Amazon to promote something I wrote would be extremely useful. Then again, I’m not known at all and you are. I might have a different opinion if I was in your position.

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  13. This is a call only each individual writer can make for themselves. If you’re newer, the push of Amazon’s name could help kick-start your career. It’s the marketing value I’m thinking of. It doesn’t mean this has to be the end, just a door-opener to your other products. Of course, if your writing career is already moving along, this is not something you’d be looking at, anyway. So we each have to evaluate our own individual situations and make our own personal decision. By the way, don’t many of us blog? How many get paid ANYTHING for that? I think selling our work for $1.99 is better than giving it away for FREE. And that’s my take…

    • In addition, I’m constantly trying to find ways to monetize EVERYTHING I write. If there’s any way to get something for my work, I’ll try it, whether it’s an article at The Huffington Post (where my books show under my articles) to my articles on writing I write (where my list of books show next to my piece). If I can make something from my words, I can continue to write. If I can’t, I have to get a “real” job. {frown}

  14. Pingback: seriados digitais na amazon: hora dos autores reaprenderem? | dia a dia, bit a bit | por Silvio Meira

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